Cape Henlopen pitcher David Erickson struck out 9 in a dominating performance as the Vikings held on to win their school’s first state baseball championship 5-3 over Caravel.
Erickson got immediate offensive support from the Gelof brothers, as Zach led off with a double, and after Jake walked, Austin Elliott hit a sacrifice fly that allowed Zach to race home from 2nd with the game’s opening run.
Two innings later, it was Jake’s turn, as he hit a two-run single against a drawn-in infield to plate Tim Vitella and Zach.
Meanwhile, Erickson was strong on the mound, striking out 6-of-7 Caravel batters at one point, and retired 10-in-a-row, holding a 1-hitter through five innings.
Cape continued to pour on the offense, getting RBI doubles from Erickson in the 4th and Zach Savage in the 5th to jump the lead to 5-0, and those proved to be important insurance runs.
Caravel finally mounted a response in the 6th, as Vinny Green sparked the offense with a lead-off single, and Michael Summerfield reached on an error to bring up the top of the lineup.
Kevin Keister walked, and following a strikeout, Joey Silan wedged a single to left to bring home their first two runs of the game. Ethan DeRegis followed Silan’s blazed trail for his own RBI single, and a comfortable lead was suddenly down to 5-3.
Aaron Holiday then tried to check his swing, but it worked as a flare to right.
Second baseman Luke Johnson caught a read on the baseball, and hearing his right-fielder calling his name, he said he sprinted after the baseball, and made a challenging over-the-shoulder catch.
Caravel’s runner on 3rd didn’t tag, and despite Johnson throwing home, the catcher had plenty of time to throw back to 3rd to complete a 4-2-5 double play that ended the Bucs’ rally cold.
Erickson had 8 pitches left for the final inning, but had to check out after the 8th pitch was a called strike for the 2nd out of the inning, and 9th K of the game.
Mason Fluharty was summoned to record the final out, and did so via the strikeout to spark a celebration storming out of the Cape Henlopen dugout.
The victory completed a journal for a core group of Cape seniors that played in the state championship game three years ago against Appoquinimink, but despite several players going on to Division I schools next year, this was their last chance at the trophy.
Jake Gelof drove in two runs as 8 of Cape’s 9 starters reached base in a balanced offensive attack.
Erickson tossed 6 2/3 innings of 4-hit, 3-run baseball, just two of which were earned. He struck out the 9 batters against 1 walk.
Caravel’s Joey Silan entered the game with 1-out in the 4th inning, and gave up just 3 hits and a run, but it wasn’t enough to give the Bucs the state crown.