In baseball, they say if you can't see it, you can't hit it. But it's also true that if you can't feel it, you can't pitch it. It took Oakland Mills senior left-hander Kyle Madden-Stricker one inning to get a good grip on the baseball Thursday afternoon against River Hill, but once he did, he was lights out.
"Kyle looked good," coach Brian Rau said. "The first inning was a little shaky, just getting a grip on the ball, but after that he settled in real nice."
The Hawks scored twice in the top of the first inning, on a double by Billy Smalls, but Madden-Stricker allowed only three more hits the rest of the way, striking out six in five innings, and the Scorpion offense took control of the game when Ben Hale hit a two-run triple in the bottom of the second as part of a five-run inning.
"I don't like new balls because my hands are pretty sweaty, so the ball pretty much flies out of my hand," Madden-Stricker said. "After the ball gets rubbed around a little bit I start to settle down, and definitely when you have a four run lead in the third inning."
One inning later, Joe Zayatz hit a two-run double to right field. The Scorpions batted four lefties at the top of the line-up, including leadoff man Evan Russell (two walks), Hale, Zayatz, and Madden-Stricker (RBI).
Richie Lancashire drew two walks atop the River Hill line-up. Oakland Mills' Cody Thomas laid down a pair of nice bunts and reached base twice on errors, the last one ending the game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth.
Oakland Mills (3-0) has now outscored its first three opponents — Mt. Hebron, Fort Meade and River Hill — 22-6.
"This is the first game we've really had the bats wake up," Rau said. "Everybody 1 to 9 did exactly what they were supposed to do. And we got some breaks too. They had a couple balls they dove for which just rolled off the end of their gloves.
"The team is coming along pretty good. I've always said if the team can hit we'll be successful, and today we hit."
Around the league
Mt. Hebron 3, Reservoir 2
Brady Smouse held the Gators to two runs on six hits and two errors in a 3-2 win on Thursday.
Mt. Hebron's Matt Ansaldi hit a two-run single in the second inning, when the Vikings scored all three of their runs.
Reservoir battled back to score in the third and fourth innings, cutting the lead to one, and Morris settled in to hold the Vikings scoreless the rest of the way while striking out 14, but Mt. Hebron held on for the big early season win.
Glenelg 5, Wilde Lake 0
Glenelg shut out Wilde Lake on Louis Gillespie's 86 pitch complete game. Luke Brister stole five bases and Alex Melcher doubled and drove in three runs to pace the Glenelg offense.
Atholton 8, Centennial 2
Austin Feuerman blasted a three-run home run in the fifth inning, breaking open a close game with the Eagles. Centennial had taken a 2-0 lead an inning earlier on four Atholton errors. Before Feuerman's home run, catcher Paul Burmester hit a two-run single to tie the game.
Phil Frazier doubled and singled and scored two runs, while Brady Acker doubled and stole a base for Atholton. Nick Raulin also had a pair of hits for Atholton.
Atholton starting pitcher Michael Slayton allowed only two unearned runs in six innings.
Hammond 9, Long Reach 1
Derek Sicca and DeVon Griffin each had a pair of hits and a pair of runs driven in as Hammond defeated Long Reach, 9-1. Garrett Kelley walked twice and stole three bases. Freshman David Hutchison pitched the complete game for the Golden Bears without allowing an earned run.
Marriotts Ridge 15, Howard 5
The Mustangs offense peppered Howard with 15 runs on 15 hits on Thursday, taking an 11-2 lead after only two innings. Jake Bender (triple), Wes Carson and Connor Delaney had three hits each. Eric Brown struck out eight in only four innings, before turning the ball over to Grant Summers who closed out the win with two innings of scoreless relief.