Milford baseball season ends in two-day playoff loss

MILFORD – Unlike three other teams playing in the newly-formatted baseball state tournament opening round, Milford advanced to the postseason’s second day.

Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, they were playing the same team they had battled on day one.

Thunderstorms at No. 13 Red Lion forced the suspension of Monday’s first round game against No. 20 Milford. The score was tied 5-5 through nine innings.

When play resumed Tuesday at Dover High, Red Lion retired the Bucs in order in the 10th and then scored the game-winning run for a 6-5 victory. Later that day Red Lion lost to No. 4 Dover 10-3.

The Milford baseball team finished the season as the Henlopen South champion. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

The Milford baseball team finished the season as the Henlopen South champion. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Milford wasn’t without a solid opportunity to advance to round two. In Tuesday’s resumption, the Bucs sent the heart of their lineup to the plate but couldn’t get the ball out of the infield.

“We stressed the approach that all we needed was to get the lead runner on and we could do somethings there,” head coach Nick Brannan said. “But if you’re swinging in counts at pitches you may not want to offer at, you’re limiting the opportunity for the guy behind you to drive a runner in… especially if there’s no runner there. I’m sure nerves entered into it a little bit of it. Each of them wants to be the guy to get the job done. Wanting to do too much enters into it.”

The Bucs had their chances to keep the game from going to extras as well.

Senior Tommy Jordan led the game off Monday with a home run and Milford eventually took a 3-0 lead after the first inning. And following a scoreless second by both teams, the Bucs plated another run in the top of the third thanks to junior Ethan Hurd’s solo shot before giving three back to Red Lion in the home half of the frame.

Junior Abraham Mow later hit another solo home run to give Milford a 5-3 advantage, but a two-run blast from Jaret Bush allowed Red Lion to tie the game at five, where it stayed until Tuesday.

“I’m not ashamed of losing to that team,” Brannan said. “They made every play they had to. And they made some they probably shouldn’t have.”

Despite the loss, Brannan said he will walk away from the season with a smile on his face.

The Buccaneers were counted out by many prior to the campaign after their potential ace Bryce Greenly was lost for the season, but they still finished 9-9 and won the Henlopen Conference Southern Division.

“With the depth of pitching we had coming back, we overachieved,” Brannan said, adding that the graduating class of seniors will be missed. “I’m proud of them. Each of them are going to be successful young men. Some are going to play collegiately in baseball and football and others are going to college just to do well academically. I’m going to miss each of them. I have a pretty close bond with Shawn (Snowden). Tommy was one of the best players I’ve ever coached. Phil (Herber), you don’t replace that catcher. Dante (George) is a coach’s dream and Holden (Bailey) is a great competitor. Mikey Saxon threw his butt off (Monday), 5 and 1/3 (innings), to give us a chance to play today. Danny Burgos played a great defensive center field. Sacrificed himself at the beginning of the year and broke a thumb and just played defense.”

And, of course, Brannan is already looking forward to next season.

“We’re definitely going to be more experienced pitching,” he said. “The key of it is they have to work in the offseason to get stronger. They have to be more durable and when you hope to reach the postseason you can’t run out of gas.”

From the Milford Chronicle Sports Desk

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