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The long-awaited baseball season began after Mother Nature took care of the preceding week of games. The Milan Wildcats were host to the North Harrison Shamrocks in the home season opener on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. This was a non-conference battle, next year the Shamrocks will be joining the Grand Rivers Conference.
The Wildcats fell behind early, battled back, but could not catch the Shamrocks, falling 13-3 in 6 innings.
Mallan Cole took the mound for the Wildcats and threw the first inning. Mallan tossed 43 pitches, 23 for strikes, gave up 6 runs on 3 hits, 1 Milan error and walked 4. Blayton followed Mallan with no outs in the second inning and bases were loaded. Blayton had 1 run scored on him in the second. Milan trailed 7-0 after 2 innings of play.
Milan’s Mallan Cole collected the Wildcats’ first hit of the season with a 1 out single to center. Mallan was erased from the base path with an attempted steal.
The Wildcats Deric Doporto opened the bottom of the second with a single to right field, advanced to second on a wild pitch, but was thrown out at third on an attempted steal of third base with 2 outs. North Harrison 7, Milan 0 after 2 innings.
Blayton Dibble began the top of the third, allowed a single fly out, strike out, but loaded the bases with 2 straight walks. Jeremy Bennett replaced Blayton, issued a walk bringing in one run, but forced a pop-up to first leaving the bases loaded. The line on Blayton 1 2/3, 43 pitches, 19 strikes, 2 runs allowed on 2 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 2.
Milan began to rally in the home half of the third. With one out, Jeremy Bennett was hit-by-a-pitch, Bryce Sinclair singled to right. With the count one strike to Mallan Cole, the next pitch was tattooed to left center field for a home run and the Wildcat cut into the deficit. The home run was a line drive and got out of the pack quickly. Two ground outs ended the inning, but Milan scored their first runs of the season. North Harrison 8, Milan 3 after 3 innings.
Jeremy pitched to 7 batters in the top of the fourth but could only retire 1 batter. Four runs scored, two were on base when the pitching change to Brady Sayre. Brady coaxed a ground out, walked a batter to load the bases, but left them stranded with a pop-up to first base. North Harrison answered with 4 runs and led 12-3 after 3 ½ innings.
Jeremy’s pitching line 2/3 of an inning, 40 pitches, and 15 strikes. Four runs issued one hit allowed, 5 walks, and 1 strike out.
Milan went down 1-2-3 in the fourth and trailed 12-3 after 4 complete innings.
Brady set the Shamrocks down in order for the first time of the game in the top of the fifth. Milan threatened in the bottom half but came up empty leaving the bases loaded. Grayson Smith reached on an infield single, was erased on a fielder’s choice. Mallan was hit-by-a-pitch and another infield single by Ryan Smith loaded the bases.
Brady allowed a run in the top of the sixth after 2 were out. A double, a solen base, and a wild pitch produced the 13th run. Brady’s line 2 2/3 innings, 41 pitches, 1 run, 1 hit, 1 wild pitch, 1 hit batter, 2 walks, and 1 strike out.
Milan had 2 on with 1 out but failed to produce.
Mallan led the offensive attack with 2 for 2, one a powerful home run driving in the 3 Wildcat runs. He was hit-by-a-pitch and scored a run. Bryce Sinclair, Ryan Smith, Deric Doporto, and Grayson Smith had 1 single apiece.
Bryce and Jeremy Bennett scored one each. Jeremy also hit-by-a-pitch. Brady Sayre walked twice, and Blayton Dibble 1.