CAMDEN — For most guys, playing designated hitter just means you don’t get to play in the field.
But Tim Haugh looked at being a DH a little differently.
The recent Caesar Rodney High grad thought it also meant he got to focus on each at-bat more.
“When you’re a DH, you don’t have to worry about fielding or anything else,” said Haugh. “You get your three or four at-bats and you just think about that every inning. You get to watch the pitcher every inning, you watch the game, understand the umpire more. I think it makes it a lot easier to hit.”
The results speak for themselves.
After struggling to find a spot with the Riders both in the field and in the lineup for much of his varsity career, Haugh moved to designated hitter this spring and had a breakout season.
His .404 batting average not only earned the senior first-team All-Henlopen Conference Northern Division and second-team All-State honors, it earned him a place in tonight’s 38th annual Blue-Gold Baseball All-Star Game.
The contest, which includes the top senior baseball players in the state, is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium. The game is co-sponsored by Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Delaware.
Sixteen Henlopen Conference players are expected to suit up for the Gold squad.
CR coach Rich Szvitich said it was rewarding to see Haugh find his niche as a senior. He admits he wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out with Haugh moving to designated hitter as a senior.
“He took DH as a position,” said Szvitich. “In between innings he would step out of the dugout and he would take swings. He didn’t take it on as a role as a guy who was just going to say, ‘Oh, I’m pinch-hitting for this guy and that’s all I’m going to do. I’m going to sit on the bench the rest of the time.’
“We got way more than we thought we’d get out of him.”
Along with his .404 average, Haugh hit a pair of homeruns, had four doubles and drove in 19 runs for the Riders.
Now Haugh plans to continue his baseball career at NCAA Division III Johnson and Wales in Rhode Island, where he’s going to major in finance and accounting.
Szvitich said the youngster has definitely come a long way in the last couple seasons.
“It’s nice when you have a kid who has a good head on his shoulders and is a nice person,” said Szvitich. “I don’t see him as being about himself. He was a quiet leader. He wasn’t one of those guys jumping up and down in the dugout. But he was the guy who would not be afraid to step up and say, ‘Hey, we need to get going.’”
The biggest disappointment for the Riders this season is that they weren’t able to win a couple more games and make the state tournament. They finished only 10-8, missing the state tourney for the first time since 2010.
But CR did end the year on a five-game winning streak. The Riders knocked off two tournament teams in that stretch run — Milford and Hodgson — and rallied for four runs in the seventh inning to edge Concord, 5-4 in their finale.
“Our coaches said, our goal is to win these last five,” said Haugh. “It’s not up to us whether we get in the state tournament unless we win these last five. Getting a chance to at least be in consideration was nice. It made them a lot more exciting to play.”
“The kids were all excited on the busride home (from Concord),” said Szvitich. “They were like, hey, we’ve got a chance to make it. ... I think they’re going to look back and say, ‘Yeah, we went 10-8 but we went 5-0 at the end.’ I think they’re going to have a positive feeling from it.’”
The one thing that Haugh never got to do in his high school career was play a game in Frawley Stadium. He’s excited to be able to play his last high school game there.
“It’s really great to play at a professional stadium,” said Haugh. “I’ve been driving by it and seeing it all these years and never got a chance to play there. ... I’ll get my chance now.”
Cape Henlopen, Dover and Milford have three players each on the Gold squad. ... St. Mark’s has three players on the Blue roster. One of those selections is pitcher Billy Phillips, who missed his senior season while battling Hodgskins Disease. ... Admission is $2 for tonight’s game. The first and second-team All-State players are scheduled to be presented with their plaques at 5:25 p.m. ... The Blue leads the all-time series 15-14-4 with four games cancelled by rain. ... The Blue won last year’s game, 13-3, with the Gold winning 5-1 in 2012 (there was no game in 2013). The Gold’s last victory before that was in 2004.
Five people will also be inducted into the Delaware High School Baseball Coaches Hall Of Fame tonight. That group includes Brian August (player at St. Mark’s and Delaware, coach at Wilmington College), Steve Gold (head groundskeeper Frawley Stadium), Jim Hudson (player and coach at Sussex Central), Kevin Mench (player at St. Mark’s, Delaware and professionally), Bill Morrow (professional and semi-professional player) and Tom Pegelow (coach at Seaford and Sussex Tech).
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached
at 741-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.