The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


April 5, 2013

High school baseball: Bouncer helps Milton bounce back

We'd guess it's rare that a groundout has ever pleased a baseball coach as much as one early in Milton's game Wednesday at Shikellamy.

The Black Panthers loaded the bases with the game's first three batters, and then the next three made outs. Two were strikeouts, but the middle one was a bouncer to shortstop that plated a run.

"That would have been a huge momentum swing if they got out of that with no runs scoring," said Milton coach Chace Phillips. "I was definitely happy to get one there and draw first blood."

What's the big deal about an RBI groundout?

Well, if you missed it, the Panthers were coming off a 17-0, four-inning loss to Montoursville on Saturday. And if the score wasn't humbling enough, Milton -- with one of the Valley's most imposing lineups -- was no-hit by the Warriors' Andrew Null.

To put it in perspective, Milton hadn't been shutout at home (nor lost there) since May 16, 2011. The team that averaged seven runs on nine hits last season produced none of either.

"With a lesser group I think it might not have hit home as much," said Panthers coach Chace Phillips, "but with a lot of the older guys it definitely stung."

Didn't matter that it might be the only time in 1,000 that Montoursville would hold Milton hitless in a 17-0 loss.

So tempted as he may have been to laugh it off, burn the videotape and stamp the scorebook with "that's baseball," Phillips had to try to minimize the impact on a team with seven senior starters.

"I didn't want to mull too much on it then. I said, 'Go home. Enjoy Easter with your families. We'll talk about it Monday,' " Phillips recalled. "(On Monday) I said, 'Let's air it out. How did that make you feel?' A lot of guys were still upset with it; they really took it to heart. It was huge to come out and get a win (Wednesday)."

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