By Kevin Eickman
On the surface it appears that the Milford Buccaneers baseball team is right where they want to be. Sporting a 12-1 record and possessing the inside track to the Henlopen South title, they look poised to make some noise in the State tournament. While the record is where it needs to be, there is one aspect of the game where Milford is still looking to find their groove, and that is at the plate
“We have had some timely hitting and we have scored the runs we’ve needed to but we need to start getting it cranked up at the plate,” Coach Nick Brannan stated.
Milford won two games this past week, the first of which came against a Sussex Central team that came into the game with a 4-7 record on Tuesday. While the Buccaneers came away with a 3-2 victory, they did not record their first hit until the game’s final inning.
“I felt like we have been really pressing at the plate lately,” Brannan said. “What happens in a situation like that is it can almost become a domino effect as one player after another are trying to pick their teammates up.”
The Bucs managed to record two runs in the first inning by virtue of a little wildness of Central starting pitcher Kyle Briggs and a crucial error by the visiting Golden Knights. From there, Briggs was solid in going six innings while striking out nine Buccaneers.
Milford senior Brock Hilligoss was impressive on the mound as well, scattering three hits over seven innings. After giving up a run in the fourth it looked as if Hilligoss might be able to make the 2-1 lead hold up as the teams entered the seventh inning. Central got going however and was pushed a run across to knot the game at two with nobody out. With a runner on third Hilligoss bore down and struck out the next batter. The next batter for central went down on strikes as well but not before Central’s Cade Keeler was caught attempting to steal home to end the threat.
“Hilligoss really bore down when he needed to and that was huge,” Brannan stated.
With the matter all square at two runs each, Milford settled the issue in the game’s final stanza. Hilligoss got one via error and then he was sacrificed to second with one out. After Milford recorded the second out of the inning, it all came down to freshman Mason Morris. Morris stroked a double into centerfield as Hilligoss scored to seal the 3-2 victory for the Bucs.
“Mason has been having a solid year for a freshman and when we needed him in the clutch, he came through for us,” said Brannan.
On Thursday, pitching was the name of the game for the Buccaneers again as this time senior Chad Reichold took the mound as against their Henlopen South rival Delmar. The Wildcats entered the game just as Milford did, undefeated in the South with the winner of the game gaining the tie-breaker advantage towards the Division title.
Reichold was solid when it counted in the game, allowing three hits and three walks, while also hitting two batters and allowing no runs, while pitching six innings. With a solid defense behind him Reichold kept the Wildcat’s putting up zeros as the innings ticked by.
“Again, Chad was big for us Thursday, he has been solid all season,” commented Brannan. “Our defense has been solid as well, really making some big plays when we need them.”
Milford scored the only three runs of the game in the fourth inning as the Buccaneers pieced together some timely hitting, scoring on a fielder’s choice, a passed ball and an RBI single for senior Dylan Layton. Layton also came in to close out the game in a three up, three down seventh inning to give Milford the 3-0 victory.
The Buccaneers need to win one of their two remaining Henlopen South games against Indian River or Seaford to clinch the Division. This week they Travel to Indian River on Tuesday, before heading up to Dover on Thursday. First pitch for both games is set for 4:15.
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