PHILADELPHIA >> Traditionally, Delaware hasn’t produced powerhouses in the Carpenter Cup.
But Friday, when the North and South squads visit Citizens Bank Park for a rare intrastate semifinal, they’ll be united by a memento of someone intimately familiar with what it’s like to play at the Phillies’ ballpark.
With the initials “DG” on the back of their jerseys memorializing Dallas Green, Delaware South steamrolled the Inter-Ac/Independents, 12-7, in the quarterfinals at Richie Ashburn Field in FDR Park Monday, booking an all-Delaware semifinal.
It’s the first time that either Delaware franchise has played at the Bank. A unified Delaware team won the initial iteration in 1986, and Delaware South (the result of a 1993 schism to maintain an even number of teams) won the title at Veterans Stadium in 2000.
But the South and North — which handled Suburban One American/Continental, 5-1, in another quarterfinal — have generally scuffled in the Carpenter Cup, carrying the 13th- and 14th-best winning percentages out of 16 extant franchises.
But players carrying the legacy of Green, a baseball lifer from Delaware who managed the Phillies to a World Series title in 1980, the First State flood of the Bank seems kismet.
“It’s really important because he was a big name in the Phillies organization,” said Ryan Steckline, Delaware South’s starting pitcher. “We take a lot of pride wearing it.”
Steckline helped decide Monday’s game quickly. The imposing Appoquinimink lefty worked three stellar innings from the get-go, handing off to high school teammate Brady Stamper for another three as Delaware South accrued a 12-1 lead before the Inter-Acs made it interesting with a six-run eight.
The game was called when lightning and torrential rain descended on South Philly with two outs in the ninth.
Green occupies a hallowed place in Delaware baseball and Phillies lore. A graduate of Conrad High in Wilmington (which feeds into the North squad), Green was signed by the Phillies in 1955 after a standout career at the University of Delaware. He pitched in parts of six seasons with the Phillies among three big league ports of call, part of a 62-year career as a player, manager, executive and scout.
Green helmed the 1980 World Champion Phillies — under the ownership of the Carpenter family, also from Delaware, that gave their name to the Carpenter Cup — then spent 19 years as a front-office advisor for the Phils starting in 1998.
“Being from Delaware, he was a mainstay in our state and one of the first guys to make the pros from our state,” said Delaware South/Lake Forest coach Corey Wyatt. “So it’s a big deal to represent him and go up there. Both of us are playing there, so it’s a great thing for us to both go up there and represent him.”
Green’s death in March inspired the Delaware franchise to plot a remembrance. Chris Moxley, president of the Delaware Baseball Coaches Association and head man at Hodgson, came up with the “DG” initials just over the numbers on the backs of jerseys. Moxley printed commemorative jerseys — gold with blue script for the South; blue with gold script for the North — in Green’s No. 46 to send to his family.
“Especially when you put in the connection with the Phillies and Dallas, it’s special,” said Tom Beddow, a member of the Carpenter Cup’s Executive Committee. “Everything the Phillies do for this tournament is fantastic.”
Monday’s performance by Delaware South would’ve made Green proud. They bashed 16 hits with contributions throughout the order and led 12-1 after five innings.
Newark Charter’s Kevin Buglio got it started with a first-inning RBI double. Aidan Riley (St. George’s Tech) capped a six-run third with a two-run double, while leadoff man Luke Oliphant (Sussex Tech), Abraham Mow and William Kimmel (both Milford) scored twice each.
The first six runs came against Haverford School starter Tyler Dunbar, four of them earned.
That was plenty for the Del South staff, which struck out 15, led by seven from Steckline. Delaware South struck out the second and third hitters in the Inter-Ac order a combined nine times, including three punchouts of Penn Charter’s Joey Lancellotti, one of the top 50 prospects in the nation.
The Inter-Ac/Independents didn’t settle in until Cole Humes entered. The Shipley junior and former Haverford High lefty worked three innings of one-hit ball, though an error scored two runners he inherited from Germantown Academy’s Colten Storm.
“I’m just trying to go out there and throw strikes at that point,” said Humes, who pitched for the Delco squad last year. “It couldn’t get any worse. There’s not really any pressure on me. I was just trying to make pitches and let my defense work like I know they can.”
Del South aided Humes by batting out of order in the sixth courtesy of some all-star, lineup-change confusion, good for two free outs that until the eighth stood as the Inter-Ac’s most outstanding play. Haverford School’s Grady Nance and Zak Summy tossed scoreless frames in the eighth and ninth.
The bats belatedly awoke, Bryan Hyland hitting a two-run double and Haverford School mate Tommy Toal driving him in with a single. Jack O’Reilly of Episcopal Academy added an RBI single that put two on and had the potential tying run nearly reaching for his batting gloves.
But even the late charge couldn’t disrupt the renewal of Delaware’s Blue-Gold rivalry between upstate and downstate, one where both sides are joined by a common connection to Green.
“Delaware is Delaware. It’s a small state,” Wyatt said. “Everybody gets along, everybody believes in Delaware, and that’s the way it should be. It’s not North and South, it’s one Delaware.”