By Matt Hill
For 12 innings in a doubleheader against UVA-Wise Thursday night, very little was going right for Milligan’s baseball team.
Knoxville product Ryan White changed the bad fortune and things turned in a heartbeat.
In game two of a double header after UVA-Wise won the first game 6-2, White broke a 2-2 tie with a double that brought in Luke Kirk for the first of six runs by the Buffs in the sixth inning in an 8-2 triumph in the nightcap at Anglin Field.
Milligan was in danger of being swept by Milligan, but then White came through with a huge hit that basically set off a chain reaction.
White’s hit turned out to be the game-winning hit and he had the confidence to come through in the clutch.
“I was looking for a good pitch right over the plate and I had some hard luck earlier in the game and I hit some balls right at people, but I knew I would get something to hit and I was looking at something over the plate to drive,” White said.
Two batters later Brandon Malone put the insurance on the comeback with a three-RBI double that gave Milligan a 6-2 lead.
Wesley Jones added insult to injury for UVA Wise by driving in two runs on a single that brought the game to its final score of 8-2.
Happy Valley product Jake Howell closed the game out in the seventh.
For White, it was a case of rallying the Milligan batters and just getting everyone confident.
“The thing with this team we have a lot of talent on this team and this year we’ve played well in spurts, but we just haven’t strung everything together,” White said. “I know once we get on a roll like that it’s going to be contagious. We’ll pick it up soon.
Malone’s hit was just as big as it set everything up for Howell to relax on the mound and get the save.
“I wanted to get my teammates in,” Malone said. “We fought back hard in the second game, but we have to pick it up and get sweeps.”
Milligan head coach Nathan Meade couldn’t have been happier with the sixth-inning heroics by his team and for battling through such a tough day.
“We finally woke up and swung the bat a little bit,” Meade said. “Ryan is a clutch player and he’s a veteran now. He’s been in a lot of clutch situations and he’s the right guy for that spot right there.”
When the ‘Buffs didn’t rest on their laurels, it showed just how much they are wanting to win.
“Hitting is contagious and a couple of guys get on things happen,” Meade said. “We have to do a better job of getting guys on early in the game, but we did a good job there.
Jake Watts from nearby Boone, N.C. earned the win on the mound for Milligan. Nathan Milsap topped Milligan with two hits while Joe Purus had a home run.
In game one, the Buffaloes were led in hitting by former Elizabethton High School standout Cory Hilton with a 2-for-2 effort.
Meade is not pleased with getting a split and would definitely like to see the 4-7 record improve.
“We don’t always want to be satisfied with getting a split and we’re not happy with getting a split, but we’re going to figure out and get the guys dialed in and we’re going to get going,” he said.