Sussex Tech baseball team tops William Penn, 2-0, to advance to semifinals

By Mike McClure

The Sussex Tech varsity baseball team approaches each season one game at a time, but one game was on the players’ minds as they started the season in the weight room last October, the state quarterfinals. The team had lost their last three state quarterfinals’ games before defeating William Penn, 2-0, on Tuesday in Georgetown. 

“Just to get past a quarterfinal round against a tough team like William Penn is tremendous,” said Sussex Tech head coach G.L. Jefferson.

The Sussex Tech baseball players celebrate their team’s 2-0 state quarterfinal win over William Penn on Tuesday. Photo by Mike McClure

“I was excited coming into this game. I wanted it a lot. It felt good to go the distance,” added senior pitcher Jeremy Vest, who struck out seven and stranded six baserunners in seven shutout innings and 103 pitches.

With the win, the Ravens face Henlopen North rival Caesar Rodney this morning (Thursday) at 11 a.m. at Frawley Stadium before senior members of the team walk the stage during commencement tonight. Sussex Tech beat the Riders, 1-0, on April 23 in a game also played at Frawley Stadium.

On Tuesday, Vest worked a 1-2-3 top of the first inning and Sean Ely singled and stole second base before being stranded in the bottom of the inning.

The Colonials left a runner on base in the second after Vest hit a batter. In the bottom of the second, the Ravens’ Kade Hall was hit by pitch and stole second and Kameron Tindley drew a walk, but Sussex Tech left them on base.

William Penn drew a pair of walks to open the inning, but the Ravens got a flyout, Vest notched his third strikeout of the game and Hall threw out a runner trying to steal second.

Sussex Tech put the game’s only runs on the board in the bottom of the inning. Braydon Hazzard hit a leadoff single, and went to second on sac bunt by Ely before being thrown out at the plate trying to score on a double by Gavin Hudson. Hudson moved up on an infield single by Rosnell Lewis and scored on a hit and run doubled by Kobe Tindley. Lewis came home on an error on a ball hit by Hall for a 2-0 Ravens’ lead.

In the top of the fourth, William Penn’s John Grybowski and Michael Baker collected their team’s first hits with one away. The runners moved up on a wild pitch but were left on base following a pair of groundouts.

Sussex Tech had a pair of runners on base in the bottom of the fourth as Kameron Tindley hit a leadoff single and Zane Adams reached on a bunt single. The Colonials turned two on a popup bunt, doubling up the runner at second before getting a third out to end the frame.

Vest sent William Penn down in order in the fifth, striking out a pair. The Colonials’ Noah Currier and Hassan Turner each opened the sixth inning with a single and moved up on a sac bunt. Vest struck out a pair, his sixth and seventh strikeouts, to end the inning, leaving two more runners on base (six total in the game).

“He’s (Vest) as cool as a cucumber. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got runners on first, second or third,”said Jefferson. “I think he gets more competitive with runners on base.”

Vest’s thoughts with runners on base,  “Just breathe. You can’t let the moment get bigger than it is. You’re out here playing a child’s game.”

William Penn came up one last time in the top of the seventh. Justin Weidner drew a one-out walk before Sussex Tech third baseman Kameron Tindley fielded a ball, threw to second baseman Braydon Hazzard for out number two, and Hazzard fired to first baseman Brock O’Day for the game-ending double play.

“That was an incredible way to seal the game. It just shows my team has my back,” said Vest. 

“Our message to him before we walked out there was win or lose ‘this is the last time you’re going to step out there (on home field) in competitive manner,” Jefferson added.

In addition to pitching, Vest kept busy making pickoff throws to first base and faking throws to second. Jefferson said William Penn is known to have a good running game and was looking to slow it up while also checking to see if they were going to bunt.

“We knew that they were going to try and get some runners moving,” said Jefferson.

Meanwhile, the Ravens were also aggressive on the basepaths despite the strong arm of the Colonials’ catcher. 

“If they feel it, they can take it,” Jefferson said of attempting to steal off in the pitcher. “We were trying to be a little more aggressive, a game like this.”

Lewis led the Ravens with a pair of hits and Kobe Tindley and Hudson each doubled.