Call it a tuneup tour before Miller baseball embarks on a serious road trip — not that that’s anything new for this program. Coming off a road loss to Benedictine last Wednesday, the Mavericks bounced back Friday with a trouncing of Hargrave and then on Tuesday a 10-0 win over Fishburne.
“It’s a good win at home, but yea, we are just a two month road team really,” said Miller coach Billy Wagner. “After today we really start to get into what is basically the state playoffs you’ll see. You get to see the writing on the wall and where we really match up. I think we’re in a good spot but we still look forward going into hostile environments that we’ve gotten used to. This is going to be good for the guys.”
Ethan Chenault got the start for Miller six days after having a tough go of it against Benedictine. Chenault was on point for the four innings he pitched. Needing just 37 pitches, he sat down all 12 batters he faced, to do his part in the combined no-hitter. Carrson Atkins pitched the fifth and struck out the side with a walk sandwiched in between.
“That was a great bounceback game for Chenault,” Wagner said. “He was down in the zone and the balls that did get hit we made the plays behind him. Last time we were making errors and so it was tough. To come back and pound the zone like he did was great and I told him, ‘I’m getting you right back out there’ because I didn’t want him thinking woe is me. That’s the life of a pitcher. You get back out there.”
While Fishburne wasn’t able to hang with Miller offensively, Caissons starting pitcher Nick Broughman pitched out of a major bases loaded jam in the second inning to keep his team in it. But the Fishburne defense behind him had five errors, and with Miller figuring Broughman out the second time around the order, the Caisson’s best hope to keep things close wound up pitching three and two third innings before reaching his pitch count.
“This was good for us because (Broughman) was firm and had a good breaking ball,” Wagner said. “The defense gave us some breaks but seeing that velocity made us have to compete offensively and that’s what you want, it’s good for us.”
Miller got on the board in the first with Adam Hackenburg coming up with a 2-out double. Atkins followed that up with a single. Then Courtesy runner Brent Rice scored on an error to make it 1-0. The Mavericks got a bases loaded walk from Ethan Murray with two outs in the second to make it 2-0, but Broughman’s got a strikeout to end the threat without further damage.
The flood gates opened from their through. In the bottom of the third after an Atkins double, Jeremy Wagner followed up with an RBI double. After a walk and strikeout, Nate Burton came up with a 2-run bomb to left field to make it 5-0.
“We had the same approach, everbody,” Burton said. “We all were trying to hit the ball hard, not be denied at the plate. (On the homerun) it was a 2-2 count and he threw me a breaking ball inside the pitch before and then just left something out on the plate. I got a hold of it.”
Lucas Knight kept the rally going when he reached on an error. In the next at bat Jack Marshall also reached on an error to give the Mavericks a 6-0 lead.
Hackenberg singled to start the fourth. He scored after Jeremy Wagner hit another RBI double. Burton plated Wagner and Jack Carey two batters later with a 2-run double to inflate the lead to 9-0.
“Nate has worked so hard and put in so much time out her with his hitting,” Billy Wagner said. “It’s just great to see him go out and put it all together in big situations. I mean this was still a conference game for us. He came up big and I’m proud of the effort he’s given us.”
Finally, in the bottom of the fifth, Miller needed just two batters to close things up. Marshall singled to lead off the inning. Murray followed up with an RBI triple and the game was over by run rule.
On the day for Miller, Burton was 2-for-2 with four RBI. Atkins was 2-for-2. Jeremy Wagner was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Hackenberg was 2-for-3.
Miller (14-7) now heads to face Greenbrier Christian on the road in a potential VISAA Division 2 championship preview. The Mavericks then get the team they beat in the state title game last year on the road the next day with Atlantic Shores. Then after a weekend break Miller will stay on the road with another potential playoff team in Highland, get revenge opportunity with Benedictine at home only to hit the road, albeit not too far with a trip over to St. Anne’s-Belfield.
“This is probably the biggest two weeks of our season,” Burton said. “It could make us or break us if we’re not focused. Early in the season we weren’t as focused but right now we’re really hitting our stride. Hopefully that keeps up.”