Appoquinimink makes baseball semifinals, nips Sussex Tech 1-0 in 8 innings

MIDDLETOWN — Everyone who showed up to watch Sussex Tech take on unbeaten Appoquinimink High received the pitchers duel they anticipated.

In the end, Appoquinimink escaped with the win both teams wanted.

The top-seeded Jaguars advanced thanks to a walkoff hit by Krew Bouldin in the bottom of the eighth for a 1-0 victory in the quarterfinals of the DIAA state baseball tournament on Tuesday. The game was delayed for 41 minutes in the top of the eighth due to lightning.

Sussex Tech, the tournament’s eighth seed, wrapped up its season at 15-5.

Appoquinimink (20-0) will face No. 12 Cape Henlopen (16-5) on Thursday at Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium at a time to be determined.

Tuesday’s matchup featured both pitchers who made the All-State First Team in Appoquinimink’s Joey Davis and Sussex Tech’s Matt Warrington. They combined to keep the game scoreless before extra innings.

“From the moment I saw we were playing Sussex Tech I knew it would be a pitchers duel hands down,” said Appoquinimink coach Mike Torres. “I knew we had one of the best guys in the state and they had one of the best guys in the state. Both of those guys showcased all of their game.”

But both pitchers resumed the contest after the lightning delay. It wasn’t until Sussex Tech’s senior ace Warrington reached the 105 single game pitch count limit that he was removed from the game.

That came with Appoquinimink’s Mason Keene on third after he walked, stole second and advanced to third due to an error. Warrington then struck out his final batter for the first out of the inning.

Sussex Tech elected to intentionally walk the next batter to set up the double play, bringing Bouldin to the plate.

He ripped a liner over the deep fence in leftfield to score Keene. He wasn’t able to complete the home run trot as he was mobbed by his teammates in between first and second base.

It wasn’t until the Jaguars were walking off the field that somebody told Bouldin the ball cleared the fence.

“I would’ve ran if I knew, but I didn’t know,” he said.

“We knew their guy was going to come out and dominate and we knew our guy was going to come out and dominate,” Bouldin added “We just wanted to give Joey a chance to win. It took longer than we would’ve liked but we got the win.”

Davis pitched all eight innings for Appoquinimink, scattering four hits and striking out 11. Warrington took a no-hitter into the fifth and struck out nine.

“That’s playoff baseball for you right there between two good teams and two good pitchers,” Davis said.

Warrington’s best pitching came in the fifth inning when Appoquinimink loaded the bases after a walk, a hit and an error.

He escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts before some nifty fielding. Keene laid down a bunt with two outs and looked likely to beat it out but Warrington charged the ball, slid and elected to toss to home where the Ravens were able to get the force out.

“We thought we matched up with them well and I think that was obvious,” said Sussex Tech coach G.L. Jefferson “It was a hard fought game that literally could have gone either way. Hats off to them, they’re a tough ball club. It’s hard to swallow at this point. We got to get back and process everything that went right and everything that went wrong. You just got to be thankful that they never gave up. It stings, it hurts but we can’t allow one game define who we are and what we’ve done this season.”

Davis had to escape a jam of his own in the fifth.

Sussex Tech’s Jalen Snead doubled before Jordan Harper beat out a bunt attempt. Harper then stole second to set up two runners in scoring position with just one out.

But Davis got a strikeout before inducing a flyout to get out of the jam.

After the game, Jefferson gathered his eight seniors, for a little longer in the outfield and gave each a hug on the way back to the dugout.

“That’s who you feel sorry for,” Jefferson said. “Everyone else is coming back. I’ll be back coaching, the whole staff will be back but unfortunately those seniors have run out of time with this program. I couldn’t be more proud of the young men that they are. I can’t wait to see them graduate and go on whether they play in college or whatever they do in life, can’t wait to go to their weddings and meet their kids. I know they’ll be successful because that’s who they are.”

“We’ve done so many positives things for the community this year,” Jefferson added. “We cleaned up from the tornado in Laurel, we raised money for Troy Haynes (Woodbridge QB battling cancer) and have done so much stuff outside of baseball. We always talk about how this is bigger than baseball. If they graduate from our program and the only thing they got better at was baseball then we failed as coaches. I truly feel like the young men that are leaving us are better young men and our program is better because they were in it.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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