Written by Corbett Smith
Run-rule loss ends Lake Highlands baseball coach's 44-year career
'I've had 44 good years,' says coach who posted 798 career wins
MCKINNEY — Jay Higgins adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses, his eyes ever so slightly turning red. A barely audible quiver in his baritone voice was the measure of his emotion.
Even after the PA announcer’s plaudits, the standing ovation and the plaque awarded to him by McKinney Boyd after the game, the finality of his last game as Lake Highlands’ coach had yet to set in, he said.
“You have something that’s a big part of your life like this, and all of a sudden — you don’t have it,” Higgins said. “It’ll sink in, but it hasn’t yet. I’ve had 44 good years.”
His wasn’t a Hollywood ending, a 16-1 run-rule loss to McKinney Boyd in Game 3 of a Class 5A bi-district series, finishing Lake Highlands’ season Saturday.
Higgins, 68, ended his 44th season with Lake Highlands (dating to 1968) two wins shy of 800, with a record of 798-375. He was inducted into the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame last year.
“He’s a legend in this area,” Boyd coach Brandon Milam said. “A lot of coaches in this area know him and aspire to be in the profession that long and be as successful as he has.”
Lake Highlands (15-16), the No. 3 seed from District 9-5A, kept its chances alive with a 9-1 win Friday but didn’t have enough bullpen depth to challenge Boyd in the series finale.
Lake Highlands used three pitchers over four innings, making two pitching changes in a three-run fourth. Boyd (24-9) scored at least one run in each of its four innings, including eight runs in the fourth.
Conversely, Lake Highlands could not capitalize on the shaky start for Boyd pitcher Trevor Steele. Steele loaded the bases in the first and second, yet Lake Highlands managed only a lone run in the first before Steele struck out the final two batters of that inning.
“We had a couple of opportunities to get back in the game and couldn’t do it,” Higgins said.
Steele allowed two hits over the final 22/3 innings.
“Well, I told the kids, you come in with a bang, and you leave with a bang,” Higgins said.
In other first-round playoff games:
Mansfield Legacy 13, Irving 5: Legacy (24-11) scored 11 runs in the fourth through sixth innings to rally from an early 4-1 deficit and win Game 3 of the best-of-3 series.
Teejay Antone doubled and tripled for Legacy, which advanced to play Southlake Carroll, the state’s eighth-ranked 5A team.
Mesquite 1-6, Bryan 6-0: Josh Anderson pitched a three-hit shutout to lead Mesquite to a 6-0 win over Bryan in Game 3 of a best-of-3 Class 5A first-round playoff series.
Mesquite (21-8-1), the District 11-5A runner-up, advanced to play 10-5A champion Rowlett. In Game 3, Mesquite scored four times in the fifth inning, with Jake Lanford hitting a two-run single and A.J. Limon hitting a two-run double.
W.T. White 6, Sachse 4: W.T. White scored five runs in the second inning en route to winning Game 3 of the best-of-3 series. Jacob Wilkes earned the win, allowing four runs in five innings, and Parker Turner pitched two scoreless innings for the save. W.T. White scored 21 runs in the final two games of the series after getting shut out in the opener.
Arlington 12, Abilene Cooper 9: Rice signee Skyler Ewing hit a grand slam and had five RBIs as Arlington wrapped up a two-game sweep. Arlington had 19 hits.
Carrollton Creekview 4, McKinney 3: Will Henning singled in Xavier Delgado with no outs in the bottom of the ninth to give Carrollton Creekview a 4-3 victory over McKinney in Game 3 of a best-of-3 Class 4A first-round playoff series Saturday.
Matt Herrick pitched a complete game for Creekview, throwing 110 pitches. Creekview (23-6) advanced to play Hillcrest.
McKinney took a 3-2 lead with a run in the top of the sixth, but Creekview answered with a run in the bottom of the inning.
Forney 6, Hutto 1: Cody Tyler and Corey Blackmon combined on a four-hitter as Forney (21-13) completed a two-game sweep and moved on to play Hallsville. Justin Hay hit a three-run triple as part of a four-run second inning for Forney.
Molina 6, Thomas Jefferson 5: Anthony Gonzales hit a game-winning, bases-loaded RBI single with one out in the bottom of the seventh as Molina (18-8) swept the series and advanced to play Rockwall-Heath. Thomas Jefferson had tied the score with three runs in the top of the seventh. Gonzales finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Lake Dallas 5-14, Canyon 14-5: Marshall Little was 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs as Lake Dallas won, 14-5, in Game 3 of a best-of-3 series. That was the same score Lake Dallas lost by in Game 2 earlier Saturday.
Tyler Waller, Jackson Owens and Brandon Cogbill each had three hits for Lake Dallas in Game 3, and Dylan Andrews earned the win to improve to 8-0.
Red Oak 6-4, Bryan Rudder 4-2: Robert Elles went 4-for-6 with three RBIs on the day as Red Oak won a pair of games to win the best-of-3 series, two games to one.
In Red Oak’s 4-2 win in Game 3, Drew Tyra and Elles combined on a four-hitter, with Tyra getting the win and Elles the save. Elles was 2-for-3 with two RBIs in that game.