WILMINGTON – St. Mark’s baseball team put three runners on base and scored once during the first inning of their state semifinal game vs. second-seeded Caravel on June 1, but the Spartans struggled on offense the rest of the afternoon in a 6-1 defeat. The loss brought the team’s season to an end with a record of 14-7.
The day began well enough for the Spartans, the sixth seed. Chris Ludman doubled down the left-field line, and the next batter, Brian Gilardi, singled to right, bringing in a run. Gilardi took second on the throw home, but despite a walk to Eric Ludman, Caravel pitcher Joe Silan was able to escape further trouble.
The Buccaneers went to work against St. Mark’s senior Billy Sullivan in the bottom half. Nick Jones and Tyler Juhl both singled, and a steal by Juhl put runners at second and third. Silan was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out. Tyler Croce scored Jones with a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
Juhl earned what would prove to be the winning run with a straight steal of home with Alex Barker at the plate. He beat the tag of Matt Sinko on a disputed play for the 2-1 advantage. Barker would strike out, but the ball got behind Sinko. As Barker beat the throw to first, Silan crossed the plate with the third Bucs run.
The offenses disappeared somewhat after that. Matt Theodorakis led off the second for the Spartans with a double off Barker’s glove, and he reached third base on a sacrifice bunt, but that would be St. Mark’s final hit. Silan walked one and hit two others over the final five innings, but the Spartans were unable to take advantage.
Sullivan, meanwhile, walked three batters and hit two after the first, but he was able to work out of trouble, including in the fifth, when Caravel loaded the bases with one out. He was not as fortunate in the sixth, when the Bucs added three more. With one out and a runner on base, Spartans coach Matt Smith came out to lift Sullivan. Two more singles and two more walks followed, and Caravel took a 6-1 lead into the seventh.
That was more than enough for Silan, who hit a batter in the seventh but was never in trouble. He allowed just the three hits and struck out 10, including two each in the second, fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Jones collected two hits, was on base four times and scored twice. Juhl also had two hits and reached base three times.
Sullivan said Smith has taught his players how to be mentally tough to deal with days like this one.
“Some days you’re the winner, some days you’re the loser. It’s going to happen,” he said.
The Buccaneers gained a measure of revenge against the Spartans, who won last year’s championship against Caravel with a late comeback. They will attempt to win their first title since 2014 on Saturday night against No. 1 Conrad at 7 p.m. at Frawley Stadium. The Red Wolves edged No. 5 Salesianum, 1-0, on Thursday night.
For St. Mark’s, Ludman and Theodorakis each reached base twice. Sullivan allowed four hits and struck out five and will now turn his attention to the Major League draft, which will take place June 12. He said he will work out at Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies on June 10. If the draft does not work out in his favor, he – along with Ludman – has a scholarship waiting for him at the University of Delaware.
“Whatever happens, happens. I’m excited to see what the future holds for me,” he said.
He said it will be different not playing alonside fellow seniors Ludman, Theodorakis, Austin Colmery, Jeremy Vogel and Matt Smith.
“I’ve been with these guys for four years,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure playing with them. I’ve built great relationships with them throughout the four years.”