A two-run home run in the top of the first inning by first baseman Nick Brueser got Hamilton’s afternoon off to a quick start en route to a 7-3 victory against the Highland Hawks.
The two faced off in their first and only scheduled meeting of the year Thursday afternoon at Highland High School.
Brueser blasted the very first pitch he saw from Highland’s Jacob Reed over the left field fence. The Hamilton Huskies scored often in the first three innings behind RBIs from Brueser, center fielder Brayden Merritt, second baseman Cole Bellinger and shortstop Jacob Thiele.
The five RBIs between them were enough to keep Highland at bay for the remainder of the game.
“It was just a mistake that the pitcher made that I put a good swing on, and it ended up going over the fence for me,” Brueser said.
Reed settled in after a rough start to the game and only gave up two hits over the next three innings.
Highland used that as an opportunity to get itself back in the game thanks to a few defensive mishaps by Hamilton.
A routine fly ball to center field was dropped by Merritt in the fourth inning, allowing Highland second baseman Trey Cutchen to score. In the fifth inning, Hamilton's third baseman threw wide of first base, allowing two more Highland runs to cross the plate.
The defensive mistakes brought the game to within two runs heading into the final two frames. The top of the seventh inning found Hamilton grabbing some much needed insurance runs behind the bats of Bellinger and left fielder Colton Snelling.
Hamilton pitcher Shane Murphy got the victory for his team with five strong innings in which he did not give up an earned run. Seth Sas came in for the final two innings, getting six outs in as many batters.
Brueser was the highlight of the Hamilton offense, going 4 for 4 with a home run, two doubles and a single. He came into his last at-bat in the seventh needing a triple to complete the cycle.
He drove in two runs and crossed the plate three times over the course of the game.
“I didn’t even think about it (cycle) honestly, but if that would have happened it would have been a cool thing to experience. I wasn’t really concerned about it,” Brueser said.
The Huskies move to 4-1 on the year and will face Desert Vista and Desert Ridge on Saturday. They are in the midst of a four game winning streak after dropping their first game to Horizon.
“We had one sloppy inning really,” Hamilton coach Mike Woods said. “We feel good about our club, 4-1 isn’t a bad start.”
Highland drops to 3-3 this year and faces Campo Verde on Friday afternoon.
“Our kids battled,” Highland coach Scott Cook said. "Our kids played hard, we played great defense and made a bunch of great plays. Our pitcher battled for us. We’ll come out tomorrow and see what we can do against Campo [Verde].”
On Satuday, Hamilton defeated Desert Vista and Desert Ridge 3-2 and 11-1, respectively. Highland lost 5-4 to Campo Verde on Friday.