Prep baseball: East squeaks past Highland
It was under a cloud of dust that East extracted revenge against rival Highland.
Highland's Zach Curtis dashed from third toward plate with his team trailing by a one with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
East pitcher Parker Van Dyke, who had thrown the ball through catcher Joe Halman's legs, sprinted to cover home.
Van Dyke beat Curtis to the plate, took Halman's throw and applied the tag to end the game and preserve East's 6-5 victory Wednesday.
"Total hustle play for him to get that passed ball and toss it to me right on the money," Van Dyke said. "Joe did a great job behind the plate the entire game."
East evened the series with Highland after the Rams' win Tuesday. Leopards first baseman Kory Rush wanted his teammates to come out fighting and redeem themselves after Tuesday's performance.
"We were horrific and we couldn't do that again," Rush said. "We didn't sit back waiting for it to come to us. We went out there and tried to make things happen."
East focused on singles, collecting 11, to combat the blustering winds coming in from center field. But it was the combination of Van Dyke and sophomore Zach Valles on the mound that kept the Rams flustered.
"For being a sophomore, Zach is a phenomenal pitcher," Rush said. "I've never met a kid so young that can step up and be so cool on the mound."
Of the four letter words muttered on a baseball diamond, none are as vile as balk. East took the lead in the seventh when Highland's Greg Hopkins was called for one, which allowed Neil Robins to score. Even Van Dyke thought it was a questionable call.
"The balk was the gameit gave us the leading run," Van Dyke said. "Great perseverance on our part to stay in it to that point."
Rush credited Van Dyke for being the difference maker, citing his command of the fastball and changeup in the windy conditions.
"Parker is a competitor," Rush said. "We can do anything when he is on the mound."