MONTEREY — It’s a sure sign of spring in the Highlands.

Come up Pinehurst Hill and take a glance to your right at the Pinehurst Motel. There’s a school bus in the parking lot.
Yep, the boys from New York are back in town.
Denny Miles and his Avoca-Prattsburgh team did a little extra traveling last week after the nine-hour trek from upsate New York. They drove up U.S. 220 to face off with Highland in the only game of their trip south.
Haden Abbott allowed just three runs and struck out nine over six innings, pitching the Titans past the Rams, 12-3.
But for Miles, a member of the New York state baseball Hall of Fame and the second all-time winningest coach in state history with more than 750 victories, the spring trip was more about the experience he wanted for his team.
“It’s our first trip here since 2017,” said Miles. “I wanted to bring these kids down to Covington. It might be our last trip down here.”
If it is his last trip, Miles has many fond memories.
The yearly spring break trips started after Miles formed a friendship with the late Joe Carpenter, the long-time Alleghany County High School baseball coach, in the late 1970s at a baseball camp in Syracuse.
Miles, who coached at Wellsville High School for decades, started bringing his teams to the area in the 1980s and this year, he brings the boys from his new gig at Avoca.
“I still enjoy what I do,” Miles said after last Tuesday’s win. “I think it helps keep me young. I love being around kids, I love helping them to maybe realize that they could do things they didn’t think they could do. That’s what keeps me going. I love to win and I’m in a great situation here where we can win a lot of games like we did at Wellsville.”
In the matchup with the Rams, the Titans scored seven runs in the second and two in the third to take control.
Abbott led the winners with three hits and Jamel Crowder, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning, drove in three runs.
The Rams, coming off a big win over district rival Parry McCluer one day before, were checked on just four hits.
Colton Williams had the big swing for Highland, a solo homer over the left field fence in the fourth, his second long ball in as many days.
Michael Campbell, Patton Hull, and Evan Kimble also had hits.
Ethan Moore was tagged with the pitching loss, allowing nine runs — five earned — over 2.2 innings. He struck out one and walked three. Zach Armstrong tossed the final 4.1 innings, giving up just one earned run, striking out four and walking three.
“Today, we got a little sloppy,” said HHS coach J.D. Hiner. “We were playing a great team from New York. They were an exceptional team. To me, the kids didn’t perform like I wanted them to in the last few innings. We had some sloppy errors and that goes back to keeping your head in the game. They have to stay focused. I didn’t think they fought quite hard enough for their pitcher in the last couple innings. But the pitcher we saw today from New York was outstanding. To be able to score a few runs on him and put the ball in play is great.”
Hiner said seeing a team with the talent of Avoca is good for his club.
“Today was a good experience for our guys,” he said. “For us to move forward in district and region play, this is the kind of team we will have to play against.”
For Miles and the Titans it was the continuation of a tradition formed by a friendship born nearly 50 years ago.
“We’re staying at the Pinehurst (Motel) and we’ve eaten at Cucci’s like we do every year we are here,” Miles said. “We’ve stayed at the Pinehurst forever. It’s kind of on its last leg, like me. But I love the guy who owns it. He does us a good deed and accommodates us.”
Miles was also complimentary about his trip to Monterey.
“It’s beautiful here,” he said. “Highland has a good team. I like that lefty (Armstrong). I would like to take him back home with me.”
The Rams (1-0 Pioneer District, 2-2 overall) hosted Bath County on Tuesday and go to New Castle today for a doubleheader against Craig County.

Last Tuesday’s Linescore
Avoca-Prattsburgh 072 001 2 - 12 9 2
Highland           001 101  0 -  3 4 5
WP: Haden Abbott; LP: Ethan Moore (0-2)
HR: Colton Williams (4th inning, 0 on)