PHILADELPHIA – The Tri-Cape baseball team’s dream of playing at Citizens Bank Park died on a hot and humid community ball field about a mile away from that major-league destination.
The team consisting in part of all-stars from the Cape-Atlantic League lost to Jersey Shore 5-2 Monday morning in the quarterfinals of the 32nd annual Carpenter Cup Classic at Rich Ashburn Field in FDR Park.
Egg Harbor Township sophomore Jordan Sweeney had two hits, including an RBI triple, and scored a run. Oakcrest senior Donnie Stone had an RBI hit in his final high school game but it wasn’t enough to overtake Jersey Shore, made up of all-stars from the powerful Shore Conference (Monmouth and Ocean counties).
Jersey Shore moves on to the semifinal round, where it will play the Olympic-Colonial all-stars Friday at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. Olympic-Colonial advanced with a 18-6 victory over SOL National/Bicentennial in another quarterfinal Monday.
The championship game will be played Saturday, June 24 at Citizens Bank Park.
“That was everyone’s goal here (to get to Citizens Bank Park), but we didn’t hit the ball well today, especially towards the end of the game,” Sweeney said. “They were a good team. They had good pitchers. They’ll probably go on to do well.”
“That’s a pretty good team we played today,” Stone said of Jersey Shore. “They have a good chance to win it all. I felt like we did, too. The bats just didn’t show up today as much as in the previous game (a 5-3 first-round win over Mercer County). They outplayed us.”
Jersey Shore jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning off Tri-Cape starter Kevin Eaise of St. Augustine Prep, The Press Baseball Player of the Year.
Sweeney led off the Tri-Cape second with a single and went to second on a single by Gloucester Catholic’s Sam Punzi before scoring on Stone’s RBI single to left. But Tri-Cape could get nothing more from that threat and still trailed by a run.
In the third, Tri-Cape put a man on second with two outs before Sweeney ripped a drive to the left-center gap for an RBI triple that tied the game.
The tie didn’t last for long. Jersey Shore scored two runs in the third on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Holmdel’s Sal Monticciolo. The Shore added to its lead in the fourth against Ocean City’s Dan Nunan on an RBI single by Matt Shiffer of Toms River South that made it 5-2.
Tri-Cape threatened in the fifth as Nick Atohi (Mainland Regional) led off with a single and was balked to second. After a fielder’s choice, Tri-Cape had runners on first and third with one out but Jersey Shore pitcher Trey Dombroski (Wall) escaped by striking out Sam Daggers (Absegami) and getting Andrew Fowler (EHT) on a groundout.
In the Tri-Cape seventh, Dylan Maria (Highland) hit a two-out single and went to second on a wild pitch. St. Augustine Prep’s Josh Hood smoked a line drive that looked like it was headed for the outfield gap but second baseman Mark Costanzo leaped to snare it and end the inning.
Tri-Cape was held without a hit in the last two innings against Jersey Shore pitchers Justin Fall and Austin Nappi.
Tri-Cape’s Drew Hickman (EHT) and Pat Spina (Holy Spirit) each pitched two-thirds of an inning in the game.
Sweeney, who had a breakout sophomore year for Egg Harbor Township, enjoyed the experience of playing in the prestigious Carpenter Cup, a single elimination tournament featuring 10 teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware held annually since 1986.
“I’m hoping to make the team again next year and of course the goal, if I do, is to get to the Bank (Citizens Bank Park),” said Sweeney. “I know a lot of my friends will be here again, and that’s going to be everyone’s goal, to get there.”
There will be no next year for Stone, an Oakcrest senior whose high school career came to an end on Monday. But he added an extra-credit highlight to his resume.
“I was able to get a hit in the books in the Carpenter Cup. That’s something I’ll always remember,” said Stone, who will play baseball at Neumann University in Aston, Pa. next year. “It’s always just an honor to make this team, and then to get a chance to perform is always a plus. Now it’s on to the next thing.”