Early in a baseball season, the pitchers are generally ahead of the hitters because of timing pitches and seeing live action.
Such was the case on Monday afternoon for the Indian River-Polytech high school season-opening Henlopen Conference divisional crossover tilt. But the Panthers were able to scratch out a few more hits and one more run to defeat the Indians, 3-2.
Grant Argo had a home run for the biggest of IR’s three hits on the day. Tyler Bowen had a pinch-hit double, and River Vickers singled for the only other hit for the Indians.
“I thought we played alright defensively, and we pitched well,” manager D.J. Long said after the game. “Mitch [McGee] did a great job, and Kyle [Firle] came in and got us out of a tough jam there in the fifth. We had second and third a few innings, and just too many strikeouts with guys on base. Just couldn’t get the big hit to put it away.”
McGee took the loss, going 4.2 innings while allowing all three runs on seven hits. He struck out two and walked five. Firle covered the final 1.1 innings, surrendering just one hit, with a pair of strikeouts.
“Every time Mitch goes out there, you already know he is gonna throw strikes, and he keeps us in every game,” Long said of his right-handed senior pitcher. “It’s why I went with him in Game 1. For a first outing, [he] threw like 70 pitches and kept them to three runs — really should have been out of the one inning, but we didn’t play the ball very well. He’s definitely the leader of our staff. A couple of injuries have really set us back as a staff.”
Poly took an early lead, with two runs in the second inning with a two-out rally. Christian Roberts led off with a single, and two outs later, Ethan Clifford drew a walk. Payton Lahman smacked a double to score both Roberts and Clifford, but was thrown out at third to end the inning.
The Panthers banged out eight hits in the contest, with Roberts and Chase Rebeck each collecting two. Austin Biddle covered six innings to pick up the win for Poly. He allowed both IR runs on two hits, while striking out eight with three walks. Dylan Gros picked up the one-inning save with a pair of strikeouts.
“We have a lot of young guys in the lineup, and they are kind of feeling their way through this,” Long admitted. “With the injuries we have, we still gotta come up with a hit, and put the ball in play. In the last inning to tie the game, we have a man on third and we strikeout twice.”
The Indians were set to face Dover on Thursday, March 28, for their home opener. Results will be found on the Coastal Point sports Facebook and Twitter pages. IR will host Caravel Academy on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. before closing out the three-game homestand with Smyrna on Tuesday, April 2.
By Jason Feather