For the very first time, the Cape Henlopen Vikings hoisted the DIAA Baseball championship trophy on the diamond at Frawley Stadium after defeating Caravel Academy, 5-3, Monday night.
The Vikings were powered by a true championship team performance featuring masterful starting pitching, clutch hitting and one huge defensive play.
“These guys had so much pressure on themselves to do this right here, they just kept pounding and kept believing in themselves and knew they would never quit,” said Cape Henlopen Head Coach Ben Evick. “We told them coming into this game, you couldn’t be in a better position and they came through big.”
Cape was led on the mound by ace David Erickson who delivered one of his best outings as a Viking. The senior held Caravel to just one hit through five innings and to just four hits overall, nearly going the distance pitching 6 ⅔ innings to earn the win.
At the plate, four different Vikings knocked in runs, including Erickson, Zach Savage, Jake Gelof and this year’s player of the year, Zack Gelof.
In the field, the second baseman Lucas Johnson made the play of the day for the Vikings. With Caravel threatening in the sixth, Johnson made an over-the-shoulder catch in shallow right field, doubling off a runner at third to end the inning and the Caravel threat.
Cape wasted little time getting on the board Monday night, taking an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Zack Gelof got things started with a double before being knocked in with the game’s first run off a two-base sac-fly to deep center off the bat of Austin Elliott.
“I was looking for a pitch to hit and that’s what happened,” Gelof said. “It’s a big game. Big time. So, we just had to come out and mash the ball.”
Threatening again in the top of the third, Jake Gelof delivered a two-run single, scoring runners from second and third to put the Vikings on top 3-0 heading into the fourth inning after Erickson struckout the side.
In the top half of the fourth inning, Erickson helped his own cause, doubling in another Cape Henlopen run to put the Vikings up 4-0 while also chasing Caravel starter Aaron Holiday from the game.
Zach Savage would help the Vikings add an insurance run, knocking in Cape’s fifth run of the game with an RBI double.
With Cape up 5-0 in the sixth, Caravel’s offense showed signs of life for the first time all night. First, Joey Silan hit a two-run single, cutting the Vikings’ lead to just three before and Ethan DeRegis RBI single made it just a two-run Cape Henlopen advantage.
With two runners on and just one out, Johnson made his remarkable catch in right, forcing the inning ending double-play while preserving Cape’s two-run lead.
“I heard my right fielder screaming Luke,” Johnson said. “I said I was going hard for this ball and I’m going to make sure I catch this ball.”
“That catch was absolutely phenomenal,” Evick said. “A great play, heads up.”
In the seventh, after getting the first two outs of the inning, due to pitch counts Erickson gave way to Mason Fluharty who ended the game with a strikeout looking to end the game and give Cape Henlopen their first-ever baseball state title.
“He’s been our guy all year long, this was a huge game for him and he came out and dealt,” Evick said. “Going into the seventh, he had eight pitches left and got two outs. He was so angry he wasn’t able to get that call and go the distance; we had Mason come in, had great command and got the third out.”