WILMINGTON — Salesianum’s bats were working on May 20, meting out 19 hits that led to 14 runs in a 14-5 victory over Charter School of Wilmington in the first round of the DIAA state baseball tournament. It was the team’s second win over the Force in a week.
Playing on their home field, the Sals, ranked eighth in the 44-team tournament, went to work right away in their half of the first against pitcher Daniel Song and the No. 27 Force. Leadoff hitter Brian Lang got the offense going with a triple, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Brody Valentine.
The Sals added four runs in the second, when they sent eight men to the plate. Ryan James opened with an infield single, and Ben Venema was hit by a pitch. Both advanced on a sacrifice bunt, and Lang drove both in with a double to left-center. Valentine picked up another run batted in with a single, and he moved to second on a fielding error. He came around to score on a two-out single by Deuce Rzucidlo.
Charter’s Peter Taylor walked to open the third, and he eventually scored on a steal of home. Salesianum got that run and one more back in their half of the third on a double by John Dunion, an infield single, a sacrifice fly from Venema, and the big hit, a home run by the catcher, Luke Swift. Swift covered the final 90 feet while being cheered loudly by his teammates in the third-base dugout.
Two more runs in the fourth made it 9-1 Sals, and they threatened to finish the game in fewer than the regulation seven innings. But the Force picked up their first hit off Valentine when Brendan Craig singled to center to open the fifth, and that sparked the Charter offense. Two walks loaded the bases with no outs, and Justin Terranova drove in Craig with a single. Kevin Callahan hit a chopper down the first base line, and he was tagged out by Valentine, but another run scored. Brady Harach scored on a wild pitch for the third run of the inning, and Drew Brady, who had reached on a walk, eventually came home on a bloop single by Song.
Suddenly, the Force were within four runs at 9-5, but the Sals added a single run in the fifth and batted around while adding four more in the sixth. Salesianum had four singles and two walks in that inning to help them reach the final margin.
Valentine threw 4.1 innings, allowing three runs on just two hits while striking out five. Aidan O’Brien came on in relief and picked up four strikeouts in 2.1 innings. Offensively, several Sals had big days at the dish. Valentine was on base four times, scoring three times and driving in four. Lang was a home run short of the cycle, and he scored two runs and drove in one. Rzucidlo had three hits and two RBI, and Swift and Zach Czarnecki also reached base three times. The Sals (12-5) host Cape Henlopen in a second-round matchup on Saturday at a time to be announced.
Song and Samuel Lefton combined for nine strikeouts for the Force. Harach walked three times, and Taylor walked twice and scored twice. Charter finished the season with a 10-9 record.
All photos by Jason Winchell.