Indians push past Smyrna, advance to 4-3 on season
The Indian River High School varsity baseball team has been up and down since the end of March, but the team is now putting together wins against some of the Henlopen Conference’s heavy hitters. This past week, the Indians grabbed a win over rival Sussex Central, 15-8, and they most recently shut out Smyrna, 1-0, this past Tuesday, behind solid composure from pitcher Fabian McCray.
“It definitely makes the game easier when you have a guy who can throw strikes for you,” said Indian River head coach Kevin Cordrey.
And the Indians have plenty of depth on the mound. Juniors McCray, Brian Bacon and Jamie Jarmon have all put work in from the rubber, and Cordrey expects to have Aaron Bennett take fire in some pitches as the team heads into the season’s midpoint, too. Senior Zach Moeser has just returned off an injury and will be stepping in to pitch as the schedule progresses, as well.
In the Indians’ narrow win over Smyrna this past Tuesday, April 12, Bennett’s shot down the third-base line was enough to knock in the lone run, which put Indian River ahead in the second inning. Rainy weather set in by the fifth inning, but with Smyrna unable to answer in the top of the fifth, the game was counted as a win for the Indians. McCray finished strong on the mound with a solid defense backing him up.
“We’re a young team, for the most part,” said Cordrey, “but we have a lot of skill coming together. It’s the second or third year for some of these guys, and the younger ones who are stepping up from last year’s junior varsity team are filling in the holes. The trick is convincing these kids that they can play with the big teams. Making them believe in their game is one of the hardest things to do as a coach.”
Last week, the Indians fell to St. Marks, but grabbing valuable wins over Henlopen conference teams is just fine with Cordrey.
“Being such a young team,” he said, “we need those wins over Central and Smyrna to build our confidence. These younger guys didn’t know about the varsity game until they got here. They’ve never played the game at that level, but they’re getting into the game.”
Sitting at 4-3 on the season following Tuesday’s win, Cordrey knows that his team has to continue to come out prepared. They were set to face Caravel Academy this past Thursday, after Coastal Point press deadline, then host Lake Forest on Friday, April 15, before heading to Cape Henlopen and Cambridge-South Dorchester (Md.) this coming week.
“There’s definitely a mental aspect to the game,” he reiterated. “These guys have to believe that they are that good when they get out there. They’re improving as the season goes on. I think they believe in themselves, defensively, but they can’t second-guess themselves at the plate. That’s just something that will come with practice.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Cordrey said he is pleased with the team’s mindset and poise.
“It’s valuable for a team to have the kind of depth we do on the mound,” he said. “We’ve got four or five pitchers who can throw strikes for us. [Aaron] Bennett is developing confidence, and he can be just as effective as the rest of our pitchers. Bennett’s one of the harder throwers we have. Bacon can start a game for us, and Jamie Jarmon’s a strong closer. Moeser just got back and gave us some relief last week. He’s definitely a valuable guy to have, too.”
With three games this week and three the next, Cordrey said he is hoping to pad the win column with a few more tallies as the season approaches the back end.
“We’ve got to come out the same way we’ve been playing these games,” he said. “Hopefully, the weather cooperates with us and we can get out on the field for some practices. We’ve got to focus on our hitting, and nothing is going to help that more than practicing.”