C. Milton Wright’s first hit didn’t come till the fourth inning of its showdown with Atholton at Ripken Stadium, Thursday afternoon, but that didn’t stop the Mustangs from claiming a victory in the first round of their holiday tournament, beating the Raiders in Aberdeen, Md., 7-2.
The hit was the first one given up by Atholton starter Paul Beers, who struck-out four batters before his first and only allowed hit, as he retired from the mound after the fourth inning with a 2-0 lead.
But that was where C. Milton picked-up.
With a new pitcher on the mound in the fifth, the Mustangs posted three big hits to rally a four-run inning, seeing Nick Stallings put the first run on the board with an RBI-single to center, scoring Grant Caspero in a first and third situation, before Colt Hancok ripped a bases-clearing triple to the right-field corner, earning three RBIs and posting a 4-2 lead for the ‘Stangs.
“That was huge for us,” C. Milton coach Tony Blackburn said. “The first kid that they had for them, Beers, he was tough. I don’t know if he was throwing a splitter or a curveball, but we had trouble picking it up.
“Once he came out of the game, it really seemed to turn everything around for us.”
The turn did more than just the fifth inning blowup, but continued into the sixth, where the Mustangs added three more runs before closing out their 7-2 victory.
Tyler Dameron started the final scoring, brining in Justin Martin on a sac fly, while Stallings popped a two-RBI single with the bases loaded to cap the Mustang score.
“The first kid had a real lot of movement,” Hanock admitted. “Like coach said, he had a curveball, but he also has another pitch that he threw when he got up in the count that we were having a real hard time hitting.
“I guess he got tired and they took him out, and when they took him out we started seeing the ball more. The second and third kids didn’t have as much movement and the fastballs were popping a little bit more, and we liked that.”
Atholton’s scoring was held to just one inning, much to the pitching efforts of Steven Rappe, who entered the game in the fifth inning with a 2-0 deficit weighing on his shoulders.
“I just needed to come in and throw strikes,” Rappe explained, “especially since we were down 2-0.”
And Rappe’s strikes did magic, pitching just two strikeouts, but returning nine of the 11 batters he faced during his three innings of work.
The Raiders got s little bit of help in their two-run fourth, getting into scoring position with an overthrown ball and closing a run with a sac-fly shortly after.
Jake Yasenka and Jordan Thompson were the two Raiders to cross the plate, as Colin Gordon parked the sacrifice fly.
After the game, Atholton coach Kevin Kelly said the choice for Beers to leave the game was the player’s own, stating he was having problems with his shoulder.
“He was great,” Kelly said of Beers. “He has had some trouble with his arm and he told me at that point that he had to come out of the game. It was unfortunate, but that bad thing was I put [Jon Thews] in a bad position by not allowing him to warm-up.
“They got some key hits when they needed key hits, and it is a shame Beers wasn’t able to continue. He was throwing really well.”
Atholton will next play River Hill on Saturday, who took to the field on Thursday against St. Michaels.
“It was a loss against a good team, and we knew it was a good team coming in and we would have to play well,” Kelly said of C. Milton. “I want to play more people like this and get ready for the playoffs. I hope we learn from this and we get better from it.”
C. Milton will ride the high of their latest win when taking on St. Michaels in a Saturday afternoon contest.
“With our tournament, we try to bring in the best,” Blackburn explained. “We have St. Michaels and River Hill getting ready to play, two of the top teams in the area, so to get a win against a team like this is a big confidence boost.
“We are coming off a big win yesterday against North Harford, being first place in the UCBAC, and now being able to come out this weekend and play two quality opponents… we are just trying to get ourselves ready for the playoffs.”
C. Milton Wright 7, Atholton 2
ATH 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 — 2
CMW 0 0 0 0 4 3 X — 7