It was the first pitch of a wind-blown game between the Indian River High School baseball team and Seaford when sophomore CF Jacob Anderson took a swing on a high and dry pitch, sending a shot back toward the right-field fence for what he thought was a surefire out.
“I was looking to go opposite field with the wind blowing out,” said Anderson. “I thought it was a pop-up, but it just kept going.”
While the ball never made its way out of the park, by the time the Blue Jays managed to track it down as it one-hopped its way across right-field, Anderson was already one-hopping his own way across home plate to put the Indians up 1-0.
“I was rounding second, and it bounced in front of [the outfielder], so I just kept going,” Anderson said, explaining what went down in the stat book as an inside-the-park home run.
Anderson’s first career homer at the high school level may not have been pretty, but it both counted and set the tone for what was the team’s first win of the season and head coach D.J. Long’s first career win at the helm.
“I was pretty excited. I think the guys were excited, too,” Long said after the game. “We did what we were supposed to do today: came out and jumped on them early.”
The 9-1 victory over the Blue Jays put the Indians at 1-0 in the Henlopen South division, after getting the season started with matchups against No. 5 Smyrna, No. 10 Polytech and No. 2 Caravel.
“It was a tough schedule there at the beginning of the year, but we battled,” said Long. “It showed us some good pitching, so I think it definitely helped us.”
The Indians tallied 12 hits in Thursday’s win, with senior RF Zion Howard going 3-4 on the day, sophomore J.J. Killen recording two doubles, and both junior shortstop Mark Smith and junior catcher Cole Hitch finishing with doubles as well.
Senior pitcher Ulises “Yo-Yo” Barrientos got the start on the mound, pitching a perfect game through five full innings before giving up his only hit in the bottom of the sixth, when freshman pitcher Chase Hall entered the game to close things out in relief.
“We kept the energy up in the dugout,” said Anderson. “When we brought Chase in, he just shut them down.”
“We were throwing strikes today. Yo-Yo pitched great,” added Long. “Chase came in in a big spot and finished it out for us.”
The schedule wasn’t getting any easier headed into a match up against No.1 St. Mark’s on Saturday, April 1, but Long maintained that getting the first-win monkey off their backs showed his squad what they were capable of as they approach division play and aim to bring home the program’s first Henlopen South title since 2011.
“Hopefully, this carries us a little bit,” he said. “We’ve kind of been battle-tested already, so I think that gave us some confidence.”
“We played three Top 10 teams and did pretty well, so we’re feeling pretty good,” added Anderson. “We’re gonna try and keep it rolling.”
The Indians were scheduled to take on Sussex Tech at home on Thursday, April 6, (after Coastal Point press time), before looking to push it to 2-0 in the South when they host Delmar on Monday, April 10. Both games were set to get under way at 4:15 p.m.