Baseball moves to 14-1, steals one from Forest

Indian River baseball refuses to let up, taking recent wins against Woodbridge and Caravel Academy. Their hot streak barely survived this past Tuesday, though, when they squeaked one by Lake Forest with a final score of 3-2. With the end of the season barreling down upon them and three conference match-ups still in their sights, there’s no room for error, as head coach Howard Smack and his squad fix their eyes on the state championship.

Coastal Point • File Photos: An Indian River batter takes a swing during a previous game. IR has won four in a row, and was set to play Dover this week.Coastal Point • File Photos
An Indian River batter takes a swing during a previous game. IR has won four in a row, and was set to play Dover this week.

“It was one of those games where no matter what you do, noting seems to be working,” Smack said of Tuesday’s game at Lake Forest. “I give a lot of credit to their pitcher. He kept us guessing. He had an overhand curve, a drop-down curve, a decent fastball. We had a few hits, but he did a great job on the mound.”

Luis Barrientos was able to score on a home run against Lake Forest for an early lead. “Luke had some good hits, too,” Smack added.

Lake Forest’s runs both came in the bottom of the sixth inning, threatening the Indians late in the game.

“At that point,” said Smack, “Trevor [Abbott] really stepped up big-time. It really showed the senior leadership he has. We went out in the seventh inning and couldn’t get anything, but he told me, ‘I got it.’ We had Nick [Kmetz] in the hole, but Trevor did his thing.”

Capturing the final out was a bittersweet assurance for Smack, as the narrow win improved their season record to 14-1.

“You win the close ones, you win the big ones, and it’s starting to come together,” he said. “Like I’ve been telling the guys all season, you don’t want to peak too soon. The state tournament is just a few games off.

“There are a couple of little things to tweak, like hitting the cutoff man properly, and everyone knowing where they belong in certain situations,” Smack added. “We’ve got some good hitting on the team, but we’ve got to work on consistency and bunching them together. It doesn’t help you when you have the top of the lineup hitting and the bottom hitting, but nothing in between, or when your middle guys are getting them and nothing following them up.”

“I’m happy just getting four in a row. When everything works together, it clicks,” he said.

IR was set to take on Dover this Thursday afternoon (after Coastal Point press deadline).

“You can never underestimate them,” Smack said of the Dover team, prior to the game. “They may be having a bad year, but they put on their socks and shoes the same way we do.”

Following the Dover game, the Indians will face two more conference rivals, Polytech and Laurel, before the season concludes, as well as Sussex Central and Salesianum School.

“Those conference games are really big for us,” he said. “Seaford’s been playing really well, and we need to finish strong in those games that count.”

Indian River will host Polytech on Tuesday, May 13, at 4:15 p.m., then travel to Sports at the Beach to go against Central on Thursday, May 15, at 6:30 p.m.