Delaware South makes Carpenter Cup semifinal appearance

PHILADELPHIA – At the annual Carpenter Cup Classic – a 16-team high school baseball tournament put on by the Philadelphia Phillies – the Delaware South squad made a semifinal appearance at Citizens Bank Park.

Although it ended with a 12-5 loss to Delaware North, the Delaware South players earned a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at a Major League Baseball ballpark.

“It’s really cool because you put a bunch of guys together and you don’t have time to practice. We pick a team, put them all together in the second week of June and then we come out here and play,” said South head coach Corey Wyatt. “It’s not like the guys have a lot of time to get together and get to know each other. It worked out for us this year. We got to Citizens Bank, it’s the first time we’ve been here, and it’s a really cool experience. I hope the guys really enjoyed it.”

South starting pitcher Ryan Steckline (Appoquinimink) ran into some early trouble, walking the first four batters of the game in the top of the first inning. The walked-in run put the North ahead 1-0 and ended up being the lone earned run Steckline would surrender in his three innings of work on the mound.

In the bottom of the second inning, third baseman Abraham Mow (Milford) hit a single and would later score on a groundout from his Milford teammate William “Tripp” Kimmel, knotting the game at 1-1.

The North squad re-took the 2-1 lead in the top of the third, but it was short-lived.

A two-run single to left field off the bat of Aidan Riley (St. George’s Tech) drove in Gabe Wescott (Woodbridge) and Luke Oliphant (Sussex Tech) for the South squad.

The South extended its lead to 4-2 after Ethan Watkinson scored on a balk in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Delaware South took its two-run lead into the sixth, but couldn’t escape the inning with the lead still intact. Delaware North exploded for an eight-run sixth inning, taking advantage of South’s missed opportunity on a double play ball early in the inning.

Oliver Campbell (Tatnall) had a bases-clearing double and David Hazelton (St. Elizabeth) added a two-run double to contribute to the eight-run outburst.

Campbell finished his impressive day at the plate with a two-RBI single the next inning, extending North’s lead to 12-4.

South’s scoring was capped with an RBI single to left field off the bat of Zach Lesher (Newark Charter), scoring Baylen Manocha (St. Andrew’s) to make it 12-5.

“We excepted to win, as always. Any time you come on the baseball field, you expect to win,” said coach Wyatt of expectations heading into the semifinal match-up. “We thought we had the pitching, we thought we had the offense to play. Unfortunately, we walked some guys, had a bunch of free runners that we didn’t make them work for. And then we had a double play ball that we mishandled, that could’ve changed the inning and they ended up scoring eight runs on us. So that really jammed us up. But we didn’t want to quit on it, we kept playing.”

Luke Oliphant and Brayden Graham represented Sussex Tech on South’s roster. Third baseman Mark Smith (Indian River) and Ethan Watkinson (Sussex Central) were both the lone player from their respective southern Delaware school on this year’s South roster.

Oliphant (center field) and Graham (second base) each started all three games, with Tech’s center fielder slated in the lead-off spot each game.

Oliphant finished the tournament going 2-for-7 with a pair of runs and a run batted in during the team’s three-game stretch. Graham went 1-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI at the plate.

Watkinson, who backed up the starting catcher William Kimmel (Milford) each game, finished the tournament 1-for-4 at the plate, hitting a double off the left field fence in the semifinal game.

Smith, backing up starting third baseman Abraham Mow, went 0-for-4 with a walk in his three games at the plate.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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