By TJ Millman
For the second time this year, the Milford Bucs ended a game with a score of 8-7. This time however, Milford was on the losing end of the score, falling to Cape Henlopen in the bottom of the last inning. Milford junior Brock Hilligoss threw 4.1 innings, striking out six, and went 1-3 at the plate as well. Sophomore Chad Reichold led Milford with 4 RBIs on a late game grand slam.
Cape jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, scoring in 4 runs in the first three innings, but the Milford defense held strong to hold the Vikings to just 4. The Vikings were constantly putting the ball in play and ended the innings with runners on the bases as well. Despite Cape swinging early and often, Hilligoss kept the ball down in the zone and relied on his defense to limit the damage behind him.
Two early walks in the top of the 4th inning finally gave Milford a chance for some base runners, and the Bucs took advantage of the opportunity to bring some runs across the plate. Junior Jaxson Turner hit a double to the fence, scoring one, and started the rally. Hilligoss singled, helping out his own cause with an RBI, and then sophomore Ashton Jerman singled to drive in the third and final run of the inning.
The game stagnated until the top of the 7th inning when sophomore Chad Reichold stepped to the plate with his team trailing 4-3 and the bases loaded. Reichold, hitting in the clean-up spot, did his job and launched a ball deep over the outfield fence, putting Milford in the lead 7-4 heading into the bottom of the last inning. Junior Caden Stanley, in relief of Hilligoss, kept the scoreboard clean for the fifth and sixth innings, but in the bottom of the seventh the power of the Cape Henlopen lineup was too much. Cape scored 4 runs on a three-run homerun and then a walk-off solo homerun to end the game.
“We were up for the challenge, and we went out and competed. That was the challenge in front of them, they rose to it, and we were a couple of pitches away. All you can ask to do is be in the position we were in, next time maybe we’ll be able to squeeze it out,” Milford Head Coach Nick Brannan said.
For the Bucs, who have started the season 1-4, this game was actually a trend in the right direction. The Cape Henlopen squad is ranked nationally, and Milford played them closer than other team has this season.
“It’s a matter of confidence,” Brannan said. “Our guys are getting more confident in their play. Baseball is rhythm, and when you get into a good rhythm, some good things are going to happen for you. If anything, this gives us all the confidence we need. Next week we have two conference games, three in all, so we’re going after it. This is a great thing to happen for us.”
Milford’s next game is the Battle of the Bat against rival Lake Forest on Tuesday, April 10. The game is at home at 4:15 PM.
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