Eagles soaring toward Eastern Cincinnati Conference title, sectional championship

Milford pitcher Zach Cook attempts to pick off a runner in the Eagles game versus Glen Este on May 3.
By Chris Chaney
Sun staff

The Milford Eagles are looking at their 2013 season in three segments. So far, so good as Milford (17-4, 9-1 ECC) has earned themselves a No. 4 seed in the sectional tournament and find themselves in the driver’s seat in car headed towards an Eastern Cincinnati Conference title.

“I would call the season a pretty good success to this point,” Eagles head coach Tom Kilgore said. “We got off to a good start, the middle has gone well also and we’re trying to wrap up these last three games. We want to continue the good play and win a league title before getting ready for the sectional tournament.”

All that stands between the Eagles and the inaugural ECC league title is a pair of games against Walnut Hills that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

If the Eagles were looking at the season in three equal increments, their eight-game splits to this point would be 7-1 to start, 6-2 in the middle and 4-1 thus far.

The old adage says that teams only go as far as their pitching takes them. For the Eagles, their staff has them in good position not only for a league title, but also a run at a sectional and district title as well.

“Pitching-wise, we have had contributions from a number of guys,” Kilgore said. “Our team ERA is 1.79, which is outstanding. Cole Eckelman is 2-0 with a .27 ERA; Zach Cook has a 3.69 ERA; Justin Arnold has a 2.22 ERA; Joe Zurschmeide has done very well. He is 3-0 in relief with a 0.00 ERA in seven innings pitched.”

The success has been a credit to the pitching staff, but the Eagles have some bats that are doing some work as well.

Ty Helton, a junior infielder, is leading the team in batting average, hitting at a .394 clip and getting on base over 45-percent of the time. Austin Walker, Hunter Losekamp, Ryan Henning and Eckelman have been the best Eagles when it comes to knocking in runs. Walker leads the team with 21 RBI, Losekamp has 16 and Henning and Eckelman both have 15.

RBI are easier to come by when eight guys on the roster are hitting above .300.

That roster is also experienced. Milford has 11 seniors on their roster, most of whom have been multiyear starters within the program and parts of teams that won two of the last three Fort Ancient Valley Conference championships.

Now in the ECC – the FAVC with a new name and fewer teams, for all intents and purposes – a third league title in four years was the aim from the get go.

“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to contend for a conference championship,” Kilgore said. “(10) games in, we’ve put ourselves in that position. We have a one-game lead over Loveland and I’m satisfied with where at. We need (one) win to guarantee a share and (two) to win outright.”

With the ECC title to be determined prior to the publication of this paper, the Eagles turn their attention to the sectional tournament.

Kilgore predicted a four or five seed prior to the seeding and got the No. 4 seed.

“The tournament is always an unknown,” he said, “but we positioned ourselves to get a good seed. That seed warrants us a bye, which is always helpful and gives us a chance to have our top (pitcher) Zach Cook go two games.

“A good season is rewarded with the bye in the postseason,” Kilgore continued. “The bye makes (the tournament) a tad easier, not a lot easier, but a tad.”

The Eagles will have a second-round matchup on Thursday, May 16 with the winner of Fairfield and Western Brown, 17 and 27 seeds, respectively.

If they win, Milford will have a full week off before their next game, the sectional championship, which if the chalk holds true should produce GCL product, Elder.