By Kyle Wylie, Coordinator of School Support Services, Kern High School District
Rawhide Stadium (Visalia, CA) - On Saturday, May 27, 2017, Highland High School captured it's first CIF Central Section Valley Championship in Baseball by defeating Porterville High School 8-5. The win was a total team effort, making it difficult to find a player of the game.
The Highland High School Baseball team huddle together before the CIF Central Section DIII Valley Championship Game at Rawhide Stadium.
Perhaps the player of the game was Cade Sakamoto as he played a gritty game, both on the mound and at the plate. Sakamoto pitched 5 2/3 innings giving up 4 runs and 9 hits, but the Panthers of Porterville could never get a rhythm offensively. Sakamoto mixed up his fastball with some off speed pitches and most innings, the Panthers seemed to only get about 1 or 2 runners on base. Sakamoto also delivered at the plate. He started the Scot offensive machine with the first hit of the game and would later follow up with another hit and RBI. He also took chances on the bases and was able to be involved in a wild play that resulted in him scoring. (See video below) There may have been a little luck with a pass ball and a dropped ball, but because of his aggressiveness on the base paths, he was able to score.
Perhaps the player of the game was Landon Kauk. Kauk went 3-4 with an RBI and his RBI was clutch late in the game. Kauk also made an incredible sliding catch towards the first base line that was indeed web gem worthy. Kauk also demonstrated leadership on the field, communicating to his teammates throughout the game, making sure that they were in the right spots defensively.
Perhaps the player of the game was Anthony Baldridge. Baldridge helped start the scoring for the Scots as he laced a clutch single scoring a run. Baldridge would later come up with a big double and RBI for the Scots and his hits came with either one out or two outs. Baldridge bats behind Kauk, Morales, and Sakamoto who have video game like numbers, but he delivered with some clutch hits that scored runs for the Scots.
Perhaps the player of the game was Nick Salas who delivered a clutch a RBI single late in the game to provide a much needed insurance run for the Scots.
Perhaps the player of the game was Andres Garza who came in and pitched the last 1 1/3 to close out the game for the Scots. Garza was able to completely change the pace up for the Panthers hitters as some of his off speed pitches (specifically his change up) seemed to look like he was pitching with a whiffle ball.
Perhaps the player of the game was the Highland coaching staff. Led by Head Coach Rick Sawyer, the Highland Scots played the game the right way, with grittiness and confidence in the ability to play America's favorite past time. Sawyer led the Scots to an amazing final record of 27-3. All season the Scots were an offensive juggernaut and Saturday wasn't any different as the Scots quickly went up 6-0 in the first two innings behind clutch hitting from a lot of different Scots. The ability to hit consistently is something that the Scot coaching staff pride themselves in coaching their kids.
Perhaps the players of the game was the crowd that gathered to support the Highland Scots. From the retro 1970s era Highland baseball shirts, to the parents donning their green and blue, to Principal Deb Vigstrom and Athletic Director Steve Matney who were on the edge of their seats with excitement the whole game, the team had a ton of support and encouragement from their fans.
This victory was a total team effort from the players, coaching staff, administration, fans, and parents and thus, the entire Highland High School Community was the player of the game as it seemed that each entity needed each other to be successful. Congratulations to the Highland Scots for capturing your first ever CIF Central Section Valley Championship in Baseball. Below are videos of clutch hits and big plays from Highland's championship game.
Highland High School players pose with the much coveted CIF Central Section Championship plaque.