NEWTOWN TWP. >> Luke Zimmerman needed several wakeup calls Saturday to get to his alma mater in time to make his Delco League debut, helping Wayne top Marple Newtown, 14-2.
That was understandable. The previous 48 hours were a bit of a whirlwind for the lefty from Marple Newtown.
Thursday night, Zimmerman slugged the game-winning single in the 10th inning as the Tigers beat Lower Dauphin to win the PIAA Class 5A title and become the first team in Delaware County history to win a state baseball title.
Some 15 hours after returning home from Penn State, Zimmerman was at the Mirenda Center at Neumann University, where Marple Newtown held its graduation ceremony for the Class of 2018.
There was little, if any, sleep in between.
“I think I got about two hours,” Zimmerman said.
No one would have blamed him if he had chosen to wait until he returns from a senior week trip to the Outer Banks to make his Delco League debut, but that’s not his style. So, there he was, fittingly on the field where he played his high school ball, helping Wayne (11-1) maintain its stranglehold on first place.
“I love to play,” Zimmerman said. “I figured I’m probably not going to play for a week so I might as well get this last game in before I head down there.”
It did, however, take two calls from Wayne skipper Brian Fili and another from teammate Alden Mathes to get Zimmerman to the field on time.
“If they hadn’t called me I’d probably still be sleeping,” Zimmerman said.
For a guy who had little sack time over the previous two days, Zimmerman fared quite well. He went 1-for-2 with a double, a walk and two sacrifice flies.
“It’s exciting playing with older guys,” Zimmerman said of his first time in the Delco League. “It’s a chance to play with older guys, guys who are playing Division I baseball or guys who have graduated from college. It’s different, in high school, me and (Luke) Cantwell were the head of the guys, telling everyone what to do. Here, me and Alden are probably the youngest guys so I’m just sitting back, seeing what they have to say. It’s pretty cool.”
Even though he’s just a junior and doesn’t graduate until next year, Mathes didn’t get much sleep in the past few days, either. He went right from the state championship game to playing for the Delco team in the Carpenter Cup Friday and was back on the field for Wayne Saturday.
“We got home at three in the morning (Friday) and we stayed up all night,” said Mathes, who played in a few games for Wayne last season. “I had so much energy that I just couldn’t go to bed. I was up for like 40 straight hours. I finally got some sleep last night.”
Like Zimmerman, Mathes was on the field Saturday even though he was still feeling the effects of Marple Newtown’s 2-1 win in the state final.
“Coach Fili texted me (Friday) night after our Carpenter Cup game and asked if I could play,” Mathes said. “I said, ‘Of course.’ I’m not going to say no. It’s free baseball.”
Fili likes to bring in young players like Zimmerman, Mathes and Strath Haven’s Anthony Viggiano, Peter Bocchino (Bentley) and Drew Ehrlich (Villanova) to give them an opportunity to improve their skills and infuse his club with some young blood.
“I think what a lot of them find out is how to conduct themselves on the field and how they react to failure,” Fili said. “A lot of these kids were the best players on the field in high school and they don’t know how to deal with that. Plus, they’re getting college-level pitching here, which is going to help them for next year.”
They’re helping Wayne at the same time. Mathes, who has already committed to Richmond, had a single and a run scored. Viggiano, who is headed to Bloomsburg, was 3-for-4 with a grand slam and three runs scored and threw two scoreless innings in relief of starter Reilly Degen. Bocchino slugged a three-run homer and Ehrlich had two hits, one RBI and one run scored.
Danny Gabor, in his first Delco League at-bat, Luke Turner and Dan Fowler all drove in a run for the Black Sox (7-4), and Turner and Tom Carey laced two hits apiece. But the day belonged to Wayne.
Zimmerman doubled and scored on a hit-and-run in the top of the third inning, and John Cowell drove in Bocchino to give Wayne a 3-1 lead. Zimmerman had the first of his two sacrifice flies and Bocchino belted his home run in a four-run, fourth inning uprising that broke the game open. Wayne tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning and Viggiano’s slam closed out the scoring in the sixth inning.
“The whole purpose is to have these young kids mixed in with the older guys so that we can keep being successful and they can have better careers in college,” Fili said. “That’s the whole goal.”
Sometimes it takes a few phone calls to get guys to the ballpark, like it did with Zimmerman Saturday, but at least he had an excuse and did show up and came through.
“He got here five minutes before the game, hit a double and drove in a couple of runs,” Fili said. “He did a great job.”
In other Delco League action:
Aston Valley 5, Middletown 0 >> Rudy Gervolino and Donovan Davis combined on the shutout for the Knights (7-2). Gervolino started and pitched the first two innings with two strikeouts. Davis fanned five in the final five frames to get the win.
Nick Macy drove in two runs and Max Carney was 2-for-2.
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