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Wrapping up shortened season for spring Buffs

Daniel Manget • Updated Apr 9, 2020 at 10:00 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a two-part series about Milligan spring athletics.

Unprecedented circumstances saw the NAIA cancel spring events and Milligan College’s athletics season cut short, preventing several teams from finishing what they started. While disappointing that they were unable to finish, the Buffs still have plenty to celebrate.

Milligan baseball had won three straight games and seven of its last nine, and the softball team had won four of the last six coming off the heels of head coach Wes Holly’s 900th coaching win. Additionally, the tennis team had recently wrapped up a successful trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, while the golf teams were one event into their spring with the women ranking in the top 25 nationally.

Baseball wraps season at top of AAC

Milligan finished the season 14-8 (5-1 Appalachian Athletic Conference), coming up five wins shy of last season’s win total despite the shortened schedule. At 5-1 in the league, the Buffs were even with No. 23 Reinhardt University for the top spot, ahead of No. 5 Tennessee Wesleyan and No. 16 Bryan.

Milligan’s season featured four games against opponents in the top 11 nationally, with all four games decided by a single run. This stretch helped the Buffs catch fire as they won seven of their last nine and ended the season with three straight wins.

Brandon Marello led Milligan in hitting at a .342 clip, one of five Buffs to bat .300 or better. Ben Grable (.333), Blake Dutton (.325), Will Oliver (.300) and Will Findley (.300) followed. Five Milligan pitchers won two or more games, led by Brock Browning who was 4-1 with an ERA of 2.38. Marello, Garrett Wilkins and Graham Hooker each were 2-0 with Marello sporting a 1.80 ERA, which was sixth lowest in the AAC.

Walk-off wins were a big part of the Buffs’ success early in the season. Garrett Goldberg provided the walk-off RBI in one game before scoring the walk-off run in another game on the same day as Milligan won both day-one games during the Clash of Conferences tournament. Shortly thereafter, Richard Polinsky helped the Buffs defeat No. 9 Indiana Tech with a walk-off single in another home game.

Holly’s 900th win highlights Buffs’ season

Milligan softball finished the season 5-5 after winning four of their last six games. The Buffs celebrated plenty early on, as head coach Wes Holly picked up his 900th coaching win of his career during a doubleheader sweep of Columbia College on March 8. It also started a stretch of four straight wins for the Buffs.

Junior Lainey Mays led Milligan in hitting with a .391 average, the first of two Buffs to bat .350 as Savannah Nocera followed with a .350 average. Mays also led the team with two wins inside the circle, while Erin Forgety worked a team-leading 28 and one-third innings with the league’s second-lowest ERA at 0.74.

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