By Kevin Eickman
As the ball slowly dribbled down the third base line, it was obvious there was nothing anyone could do about it. Cape Henlopen had just dropped a bunt down the line and while Milford pitcher Jake Adams was quick off the mound, all he could do was watch. The ball traveled directly up the line, touching the chalk and looking as if it would head harmlessly into foul ground. Not tonight however, not on the final night of Milford’s senior league baseball season. Like everything else this past Saturday evening, it just had not gone Milford’s way
It wasn’t supposed to be this way, Milford was certain that they would find a way to advance to the regional tournament. After blowing through the District I tournament, this Milford had every reason to be confident as they entered the State tournament. “Based on how we performed in the District tournament, our confidence was high,” coach Dave Jordan commented. “That may have been part of the problem, we just came out like we were asleep and never seemed to wake up.”
Milford never got it going during the State tournament, falling behind early to Naamans and never really mounting a serious challenge. The lone bright spot was when Jake Adams hit a three run homer in the game’s final inning, to make the score a respectable 8-5. With elimination on the line Saturday, Milford started off the game hot as they had Cape pitcher George Lewis on the ropes. Milford had already scored the game’s opening run and had the bases loaded. Unfortunately for Milford they let Lewis off the hook in the first inning and it would come back to haunt them.
Cape wasted little time taking the lead in the bottom of the first inning as things just unraveled for Milford. They had already tied the score and were looking for more when a play that indicated just what kind of night it was going to be occurred. A ground ball headed to Milford shortstop Tommy Jordan, took a bad hop over his shoulder and Cape took a lead they would not relinquish.
A different Lewis took the mound with a new found confidence to start the second inning, making quick work of Milford. Lewis would last until the fifth inning as he reached the mandatory pitch count of 95, exiting with a 7-1 lead. It appeared inevitable that Cape would end the game early and they did just that, as Cape scored their final run on a ball that got past the catcher.
With the 11-1 defeat, the season was over for the Milford senior league players. While for some, their may be next year, this was it for a select few. Two of the players had played their entire little league careers together. Tyler Benton and Tommy Jordan were part of five District championship teams while playing for Milford. Also a big part of this group of Milford players were Jake Adams, Korey Mitchell and Dustin Reeder who have four district titles to their credit. When asked about his time with Milford Little League, Benton indicated it will always hold a special place in his heart. “It was a great run, being a part of all these championship teams., winning those with my best friends is something a lot of people don’t get to do,” Benton said. “I was lucky to have a dad who always coached and stayed involved in my little league career. He was there every step of the way, starting with tee-ball. Those are the kind of memories that last a lifetime.”
Talking with coach Jordan, he had nothing but praise for all his players. “These guys have conducted themselves with class and dignity every step of the way, it has truly been an honor and a blessing to have coached them.” When asked what was the greatest strength of this team, Jordan said it wasn’t about hitting, pitching or fielding, it was about his players commitment to each other. “These guys are all each other’s best friends, they are always there for each other and that is what will make these guys winners all through life.”