The562’s high school baseball and softball coverage for the 2022 season is sponsored by LBUSD Board of Education Member Megan Kerr.
There isn’t much doubt as to who’s the team to beat after the first round of Moore League baseball. Not only did Millikan finish the first round undefeated, the Rams put an exclamation point on it with an 8-1 win over Long Beach Poly on Wednesday at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.
“I feel like the proof is in the pudding because we’ve beaten all of the other teams,” Millikan ace Myles Patton said. “But we’ve got to keep going game by game. We can’t get too comfortable.”
Patton was more than comfortable enough after Millikan spotted him a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The senior southpaw proceeded to strike out eight of the first nine batters he faced.
“That was impressive,” Millikan coach Ron Keester said. “His first three innings were probably as sharp as we’ve seen him… the movement with the fastball and being able to locate everything he wanted.”
Patton went the distance while scattering three hits and three walks. He finished with 13 strikeouts.
“I was just trying to attack the hitters and be efficient,” Patton said. “I feel like my fastball was jumping today for sure. Starting off with two big strikeouts like that I was ready to go. I’m trying to strike out as many as I can. Just hum it in there and stick with what’s working for me.”
Millikan’s offense scored two runs in each of the first, third, sixth and seventh innings. The top of the Rams lineup did most of the damage. Leadoff hitter Sam DeCarlo reached base and scored three times with a single and a pair of walks. Cameran Hegamin scored twice and drove in two runs in the two hole. Second baseman Gannon De La Cruz finished with two doubles, a single, a walk, two RBI and a run scored.
“We try to hunt early in the game,” Gannon said. “We want to win the first inning. Usually from then on we just keep it rolling once we’ve got momentum.”
Poly starter Ryan Skjonsby struggled with his control early and that allowed the Rams to take the lead without getting a hit. He cruised through the fourth and fifth inning when it was still a three-run game, but Millikan broke it open in the sixth inning thanks to a Robert Voss RBI.
“We know he’s going to pound outside and you’ve got to work the opposite side of the field and capitalize on fastballs and protect on off speed,” De La Cruz said of Skjonsby.
The Rams seem to score in bunches this year, and that’s fine with Patton.
“Sometimes I get a little cold over here but there’s nothing better than having a lead like that,” he said of waiting. “I’d rather have a long inning where I cool off than a short inning where I’m right back out there.”
Gannon said the best show of the day was Patton.
“It’s awesome to just watch him work his magic,” he said. “It’s like no one else. It’s so sick.”
Millikan hosts Compton on Friday and Wilson faces Jordan next Wednesday on Bohl Diamond at Blair Field.