By Kevin Eickman
Baseball can be a frustrating game sometimes and that’s just what it was this past Saturday as the Milford Buccaneers hosted the Cape Henlopen Vikings. In a game which many people expected pitching to shine, it did just that. It did so however in a manner that most people did not expect. Both teams had tremendous scoring opportunities but it was Cape that managed to get the big hits when it counted, leaving Milford to wonder what could have been.
“We had our chances today and just could not get the big hit when we needed it. Sometimes the game just doesn’t go your way and that was what happened to us today,” Milford coach Nick Brannan said.
Cape had the first chance to score in the game’s opening frame with two outs in the inning and senior Tim Vitella on second. Viking Mason Fluhraty singled up the middle. Milford senior Jaxson Turner gunned down Vitella at the plate to keep the Vikings from taking the lead. “Jaxson had a real good game out there today, two spectacular plays and another that he didn’t make but I couldn’t even believe he got a glove on it,” stated Brannan.
Milford threatened in the bottom of the first, stranding runners on second and third with one out as Cape junior Lucas Johnson struck out the next two Buccaneers he faced to escape the inning unscathed. “Johnson was really on today, as he is most days. He is a State Champion and the moment never seems to big for him,” Brannan commented. “For our part however, if we could have gotten the big hit when we needed it things could have been much different.”
Cape got on the board in the top of the second as senior Luke Smaller doubled to left, scoring junior Robert Baxley. Milford junior Chad Reichold battled through five innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs through five innings. Reichold ended up striking out eight on the day as well.
Perhaps the greatest indication that this was not Milford’s day was the bottom of the third inning. The Buccaneers managed to load the bases with nobody out but what followed was a clinic by Johnson. After falling behind to freshman Aydin Zimmerman 3-1, Johnson battled his way back to strike Zimmerman out for the innings first out. Johnson also struck out the next two Buccaneers to end the threat.
After Cape added two runs in the top of the fifth inning to up the advantage to 3-0, Milford was running out of time. The only thing working in their favor was that the pitch count for Johnson who left following the fifth inning after giving up Milford’s first run of the game as the Bucs closed the gap to 3-1.
Milford closed the gap to 3-2 as Zimmerman plated Turner on a sacrifice fly. That would be it for the Buccaneers however as they went quietly to end the sixth and seventh innings.
While the loss was a disappointment, Brannan refused to let one game define the season. “Nobody expected us to even make the tournament. To go 16-2 and win the Henlopen South is something to be proud of. We had some very young players out there who gained a great deal of experience this season. It’s going to serve them well going forward.”
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