The momentum was all but lost for the Indian River High School baseball team headed into their matchup against Seaford on Saturday, April 23.
A tough stretch of schedule had kept the young squad from the win column through nine games, and a tough stretch at that plate had kept them off the board through four innings.
Enter senior 2B/P Jake Hudson. With his team down 4-0, Hudson got the Indians out of the fifth inning with only five pitches — forcing two outs on his first two counts, then racking up three strikes for the trifecta as the momentum began to swing along with the frustrated Blue Jay bats.
“Anytime you get out of an inning with five pitches, it just picks the team up and makes you start believing,” said head coach Chris Megee. “[Jake] had a lot of confidence on the mound.”
“J.J. did a great job pitching for us, got us out of a couple of hard innings,” Hudson said of freshman 2B/P J.J. Killen, who threw 81 pitches and notched two strikeouts to start the game.
“I just knew I could get the job done. I knew that my defense could pick us up. Without the defense behind me when I was on the mound, we would have never gotten out of some of the innings that we did.”
That momentum carried over to the offense, when the bats began to crack, along with the Seaford lead, in the bottom of the fifth inning.
First, it was sophomore Myles Clark getting on base, threatening to score when Hudson sent him to third on a blast down the right-field line for a single.
Freshman CF Jacob Anderson kept things going with a deep shot to right field for an RBI that scored Clark and sent Hudson to second to get the Indians on the board after that, and sophomore shortstop Mark Smith would load the bases with a walk on the next at-bat.
Then, junior LF Zane Richard sparked some of his signature “inZanity” by rocking a shot to deep center, to score Hudson and Anderson for RBIs that cut the lead to 4-3.
Still with no outs, senior DH Joey Anderson would score Smith and Richard, to give the Tribe a lead that they’d never relinquish, ripping a shot down the third-base line and making it 5-4.
“We went into the fifth inning wanting to get something started,” said Jacob Anderson. “Once the momentum started going, we started going around, starting getting more and more momentum. That kind of broke it loose.”
After senior OF Deshawn Aiken got one to land in right for a single and went on to steal second, freshman 3B Grant Argo took the plate and made it 6-4 with an infield RBI that scored Anderson and sent Aiken to third as the Indians looked to add some insurance.
Another RBI from Hudson, this time down the left field line, would give the Indians a 7-4 advantage before the hitting rally ended.
“When everyone starts believing, everyone on the bench, that’s the biggest thing. You get up there and you can feel the energy of the whole team,” Hudson explained of the rally. “Hitting is contagious. Everyone hit. One through nine hit the ball.”
Two RBIs from junior 1B Ulises Barrientos-Zamora on a base hit would push the lead to 9-4, as the Indians closed down the game to tally their first win of the season, looking to carry their newfound momentum with them.
“My hats are off to them. They played hard today,” Megee said of his squad. “I think this is the start of something.”
The win streak continued on Tuesday, April 26, when the Indians routed Laurel 19-4 for their second win of the season and to improve to 2-2 in the Henlopen South. They’ll look to keep the momentum rolling when they head to Milford (6-5) for another division matchup on Thursday, April 28, (after Coastal Point press time). That game was set to begin at 4:15 p.m.
IR game stats vs. Seaford:
Batting: D. Aiken (2-3), Z. Richard (2-3), Jo. Anderson (2-4), J. Hudson (2-4), Ja. Anderson (1-4, double)
RBI: Jo. Anderson (2), Z. Richard (2), Ja. Anderson (1), U. Barrientos-Zamora (1), J. Hudson (1)
K: J. Killen (2), J. Hudson (1)