WILMINGTON — Steven Mann threw a complete game, overcoming an early deficit as Saint Mark’s defeated Salesianum, 7-2, in a DIAA baseball quarterfinal on May 31 at Father Kenney Field. The Spartans advance to the semifinals, where they will meet top-seeded Cape Henlopen on Thursday at Frawley Stadium.
Neither Mann nor his counterpart for the Sals, Aidan Chermol, was overpowering on the sweltering afternoon, but they didn’t need to be. Balls were hit hard, but for the most part, the fourth-seeded Sals and fifth-seeded Spartans made the plays in the field.
To wit: in the top of the second inning, the Spartans had a runner reach second base with two outs. Zach Frame singled sharply off the glove of Sals second baseman Zach Czarnecki, with the ball rolling a few feet into center field. Czarnecki got to the ball and threw out Kyle Reader at home to end the inning.
Sallies broke through in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Czarnecki singled to left field, and the next batter, John Dunion, smoked a ball over the fence in left to make it 2-0. It was the first ball to clear the fence at Salesianum since the barrier was installed prior to this season.
The Spartans tied the game in the fourth without a hit. They had runners on first and second on walks when, with two outs, Frame lofted a fly ball to left-center. It was dropped for a two-base error, allowing both runners to come in.
Mann got some help from his defense in the bottom of the fourth. The Sals had a runner on second with two outs when the batter singled but was tagged out after rounding first base too far before the runner on second could reach the plate.
That inning also included a superb play by Spartans third baseman Andrew Wenger. With a runner on first and no outs, Wenger came in toward the plate expecting a bunt. Sals batter Deuce Rzucidlo, however, swung the bat and sent a grounder toward the charging Wenger. Wenger, who was the goalkeeper for the Spartans’ soccer team, made a backhand stop perhaps 25 feet from the plate and threw Rzucidlo out at first.
Saint Mark’s pulled away in the sixth. Garrett Quinn led off with a single, and Hayden Fauerbach reached on an error. Frame sent a ball through the middle of the infield; it was knocked down, but Quinn came around to score on the single to give the Spartans the lead. Jameson Summerill then doubled down the left-field line, driving home courtesy runner Connor Feeley and Frame to make it 5-2.
Cory Sheridan relieved Chermol, allowing a one-out single to James Baffone that brought Summerill home. Frame drove home the team’s final run in the seventh with a groundout.
Mann retired the Sals in order in the sixth, including two on strikeouts, keeping the hosts off-balance with a mix of speed and breaking pitches. Saint Mark’s had a reliever ready to go in the seventh, but he was not needed. Mann got two popups to Quinn sandwiched around a walk, and Wenger snagged a sharp ground ball to third with a backhand, firing to first to get the final out.
Mann allowed four hits, three of which were singles. He walked three, hit one batter and struck out six. Summerill had two doubles, two runs batted in and a run scored. Frame, Quinn and Baffone all reached base three times. Frame drove in a pair and scored one. The Spartans improved to 15-5 and will meet No. 1 Cape Henlopen on Thursday at either 4 or 7 p.m. at Frawley Stadium. Cape defeated the Spartans, 6-2, on May 10.
For the Sals, Chermol allowed six hits and six runs (three earned), walked three and struck out six. Sheridan gave up one hit and two walks; he allowed one run and had three strikeouts. Dunion drove in both runs. Czarnecki, Brandon Baffone and Bartkowski all got on base twice. Salesianum finished the season 15-5.
All photos by Jason Winchell.