By Kevin Eickman
With spring break in full swing playing baseball games can be difficult. Players go out of town with their families or sometimes they just are a little lethargic. With two games on back-to-back days, it presents even more of a challenge. That was just the case this past Wednesday and Thursday as the Milford Buccaneers battled Saint Georges Tech on the road, followed by Saint Elizabeth’s at home.
In Thursday’s home game pitching was the name of the game as senior lefty Dylan Layton took to the hill to battle the visiting Vikings. From the start Layton was on his game, showing solid control and keeping hitters off balance.
“I really made it a point to try and pitch from ahead today. Once I was up in the count I was able to really move my pitches around it was really effective,” Layton said. “It was kind of funny though, when I was warming up in the bullpen today, I just didn’t feel like I was on.”
Notwithstanding his pre-game warmup pitches, Layton was indeed on. In his most dominating performance as a Buc, Layton stymied the Vikings from the start. The senior went on to record 5 and 2/3rd innings of one hit baseball while striking out nine before finally tiring in the sixth inning.
“I lost the strike zone there at the end but we’re a team and I knew that my teammates would be able to close the game,” Layton commented.
While Milford entered the top of the sixth inning with a 3-0 lead, the advantage began to look tenuis as the Vikings loaded the bases with two outs. It was at this point that manager Nick Brannan went to the bullpen, selecting sophomore Cam Walsen. “I have a lot of faith in Cam and even though he is young, I had a lot of confidence in that spot,” Brannan said.
His faith was rewarded on a 3-2 count as Walsen popped up junior Joseph Trout. The ball drifted out of play into the stands on the third base side and Milford third baseman, freshman Aydin Zimmerman, reached over the railing and snagged the ball to end the rally. “Zimmerman really came up with a big play when we needed it,” Brannan said.
Walsen set down the Vikings in order to earn the save in the top of the seventh and secure the Bucs 3-0 victory. Milford scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings. Freshman catcher Mason Morris was hot at the plate, going two for three with an RBI to key the Bucs offense.
While the victory was nice, Brannan still believes Milford has not hit their stride yet. “We got the win and that was the important thing. However, we need to start getting better at the plate and taking advantage when the chance to have a big inning presents itself,” Brannan stated.
In their 6-3 victory over St. Georges Tech the day before, it was senior Brock Hilligoss that went 5 and 2/3rd innings allowing just two hits and no earned runs during the outing. While Milford scored a run in the second inning, the game remained close until the fourth inning when Milford scored three runs to gain a comfortable advantage. All three runs came on a bases clearing triple by junior Thomas Leighty with two outs in the inning.
“That was a big hit by Leighty there and gave us the breathing room we needed,” stated Brannan. “Once again we were able to take advantage of our pitching depth and keep the pitch count down on Hillitgoss.”
The pair of victories moved Milford to 10-1 on the season with some big games on the horizon. This Tuesday Milford will host Sussex Central before an 8-1 Delmar team visits the Buccaneers on Thursday.
“Every game gets bigger and bigger as the season goes on. You can’t look ahead though, you take care of the game in front of you,” said Brannan. “There are solid baseball teams up and down the state so you need to be ready each and every game.”
First pitch for both games is 4:15
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