By Rick Sheek
Milligan College baseball coach Nathan Meade likes the performance he is seeing on the mound.
He’d simply like a little more aggression with the bats.
The Buffs split an Appalachian Athletic Conference doubleheader with Reinhardt on Saturday at Anglin Field. Milligan dropped the opener 7-3 and took the finale 3-1.
“We came out flat, and I don’t understand why,” Meade said. “We had a good weekend last weekend. We won the series, but a sweep is what we needed to put ourself really where we needed to be.
“You can’t come out flat in those situations. I thought a little bit better the second game, but our approach at the plate wasn’t what it has been all day.”
Jake Watts lasted 42⁄3 innings in winning the second contest. The freshman scattered five hits, yielded an earned run, struck out five and walked two while hitting a batter.
In middle relief, Taylor Walker retired all four batters he faced in 11⁄3 innings. Jake Howell picked up his ninth save by sending down the Eagles (14- 24, 6-8) in order in the seventh.
“Watts threw a good game,” Meade said. “He’s been throwing well here as of late, and all our pitchers really. Our pitching staff has really picked it up in the last two or three weeks, and our bullpen — guys coming out at the end.
“Obviously Jake Howell has been solid all year for us. We’ve just got to get a little more consistent at the plate, but our arms gave us a chance to win both games. That’s all you can ask for.”
Ethan Fleenor absorbed the loss in the opener. The sophomore was touched for six hits, gave up three earned runs and walked one.
In 22⁄3 innings of middle relief Derek Long was touched for four hits. He fanned two and walked two.
Southpaw Tyler Wilson retired the final Eagle.
A double play ended Milligan’s first at-bat in the first game. Reinhardt surged to a 4-0 advantage in the second, thanks to Chas Pate’s run-scoring single, Collins Wold bunting in a score, and two runners crossing on a pair of errors.
The Buffs (21-20, 9-7) left runners on second and third base in the second. In the third, Milligan pulled within 4-3 after Joe Purus’ RBI, Tyree Jeffries’ run-scoring double and an error plating a score.
Josh Wilson’s run-scoring double in the bottom half extended Reinhardt’s lead to 5-3. Another double play retired the Buffs in the fifth.
The Eagles had completed the onslaught in the fifth. Jean Gonzalez blasted a solo home run, his 11th, and Michael Lonati delivered a run-scoring single.
Milligan left the bases juiced in the seventh. Jeffries batted 2 for 2, while Luke Kirk and Puris were each 2 for 4.
Reinhardt’s Bobby Rednour lasted 62⁄3 innings. He yielded seven hits, two earned runs, fanned four and walked five.
Zack Kles went 2 for 3. Gonzalez was 2 for 4.
The Eagles took the early lead in the second outing on Wilson’s run-scoring double. Milligan surged ahead 2-1 that inning after Kyle Kolat’s run-scoring single and Jeffries’ sacrifice fly.
The Buffs stand fourth place in the nine-team league with four AAC games remaining in the regular season.
Wesley Jones’s sacrifice fly in the second completed the scoring. Reinhardt left a runner on third in the fourth.
Wil Hogan hurled the first inning for the Eagles. He was roughed up for three hits, two earned runs and fanned one with a walk.
Brett Clayton fired the final five innings. He allowed a hit, an earned run, struck out six and walked one.
“The guy in the first game, we let him just cruise seven innings,” Meade said. “You’ve got to work the pitch count, get the pitch count up. We’re going two and three innings, and we’re seeing five or six pitches.
“It was frustrating, but we got two out of three. We go from here.”
Reinhardt 040 130 0 — 7 10 3
Milligan 003 000 0 — 3 8 5
Rednour, Oliva (7) and Smith. Fleenor, Long (5), Wilson (7) and Millsap. W— Rednour (4-4). L—Fleenor (4-4). S—Oliva (7). HRs—Reinhardt: Gonzalez (11).
Reinhardt 100 000 0 — 1 5 2
Milligan 210 000 x — 3 4 0
Hogan, Clayton (2) and Smith. Watts, Walker (5), Howell (7) and Clawson. W—Watts (4-4). L—Hogan (0-1). S—Howell (9).