PHILADELPHIA — If there’s two things this SOL National/Bicentennial Carpenter Cup thing should be known for, it’s a flair for the dramatic and responding to adversity with a bunch of runs.
Monday morning at Citizens Bank Park, the SOL/BAL got two innings of the latter and more than enough of the former. In a game befitting of a Carpenter Cup semifinal, the SOL/BAL outlasted a late rally to top Berks/Lancaster-Lebanon County 6-5 at the home of the Phillies.
Much of the early offense was provided by the Reporter/Montgomery representation on the team, with Christopher Dock’s Tim DiLoreto and Abington’s Brendan Gallagher providing solo RBI’s, Abington’s Jack Larini knocking in two RBI’s and William Tennent’s Tim Broadhag scoring a run.
“They’re just here to play ball and they do whatever it takes,’ Abington coach and SOL/BAL co-manager Dave Torresani said. “What I’ve noticed about them this team is its like (the Carpenter Cup champions of) 2008. We had a multitude of talent but they had the same kind of attitude, they never got down. We got behind a couple of times but like these guys, they did what they had to do to win.’
Berks, which beat the Philly Catholic League team 7-4 in extras last week to reach CBP, showed that when it got bat to ball, the ball tended to go pretty far. An RBI double by Bryce Stout put Berks up 1-0 in the bottom of the first. What Berks didn’t know is that the SOL/BAL bunch responds well when the opposition scores.Larini, who started in right field, came up with runners at first and second with one out in the top of the second. He connected for a single to tie the game before Brodhag singled to load the bases and Gallagher came through with an RBI single for the go-ahead run. Larini was thrown out trying for third on Gallagher’s single, but DiLoreto picked up for it by driving a ball out for the team’s third RBI single of the inning.
“I just wanted to see a couple pitches so the guys could see what he was throwing and hopefully get on and get something going,’ DiLoreto said. “It’s us not giving up. We knew it was the first inning and we had plenty of time as long as we kept hitting the ball like we know how to do. It all came together.’
Larini added to the lead an inning later when he hit another RBI single to plate Jared Schram, who’s two-out double keyed the run scoring effort.
“It’s just the confidence we have in our players, our pitchers and our hitters really,’ Larini said. “We’re always in the game and that’s really good.’
Despite playing in a major league stadium, Brodhag said he didn’t feel any jitters prior to the game. If anything, the players felt the field felt smaller than it looked once they were standing on it.
Larini said there was a bit of an adjustment to playing in the expansive outfield, but not being in the bleachers helped shrink the field. DiLoreto returned to his usual role of catching and was a bit surprised when he settled in behind home plate.
“The first thing I took notice of is the backstop looks a lot bigger on TV,’ DiLoreto said. “It looks huge when you’re watching the games on TV, but not here. It is a great feeling knowing you’re in the dugout where all these professional guys sit in and you can’t beat it.’
Brodhag wasn’t too busy defensively in the 12-8 quarterfinal win over Delaware North, but he had plenty hit to him on Monday. The recently graduated Tennent third baseman was up to it, turning a strong defensive day to go with his base hit and sixth inning walk.
“You walk in and see the big stadium but once you’re on the field, it’s just like any other field,’ Brodhag said. “It’s a great field, it’s a major league ballpark. Having that confidence that you’re not going to get a bad hop, you can play deeper and be more confident with your glove, focus on getting your glove on it and making a good throw.’
Berks struck again in the sixth. Pitcher Brian Kaelin got into a little trouble as Berks pushed two runs across to cut the lead to 4-3. But the MaST Charter hurler held the lead and got out of the frame with his team still ahead.
Again, the SOL/BAL responded, but it took an inning. In the top of the eighth, SOL/BAL’s second unit got the offense going again when Shaun Stackhouse singled with one out, the team’s first hit since the fifth. Stackhouse stole second before Connor McCauley walked with two out.
Holy Ghost Prep outfielder Julian Turner continued his strong tournament with an RBI single and SOL/BAL plated a second run with the next batter.
“We just hit the ball well,’ Brodhag said. “We put it on the ground, kept it out of the air. We put together a couple of good innings, we got runners on, used small hits.’
“We all know it would be awesome to put one out here, but hitting here in general is just an awesome atmosphere,’ DiLoreto said. “It’s a good time.’
Abington’s Greg Troyer came on to try and close out the game in the ninth, but he got into a bit of trouble, loading the bags with no outs. A sac fly and a wild pitch brought in two runs, but Troyer also got two outs before TJ Arnao came in with a man on second. Arnao got a pop-up to second, sealing the win and sending SOL/BAL to Tuesday’s final.
The team last won a title in 2008.
“We just want to come out, have fun and hopefully win a game,’ DiLoreto said. “Maybe we can get our names in the record books.’