WILMINGTON — Salesianum led just once in its baseball game against Middletown on April 23. But that one time happened to be at the end, when Brandon Baffone drove in the tying and winning runs with a walkoff double in a 5-4 decision.
The teams were tied at 3-3 heading into the sixth inning, but the Cavaliers changed that in two batters. Carter Boyd led off with a single to left field. He stole second and came around to score on a double by Brandon Boyd down the left-field line. Salesianum starting pitcher Aidan Chermol, making his first start, retired the next three Cavs in order to keep it a one-run Middletown lead.
The Sals, ranked fourth in the state by Delaware Live, had runners reach second and third with one out in the sixth, but Cavs pitcher Andrew Steinhaus wrapped up his afternoon in style. He struck out consecutive batters to end the threat.
Middletown, the eighth-ranked team, nearly added a run in the seventh, but Sals left fielder Aiden Tesche gunned down the Cavs’ Michael Lotharp at the plate to end the frame. That set the stage for the eventful bottom of the seventh.
Conor Campbell led off with a single off Cavaliers reliever Brad Perry. Zach Czarnecki bunted, but Campbell beat the throw to second, putting two runners on. That’s when things got interesting. John Dunion was retired on a foul fly ball down the left field line. Campbell appeared to return to second base, but when the throw from the outfield bounced past the third baseman, Campbell advanced to third. The Cavaliers appealed, claiming that Campbell did not go back and touch second base after the catch, and the base umpire agreed, calling Campbell out.
Instead of runners at the corners with one out, the Sals were faced with Czarnecki on first with two outs. Deuce Rzucidlo grounded to deep shortstop for an infield single. Baffone, a lefthanded batter, sent a fly ball into the gap the opposite way, almost to the fence. Czarnecki and Rzucidlo scored easily, and the Sals rushed out to mob Baffone.
It was the end of a very entertaining ballgame. The Cavs scored three in the top of the first to take the early lead. Zak Sophy singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Brendan Timmons and Will Austin walked, loading the bases. Carter Boyd singled, scoring Sophy and Timmons. He advanced to third and scored on a groundout by Brendan Boyd.
The Sals got one back in their half of the first. Campbell led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, third on a groundout, and he scored on a Dunion groundout. In the third, Campbell drew a two-out walk, and Czarnecki drove him home with a double. Dunion picked up another RBI on a single, tying the game.
Both teams threw some leather around as well. Tesche caught a slicing line drive off the bat of Sophy in the second five innings before throwing the runner out at home. The Sals also turned a double play. For the Cavaliers, Sophy made two nearly identical diving catches in the span of four hitters in the fifth, with the second one saving two runs.
Chermol allowed five hits in six innings, striking out five. Dunion struck out two in his inning and earned the win. Offensively, Campbell reached three times and scored twice. Czarnecki had two hits, a run scored and an RBI. The Sals (8-2) host Conrad on Thursday at 4 p.m.
For the Cavs, Steinhaus scattered six hits and struck out three. Cartr Boyd had three hits, two RBI and a run scored, and Sophy added two hits and scored a run. Middletown fell to 5-3; they host Delcastle on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.