By Kevin Eickman
There is one thing that is for certain about tournament baseball, it is unforgiving. The Milford Buccaneers baseball team entered the sixteen team tournament field as the number nine seed, setting the stage for a first round contest at Tower Hill Academy. Milford took the trip up to Wilmington on Tuesday, with senior Philip Berry taking the hill.
The contest was like so many of the other games that Milford had played during the course of this up and down season. The Hiller’s showed up with their hitting shoes on, keeping Berry and the Milford defense on their toes. In a game that saw Milford surrender hits, the Buccaneers somehow managed to keep Tower Hill off the board until the third inning. In that third inning Tower hill scored two runs, and looked to be taking control of the game. Tower Hill senior Evan Mitchel was solid on the day, keeping the Buccaneers off the board until the top of the first inning, when Milford made the score 2-1.
Milford entered the seventh inning with their season on the line, and much like they had all season long, the Bucs found a way to get it done. The Bucs managed to score two in the top of the seventh, but failed to close out the game as Tower Hill managed to push a run across in the bottom of the inning.
What followed was a test of wills, as both teams had their chances to win the game. Luckily for the Buccaneers, Johnny Valdez was on top of his game. “We are were lucky to have Johnny out there for us on Tuesday, he has been solid for us all season long,” Coach Nick Brannan stated.
The Buccaneers finally scored in the top of the ninth, as Dustin Reeder drove in Jason Parker with the go ahead run. Valdez was able to close out Tower Hill in the bottom of the ninth inning, setting up a Thursday match up with top seeded Saint Elizabeth’s in the second round of the State Tournament.
Milford knew that they had their work cut out for them, as they faced a Viking squad that had lost just two games all season. Garrett Coverdale took the mound for Milford, facing off against Saint Elizabeth lefty Jared Harrison. The Vikings scored two runs in the second inning, then added three more in the fourth making it 5-0.
The Buccaneers had their chances, but each time they were poised to strike, Harrison would find a way to get out of the inning “We just didn’t get the big hits when we needed them,” Brannan stated,. “When you have your chances against a quality team like Saint E’s, you have to take advantage of them and we failed to do that.”
Milford finally managed to score a run in the seventh inning, but that would be all they could muster on the day. The loss ended the season for Milford, one game short of a return trip to Frawley stadium. While the loss is disappointing, the future looks bright for Milford. “This was a tough year, but we have raised the bar for ourselves.” Brannan added “We will have six starters coming back next season, and we will be looking to improve again.” Milford finished the season with a 12-6 record, and won the Henlopen Northern division.