UPDATE: There are free T-shirts commemorating this weekend’s “Tollway Series,” courtesy of Big Frog. They’re customized for each team, so check with them for availability. Plus, all of the games will be streamed live at Sportsgram for your viewing and listening pleasure.
As neighboring rivals, Highland Park and Jesuit have met many times for scrimmages on the baseball diamond over the years. But never have the stakes been as high as they will be this weekend.
The Scots and Rangers — whose campuses are separated by less than six miles on the Dallas North Tollway — will have a showdown this week in the Class 6A Region II quarterfinals.
The best-of-three series will begin at 7 p.m. tonight at Scotland Yard before shifting to Jesuit’s Wright Field at 7 p.m. Friday for Game 2. A third game, if necessary, would return to HP at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The matchup between the champions of District 9-6A and District 10-6A should be a good one, after the Scots (26-5) swept Harker Heights in the area round to increase their winning streak to 15 games overall. The Rangers (29-2-2), meanwhile, had their 20-game winning streak snapped by Rowlett in Game 2 of their area-round series before bouncing back to claim the series.
The third round has been a stumbling block several times for HP. The Scots were eliminated in this same round in the 4A playoffs a year ago, falling in three games to Prosper. They haven’t advanced past the regional quarterfinals since 2008, and have been ousted four times since then.
Meanwhile, Jesuit is back in the regional quarters for the first time since 2011, as the Rangers have fallen in the second round in each of the past three seasons.
Pitching has been the strongest element in the postseason run for both squads, as HP has allowed just three runs in four playoff games and Jesuit has surrendered only five runs in five games.
The Rangers might have more offensive depth, thanks to the trio of Nic Ready, Darius Hill, and Kyle Muller. Ready homered in the decisive 5-0 win over Rowlett last weekend. Muller and Harrison Folk are the top pitchers for Jesuit.
However, the HP bats have come alive late in the season. Jon Skidmore’s grand slam lifted the Scots in their 6-2 win in the opener against Harker Heights, while Layne Looney pitched a two-hit shutout in the series finale.
Jesuit won the prior meeting against HP this season on March 14 at Globe Life Park in Arlington, claiming a 7-1 victory in a game that didn’t feature the top pitchers for either team.
The survivor in this series will meet either Lake Travis or The Woodlands College Park next week in the regional semifinals.