HIGHLAND | In addition to Tuesday's regular-season baseball finale against Valparaiso scheduled as senior night, the seniors preferred to think of it as something else.
"We were jumping around before the game and we weren't saying much about senior night, we were calling it Miller Night," Highland senior Tyler Fraley said. "We wanted to give coach a big game to go out on. We know there are sectionals and we want to win there, but this was important to us tonight."
The Trojans kept the final score interesting, but ultimately gave Dan Miller his 630th win in his final regular-season game, beating Valparaiso 9-6.
Miller, who was inducted into the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2012, said this game was as exciting as last week's nonconference game and as exciting as the conference games two weeks ago.
The only difference is that there wasn't a water-cooler bath after those.
"Even though this is my last home game, even in the sectional, I'll be up for it," Miller said. "It's not like 'this is my last home game, let's get it done and go into retirement.' I get excited for all of them. And I get excited until the last pitch."
The Trojans (11-12-1) were young this season, with four seniors, all of whom were honored before the game started.
Miller's son, Matthew, who graduated from Highland in 1998 having played for his father, threw out the first pitch as former Trojans players tossed out first pitches all season.
A cookout after the game was also attended by a menagerie of alumni, dating back through Miller's 32 years in Highland.
The veterans and current Trojans co-mingled to have their photo taken. In the picture was Fraley, who went 2-for-4 with three runs against Valparaiso, Danny Hamilton, who hit a double as part of his 2-for-3 day, and Kevin O'Donnell, a sophomore who drove in two runs.
The Trojans took a 5-2 lead in the third inning thanks to a Valparaiso error that helped score two runs. An 8-2 lead grew to 9-4 by the end of the fifth inning.
In the seventh, Valparaiso (11-12) scored twice on two Highland errors before Nick Jancich struck out two and coerced another batter into a pop fly as the Vikings sent the tying run to the plate three times.
"I don't think we're in Doomsday scenario, I think we're going to be just fine, but sometimes we get ourselves into positions that we need to fight back and work hard," Valparaiso coach Dave Coyle said.
"The kids work hard in practice, they don't want it to turn out this way, we don't want it to turn out this way. As frustrating as it is for us, it's got to be more frustrating for them."
Both teams were using Tuesday's game as a tune-up for the sectional games they'll both play on Thursday. The postseason begins today.