SUAMICO (WLUK) -- Because of two snowstorms in April the Fox River Classic Conference decided to cut the baseball season in half, from 18 games to nine games. In other words, each team plays its nine FRCC opponents once instead of twice.
Because of that the sense of urgency is heightened for every game.
Thursday, Bay Port hosted De Pere, which was coming off a win over Green Bay Preble on Tuesday. De Pere was feeling pretty good entering Thursday after handing Preble its first FRCC loss since 2016.
Matt Willems and Carter Highline were picked to start this game and while both pitched well, Highline shined a little brighter than Willems, who threw a complete game. Highline pitched into the sixth inning, struck out eight and didn't allow a run as the Pirates edged the Redbirds, 3-1, to stay perfect in the FRCC.
"I had my teammates behind my back, they just helped me out," Highline said. "Just threw strikes."
"He's been pitching well all spring and he was hitting his spots," Bay Port coach Mike Simoens said. "That was probably unexpected for him to go six-plus innings for him to give us what he did."
While Highline kept the bats in check Bay Port (5-1, 2-0) took some time to get going. The Pirates scored one run in the fourth and then Call Verlanic delivered a two-run single in the fifth inning to make it 3-0.
"It's a gritty group, they keep playing hard," Simoens said. "We pride ourselves on pitching and defense and that's been really, really solid. If we can manufacturer a run here and there, we'll be alright."
Although the season is young, Thursday's win was a big one against a conference-title contender in a shortened season.
"It means everything to the team," Highline said. "There's a lot of confidence we have and I think we'll do a lot of good things this season."
"We play nine conference games so everyone is more important," Simoens said. "The intensity was pretty high and both teams played well. Things went our way down the stretch, the boys played well. Give De Pere, credit too, that was a great high school baseball game."
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay