WILMINGTON – Tyler Juhl, Caravel’s second batter in the first inning, singled and stole second base.
It was the first of many.
The Buccaneers stole 14 bases on Saturday at Frawley Stadium, literally running to an 11-1 victory over Middletown in the semifinals of the DIAA Baseball Tournament.
“The plan is to score runs,” Caravel coach Paul Niggebrugge said. “Score runs and prevent runs, that’s it. Whatever we can take advantage of, we try to capitalize on it.”
The third-seeded Buccaneers (16-4) will return to Frawley and go for their fifth state baseball championship at 7 p.m. Tuesday against the winner of Saturday’s late St. Mark’s-Dover semifinal.
Caravel appears to be peaking at the perfect time. After scoring just 65 runs in their first 15 games, the Buccaneers have erupted for 60 runs in their last five games.
“We came out as a team and actually hit,” said catcher Colin Adams, who went 2 for 2 with four RBIs. “It felt great. Coming together as a team and hitting, it was better than our whole season.”
Bryce Carney took care of the seventh-seeded Cavaliers (16-5) on the mound, allowing just two hits and striking out seven as the Buccaneers ended it in five innings via the 10-run rule.
“I felt like I really had everything working today,” Carney said. “My curveball, I was hitting spots with that and it was getting good break. I was placing my fastball well. It was the best I’ve felt all year.”
Juhl and Brandon Fraley got into position for Adams in the first, and the catcher pushed a two-run single to right.
“It was a fastball away,” Adams said. “I went with it.”
Courtesy runner Brad Kaden came on for Adams, stole second and third and scored on an error as Caravel jumped to a 3-0 lead.
A couple of errors by the Buccaneers led to Middletown’s only run in the top of the second. But Fraley delivered a two-run double and Juhl scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the second as Caravel stretched the lead to 6-1.
“Our first two [tournament] games, we haven’t scored until like the fifth inning,” Carney said. “So it felt good to come out and score early.”
The Buccaneers kept it rolling in the fourth. The Cavaliers intentionally walked Fraley to bring up Adams with runners at first and second with one out. Caravel unleashed a double steal, and Adams pulled a two-run single to left to make it 8-1.
“I felt insulted a little bit,” the cleanup hitter said. “I just wanted to put the ball in play after that and score the two runs that we needed.”
Carney took a no-hitter into the fifth before Luke Wootten and Brandon Rohrer singled for Middletown. The left-hander got out of the jam with two fly balls to right, and the Buccaneers scored three more in the bottom of the fifth to finish it.
“[Carney] pitched masterfully, and we hit in key situations,” Niggebrugge said. “Fortunately, we were on the top end.”
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.