Buff bats bombard Pioneers

By Matt Hill

   The Milligan College baseball team was like the Rolling Stones in the first inning of its game with the Tusculum College Pioneers Tuesday afternoon.
   Once the Buffaloes got started, they could never stop.
   Milligan scored nine runs in the first inning en route to a 14-8 triumph over the Pioneers at Anglin Field.
   "We've worked very hard all year long," Milligan designated hitter Jeremy Christian said. "We've put in the time. We know we've worked hard, and it's about time something happened good for us."
   A lot of good things happened to the Buffaloes early on.
   The Buffs had eight hits in the first inning, and let the Pioneers know how difficult things were going to be.
   Milligan's first eight batters reached base, and the Buffaloes batted 12 men in the inning.
   Milligan received hits from Chris Archer, Benji Whittemore, Todd Speas, David Hilton, Jeremy Christian, Dustin Price, Brad Hitch and Scott Shealy in the bottom of the first.
   Milligan led 9-0 after the first inning, and never looked back.
   It was an inning that Milligan head coach Danny Clark thought his team needed.
   "We've been struggling a lot, defensively more than we have offensively," Clark said. "I felt like we needed that for our defense to kind of relax a little bit. I'm starting a lot of young kids right now, and I felt like we did need that. But also it's a tribute to these players. They're starting to get the feel of it back again."
   Clark was expecting his team to hit like that, but the nine runs to start off did surprise him a little bit.
   "It's a plus," Clark said. "But we've been hitting the ball all year. I expect that. I don't know about nine runs in the first inning or not, but it's made our pitchers a little more relaxed. By scoring nine runs in the first inning that's got to be a plus."
   Christian continued to hit the ball well throughout the day, as he finished the afternoon with three hits.
   "I've been slumping a little bit," Christian said. "I started off really hot early on. I've kind of been in a lull. I've been working really hard. David Hilton and myself have been hitting about every night. Finally it paid off, and we'll see what happens."
   Clark was glad to see Christian have a big game.
   "Jeremy struggled there for a little bit," Clark said "But I felt like putting him in the DH role is letting him relax offensively because I felt defensively he had been putting pressure on himself. But Jeremy's been with us now for three years, I expect that out of him."
   After Tusculum scored two in the top of the second to cut Milligan's advantage down to 9-2, Christian ripped a single in the bottom of the second that brought in two runs to give the Buffaloes a commanding 11-2 advantage.
   The extra run support helped Clark keep starting pitcher Brad Zachritz in the game. Zachritz struggled, but the Buffaloes were never in danger of giving up the lead.
   "I planned on going with Zachritz for four or five because he's a weekend starter," Clark said. "Then he said he kept feeling better and better, so I was going to leave him out there. And obviously with a little cushion I could afford to do that."
   Milligan was leading 11-5 going into the top of the sixth when the Buffaloes struck again. With runners on first and third, Dustin Price singled to bring in Hilton and Christian.
   Milligan added another run on a dropped fly ball that scored Price to make it a 14-5 game.
   The Buffaloes cruised the rest of the way to take the victory.
   Price had a nice day for Milligan, as he finished with two hits. Mike Holt went 4-for-5 to top the Pioneers.
   Tusculum drops to 19-14 with the loss, while the Buffaloes improve to 14-18.
   Clark hopes his team is hitting its peak. The Buffaloes are currently on a five-game winning streak.
   "It seems like we've played better at the end the last couple of years that I've been here, so I'm hoping that it is time to peak," Clark said. "And I'm hoping that is what we're going to do."
   Milligan will be back in action this weekend against UVA-Wise.