By Kevin Eickman
The Milford Buccaneers baseball team has been sitting atop the Henlopen Conference all season long. With the season winding down, Milford knew that they had some tough teams to play at the end of the season. After battling Sussex Tech and Caesar Rodney back to back, Milford found themselves with something they hadn’t had all season, a losing streak.
With Woodbridge visiting Milford last Thursday, the Buccaneers were in serious need of a win. As Sophomore lefty, Justin Hignutt took the mound for the Blue Raiders runs were at a premium. On the mound for Milford was senior Philip Berry, who kept the opposition equally off balance.
Berry allowed a run in the first inning and put up zeroes the rest of the way, mixing his pitches and locations well, in a performance that was at times dominating. With Hignutt matching Berry’s dominance, it was logical to wonder if Milford would be able to break through.
The answer came emphatically in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Berry deposited the ball over the left field fence, to tie the game at 1-1. “It was an inside fastball, that I was able to make real good contact with,” Berry said. Milford then proceeded to manufacture another run as Nathan Poore sacrificed Dylan Sammons in with the go ahead run.
With Berry continuing to keep Woodbridge at bay, it looked as if the Bucs would gain their much needed victory. Unfortunately in the seventh inning Berry’s control escaped him and Woodbridge was able to tie the game up. “I was probably loyal to Philip to a fault, he has pitched so many big innings for us, nine times out of ten he gets that last out,” stated Coach Nick Brannan.
Luckily for Brannan, Johnny Valdez promptly came in and pitched a huge strikeout with the bases loaded to end the inning. “Johnny has been big all year, it’s great to have a guy like that on our team,” Brannan said.
As the game entered the bottom of the seventh, Milford needed to put a run across to get the win. With Hignutt, who had only allowed three hits to that point still in the game, it looked to be a tall order. A lead-off walk to Garrett Coverdale changed things quickly though. In short order Dustin Reeder laid down a sacrifice bunt, and with Coverdale now at second, Tom Saxon was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Tanner King got the pitch he was looking for and drilled a line drive off the right field fence. Coverdale raced around for the winning run, and the celebration followed. “It was great to get a hit in that spot, it was big for us to get the win,” King said.
The win was big for Milford, who’s record now stands at 11-5 overall and 9-3 in the conference. The victory gives Milford the chance to win the Henlopen Conference title on Tuesday at 4:15 pm, when they host the 11-6 (8-4) Delmar Wildcats. A victory for Milford will give them the championship, along with a very good tournament seed.