Mayhew, Juelke lead SOL American/Continental past Chester County in 11 innings

PHILADELPHIA — After tryouts for the SOL American/Continental Carpenter Cup, Pennrigde sophomore Andrew Mayhew wasn’t overly confident.

He didn’t feel badly about his performance, but with so many talented players trying out, he thought his chances of making the team were “slim.’ But not only did Mayhew make the team, he got the ball in the biggest spot Wednesday morning in South Philly’s FDR Park.

Thanks to one of the youngest players on the team, the A/C is moving on.

“With all the players, I really thought I had a slim chance of making it,’ Mayhew said. “There were a lot of good players at the tryout. The entire atmosphere was awesome. I don’t know most of the guys but we hit it off well and it was a good time.’

Mayhew threw three shutout innings while his battery mate Thomas Juelke (Upper Dublin) provided highlights on offense and defense to lead the A/C squad to a tight 6-5 victory over Chester County in 11 innings at the Phillies Urban Youth Academy. The game took several twists and turns, starting out as a slugfest before pitching took over and finally some extra-inning heroics sealed the deal.

Designed as a showcase for players across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, the Carpenter Cup requires allposition players or designated hitter’s to play at least three innings while pitchers can not pitch more than three innings.

The SOL A/C got off to a fast start, ripping four straight singles off Chester starter Michael Anthony to take a 2-0 lead on Plymouth Whitemarsh first baseman Dutch Reardon’s two-run single. Chester came back and plated three in the bottom half of the frame.

The A/C’s defense wasn’t great early on, and the team committed seven total errors in the game, four coming in the first two innings. Still, A/C starter Joe Molettiere (Pennridge) battled and limited the damage to four runs in his two innings of work.

“You’re just understand who’s coming to you from what program and seeing what you have available, the kids who deserve it really stepped up,’ SOL A/C coach Ed Wall, who is also Upper Dublin’s coach, said. “Christian (Huckfeldt) has always carried that mantra and you see him mesh with Molettiere and his intensity, he’s just a character. Just the energy level you bring and that positivity, it’s contagious.’

A/C scored two more runs in the second when Steven Bell (Upper Dublin) took home on a steal by Gabe Hofferman (Cheltenham) and Hofferman scoring on a Justin Horn (Upper Dublin) single. Chester took a 5-4 lead in the fourth on a single by Logan Pennypacker off Evan Bischoff (PW) as the high-scoring pace of the first two innings settled down.

The SOL A/C had several scoring chances before its next run, loading the bags in the third, a runner at third in the fifth and men on second and third in the sixth, but couldn’t push the tying knock across. As the second wave of players came in, they seemed to bring a second wind.

Upper Dublin junior Cole Swiger worked a leadoff walk in the seventh, then stole second and moved to third on a grounder by Matt Peralta (Central Bucks West). Hatboro-Horsham senior third baseman Kevin Barron came up and smacked a grounder up the middle, but it was all the speedy Swiger needed to race home and knot things up.

“It was fun to see (Barron) get up there, try to stay within himself, get the ball down and get the guy around,’ Wall said. “He’s a good player who made some good plays out there defensively for us. He came up big there, he didn’t go up trying to hit a big bomb and got done what needed to get done.’

With game tied, and staying that way thanks to shutdown innings from Tyler Mathe (Souderton), Colin Kennedy (Hatboro-Horsham), Eric Chase (CB East) and Christian Huckfeldt (Upper Dublin), the stage was set up for Mayhew. But Juelke, the junior who had entered for starting catcher Dylan Morissette (Souderton), had just as much to say about it.

“I wasn’t thinking,’ Mayhew said. “I just wanted to go out and throw strikes. We had a good connection and it worked out.’

“It’s his stuff, man,’ Wall said of Mayhew. “He’s in command of his fastball, he has, I think it’s a slider, this is the first time I’ve seen him live since tryouts, and some breaking stuff that’s tough to handle. When he’s down low in the zone with that fast ball then he throws that breaking ball in the same spot, it’s tough.’

The catcher gunned down two potential base stealers, getting TJ Tornetta for the third out in the ninth and Chester catcher Bill Hitman for the second out in the 10th.

“You never wake up and think you’re going to have a game like today,’ Juelke said. “But it’s not an individual effort. The team chemistry this early in the game is huge.’

Juelke’s gun had started out well, but he hit a cold spell toward the end of the high school season in terms of throwing runners out. Wall said there’s nothing fancy to the catcher’s delivery, but it come fast and the ball “is right there.’

Second baseman Andrew Collins (CB East) made both plays, but Juelke said the only work they’ve had was the tryouts. The catcher attributed it to the level of talent on the team.

“I hit a cold spat this year,’ Juelke said. “It feels good to let it loose again.’

Juelke batted three times, grounding into a fielder’s choice his first time up, then striking out on three pitches in his second at-bat. Still, he came up big in the top of the 11th, smoking an 0-1 pitch to left for a one-out double.

“For me personally it was do everything I had been doing all season,’ Juelke said. “Not getting ahead of myself, not trying to go yard on the kid, taking a good swing, keeping it nice and easy.’

Collins followed up with an odd pop-up that fell between three fielders for an error, though it did allow Juelke to take third. Dan Long (Pennridge) followed with a single that loaded the bags and brought up North Penn outfielder Alex Peterson. Fresh off a state title, Peterson delivered again, slicing a grounder up the middle that brought Juelke in for the go-ahead run.

Carpenter Cup rules prohibit courtesy runners, so Juelke had to stay at second and go the rest of the way. While he doesn’t run in high school play, he has been running in American Legion ball with Fort Washington.

“It’s not a huge deal,’ Juelke said of having to run. “But, if you has asked me three weeks ago then it would have been a little bit uncomfortable. But I’ve had experience on the bases.’

The team opted not to take its team picture after Wednesday’s victory, instead waiting to see where the run takes them. The win leaves the A/C one victory away from playing at Citizens Bank Park. Mayhew said it would be a dream come true to play a game in the home of the Phillies.

Juelke had a similar sentiment.

“I think it’s every kids’ goal who’s ever played baseball to play in a professional league stadium,’ Juelke said. “All the guys are excited, we don’t want to end on Friday, we want to keep playing together.’

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