Home Local Sports Salesianum School captures first DIAA baseball championship since 2008: Photo gallery

Salesianum School captures first DIAA baseball championship since 2008: Photo gallery

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The Salesianum baseball team admires its new hardware after defeating Caesar Rodney, 7-3, in the DIAA championship game on June 1 at Frawley Stadium. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — Salesianum scored five runs in the top of the fifth, and sophomore C.J. Moxley threw 2.1 shut-down innings in relief as the Sals’ Cinderella run through the DIAA baseball tournament culminated with a 7-3 win over Caesar Rodney and a state championship on June 1 at Frawley Stadium.

It was the program’s seventh title overall and first since 2008. They did it as the 13th seed, defeating the 20th, fourth, third, first and sixth seeds along the way.

The Riders, making their first championship-game appearance in 30 years, took a 2-1 lead in the third off Sals starter Jack Rossi when Colby Rall tripled with one out, then scored on a hard single off the bat of Teegan Monroney. CR starting pitcher Anthony Hatch escaped trouble in both the second and fourth innings, but the Sals’ bats came alive in the decisive fifth inning.

Jimmy Gray singled to open the frame with a single, and he stole second and third. He scored on Matt McSorley’s double to left, although a pinch runner for McSorley was later picked off second.

Luke Steinrock and Rossi hit back-to-back singles, and Caden Heritage came in to relieve Hatch. Heritage got Moxley to fly out to right, but Landon Johnston followed with an RBI single to give the Sals a 3-2 lead. That brought Jude Swift to the plate. Swift drove a ball to deep left, and as he rounded second base, the Riders’ leftfielder raised his hands to signal to the umpires that the ball was stuck under the outfield fence. Salesianum coach Ted Godfrey, who also coaches third base, waved pinch runner Michael Dell’Oso home, and he sent Swift, who crossed the plate with a three-run inside-the-park homer.

The Caesar Rodney coaches wanted Swift limited to a ground-rule double, which would have also erased Dell’Oso’s run and kept the lead to 4-2 instead of 6-2. But the leftfielder, seeing Swift heading home, had picked up the ball and threw it toward the infield, and the umpires ruled that the ball was not lodged in the fence. The home run stood. The large crowd at Frawley gave a mixed reaction depending on which team they were there to support.

Rossi reached his pitch limit with two outs and two on in the fifth, and Godfrey brought Moxley into the game. A wild pitch allowed Rall to score, but Moxley got Ethan Wisler to fly to Matt Speicher in center to end the inning.

“I knew fatigue was going to be a factor for both teams because we both played a lot of ball in the playoffs, and it’s really hot,” Rossi said. “But, oh my God, I was just trusting myself, trusting my teammates. I really didn’t have my best stuff tonight, but having the trust in my teammates that when the ball gets put into play they’re going to make plays for me, that’s just awesome.”

Gray tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the sixth to get the Sals’ lead back to four runs, and that was plenty for Moxley. The sophomore, who earned a save in the team’s tournament win vs. Delaware Military Academy, retired the Riders in order in the sixth and seventh innings. After striking out the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh, Moxley induced a ground ball to shortstop, where Rossi had moved after his day on the mound was done. He threw to Johnston, who stretched to record the final out and seal the victory.

“I saw it, and I was like, ‘Let’s go. Come on.’ And he threw it, and I was just so excited,” Moxley said.

“When I go in there, I know they’re going to give me outs, and I know I’m going to get them outs,” he added.

Moxley’s appearances on the mound were limited this season, but Godfrey said he knew he could be trusted in a big situation.

“He’s a player who has a lot of talent,” Godfrey said. “There just weren’t too many innings for him to get during the regular season. So when it came time to put him in the game, he did not flinch at all. I was very confident on him on the mound.”

Gray had two hits, scored twice and drove in the game’s first run. Swift added a single to go along with his home run and three RBI, and Rossi had two hits. On the mound, Rossi allowed three runs on six hits, and he struck out six. After walking the first batter he faced, Moxley retired the final seven with three strikeouts. Speicher caught six fly balls in center. The Sals finished the season 16-7, winning their final eight games.

For the Riders, Rall had two hits and scored a run, and Heritage was on base three times. Hatch allowed four runs and seven hits while striking out five. Heritage three runs on four hits. He struck out five. Caesar Rodney closed out the season 16-6.

Photos by Mike Lang.