FREDERICK — As one of many members of the Skyline baseball team who plays basketball, Falcons pitcher Nate Higgins fully believes he and his teammates are mentally prepared for the fight they have ahead of them.
This winter, the Falcons needed a few more breaks and did not make the basketball playoffs despite a 12-11 record. They did take care of the teams they were supposed to take care of, and that's exactly what the Falcons need to do to give themselves a chance in the newly installed RPI system for baseball postseason seeding.
On the outside looking in at No. 48, Thursday's 4-1 win at Frederick certainly serves as a good start toward the goal of winning out and giving themselves a shot.
"We're just fighting and pushing for a spot, and our conference as a whole just feels so open because everybody is beating everybody," Higgins said after delivering a complete-game performance that included just five hits allowed and five strikeouts. "I think we learned a lot in the winter. I think we're figuring some things out and hopefully get rolling."
Now at 4-6 in the Tri-Valley League, the Falcons have one more game against Frederick, one against Erie and two against Berthoud — the latter pair sitting higher in the standings although not by a lot.
Simply put, first-year Skyline coach Travis Schlagel's team is in control of its own destiny.
"We told the kids it was a six-game season that starts today, and we knew Frederick doesn't have the best record but they've stayed in games with some really good teams," Shlagel said. "With Nate, the guys know he's going to keep the other team down and we just need to put up some runs for him.
"Now there's five left and we're doing our best to give ourselves a chance to get in there."
Playing in chilly-but-not-wet conditions against a Warriors team much better than its record of 1-14, Skyline broke away Thursday with two unearned runs in the top of the seventh inning, moments after Frederick had a potential tying run at second base with no outs in the bottom of the sixth frame.
Avery Riddoch scored on a Higgins single to make it 3-1 and Daniel Terao drew a bases-loaded walk for an RBI the easy way, getting Ben Alexander home.
Riddoch drove in the other two runs which helped SHS rebound from a 1-0 deficit in the game.
Higgins pitched his fourth complete game of the year and had a lot of help defensively in doing so. The Falcons turned two double plays, including in the sixth when Mario Ramirez was caught off second base on a popped-up bunt back to Higgins — a huge moment in the game for both teams.
Higgins came out and got FHS in order in the seventh to close out the win.
"I felt good even though it was a little cold, and I was able to not walk kids," Higgins said. "My guys made plays in the field, so it was a good all-around day."
"It's the story of our season, that we just can't push across runs when we need them or come up with the right hit at the right time," said Frederick coach Blaine Shirley, also in his first year. "Our pitching has been pretty stellar and we've lost a lot of close games. I think our younger guys are seeing what we can bring to the table in our future, and we just need to plug along to end the season and keep moving forward."
Skyline 4, Frederick 1
At Frederick HS
Skyline (6-9, 4-6) 001 010 2 — 4 7 2
Frederick (1-14, 1-10) 010 000 0 — 1 5 5
W — Nate Higgins. L — Evan Prestwich.
Skyline hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Caleb Zietlow 3-0-1-0, Alex Schernecke 3-0-0-0, Avery Riddoch 4-0-1-2, Clayton Eldred 0-1-0-0, Ben Alexander 4-1-1-0, Nick Hamby 4-0-0-0, Chris Seger 4-0-1-0, Nate Higgins 3-0-2-1, Josh Angstead 3-0-0-0, Daniel Teao 1-2-1-1, Jonah Chrisman 0-0-0-0. SB —Terao.
Frederick hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Mario Ramirez 3-0-1-0, Westlee Powers 0-0-0-0, Avery Elkens 3-0-0-0, Evan Prestwich 2-0-1-0, Justin Smith 2-0-1-0, Bryce Shirley 3-1-1-0, Dalton Nelson 3-0-1-0, Trevor Hazlett 3-0-0-1, Cooper Lindhardt 2-0-0-0, Austin Stephens 1-0-0-0, Jake Frenzel 2-0-0-0, Dillon Wyatt 0-0-0-0, Brayden Cartwright 0-0-0-0.
Skyline pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Higgins 7-5-1-0-1-5.
Frederick pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Prestwich 5-6-2-1-2-5, Nelson 2-1-2-0-3-1.