MILLTOWN — A little bit of rain was not going to stop Saint Mark’s baseball team, but it took the Spartans a few innings on May 28 to figure out Wilmington Charter starting pitcher Justin Terranova.
The Spartans, seeded fifth in the DIAA baseball state tournament, and No. 21 Charter had their original 1 p.m. start time moved to 3, but the threat of midday rain on Saturday prompted another hour delay. Then, after a shower hit the Pike Creek area, a bit more time was needed to get the field ready. The teams finally got going around 4:30, spending much of the game under cloud cover, but it stayed dry.
The Force upset No. 12 Archmere in the opening round, and they were looking to do the same against the Spartans. For a bit, Terranova kept his team close.
The senior southpaw worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning while holding Saint Mark’s hitless. He had some help early on, getting a sliding catch in right field from second baseman Justin Hahn in the second and a line drive caught at first by Tyler Kreps to end the third. But the Spartans broke through in the fourth.
Garrett Quinn began the fourth with a double to left for Saint Mark’s first hit. Hayden Fauerbach reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners at first and second. Zach Frame laid down a sacrifice bunt, but the throw to first was high, allowing two runs to score and Frame to reach third. After a strikeout, Andrew Wenger grounded out to first, bringing Frame home.
James Baffone then singled, and he scored on a double off the fence in left-center by Michael Clarke. Clarke stole third base and scored on a single by the next batter, Tyler Satterfield. The Force brought in William Outslay to pitch, and he got out of the inning on a line drive to second.
The Spartans added four more in the fifth. Quinn walked, and Fauerbach followed with a booming home run well over the left-field fence to make it 7-0. Frame tripled to center, and Jameson Summerill singled sharply off the glove of the shortstop, with Frame remaining at third. Summerill stole second. Wenger drove in Frame with a sacrifice fly, and Baffone singled Summerill home.
Spartans starting pitcher Jack Burns and his defense had a solid performance. The Spartans went around the horn for double plays in both the first and the second innings. Burns allowed a single to Kreps in the third, but the pitcher jumped on a would-be sacrifice bunt and erased Kreps at second for the second out of the inning.
Wenger had a strong day in the field at third. He started both of the early double plays, and in the fourth he made a diving stab of a line drive. Satterfield, the first baseman. ended the top of the fifth inning with an impressive sliding catch in short right field with his back to the plate. Baffone made a sliding stop on a grounder at second to begin the sixth, throwing the batter out at first. The Force would load the bases in the sixth, but Burns struck out his final batter of the day to escape trouble.
Ryan Smith came on to pitch the seventh for the Spartans. The first two Force batters reached on an error and infield single, respectively, but Fauerbach, the catcher, picked the runner off first for the first out. Hahn singled, but a ground ball to Quinn resulted in a 6-3 double play — Saint Mark’s third of the afternoon — to end the ballgame.
Quinn was on base three times and scored twice. Baffone also reached three times, scored a run and drove one in. Wenger had two RBI, as did Fauerbach. Fauerbach also scored a run, as did his courtesy runner. Burns allowed five hits and struck out five. The Spartans (14-5) will play No. 4 Salesianum on May 31 in one quarterfinal matchup. They split two games with the Sals this season. Salesianum defeated William Penn on Saturday.
Outslay had two doubles for the Force, who finished the season 10-10.
All photos by Mike Lang.