Delaware South headed to Citizens Bank Park, Carpenter Cup semifinals

PHILADELPHIA — For the second time in the last three years, Delaware South will be able to cross the street at the Carpenter Cup.

Delaware South downed Inter-AC/Independent of Pennsylvania 6-1 in the quarterfinals of the annual high school baseball showcase on Saturday at FDR Park in Philadelphia.

Up next is a trip to Citizens Bank Park on the other side of Broad Street. Delaware South will play Lehigh Valley (Pa.) Monday at 1 p.m. in the semifinals at the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

“It’s pretty cool, not many people are able to play on a MLB field,” said pitcher Dom Velazquez (Dover High). “I’m definitely going to take it in, but we still got to get the job done.”

Delaware South followed a similar script as its first game of the tournament for the victory on Saturday.

The same three pitchers pitched in the same order with Newark Charter’s Trey Matthews for the first three innings, followed by Velazquez for the next three before Matt Warrington of Sussex Tech closed out the final three innings.

The trio struck out 15 on Wednesday against Delaware North and were even better Saturday. They combined for 18 strikeouts as they held Inter-AC/Independents to just five hits.

Velazquez paced the squad with eight strikeouts. His only non-strikeout out was the final batter he faced in the sixth who bunted. By Carpenter Cup rule, that is an automatic out as bunts are not allowed until the seventh inning.

The Dover junior had to escape a jam in the fourth, his first inning of work.

He walked the leadoff batter before a bloop single and wild pitch moved two runners into scoring position with no outs. He struck out the next batter before another walk loaded the bases.

Velazquez then earned back-to-back strikeouts to strand the bases loaded.

“You saw his stuff on Wednesday and today you saw the competitor,” said Delaware South coach Jeff Rodgers (St. Georges). “He even said he didn’t have his best stuff and wasn’t hitting the spots he normally hits but he just goes out and competes. He has everything you want as a coach, makeup-wise and stuff-wise.”

Warrington picked up right where Velazquez left off as he allowed the first batter he faced to reach base then retired nine-straight.

Warrington, the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year, also struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth. He finished with six strikeouts to seal Delaware South’s place at Citizens Bank Park.

“That’s going to be amazing,” Warrington said. “That’s why we’re here and playing in the Carpenter Cup. We’re not done yet.”

Matthews scattered three hits and one run in his three innings of work and struck out four.

Delaware South pushed across three runs in the bottom of the first inning to take control.

Aidan Riley, of St. Georges who is playing in his fourth Carpenter Cup, delivered the big blow with a ground-rule double to plate Mason Keene (Appoquinimink). Brandon Hatch of Caesar Rodney scored on a sacrifice fly by Lake Forest’s Nathan McGray and Dover’s Alec Rodriguez recorded a RBI-single.

“When you score three in the first it’s a big relief,” Warrington said. “Then we added on and at that point, you’re just pitching trying to get outs.”

Ryan Rigby (Caesar Rodney), Nate Turner (Dover) and Luke Smailer (Cape Henlopen) each also scored once for Delaware South. Riley went 2-for-3 while Keene also drove in a run.

Rodgers said the team likely cannot have the same three pitchers go three innings each on Monday due to the short turnaround. The finals are also scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m.

“Our stable is a little deeper than we’ve shown so far,” Rodgers said. “We do want to win but not at all costs. If a kid feels like they’ve thrown too much, we have a great situation where we can move some of our position guys to pitcher and a lot of our pitchers are great two-way players. It’s all a waiting game to see how their bodies respond.”

For 23 of the 25 players, this is their first time at Citizens Bank Park. Riley and Dover’s Mike Carrington were the only ones on the squad in 2017 when Delaware South made it to the semifinals before falling to Delaware North.

“That’s the carrot in front of the horse so to speak so we can get the best players out here,” Rodgers said. “We all have that dream of playing in a Big League park one day. It’s huge for Delaware.”

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