Delaware South tops North 7-3 in Carpenter Cup opener

Dover’s Dominic Velazquez pitches against Lake Forest this season. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

PHILADELPHIA — The last time this state split into two teams for a baseball game, it did not go so well for the Southern portion.

What a difference a week makes.

Delaware South opened up the 34th annual Carpenter Cup with a 7-3 victory over Delaware North on Wednesday at FDR Park in Philadelphia.

Delaware South advanced to the quarterfinals, where it will play Inter-AC/Independents (Pennsylvania) on Friday at 12:30 p.m., also at FDR Park.

The winner of Friday’s game will move on to Monday’s semifinal of the annual summer high school baseball showcase hosted by the Philadelphia Phillies, which features teams from Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The semifinals and finals are played at Citizens Bank Park.

Several players on the Delaware South roster were on the Southern team for the Blue-Gold senior all-star game last week at Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium. The North won that matchup 11-2.

Delaware North was also victorious the last time the two teams played in the Carpenter Cup, in the 2017 semifinals. But now it’s the South who is the only Delaware team remaining in the tournament.

“You can kind of get some bragging rights in the state,” said Sussex Tech recent graduate Matt Warrington. “They gave it to us in the Blue-Gold game so we kind of had that in the back of our minds. We came out with a chip on our shoulder. It was a good win.”

Delaware South is made up of Kent and Sussex County schools, Middletown-area schools and schools from the Christiana district, plus Newark Charter this year.

The opening roster was a who’s-who of the best high school pitchers in the state, featuring the two first team and two second team All-State pitchers.

Delaware South rode three of them to the victory on Wednesday. They combined for 15 strikeouts and scattered just five hits.

“The talent there speaks for itself,” said Delaware South coach Jeff Rodgers of St. Georges.

Dover High’s Dom Velazquez, a University of Delaware verbal commit who just finished his junior year, pitched the fourth to the sixth inning and struck out five while allowing one base-runner on an infield single.

Newark Charter’s Trey Matthews, another junior, started and retired nine of the final 11 batters he faced while striking out five. Warrington pitched the final three innings and also struck out five.

“You know those guys are going to keep the runs down,” Warrington said. “I just wanted to follow it up.”

“Everyone can pound the zone to get ahead, stay ahead and trust our defense,” Velazquez said. “We’re here to compete. “

Delaware North led 2-0 after the top of the first inning before seven unanswered runs by Delaware South.

It tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third on a RBI single by Brandon Hatch, a junior from Caesar Rodney. Nathan McGray, a junior from Lake Forest, gave Delaware South the lead for good when he scored on a wild pitch.

Brandon Hatch

Hatch drove in a pair of runs on the day and Brett Lesher (Newark Charter) also provided a two-RBI single. Ryan Rigby, another Caesar Rodney junior, also knocked in a run and scored twice.

“It’s so much fun,” Hatch said. “We compete against these kids all year for the state championship but we can all come together and have fun.”

McGray, Alec Rodriguez (Dover) and Aidan Riley (St. Georges) each added a double. Thirteen different players reached bases for Delaware South.

“I was super impressed with our smart and aggressive base-running,” Rodgers said. “A lot of what happened was just kids making good reads and taking the extra base when they thought they could. Those little things show that we made the commitment, we made the drive, now lets go out and win a ballgame.”

Of the 25 players on the roster, only Riley was a part of the Delaware South squad who reached Citizens Bank Park in 2017. With one more win, this year’s version of the team has a chance to play there too.

“A lot of us have never played there and it would be pretty cool to play there,” Velazquez said. “Hopefully we can get there.”

NOTES: Delaware South improved its all-time tournament record to 16-25. Delaware has been split into separate North and South teams since 1993. … It was the fourth year in a row Delaware South won at least one game. Prior to 2016, the last time it won a game was in 2008. … Riley, a recent St. Georges grad, is believed to be the first player to play in four Carpenter Cups for Delaware South in at least 10 years. … Rodgers said Wednesday was the first time he was able to see Velazquez pitch in person, “He did not disappoint,” Rodgers said of the Dover two-time All-Stater. … Salesianum’s Jake Dunion hit a two-run home run for Delaware North in the first inning. It was the first homer by a Delaware player in the Carpenter Cup since Dover’s Mitchell Moore homered for Delaware South in 2012. The last time a Delaware North player hit a home run was Matt Harden in 2007. … The semifinals are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. The finals will be Tuesday at 10 a.m.

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