Polytech falls to Salesianum in baseball tournament

WILMINGTON — Polytech High gave Salesianum School a scare, but another tournament upset wasn’t in the cards.

Salesianum defeated the Panthers 8-3 in the second round of the DIAA state tournament on Saturday. The eighth-seeded Sals advanced to face No. 17 seed Dover on Wednesday afternoon.

Polytech, the tournament’s 24th seed, ended its season at 11-9. The Panthers were the last team into the tournament based on seeding but stunned ninth seed Wilmington Friends 3-1 in eight innings on Thursday.

Salesianum took the lead for good with four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Polytech was able to get the tying run on base in the sixth but had to settle for two runs and the Sals scored three insurance runs in their final turn at-bat.

“I think we had a couple of plays that we should have made and we didn’t,” said Polytech coach George Eilers. “You have to give credit to Sallies, they’re a great team and they made us pay. That’s what happens in the state tournament when you play good teams. I tip my hat to Sallies because they made us pay every mistake we made.”

Louis Whitaker paced the Panthers by driving in all three runs.

The Sals went up first in the third inning on a sacrifice fly. But Polytech responded in the top of the fourth with a double by Mitch Barter before Whitaker plated him with a RBI single.

George Eilers

Salesianum had an answer in the bottom half of the inning though.

Zach Gwynn delivered the big blow for the Sals with a two-RBI single through the hole on the right side of the infield with the bases loaded. Salesianum added two more on a fielder’s choice and a dropped third strike.

Whitaker belted a two-RBI double in the sixth to bring Polytech within 5-3 in the sixth. The Panthers had a runner thrown out at the plate on a grounder to the second baseman for the second out of the inning before a strikeout ended the threat.

Matt Poma put the game out of reach with a three-run inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the sixth.

It was the second year in a row Polytech reached the second round. The Panthers have been in the tournament the last three seasons.

“It’s been three years now where we’ve competed with some of the best teams historically,” Eilers said. “We’re not there yet. But if we keep plugging away I think we’ll be happy with the results. We’re going to get this thing figured out and we’re going to knock the door down. I feel confident in that.”

Polytech was able to reach the tournament despite two losses to start the season and a 3-5 record after eight games.

“We came out of the gate slow and they never wavered,” Eilers said. “They did what we asked them to do. I’m proud of them.”

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