By Kevin Eickman
One of the more difficult things to do in High School baseball is play games back to back. However that was just what Milford did this week as they improved to 8-1 on the season. Tuesday Milford matched up against Polytech, following the Buccaneers initial loss of the year to top ranked Sussex Tech. The loss to Tech was fresh in the minds of the Bucs and they set out to make amends.
“The best thing you do after a tough loss like that is focus on what you could have done better and work on it, but get past it,” Coach Nick Brannan said.
That is exactly the mindset the Buccaneers displayed against the Panthers as they got off to a quick start scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning. It was a lead that looked solid with Milford senior Brock Hilligoss on the mound. “I was just really loose out there today,” Hilligoss said. “I really was just kicking back and firing. I was trying to go right at the batters and get outs.”
With Milford adding another pair of runs in the third inning and Hilligoss on cruise control it looked as if Milford was on their way to a comfortable victory. In the top of the sixth inning however, Polytech looked to stage some late game heroics as Hilligoss began to look a bit tired. He bore down however and managed to preserve the 4-0 lead, completing his day with nine K’s on 95 pitches while allowing no runs.
With Milford leading the game 4-0 in the final frame, sophomore Cam Walsen closed out the issue, striking out the side in impressive fashion. The impressive finish to the game by Walsen was just a preview of what was to come the following day.
“We are blessed to have a fairly deep pitching staff and Cam has really pitched well to work his way up the ladder,” said Brannan. “We have pitchers battling for innings and he has earned his way onto the hill.”
With no rest, Milford came back on the field in less than 24 hours as they hosted the Smyrna Eagles. The visitor’s came ready to play as they scored the first run of the game in the top of the third, while keeping the Milford bats quiet.
While Milford only recorded four hits in the game, they made them all count as the Buccaneers came alive in the bottom of the fourth inning. After tying the score at 1-1, senior Jaxson Turner stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two men out. With the count even at 2 and 2, Turner ripped a bases clearing triple to right as Milford took a 4-1 lead.
Smyrna did not go quietly however as they scored a run in the fifth as Buccaneers starting pitcher Chad Reichold completed his work for the day. He allowed only one earned run while striking out eight in the contest.
The Eagles squared the game 4-4 in the top of the sixth, putting the issue in doubt. The Bucs quickly responded, scoring three runs of their own allowing them to enter the top of the seventh inning with what looked to be a comfortable 7-4 lead.
Once again Smyrna refused to yield and began staging a comeback. Aided by a Milford error, Smyrna closed the gap to 7-6 with Walsen now on, in relief for the Buccaneers. The Milford sophomore recorded his first career save and give Milford the victory as he got the final Polytech batter to line out to freshman shortstop Shawn Saxon.
Halfway through the season Milford now sits at 8-1 (7-1) but there is still a lot of work to be done. When reached for comment, Brannan responded, “We’d like to continue becoming a more balanced team, getting contributions from our entire lineup, as opposed to the usual suspects.”
Milford will return to action on the April 24 as they travel north to battle St. Georges Tech before hosting Saint Elizabeth on the April 25. First pitch for the Saint Elizabeth s game is set for 4:15 pm.
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