Baseball: Spartans claim Battle of the Bat victory for first time in four years

MILFORD – Lake Forest High’s varsity baseball program turned in its strongest overall team performance of the young spring season Tuesday afternoon. And they did so on the road against one of its biggest rivals.

With an 11-5 win over Milford (1-5), the Spartans claimed its first Battle of the Bat victory in four years. It was also Lake’s first win of the season, improving their 2018 team record to 1-2.

“We didn’t strike out very much, we put the ball in play and made them make some plays, that’s all we preach,” Lake head coach Corey Wyatt said following the win. “We have a baseball team that’s going to fight and battle and that’s what they did up and down the lineup.”

Farlow surrendered just a pair of earned runs and struck out three batters in his five innings of work Tuesday afternoon (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Junior starting pitcher Jordan Farlow picked up the win on the mound, pitching 5.0 innings and scattering just four Milford hits and two earned runs with three strikeouts. Freshman Zachary Cole finished the final 2.0 innings on the mound.

“This win means a lot. We really worked hard on this,” Farlow said of the team effort. “We worked in the weight room all off-season and really pushed each other. It’s a big win for us.”

It wasn’t even Farlow’s best day on the mound, but he got the job done in a winning effort.

“Our pitcher, Jordan, didn’t have his best stuff and he worked really hard and battled through it,” coach Wyatt said of Farlow. “He didn’t have his plus stuff – his fastball is usually a little better and his curveball wasn’t on today. We stepped up, scored some runs for him in the first inning and gave him a chance to settle in.”

The six-run top of the first inning set the tone for the remainder of the game, as Lake’s lineup produced 11 hits and forced Milford to commit six errors in the field throughout the seven innings.

While the middle of Lake’s batting lineup (three-four-five hitters) combined to score a trio of runs, it was really the top and the bottom of the order that delivered the base-hits.

Junior Cameron Beulah went 3-for-4 at the plate from the lead-off spot.

Freshman Zachary Cole finished the final 2.0 innings on the mound for Lake Tuesday (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

His approach at the plate against Milford pitchers Bryan Bullock, Kadin Hudson and Cammeron Walsen was simple.

“I was just looking for fastballs and waiting for my pitch,” Beulah said.

When he finally did find his pitch to hit, he delievered.

Senior Johnny Forrest, junior Jaden Rivera and freshman Gabe Martin each had two-hit days in the two, seven and nine spots in the batting lineup.

Junior Will Parker, in the six-spot and playing shortstop, drove in a pair of runs. Martin, Rivera and Senior Tyler Chalmers drove in one run each.

“The freshmen, they really put on today. We had some great plays. All those tedious fly balls we had in practice – over and over – we didn’t want to do them, but they really showed here,” Farlow said of his teammates’ performance. “We did a lot of good things. Nate [McGray] did a nice job behind the plate, he framed really well. Our outfielders, they really tracked the ball well.”

After beginning the season with a 4-3 extra-innings loss to Dover and a 9-0 shutout loss to state championship favorite Cape Henlopen, a Battle of the Bat win could be all the confidence Lake needs heading into the team’s next two games this week.

Following the game, Lake’s coaching staff presents its players the coveted Bat, which goes to the winner of the annual Battle of the Bat showdown between Lake/Milford (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“Last year was a tough year for them. This year they’ve come out with a different attitude, they battled those first two games and then this game is proof of that,” coach Wyatt explained.

“We knew we started off with a tough schedule. Those first two games and then Milford’s always a tough team – and it’s a rivalry game, so we had something to play for,” he continued. “It’s the first time in a long time we’ve had the bat and hopefully it builds some confidence in them and jumpstarts us.”

“It’s a big confidence-booster. We should be able to come out and win our next two games this week and just try to win the conference,” said Beulah.

Offensively, Milford junior Caden Stanley and senior Caden Oplinger produced two-hit games and senior centerfielder Bryce Greenley delivered on a triple.

Stanley, junior Bryan Bullock, junior Brock Hilligoss and junior Mason Haggerty each recorded one RBI for the Bucs.

Lake Forest will host St. Andrew’s School (1-3) Thursday, April 12 and cap the three-game week with a home Henlopen South showdown against Seaford (0-5) Friday, April 13.

Milford will take on Tower Hill (2-2) Thursday, April 12 and travel to Laurel (1-5) for a Henlopen South showdown Friday, April 13.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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