Knoch baseball turns back Highlands in rematch

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Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | 9:19 PM


The Highlands baseball team was hoping to complete a two-game Section 4-4A sweep of Knoch after rallying Monday for a victory.

But Knoch had other ideas.

The Knights (2-5, 1-1) were aggressive on the bases, played solid defense and got a good pitching performance from 6-foot-11 freshman Zane Pacek in a 7-2 victory Tuesday at Highlands. The Golden Rams won 6-5 on Monday.

Highlands (1-4, 1-1) didn’t help its cause by committing four errors.

Knoch jumped on Golden Rams starting pitcher Carson Goldberg in the top of the first inning.

With one out, Mason Phillips singled, swiped second and scored on a single by Brady Wozniak, who went 3 for 4.

Wozniak moved to third on a single by Sean Morgan and scored on a groundout by Jacob Stallsmith.

“Jumping on them early was big,” Knoch coach William Stoops said. “We jumped on them Monday and then had a bad inning. We had four errors and gave them four runs. We talked about it before the game about keeping your heads up and playing defense.”

Highlands coach Jeff Campbell agreed that allowing Knoch to score early was the difference.

“I felt we pitched well enough. We just came up short defensively,” Campbell said. “We just didn’t get the big hit. I wish we would have gotten the sweep, but that’s baseball.

“That was huge that they got the lead. We just didn’t make the basic plays. We can’t make a mistake and allow a team to jump on you.”

Knoch led the entire game.

Highlands made it 2-1 in the bottom of the first when Goldberg doubled home Luke Bombalski.

Knoch scored on a wild pitch in the third inning to increase its lead to 3-1.

Highlands had a chance to tie the score in the bottom of the third inning on a single by Boyd Brown. His hit scored Bombalski, but pinch-runner Shawn Kramer was thrown out at the plate.

“We’re a running team, and we’re going,” Stoops said. “Getting the split was huge after losing on Monday.”

After that, Highlands’ only other threat was in the sixth inning, but Pacek got Nick McQuade to fly out to end the inning with runners on first and second.

Knoch scored in the fifth inning on a hit by Morgan, added another on a throwing error in the sixth and scored twice in the seventh inning on a Stallsmith hit and a wild pitch.

“We just have to come back Wednesday and put this game behind us.” Campbell said. “We have to get ready for our next game.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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