LEWES – Caravel and Cape Henlopen are projected to be among the state’s top high school baseball teams because of their deep, talented pitching staffs.
But on a brilliantly warm, sunny Saturday that wrapped up the first week of the season, the hitters were ahead of the pitchers.
Second-ranked Caravel launched the final salvo, scoring four times in the top of the seventh to overcome the fourth-ranked Vikings 11-10 and make the bus ride home a little more fun.
“It was a great way to start the season,” said Buccaneers catcher Colin Adams, who went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs. “I think everybody is excited after that.”
Both teams deployed three pitchers, with limited success. There were a combined 15 walks, with nine of those runners coming around to score. The final two were most painful, as they started Caravel’s winning rally.
“I felt like we just gave one away,” Cape coach Ben Evick said. “Our guys never quit; they battled from the beginning against a good team. … If we play that seventh inning again, I think we get three outs and we win the game.”
The Bucs (1-0) erupted for five runs in the top of the second. Tyler Croce drove in two with a single, Nick Jones plated two more with a triple and Kevin Keister bunted Jones home.
The Vikings (1-1) answered with five in the bottom of the second, on only one hit. That was a two-run double from Zach Gelof, as Cape was aided by four walks, an error, a hit batsman and a wild pitch.
Adams put Caravel back in front in the third with a lead-off blast that easily cleared the fence in right-center.
“I was just trying to make contact to the opposite field, get a good rally started for us,” he said.
Austin Elliott’s two-run double pushed the Vikings back ahead 7-6 in the fourth. Adams scored Tyler Juhl with a single to tie it in the top of the fifth, only to see the Vikings take a 9-7 lead on Zach Dale’s two-run bomb in the bottom of the inning.
David Erickson led off the Cape sixth with a triple and scored on Connor Thompson’s squeeze bunt to make it 10-7. But that wasn’t enough.
Keister and Juhl walked to start the Caravel seventh. Adams scored them both with a double to pull the Bucs within 10-9. Then Joey Silan singled, Alex Barker reached on an error to load the bases and Bradley Kaden drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single to left.
“Our lineup is so deep, we just mash the ball,” Kaden said. “I came up in the right opportunity. Anybody else would have done the same.”
Croce shut the door on the Vikings in the bottom of the seventh, pitching a 1-2-3 inning on two fly balls and a clinching ground ball back to the mound.
“The thing that I’m most pleased about is we’re resilient,” Caravel coach Paul Niggebrugge said. “… We just continued to play and plug away. That’s what I’m most happy about.”
Silan went 2-for-4 for the Bucs, while Gelof was 2-for-4 for the Vikings.
“We’ve got to walk out feeling pretty confident that we’re going to put runs on the board and we’re going to make plays,” Evick said. “I don’t feel like we had a letdown there. … We’ve got to be able to put teams away when we’re up by three in the seventh inning.”
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ