With the state tournament on the horizon, the Smyrna High School baseball team defeated AI duPont 3-1 Wednesday in the Eagles final regular season game of the season.
Coming into the game Smyrna was ranked seventh in the state in points, with AI ahead of them in the rankings. The Eagles finished the season 14-4.
“I felt as if we were already in the tournament,” said Head Coach Mike Henderson. “We played relaxed and got the job done. It’s going to help us in the seeding and give us a couple more index points.”
The Eagles jumped on AI early in the game scoring two runs in the first inning. The bases were loaded in the first when Smyrna’s Corey Everage was hit by a pitch; he was followed with singles by both Ryan Seymour and Jared Gillis. Everage scored on an error. Seymour scored on a sacrifice fly to left field by catcher Nick Macey to give Smyrna a 2-0 lead.
The team added another run in the second inning when Justin Jones was hit by a pitch, moved to second on an error and scored on a single by Everage. AI scored a run in the top of the fourth but the damage was done as the Eagles went on to win the upset 3-1.
“They are a good team but were flat in the beginning and we took advantage,” Henderson said.
John Richardson pitched a complete game in the win, only allowing two hits.
“John Richardson did what he always does. He goes out there and gives us quality innings,” he said.
The last couple weeks of the Eagles schedule has proved to be difficult. Smyrna lost back-to-back games to CR (5-2) and St. Mark’s (3-0), but bounced back to win five games to finish the season including wins against Salesianum, Cape Henlopen and AI.
Henderson said the team just came out and did the same job they do every day whether it’s practice or a game. Even the wins have been difficult as Henderson said the Eagles faced some of the top pitchers in the state.
“They feel like no one is noticing and they are trying to turn some heads,” Henderson said. “In the game against Sallies the players said they want respect. I said ‘You have to earn it right here’ and they did.”
When asked if he thinks the team is turning some heads, Henderson said he doesn’t care anymore because they’ve “turned my head.”
The last competition day for regular season games is on Wednesday, May 21 but Henderson said the teams should know by Sunday what the state tournament bracket looks like. The first round of the tournament is Saturday, May 24.
Since the beginning of the season, Henderson said the team has improved both offensively and defensively. To be successful in the state tournament, the Eagles need to keep playing the way they have over the past few games. He said they’ll need to find ways to win.
“They believe in themselves and have from the start,” Henderson said. “I think we can challenge. We already played some of the top teams in the state and even have beaten a couple. I don’t think the teams themselves will take us lightly.”