By Kevin Eickman
Last year things headed south very early for Milford baseball. After an opening day victory, the Buccaneers struggled. By the time they realized what was happening, Milford was 1-4 and on their way to a 6-12 season. When talking with coach Nick Brannan prior to the season, he thought one of the key factors in last year’s collapse was a lack of players knowing their jobs.
With North Caroline, Milford’s final opponent prior to the start of Easter break, the Buccaneers had a chance to start at 4-0. Like every other game this season, Milford was able to put runs on the board in the early innings. “Getting runs early has been real big for us this season,” Brannan commented. “Being able to score early has really allowed everyone to relax and focus on doing their jobs.”
With senior Dustin Reeder handed the ball to start the game, runs were at a premium for the visitors as well. One of the keys for Milford early in the season has been that while winning games, Brannan has been able to limit the pitch count of his staff. Thursday was a real good example as Reeder threw just 55 pitches in four innings of work. While Reeder was still doing his post game cool down exercises, junior Holden Bailey was closing out what would be a 12-0 mercy rule victory for the Buccaneers.
In addition to being sound on the mound, Reeder was also a force at the plate on Thursday, collecting two hits and 4 RBI. Speaking with Reeder after the game, it was easy to see that while he was happy with doing well, the win was what was most important to him. “I felt very comfortable on the mound and at the plate today,” Reeder said. “The fact that we were able to get another win is what matters most.”
While being off to a fast start is nice, Brannan knows that the Buccaneers have some things that they can work on over the break. “It is very nice to be in a position as to identifying areas that we need to work on,” said Brannan. “We are firing well right now, but we also know that there are areas we need to improve in, there will be challenges in the future that we need to be ready for.”
The entire team has embraced their roles this season and Brannan believes that it has been a key to the early success. “Everyone has just embraced their jobs, it has been fantastic,” Brannan said. “Nobody is worried about numbers, they just know that if everyone does their job we are going to be able to win ball games.”