EHT baseball red hot, wins 7th straight
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — Pitching coach Sean Coyle had to leave Egg Harbor Township's game against Vineland on Wednesday in the second inning, as his wife was set to deliver a baby. No doubt Coyle was getting social media updates throughout the game, but he needn't have worried. Right-hander Drew Hickman was in complete command.
Hickman scattered six hits and struck out five in six innings of work, and Hunter Barbieri finished up with a scoreless seventh as Egg Harbor Township cruised past the Fighting Clan 8-0 to notch its seventh straight win. Junior center fielder Nick Milhan went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs as the Eagles broke things open early with two runs in the first, a run in the second, and two more in the third to take a 5-0 lead.
"We got three more runs in the second and third innings, and that took a lot of pressure off," said Hickman, a junior who threw 106 pitches to get the win. "Every inning they got runners on base. I just threw a lot fastballs at the end, let them hit the ball and let my guys make the plays. We're hitting the ball very well right now. We were making a lot of errors early in the season, but I don't think we've made an error during this win streak, maybe one or two."
"We're playing well right now. We have six games to play before the playoffs. Where we fall seed-wise and who we are playing, we don't know that yet until the weekend, but our approach is we have to keep these kids' interest. Some of the guys who maybe haven't been playing the last couple of games, we figured we would mix it up today. I told the guys we were going to play as many guys as we could today no matter what the situation was, and I think we got almost everybody in," said EHT head coach Bryan Carmichael. "We hit the ball well in preseason — like we are hitting it now — but we fell off a little bit, and that hurt us. That's why we started out 3-6. Our pitching has been pretty consistent. Our defense was a little suspect early on, but we're playing good defense now."
Egg Harbor Township (10-6, 6-5 CAL American), which hasn't lost since a 5-3 setback to St. Augustine Prep on April 21, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a Milhan RBI double and a run-scoring single by Antonio Caraballo. The Eagles tacked on a run in the third on an RBI single by Milhan, then added two more in the third as Jordan Sweeney scored on an error and Kyle Transue trotted home on an RBI groundout by Jeff Maul. That was plenty for Hickman, who worked out of jams in the second and third innings to keep Vineland (10-8, 5-6) at bay.
"Our chemistry definitely has risen since the beginning of the season, and our defense has picked up. That's probably been the key (to the win streak)," Hickman said.
EHT tacked on three more runs in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk by Ryan Baruffi, a wild pitch that plated Milhan, and a sacrifice fly from Transue that Vineland center fielder Ja'Ques Colon made a sensational catch on, ranging far to his left and diving to make the play.
"(Brandon) Riggs went seven innings on Monday (in an 8-0 win over Mainland) and Drew went six today. Right now, we're going on 14 straight innings of shutout baseball, so the pitching staff has been doing a great job," Carmichael said. "Now we're just trying to keep it rolling. (Thursday) is Senior Day, so all the seniors are going to start, some guys who haven't gotten an opportunity to pitch lately are going to get their chance to pitch. We just want these guys to continue to have fun. I don't want these guys sitting on the bench getting stale. We're heading in the right direction. I'm excited about this group. We're loose and we're having fun."
Contact Dave O'Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays