After making an appearance in last year’s DIAA Baseball State Tournament, there was an expectation of a return visit to the postseason this year for the Milford Buccaneers.
However, expectations and reality are rarelys similar and early on this season, the Bucs struggled out of the gates. While they’ve turned the tide a bit, there’s plenty of work to be done with still half a season in front of them.
Milford opened the season inauspiciously, losing five of their first six games, falling to Caesar Rodney, Hodgson, St. Georges Tech, Cape Henlopen and Lake Forest, with their only victory during that stretch coming against Henlopen South opponent, Woodbridge.
Over that stretch, the offense struggled to find consistency, while the team’s pitching also came up short in inopportune times.
While things didn’t go well earlier in the season for Milford, they’ve begun to take steps toward turning their season around as of late.
After a matchup against Tower Hill was called, tied 12-12, due to darkness, the Bucs went on to win each of their next two games, coming away with huge conference victories over Laurel and Sussex Tech.
Perhaps just as important as the two wins was the way the Buccaneers earned them.
Bryce Greenly, Dominic Robles, Brock Hilligoss and Ashton Jerman finished with multiple hits in an 11-1 win over the Bulldogs, while Chad Reichhold starred on the mound, giving up just one run off three hits in five innings of work.
Hilligoss and Jaxson Turner combined for five RBI, Greenly and Caden Stanley added multi-hit games to lead the offense backed by another solid pitching performance from Reichold, who struck out eight in a 6-4 win over the Ravens.
The explosion at the dish along with Reichhold's outings on the bump were sorely needed for a struggling Bucs team.
Over their first six games, the Bucs scored just 26 runs. Counting the called game against Tower Hill (resuming at Tower Hill Sat. 5/12), Milford tallied 33 runs in their next four games.
After the ups and downs at the start of the season, the Bucs’ recently play is more of what they expected before this year’s campaign began.
“We expect our players to demand each other’s best,” said Milford Head Coach Nick Brannan. “Right now, we see more heart and hustle from top to bottom than we have seen in some time, it’s exciting and refreshing.”
If the Buccaneers hope to continue their trend upward, they’ll have to past several stiff test along the way. Upcoming, Milford will take on several tough out-of-conference teams, such as St. Elizabeth and Archmere. They’ll also have conference matchups against Sussex Central, Delmar, Indian River, and Seaford.
“We need to focus on executing when opportunities present themselves,” Brannan said. “And making those seven innings as difficult as we can for our opponents.”