PHILADELPHIA – What the Pennsbury players weren’t able to do, the Holy Ghost Prep (HGP) kids were.
Due to their team’s run to the PIAA Class 6A championship, four of the Falcon players couldn’t make the Suburban One League National/Bicentennial all-stars’ Carpenter Cup duel with Chester County Wednesday afternoon at FDR Park.
Thankfully, HGP junior Mark Seibert and sophomore Phil Stahl were. Both came through in pinch-hit roles in the seventh inning for the SONL/BAL.
The boys from Bucks County were leading Chester 5-4 after six frames with a runner on first and no outs when Seibert crushed a double to centerfield that landed men at second and third.
With two outs and facing a 1-2 count, Stahl, who hails from Levittown, hit a two-run single between third and short for an 8-4 lead that all bit sealed the win for the SOL National/BAL June 14 at the Phillies’ Urban Youth Academy (UYA) Field in South Philadelphia.
“That hit was huge,” said Seibert, who lives in Yardley. “He’s really good with runners in scoring position. He was really battling up there, fouled off a couple of pitches to stay in the count and he really came through.”
For good measure, Seibert lofted a fly ball to right field in his second at-bat in the eighth inning that scored Dock Mennonite sophomore Nolan Bolton, sending the score to its 9-4 final.
For their efforts, the SONL/BAL all-stars advance to face Olympic Colonial, a 6-2 winner over Burlington County. The duel with OC is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday, June 19 back at UYA Field at FDR Park.
The Bucks boys were trailing, 1-0, in the top of the second inning when HGP junior Brett Sternberg came through with a run-scoring single, hitting a 3-2 pitch in the gap that tied the score and sent Chester starter Austin Odell to the showers.
After a double-play ball induced by reliever Kevin Cushing, Council Rock South senior Josh Kim followed with an RBI single to right-centerfield and the SOL National/Bicentennial never trailed again.
“We all played pretty well. Collectively, we had four or five RBIs,” said Seibert of the production turned in by he and his two schoolmates. “It’s good to see that we come from a league that can produce in big games like this.”
Further, it was a pair of Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) pitchers – Dock Mennonite’s Dan Sabath and Plumstead Christian’s Brock Hewitt – who staked the SONL/BAL to an early lead in the contest.
The starter, Sabath limited Chester to a lone run in three innings pitched while Hewitt – who allowed Chester to tie the score at 3-all in the bottom of the fourth on double by right fielder Conor Smith and a single by left fielder Nate Valenta – recorded the win after limiting the opposition to three runs scored (two earned) in 2.2 innings pitched.
“Obviously, there are some really good teams in the SOL,” stated Seibert. “But the Bicentennial is often overlooked because there are some teams that aren’t quite as strong. There are some good players in certain programs that can help us out here in this tournament.”
Each time Chester either tied the score of drew near, to its credit, the SONL/BAL answered back.
“It’s baseball – if you score some runs, you want to shut them down,” explained SOL National/Bicentennial head coach Joe Pesci. “You want to answer when a team scores and when they score, you want to shut them down the next time up”
“There’s a lot of game play there but the pitchers did a great job minimizing the runs.
“It’s an all-star tournament so every kids can hit and every kid can pitch.”
With the sides deadlocked at 3-all in the fifth inning, Neshaminy junior Brian Nicolas reached base for the second time with a leadoff single to centerfield and looked like he might score on a single to right by Valley Forge Baptist junior Kacey Caras.
However, third base coach Dan Toner switched a green light for Nicolas to red at the last minute. While Brian would have been a dead duck with an accurate throw home, the SONL/BAL bench moaned when the toss from the outfield sailed to the backstop.
It was all good when MaST Charter senior Matt Carter followed with a two-run triple to centerfield that put the SONL/BAL up 5-3, providing the difference in the contest.
Hewitt sent the Chester batters down in order in the bottom of the frame but got into some trouble in the sixth when he surrendered a one-out single to Demetrio Rodriguez and allowed two-out walks to Theron Schilling and Quinn Dana.
Fortunately, Neshaminy junior righthander Kyle Rovny was there to get the last out, inducing a fly ball lofted to right field by Colt Narciso.
SONL/BAL relievers Matt Benda and Nick Dean closed the win out from there, retiring nine of the next 10 batters over the last three innings. Benda is a junior at New Hope-Solebury and Dean is an 11th-grader at Bensalem.
Defensively, there were three errors committed by each side, though the SONL/BAL seemed to make more plays in the field than their opponent.
After leadoff hitter Nick Opalkowski reached for the second time in the contest on an error in the third inning, Nicolas stabbed a frozen rope lined to second by Alex Stump then doubled up Opalkowski before he could get back to first.
With Luke LeBeau on first base with a leadoff walk in the fourth inning, Chester infielder Pete Giombetti lofted a fly ball to deep left field. SONL/BAL outfielder Greg Delgado, a junior at William Tennent, got on his horse and made a leaping grab over his head for the out. The play proved big later in the inning when Chester came through with a pair of run-scoring hits.
In the final frame, Trey Obarowski, a junior at CR South, caught a liner barreled halfway between first and second by Tim Becker then very nearly ended the game with a double-play of his own.
NOTES: SOLN/Bicentennial all-stars Billy Bethel, Ryan McCarty, Justin Massielo and Vaughn Ward were not able to make the opener against Chester due to the Falcons’ impending state championship battle against Dallastown slated for Friday at Penn State.
TOP PHOTO: Phoenixville junior Luke LeBeau, left, slides in safely at third base for the Chester County all-stars with recent Council Rock South graduate Josh Kim covering the bag for the SOL National/ Bicentennial all-stars in the Phillies Carpenter Cup college showcase tournament Wednesday, June 14 at Urban Youth Academy Field at FDR Park in South Philadelphia.
Phillies Carpenter Cup Tournament
SOL National/Bicentennial 9, Chester 4
(June 14 at UYA Field at FDR Park)
SOL National/Bicentennial 021 020 310 – 9 11 2
CHESTER COUNTY 100 201 000 – 4 5 2
WP: Brock Hewitt 2.2IP, 3R, 3H, 3BB, 3SO; LP: Ben Christian 2.0IP, 2R, 3H, 1BB, 4SO.
RBI: SOL-B — Josh Kim, Mark Seibert, Kacey Caras, Matt Carter 2, Philip Stahl 2, Brett Sternberg; C — Luke LeBeau, Conor Smith, Nate Valenta.
EXTRA-BASE HITS: SOL-B — Seibert 2B, Carter 3B; C — LeBeau, Smith.