Dover hopes to keep baseball tourney run going vs. Cape

Dover’s Noah Lanouette takes a swing against CR. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Unlike the rest of the Dover High starting lineup, this is Noah Lanouette’s last shot.

The catcher is the lone senior who starts for the Senators.

So when he led off the ninth inning of Dover’s quarterfinal contest at Salesianum, Lanouette knew it might be his final at-bat of his high school career.

He made it count, launching a double to get the winning run on base. His courtesy runner Joe Gray, another senior, eventually scored on a steal of home.

It helped set up today’s semifinal matchup at Wilmington’s Frawley Stadium. Dover, the tournament’s 17 seed, will look to continue its run through the state tournament with a 4 p.m. contest against fourth-seeded Cape Henlopen.

“I want to be the last one standing at the end of the season,” Lanouette said. “I want to keep the season going as long as it can so I can keep playing.”

Don’t be fooled by the lack of starting seniors, though.

Most of these Senators were starters a year ago. They fell to Delaware Military in the first round of last year’s state tournament but this year have wins over Indian River, top seed William Penn and the Sals.

Dover is in the semifinals for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

“Yeah we start one senior but all of them were here last year,” said Dover coach Dave Gordon. “So how young are we really when we got 10 guys with varsity letterman jackets? I think it all starts at practice. We practice hard at practice, like a college team and we create that culture. I think we’re starting to see it and I’m happy for them.”

And just because some of the seniors don’t start, doesn’t mean they haven’t been contributing in this playoff run.

Look no further than Gray, who has started only one game this year but has been Lanouette’s courtesy runner all year.

His daring steal of home with the bases loaded and two out proved to be the difference against Salesianum.

“He knows his name isn’t in the lineup but he knows his number is going to be called,” Gordon said. “That’s what you need. You need role guys to step up. It can’t be nine guys all the time in baseball, you need guys who are flexible and versatile.”

There’s also Sean Quirk, who came off the bench with a seventh-inning go-ahead RBI base-hit on Saturday against William Penn. Quirk again pinch-hit late at Salesianum and lined a single to left.

“They’re buying in and when they get their chance, they’re going to take advantage of it,” said sophomore Dom Velazquez.

Rounding it up

When Velazquez came on in relief and struck out three straight batters to escape a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth inning against Salesianum, Gordon said it was the second time he could remember one of his players doing that. Nick Spadafino accomplished the feat in the bottom of the ninth in a game at Sussex Tech in 2013. “That was a conference game, this was a little bit different,” Gordon said. “You can play the next day if you lose a conference game.” … Dover improved to 5-1 all-time against Salesianum in the state tournament, including a recent matchup where Dover knocked off the Sals in 2014. … Cape Henlopen has won the last two regular season contests against Dover. The Vikings defeated Dover 8-2 on May 4.

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