WILMINGTON – Put Caravel Academy in a state baseball tournament game and the Buccaneers are apt to find a way to win.
It’s in their blood.
Even on a rare night like Thursday, when Caravel seemed as destined for defeat as ever, the Bucs found a way to prevail 10-9 in nine innings over Conrad in a quarterfinal at Frawley Stadium.
They erupted for six game-tying runs in the fifth inning, which featured back-to-back home runs by Colin Adams and Joey Silan in a ballpark where minor-leaguers rarely clear the fences.
Then Caravel had to score a run in the bottom of the seventh to match Conrad’s, and two more in the eighth to stay even.
Caravel pitcher Brandon Fraley then blanked Conrad in the ninth after giving up a leadoff double, giving the Bucs a chance to win in their half of the inning.
There, singles by Kevin Keister and Tyler Slavin to start the inning allowed Caravel to eventually score the winning run on a bases loaded walk — the second in a row — with two outs. It was the Bucs’ only lead, but the only one that mattered.
“That was an epic game,” Caravel coach Paul Niggebrugge said. “We never say ‘It’s over’ until it’s actually over and the kids were resilient.”
No. 3-seeded Caravel, bidding for its fifth state baseball title since 1998, is 15-4 and will play No. 7 Middletown (16-4) in Saturday’s 4 p.m. semifinal at Frawley Stadium.
Conrad took a 9-7 lead in the eighth inning on Anthony Madonna’s lead-off single, Ryan Bradigan’s pinch RBI double and Brett Nowell’s RBI single with two outs.
Kyle Maxwell then came on in relief of Michael Awtry, who’d thrown 122 pitches over seven innings for Conrad. An error, Bradley Kaden’s RBI double and Tyler Juhl’s single then tied it 9-9 for Caravel.
No. 6-seeded Conrad (16-4) was looking for its first state semifinal berth since 1976. Conrad closed as a high school in 1978 but became one again in 2010.
In the critical Caravel fifth, Kaden’s single, Nicholas Jones’ RBI double, Juhl’s single and an error got the Bucs within 6-3 before Adams smacked his two-run shot and Silan followed with a solo homer to tie it 6-6.
Awtry’s single up the middle with one out in the top of the seventh scored Kevin Russo from second to inch Conrad ahead 7-6. Russo had singled to start the inning and been bunted to second.
Conrad couldn’t snare a very high foul pop-up for what would have been the winning out in the bottom of the seventh. Caravel then tied it when Adams singled, moved to second when Silan walked and scored on Tyler Croce’s single.
Three two-out hits had gotten Conrad rolling in the first inning as Christopher Kramedas doubled in Brock Nowell, who also doubled.
Conrad tacked on three more runs in second, which featured Marshall Awtry’s single and a throwing error that scored two runs.
It became 6-0 in the third when Michael Awtry singled, Kramedas doubled again and Awtry scored on a throwing error and Kramedas on Kyle Walker’s squeeze bunt.
Contact Kevin Tresolini at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @kevintresolini.
Caravel 10, Conrad 9 (9 inns.)
Conrad 132 000 120 – 9 14 5
Caravel 000 060 121 – 10 14 3
Mi.Awtry, Maxwell (8) and Brock Nowell. Silan, Fraley (4) and Adams. W–Fraley. L–Maxwell.
2B—Con: Kramedas 2, B.Nowell, Madonna, Bradigan, Mi.Awtry. Car: Croce, Jones, Kaden. 3B-Car: Keister. HR—Car: Adams, Silan.