Sometimes when you’re down, it’s easy to stay down. But in the case of the Post 28 Warriors baseball team, they fought right through a couple of tough losses and gained a couple of big wins.
After falling to Sussex West 9-5 on June 16 and to Post 1 Wilmington 7-6 in the first game of a June 18 doubleheader, they rebounded to win the second game of the doubleheader 12-7 against Wilmington and came back in dramatic fashion to beat Milford’s legion squad 10-8 on June 21.
Colin Warner (0-2) picked up another tough loss in the first game of the doubleheader against Wilmington and James Davis was pulled in the bottom of the third inning of the second game in favor of Trevor Abbott.
Abbott picked up the win by blazing Wilmington for four strikeouts while giving up one earned run on two walks and two hits in three innings of relief work.
“This is my first Legion win and it gives me some confidence to know that I can play with these guys even though I played varsity this past season,” said Abbott.
“Abbott is a good ballplayer,” said Head Coach Mearl Layton. “He was killing them in Big League ball. I think they threw a party when he left but to get better you have to play up a level.”
Abbott’s emergence came at exactly the right time, according to Layton, because his other pitchers just weren’t on their game that day.
“I don’t think James was on that day,” said Layton. “The difference in this game and the first one he won against Wilmington is that he was high around the strike zone.”
“Colin hasn’t been able to get over the hump. He’s a little tired after the high school season and right now we’re trying to keep his pitch count reasonable. Hopefully, he’ll come back from vacation nice and rested,” continued Layton.
The first game of the Wilmington doubleheader was marred by questionable calls on both sides. Both pitchers couldn’t locate the pinpoint strike-zone and Post 28’s Vance Collins was called safe after looping inside the baseline to avoid the tag by a waiting catcher.
The umpire called Collins safe after he avoided the tag, which sent Wilmington’s Head Coach Randy Chance into an uproar. Chance was ejected from the game and the remainder of the game was played under protest, despite Wilmington eventually winning the game. Chance returned for the second game of the doubleheader and apologized for his actions.
“I’ve never done that out on the field. I was wrong, but I had just had enough,” explained Chance.
Milford came to town on June 21 in hopes of returning the favor on an earlier season defeat at the hands of Post 28 but the Warriors were just that — warriors — and fought till the end to pull out the come-from-behind 10-8 victory.
“Our guys play to the end,” said Layton. “That’s how they played last year.”
After falling behind 4-0 in the top of the first and 7-3 in the top of the third, Post 28 shook off a couple errors and missed opportunities for outs and started scoring runs.
“We’re a good team and we just had to forget about the mistakes and play ball,” said Post 28 catcher D.J. Clark. “We’re all ballplayers here, and that’s what you have to do to win.”
Starting pitcher Jake Lee got tattooed in his first pitching appearance of the season for seven runs on six hits, while striking out five and only walking one. Lee had to be on his toes because Milford slammed three balls directly back at him – two richochetted off him for hits while he caught the other for the out.
“Jake has good velocity but he looked a little nervous out there,” said Layton.
Post 28 kept Lee within arm’s length of Milford by tacking on three runs with a little small ball in the second inning.
Vance Collins started it off with a RBI bunt single that scored third basemen Jay Marsh. After a James Davis walk, rightfielder Zach Spudis scored first baseman Kevin Van Vorst (hit-by pitch) on a sacrifice fly. Centerfielder Justin Collins followed suit by scoring Vance Collins on another sacrifice fly to pull them within a run of tying the lead.
Lee never recovered and gave up another three runs, which extended Milford’s lead to 7-3 in the top of the fourth inning.
After two quick outs and their backs against the wall, Post 28 started laying the lumber and regained the lead for the first time in the game.
Spudis drew a walk and J. Collins reached on an error by the shortstop, giving the Warriors runners at first and second with Jensen up to bat.
Jensen worked Milford’s Adam Pennington for another walk, which loaded the bases, and the tying run was now represented at the plate. Dean belted a two-RBI double, which scored Spudis and Collins to cut the lead to 7-5.
Clark then stepped to the plate, this time representing the go-ahead run. In his first two at-bats, Clark popped out and grounded out but an unblinking eye and a steady bat can change all that.
Clark ripped a two-RBI single, which tied the game. Clark was replaced by Abbott as the pinch runner.
Marsh punched the go-ahead run in with his first hit of the day – a big RBI triple. Marsh finished the day 2-2 with a single, triple, a run and two walks.
“Jay is a great leader out there that does a lot of good things, and the guys build around his confidence,” said Layton.
Marsh gobbled up every ground ball hit his way at third base and delivered each of them easily for outs.
Post 28 furthered their lead when shortstop Josh Dean powered an opposite-field solo homerun. Dean finished the day 2-4 with a solo homerun, double, three RBIs and two runs — one of which was a hard flop in the top of the fourth.
Clark knocked a double and was again replaced by Abbott, who in turn scored his second run and the final score of the game. Post 28 never relinquished their 10-8 lead. Relief pitcher Zac Spece (1-0) came on in the top of the fourth and gained the win in his second appearance this season.
“Zac has done a good job for us in middle relief,” said Layton. “It’s a whole different mindset coming in the middle of a game and he did a good job.”
Spece worked effectively in his three innings of work by only giving up one hit, one run and three walks while striking out two, forcing five ground outs and a throw-out by Clark in the fourth inning.
Spudis came in to work the final inning and he was his usual self: lights out. One, two, three — he knocked them down. The game finished with two strikeouts and a pop-out to Marsh, who had held onto the ball despite a converging Spudis.
Spudis earned his third save this season. Thus far, he has worked seven innings while only allowing two hits and no earned runs.
The win over Milford improves the Warriors’ record to 4-3, which is right about how Layton expected the season to go.
“It usually takes us about 10 games to start to gel. So if we can stay around .500 I’m pretty sure we’ll be alright,” said Layton.
Post 28 will travel to Dover on June 23 for a 6 p.m. game and to Delvets on June 25 for a noon game. Georgetown will play Post 28 at Indian River on June 28, with hopes of avenging an earlier loss.