The Indian River junior varsity baseball team ended a great season on a sour note, falling to Caesar Rodney 4-1 on May 12.
The loss is the lone blemish on their 12-win season and for some of these kids, this was their first loss — over the past couple of years.
Most of the Indians have played together through Little League and up to Selbyville Middle School, where they went undefeated two straight years.
But Indian River’s team of J.V. players has had so much success that eventually they had to lose. All streaks do come to an end, and their amazing winning streak this season ended in their season finale.
There was little offense from either side in the game, which cause a bit of anxiousness at the plate. Through three innings, the scoreboard remained bare — until Caesar Rodney was able to string a couple hits together to score the first run of the game.
The score stayed at 1-0 until the Riders tacked on another run due to an error, making the score 2-0.
Both teams had a hard time hitting the ball, but there is more than one way to skin a cat and Caesar Rodney finally found a way.
Their patience at the plate earned them seven free trips to first base — three of which were to the last hitter in their lineup.
Caesar Rodney worked favorable pitch counts throughout the game to get on base. They got three hits on 1-0 and 2-1 counts, and established good balance by showing the ability to hit a good pitch on unfavorable counts. They also got two hits on 0-2 and 1-2 counts.
The Indians didn’t fare as well as the Riders at the plate. They had five first-pitch outs, five outs on 1-2 count and five strikeouts.
“We just didn’t come with any type of intensity,” said sophomore Luke Wingate. “I guess we thought we would win the game and took it for granted.”
Down 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, the team hoped to rally. They reminded each other that they hadn’t had their big inning yet and to take their time at the plate.
With one out, sophomore pitcher Mike Casale launched a one-out solo homerun to trim the lead to 2-1. The homerun was Casale’s only hit of the game and only the team’s fourth hit. Casale struck out five batters but dropped his record to 3-1 after returning from an early-season rotator cuff injury.
Sophomore shortstop Sean Lewis went 2-3 with a single, double and a stolen base.
The Indians’ rally came up short in the sixth inning, and Caesar Rodney scored two more runs in the top of the seventh, taking the wind out of Indian River’s sails.
But the loss may have actually been a good thing for the budding stars. The varsity program is expected to lose several starters next season, and sometimes losing can make you better. Good players build on failures and learn from their mistakes.
“It was disappointing to end our season with a loss, but next season we’ll be better,” said Casale. “We’ll definitely get that win back.”