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Cape baseball falls in semis

June 1, 2019

Charles Dickens couldn’t have said it better when he wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” as the Cape baseball season came to an end with a 4-3 DIAA semifinal loss to Apoquinimink May 31 at Frawley Stadium.

The best was a pre-rainstorm two-run homer by Mason Fluharty May 30 to give the Vikings a 24-hour lead going into the delayed finish with the top-ranked Jags. It was a six-inning performance by junior Luke Johnson, who went the distance, allowing just four runs on five hits and striking out three Appo batters while walking just one. It was Johnson, Fluharty, Grant Evans, Timmy Vitella and Luke Smailer getting hits for the visiting team, with Smailer and Johnson reaching second base on their doubles.

It was Vitella throwing a dart to second to sit down a Jags base stealer. It was Logan Dominick putting down the perfect sac bunt to move the runner into scoring position. It was Levi Clifton taking off from first and forcing a throwing error to reach second. It was Johnson slamming a double in the top of the fifth inning to score Evans. It was Ryan Gibbons making a diving attempt on a fly ball, and Robbie Baxley and Grant Evans running down fly balls and making pinpoint throws back to the infield. It was the bench players coming in to run for the catcher and pitcher, and cheering on the team, slapping high fives and picking up the morale of the starters from the dugout.

Then the worst. Jags player Jacob Conover was called safe after an apparent clear tag by Hunter Rauch at third.

“The worst part is we tell the kids to only worry about what you can control, and the umpires we can’t control,” said head coach Ben Evick. “But to lose a semifinal game on a blown call when there are four adults there that can’t get it right is just wrong and not fair to the kids. The state needs to do a better job making sure the right umpires are doing the big games.”

The 15-year coach had kudos for his junior pitcher along with the rest of his squad.

“Luke did an amazing job on the mound allowing four unearned runs. As a team, we did a nice job putting runners on and putting some pressure on them. In the first inning, Timmy threw their runner out at second by two steps, which set the tone for how we were going to play. Luke Smailer smoked a double to give us a lift after they tied the game in the third.”

The Vikings were able to retake the lead in the fifth on Johnson’s double.

“Retaking the lead was huge,” Evick said. “Then we had the blown call and they scored two runs to take the lead back.

“Our guys battled all year and got a lot further than anyone gave us a chance of getting. I couldn’t be more proud of how they came together as a team this year, supporting each other both on and off the field.”

Alex Jones went for 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs for Appoquinimink.

The Vikings finish their 2019 campaign at 16-6. They defeated Caesar Rodney, Milford and Dover during their DIAA Tournament run.