When one player isn’t hitting, another usually is. And in the case of Indian River, senior right fielder Jerry Meiklejohn provided enough ammunition to put the Indians overDover 10-0 on April 26.
Meiklejohn just missed hitting for the cycle, going 3-3 with a double, triple and three-run homerun to push past Dover. Head Coach Howard Smack and the rest of Indian River’s coaches had been waiting for Meiklejohn to hit the ball like he did against Dover. Meiklejohn was slumping at a .174 batting average. But with his great day at the plate, he improved to .269.
“Jerry was bound to break out with a big day hitting. Coaches King and Cordrey have been working with him on his balance and it seemed to work,” said Smack.
Meiklejohn, as well as the rest of his team, were shut down by No. 7 Newark’s pitcher Dave Essiner — with the exception of junior third baseman Brian Lynch, who hit a solo homerun.
Essiner struck out five while allowing only the one run and stranding six Indian base runners.
“Newark’s pitcher had a strange motion and it was hard for our guys to pick up his tendencies. I was always taught that you’re supposed to throw every pitch with the same motion and that’s what their pitcher did so well,” said Smack.
In addition to Meiklejohn’s big day at the plate, Lynch also seemed to have found his stroke as he, too, blasted a homerun off for his second of the season.
“Brian is finally hitting the ball like he would want to and it has boosted his confidence. He wants to contribute just like everyone else,” said Smack.
Another Indian River player who is playing with a lot of confidence is junior pitcher Colin Warner. Over the past three games, Warner has collected 32 strikeouts — including back-to-back 12-strikeout games. Warner and his squad easily defeated Lake Forest 8-3 on April 21.
Senior shortstop Josh Dean hit his forth homerun of the season in the sixth inning of the Lake
Forest game, to cap off the victory. Senior first baseman Matt Lewis followed suit by hitting 1-3 with two RBI’s.
In the win over Dover, Warner struck out eight but also got it done on the mound, hitting 2-3 with two RBI’s. Fellow pitcher and leftfielder Cody Jensen has helped Warner’s cause by hitting .286 over the past three games while drawing four walks and driving in two runs on one homerun. Jensen currently leads the team with an exceptional batting average of .577.
Warner now leads the team in wins (4-1) and has a staggering team-low ERA of 0.52.
“Colin has played very well this season but he hasn’t peaked yet. He has used a variety of pitches but he needs warm up a bit more. He’s a slow starter and if he prepares a little more, then he will be on top of his game,” said Smack.
Warner’s success on the mound can be partially credited to senior catcher D.J. Clark’s play behind the plate.
“I get a little emotional out on the mound and he cools me down and keeps me in the game,” explained Warner. “But sometimes I have to calm him down, so we help each other maintain our focus.”
“D.J. has a lot on his shoulders but he handles it really well. He’s in a tough position — micromanaging four or five guys. If I were giving him a grade as a catcher I would give him a 93 percent, but I’m waiting for him to take control,” said Smack.
Clark has done a great job behind the plate and managing the game. In any given game he may have to change his approach to suit each pitcher’s style.
Jensen is more a finesse pitcher, relying on ball placement and changing speeds, while Warner is a bit more overwhelming. In the game versus Newark, junior reserve Eric Givans pitched in his first action of the season.
Givans (0-1) had a tough day, allowing eight runs on nine hits while only walking and striking out two in the 10-1 loss to Newark.
“Eric pitched a pretty good game against one of the best teams in the state. We were looking for a third pitcher and Eric will be able to take some of the load off of Cody and Colin,” said Smack.
The 7-3 Indians moved to 6-1 in the Henlopen Conference with five conference games remaining. The Indians have ridden a four-game conference winning streak since losing to Seaford on April 7.
They will finish the season at Caravel on May 18 and may find out what kind of team they have built in that game.
“When we lost to Newark, I told them that if we get into the playoffs we are going to have to beat the top teams in the state, like St. Marks and Newark. We’re going to have to bring our A game,” concluded Smack.