The John Milledge Academy baseball seniors enjoyed a very memorable Senior Day game Monday.
All nine of the program’s seniors got the starting nod against non-region opponent Edmund Burke Academy. The Trojans batted around two and a half times in the bottom of the first inning, plating 17 runs in the opening frame alone. Gunner Sweat and Harry Hopkins both had two hits in that first inning with Sweat’s knocks bringing four runs across. JMA head coach Justin Mills pulled all nine seniors with one out in the top of the third so fans could show their appreciation to the 12th-graders before the reserves closed out the 17-0 victory in three innings.
Monday marked the fourth time in six games that the 2021 baseball Trojans’ final tally read more like a football score.
“We’ve got a lot of athleticism and a lot of speed, for sure,” Mills said in describing this year’s squad. “We’re still working on the pitching and the fielding, but we’re getting better each and every day. Early-season baseball is sometimes hard to watch, but it’s like that for everybody. Whoever gives up the least amount of freebies as far as walks, hit by pitches and errors is going to win ballgames, and we’re getting better at that.”
The veteran head coach would rather not, though, talk about the possibility at the forefront of many JMA supporters’ minds — polishing off the trifecta of GISA AAA state championships in football, boys basketball and baseball. He’s right in saying there’s a lot of ground to cover between now and the postseason, but things are looking good in the regular season’s early stages as the team was 6-0 following Monday’s win.
“There’s a lot of teams out there with an ace we don’t have, but I don’t know if there’s a lot of teams that have the depth we do,” said Mills. “We have a lot of guys on our bench that would be starting for a lot of teams. They’re doing a good job being patient and getting better through practice and JV games.”
Mills pointed out Pinewood and Tiftarea, who each have their own very strong No. 1 starters, as potential challengers for the crown. One thing working in the Trojans’ favor on that front is that the playoffs are in a series format, not single-game. To knock JMA out, a team is going to have to defeat the deep roster twice.
“It’s all about matchups, the luck of the draw, and getting hot at the right time,” Mills said. “One thing for sure is if we can get it rolling, we’ve got a shot.”
The Trojans also beat region opponent Bethlehem Christian 10-3 on the road Tuesday, and are scheduled to host Briarwood Academy at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.