Delaware South commitment to Carpenter Cup on the rise

PHILADELPHIA — After Delaware South’s opening win in the Carpenter Cup, general manager Nick Brannan gathered the team behind the dugout and asked anyone who could not make the next game to raise their hand.

Not a single arm went up into the air.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” said Brannan, the head baseball coach at Milford.

The team hope that level of commitment can bring it back to Citizens Bank Park.

Delaware South has its quarterfinal game of the Carpenter Cup today at 4 p.m. against Pennsylvania’s Inter-AC/Independents at FDR Park in Philadelphia. The game was originally scheduled for noon but was pushed back due to field conditions.

The winner advances to the semifinals, Monday at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

The roster for Delaware South has been a work in progress since 2018. Brannan reached out to St. Georges coach Jeff Rodgers to see if he would be interested in being the team’s manager.

He said yes, joining the staff which includes former managers G.L. Jefferson (Sussex Tech) and George Eilers (Polytech).

Together they identified 12 eligible players in October and sent out feelers. They then filled out the squad at the annual tryout, held during the first week of June.

With the rise of travel teams and other summer tournaments, it’s typically a challenge to have all of the best talent available for Delaware South at this point in the summer. But 11 of the original 12 took the staff up on the offer and this is one of the more talented Delaware South teams in recent memory.

“The biggest hurdle is getting commitment,” Rodgers said. “It all started in the fall, just mailing letters. I think the kids knowing it was something we were thinking about was huge. We have 11 of those 12 kids with us and then we had our normal tryout and got another wave of great student-athletes to finish our roster out.”

Thirteen of the players on the 25-man roster were All-State honorees this past season.

The squad also includes 10 recently graduated seniors. In the past, the number has not been as high since it’s a showcase tournament and most seniors have already committed to colleges.

“The biggest thing for me is there’s not really anywhere for me to play this summer,” said senior Matt Warrington of Sussex Tech. “There’s limited opportunities but I felt like this is such a great opportunity to come out with a great group of guys and play some good ball.”

Another thing to help Delaware South out is the 2016 expansion of the area the team draws from.

That’s when the Middletown-area schools (St. Georges, Middletown, Appoquinimink and St. Andrew’s) were added to Delaware South. The next year it added the Christiana school district and Newark Charter.

Since that expansion, Delaware South has won at least one game every season, including a trip to the semifinals in 2017. Before 2016, the last time it won a game was in 2008.

This year’s version of the team has two players each from St. Georges and Appoquinimink plus three more from Newark Charter.

They joined the rest of the squad which is made up of players from Kent and Sussex County.

“I think we all want to represent Delaware because everyone underestimates Delaware,” said Caesar Rodney junior Brandon Hatch. “Nobody thinks any talent comes from Delaware so it’s great to be able to put on for our state.”

“You get a chance to wear Delaware across your chest,” said Dover junior Dom Velazquez. “Getting to represent against teams from Jersey and Philly, it’s fun.”

Another reason for the players to come out for the team is exposure to college scouts.

And it doesn’t cost anything except time and transportation to Philadelphia.

“You can play in front of 30-40 colleges and it’s free,” Rodgers said. “I think that and our recent success has added a little bit of intrigue for these student-athletes.”

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