The bats were not exactly on fire for La Plata Post 82 early in its game with visiting Hughesville Post 238 in a June 6 American Legion baseball clash at La Plata High School.
But though the hosts had just one hit through two innings, they had already managed to build a 3-1 lead, an edge that quickly grew into an insurmountable lead once the offense started producing hits in what ultimately ended an 11-1 La Plata win in five innings.
“It was a really solid team game,” La Plata head coach Dave Harris said. “We took the balls when they were balls and we swung at strikes. They helped us early, made a couple errors which got us started. We continued on the rest of the game. We hit the ball. It’s kind of hard because they’re very young and we’re very young. There are no individual standouts, it’s a team game right now. The guys all played together.”
Hughesville (1-2) scored in the top of the first, as Evan Sheldon beat out on infield single and eventually scored on EJ Hampton’s groundout. But La Plata (2-1), which was coming off a run-rule win over Calvert Legion in its previous game, took advantage of a few Hughesville miscues in the inning’s bottom half to tie the score and added a couple more runs in the second inning without the benefit of a base hit to go ahead to stay.
The hosts blew the game open in the bottom of the third, tacking on five runs to lead 8-1. Travis Bradley, Colby Murphy and Trevor Drummond each had RBI hits in the frame, while Dyllan Sheldon added a sacrifice fly that plated Drummond with the inning’s final run.
La Plata scored twice more in the fourth and brought the game to an early end in the fifth after Bradley’s double drove in the game’s final run.
Given the relative inexperience on this year’s roster, Drummond, one of the team’s more experienced members, thought the win was important to try to build some early season momentum.
“We won our last game and knew coming into this it was important to keep the streak going,” said Drummond, after a game in which he went 1 for 1, scored twice, walked once and was hit by two pitches. “We have a lot of young guys this year compared to the last couple years, and they’re really starting to show up. Most of the team is young. We hit, pitched and fielded well. It was an all-around good game for us.”
Conversely, Hughesville struggled in the field at times, giving away several outs and many free bases. The team was relatively fortunate to avoid further damage in the first two innings, which saw La Plata build a 3-1 lead but leave five runners on base. The good fortunate did not last.
“Today was one of those games where you knew you couldn’t walk that tightrope forever,” Hughesville head coach Chris Gase said. “We kind of dodged bullets in the first and second innings with some errors. After two we were only down 3-1 and were still in it. That third inning we kind of slipped off that tightrope. One error became two and then one run became three and then the next thing you know we’re down 6-1, 7-1. It’s pretty tough to climb out of that hole against this team. ... It’s a young team and a bunch of players that haven’t played together that we’re trying to mesh together kind of on the fly right now. We have a lot of young talent, it’s just trying to mesh it together.”
“We’ll get back to work,” Gase said. “We have kids who are hungry and want to be good. We’ll get back to work through practice and come out Tuesday and hopefully get a win and fix some of these issues.”
Just three games into the season with what is largely a new team through June 6, La Plata still is learning about itself, as well.
“We’re learning that we’re solid all the way around,” Harris said. “We’re learning that our guys are willing to come out and hustle, willing to play different positions and they give everything they’re asked. If I ask a guy to go out there and run and that’s all they’re going to get to do, they’re happy with it. They all want to be here and they want to be here as part of a team, which is a very nice thing to have.”
“We have different position players this year, different guys are pitching,” added Drummond. “Most of the guys on the team haven’t been on the team the last couple years. It’s new to get used to, but it’s early in the year. We’re starting to get the hang of it, so that’s a good thing.”