By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
PHILADELPHIA – Lehigh Valley found a way Monday to do what two other teams couldn’t – shut down a powerful Tri-Cape lineup that had scored 22 runs in its first two games of the 2013 Carpenter Cup Classic.
St. Augustine Prep shortstop Christian Adorno scored in the top of the first inning, but that was all Tri-Cape could muster against a
slew of Lehigh Valley pitchers who, although not overpowering, kept Tri-Cape’s offense off balance and worked out of a few jams. Lehigh Valley rallied to take a 2-1 lead, then tacked on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth on its way to a 4-1 win over Tri-Cape in the tournament semifinals at Citizens Bank Park. Tri-Cape was denied a chance to win its first title in the 28-year history of the tournament.
The second semifinal, between Jersey Shore and Mercer County, was halted in the seventh inning due to rain and lightning. That game will resume Tuesday morning at 9:30, with the championship game to follow about an hour later.
St. Augustine Prep catcher Barry Buchowski, a Tulane University recruit, got Tri-Cape on the board with an RBI triple to deep center that drove in Adorno, but Lehigh Valley tied the game by scratching a run off Gloucester Catholic stud pitcher Mike Schwaryn, a recent Kansas City Royals draft pick. Lehigh Valley took a 2-1 lead by plating a run off Vineland’s Don Money, but Tri-Cape had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the top of the fifth.
St. Augustine Prep left fielder Mike Elfreth launched a 1-out triple to right, but two batters later Lehigh Valley turned a double play to end the threat. Lehigh then scored a pair of runs off Ocean City righty
Beau Hall, one of which came on a passed ball. Tri-Cape mustered one more rally, but couldn’t get the big hits it had gotten on Friday when it dominated SOL American/Continental (Pa.) 13-6.
Despite the loss, Tri-Cape players said they will relish for years to come the opportunity to play in the Phillies’ home ballpark.
“It’s pretty awesome playing here. It’s a big Park. It looks a lot bigger (from the dugout). It’s amazing to play on,” said Millville second baseman Kyle Cox. “It was fun. There are a lot of good ball players on this team. We had a real good team. I was just glad to get the opportunity to play on this team.
“This field is awesome. I just tried to do what I know how to do, field the ground balls and throw over to first base. I was thinking about all the
players who have played on this field. I’ve come to watch a few games and it’s just awesome being down here.”
Money’s grandfather, also named Don Money, played major-league baseball with the Phillies and Brewers, and the younger Money said it was quite a thrill to step onto a major-league field, even if it was as a recently graduated high school senior.
“It’s a little crazy playing here. It’s probably the best mound I’ve ever pitched on. Even the bullpen mound was better than any mound I’ve ever pitched on,” said Money, who went 9-1 this past season for Vineland. “It made me a little nervous, but it was a fun game. It’s probably the biggest moment of my career. I always come here to watch the games. I never thought I’d be playing on (this field). Just to be here is like a dream come true.”
Atlantic City outfielder Jon Bruccoleri played a number of high school games at Sand Castle Stadium – former home of the now defunct Atlantic City Surf – in Atlantic City during his career, but said playing there was no comparison to playing on a field where the likes of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels do their work on a nightly basis.
“It was a great experience. It’s great knowing that (the Phillies) won a World Series here and all the MLB players playing on that field,” Bruccoleri said. “I felt pretty good the whole time because I actually play at the Surf stadium in Atlantic City. I know that’s not (comparable) to this, but I’m used to kind of playing in a little stadium there. But it was still a great experience. Getting elected to this and getting to play in this was pretty cool.”