Any hopes of Sussex County’s Gold baseball team lugging home Carpenter Cup hardware were dashed in a football-score 27-9 loss to Chester County at University of Pennsylvania’s Meiklejohn Stadium on June 20.
Two strong at-bats by Delaware South shortstop Derrik Gibson (Seaford) equaled a double and a single, both yielding a pair of runs apiece on the way to a 6-0 lead after the second inning.
Delaware South’s starting pitcher, Matt Starkey (Milford), stranded two Chester County base runners in each of his first two innings of work before the wheels fell at the top of the third.
It took Starkey 40 pitches to get six outs, and though he and his team suffered no immediate damage, Chester County kept patient in the box and started to hit, be hit and score to start the third inning.
Starkey rocked two batters to sleep with beautiful off-speed pitches, but his control slipped when he plunked first baseman Jon Bauer (Westmont Christian) after drawing a first-pitch called strike.
Catcher Justin Frame (W.C. Henderson) eased Bauer’s pain with a brisk trot around the bases following the first-pitch two-run homerun he belted atop Meiklejohn Stadium’s 380 (FOOT?) mini-“green monster.”
Starkey’s next 11 pitches (54 total pitches in two-plus innings played) yielded a walk, a single and his second hit batter of the inning, to load the bases for relief pitcher Andrew Layton (Lake Forest), who would prove no better.
“The key was that we didn’t panic and we counted on our bats to get us through,” W.C. Henderson outfielder Drew Constable said. “This team has a lot of great hitters; and if we see a lot of pitches, eventually we’re going to jump on one.”
Constable went 3-4 (three singles) for four RBI’s.
Chester County took a 7-5 lead following another two-run homerun by centerfielder Mike Gatlos (Phoenixville). Layton lasted only 19 pitches on four batters, three of which tallied hits, and he walked the fourth.
Layton, like the remaining five relievers Delaware South used in the nine-inning game, started for their respective teams this past season and many of them were unaccustomed to coming into a game with little time to warm up and with men on base.
“It’s tough for the pitchers — especially with runners on base — because they only get 10 pitches to try all their stuff,” Delaware South catcher Jordan Johnson (Delmar) said.
Delaware South’s relief pitching saved them in a five-run ninth-inning comeback against Mercer County on June 16. But they couldn’t muster similar results against their next opponent.
Their relievers allowed 14 hits, which included two homeruns and a grand slam, and they threw 10 wild pitches or past pitches, issued nine walks and plunked four.
Delaware South’s defense faced bases-loaded five times and had runners in scoring position in eight of nine innings, so they could ill-afford advancing their opponents base runners for them. A lack of chemistry between catcher and pitcher was a contributing factor to Chester County’s constant base-running party.
“I don’t have very much time to learn a pitcher and it can be tough to read where their ball hits in the dirt,” Johnson said. “I caught a couple of guys in practice, but that was only 30 to 35 pitches.”
“It’s tough for the pitchers and catchers, because they haven’t worked with each other all year. We got in some hitter’s counts. And they teed off when they got on base, which is going to happen sometimes,” Delaware South head coach Ken Cummings (Seaford) said. “They really hit the ball.”
Chester County tossed four pitchers in the game and gave up eight hits for seven runs, allowed five walks, hit two batters and struck out seven.
“It speaks volumes for the guys coming out of the bullpen,” Constable said.
Dan Gardo (W.C. Henderson) pitched the second through the fourth inning, Paul Glenn (Avon Grove) pitched a scoreless fifth through the seventh and Dan Ternowcheck (Downingtown-East) closed out the final two innings.
Chester County’s 27-9 win marks highest run total in Carpenter Cup history. (The previous mark — 22 — was held by Burlington City, in 1986.) The team also posted the second highest scoring differential. (Burlington City beat Sub American 22-2, 20 years ago).
Chester County beat Delaware South 17-5 in 1996.