Heights baseball sweeps West
The way Houston McFarlane rears his bat back indicates his intentions.
"He tries to drive the ball," Heights coach Jeff Topping said. "He doesn't get cheated. That's what he came to us with, and so we've just let him work with it. He's a strong enough kid to where when he squares it up, it's gonna go."
Heights swept West on Friday in what turned out to be the most meaningful series of the City League season. McFarlane hit two home runs to help break the league's three-way tie with West and Carroll.
McFarlane's first home run came in the fifth inning of the first game, an eventual 7-5 win. He swung at the first pitch he saw and drove in three runs. Then he doubled up with a solo shot to left in the third inning of the second game, a 6-3 victory.
"Just sat back, threw the hands and let the bat do the work," McFarlane said.
Although McFarlane's home runs were the flash, the Falcons' pitching staff was the difference.
Heights threw six pitchers on the mound on Friday and got production from each of them. Topping said that has been one of the most important pieces to their success this season.
"We used every pitcher we had tonight," he said. "If that game would have gone to extra innings, we don't know who we're going to."
Jordan Ellison got the nod in the first game. He went 5 2/3 innings and allowed no earned runs on three hits and struck out six. After Cody Troyer came in and allowed a run, Alec Kealey came out for the seventh and slammed the door with three straight strikeouts to close.
And in the second game, Kealey started where he left off, earning seven strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. Troyer and Kaden Tate put up zeros to hold on for the sweep.
Topping said this year's team has grit. That's what he likes most. They come in to practice, get their work done and go home.
"With our depth, there is always competition for jobs," he said. "They push each other, and I think that's helped keep us fresh."
After the game, the guys cut it loose. Back flips, back bumps and talks of what videos games they were going to play that night were the buzz.
McFarlane said they knew how important this doubleheader was, so to get it done feels rewarding.
"We come into practice and put in the effort, and the effort is paying off," he said. "You saw it tonight."
Heights' last three City League doubleheaders aren't as daunting with Carroll and West behind them, and with the Eagles and Pioneers meeting in the regular-season finale, the Falcons will be hoping for a split.
But for now, having gone 3-1 against their top competitors, they have set the pace, and that is certainly a position they like to be in.
"We have three goals every year," Topping said. "No. 1 is to win the City League. No. 2 is win a regional championship. No. 3 is to win a state championship. These guys are doing everything we've asked them to do."