By Ryan Boyd
On what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon in Media, Pa., the Delaware County Community College Phantoms (2-9) dropped a hard-fought battle to the Salem Community College Mighty Oaks (12-14) in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon by a final score of 15-2.
Salem Community College got out to a fast start by scoring six runs in the first inning. RHP Billy McMillan, who started the game on the mound for the Phantoms, struggled early on. The Mighty Oaks sent 11 men to the plate in the top of the first inning before McMillan was able to end the inning by striking out center fielder Ahmad Edwards.
The biggest blows of the inning came after the Phantoms had already fallen behind 2-0. Mighty Oaks first basemen Drew Tongue hit a two-run double to extend the lead to 4-0. Leadoff hitter Nick Toms, who was batting for a second time in the first inning, hit a single that led to two more runs for the Mighty Oaks.
After a six-run outburst by the Mighty Oaks in the first inning, McMillan settled in and kept the Phantoms within reach. He ended up going 5 1/3, allowing eight runs while striking out ten.
“I was finding the ball lower in the zone,” McMillan said when asked what he believed he was executing on more of throughout the game.
It was a pitching duel between the Mighty Oaks and the Phantoms for some time. As McMillan mowed down hitters on one side, so did Mighty Oaks RHP Patrick Montagna, who finished with eight strikeouts before being replaced by RHP Jake Herner to begin the bottom half of the fifth inning.
With one out in the bottom of fifth inning, designated hitter Joe Dougherty singled to put a runner on first. Right fielder Nick Faraglia followed it up by taking ball four to put runners on first and second with only one man out. They both moved up a base on a passed ball.
Second basemen Solomon Bayuk, who came into the game with only two hits on the season, had runners in scoring position and a chance to cut into the Mighty Oaks lead. He did just that by barreling up a two-run double to bring the Phantoms to within four runs. The Mighty Oaks’ lead was cut down to 6-2.
“First when I hit it, I looked at where the left fielder was at and he was playing way off of the line so I knew it had a chance to get down so I was thinking [a double] right out of the box,” Bayuk said. “I just heard my teammates screaming so I knew that it fell down and I got to second and just happened to drive in the two runs and do my job.”
The two runs that the Phantoms scored in the bottom of the fifth were the only two runs they would score on the afternoon.
Unfortunately for the Phantoms, the Mighty Oaks bats would soon come alive once again and ultimately put the game out of reach.
Shaun Maggitti, who entered the game in relief of McMillan, got roughed up in the sixth and seventh innings. The Mighty Oaks scored four runs in the sixth inning before tacking on five more in the seventh. Altogether, Phantoms pitching allowed 16 runs in Game 1 of the doubleheader between the two teams.
With the loss, the Phantoms dropped to 2-9 on the season. The Mighty Oaks got to within two games of .500 by improving their record to 12-14 on the season.
In a season where the Phantoms have fought hard, the mental part of the game is where Bayuk believes the team could execute a little bit better.
“I think it’s mentally,” Bayuk said. “I think it’s knowing where to go with the ball when it comes to you and just staying locked in for seven innings straight.”
Despite all of that though, players said they are just glad to be back on the diamond playing baseball.
“It’s been a miracle,” McMillan said. “Sarah Steinman [DCCC Director of Wellness, Athletics, and Recreation] really paved the way for us and got us on the field. We can’t thank her enough. It’s a blessing just to be out here playing.”
The Phantoms, after finishing off their doubleheader tonight against Salem Community College, visit Camden County College on May 8, where they’ll wrap up their season with a doubleheader.
The first pitch for Game 1 is set for 12 p.m.