No. 1 Sussex Central falls in baseball state semifinals

By Andy Walter
Posted 5/30/24

WILMINGTON — A couple times it looked Sussex Central High might just take control of this game.

But, every time, Salesianum came scrambling back.

And then finally, it was the No. 13 …

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already a member? Log in to continue.   Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in

No. 1 Sussex Central falls in baseball state semifinals


WILMINGTON — A couple times it looked like Sussex Central High might just take control of this game.

But, every time, Salesianum came scrambling back.

And then finally, it was the No. 13 Sals who put away the top-seeded Golden Knights, scoring twice in the top of the eighth to topple Central, 7-5, in the DIAA baseball state semifinals on Thursday afternoon at Frawley Stadium.

Instead of an all-Henlopen Conference final, it is Sallies (15-7) that will take on No. 6 Caesar Rodney (16-5) in the state championship game on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Frawley.

While the Riders are trying for their first state title since 1975, the Sals haven’t won one since 2008.

The loss was tough to swallow for the Knights (17-3), who were considered one of the top couple squads in the state all spring.

“I love this whole senior group,” said Central coach D.J. Long. “There’s a lot of wins for those guys. I appreciate all the work that they put in.

“They grind. I don’t have to beg those guys to do anything. They show up. ... whatever you need from them. That’s the type of guys that they are.

“We had our chances in a couple different situations. I hoped they could come through and it just didn’t happen today.”.

Central took a 5-4 lead into the top of the seventh after scoring twice in the bottom of the sixth. But the Sals tied the score on a walk, a hit batter and a single through a drawn-in infield.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Knights had the winning run on second with one out and the bases loaded with two outs. A groundout, though, sent the game to extra innings.

Sallies scored its two runs in the eighth on just a pair of singles, a walk and a throwing error. Central was retired in order in the bottom of the eighth.

“It seemed like every time we answered them, they would answer,” said Long. “In a couple of those situations, you couldn’t have drawn up anything better. You take the lead going into the top of the seventh and you need three outs.

“That’s what’s going to make it hurt the most. ... I know a lot of our guys want some of the plays back. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit at times.”

The game featured four lead changes. Each team finished with six hits apiece while the two squads combined for five errors with 16 walks and the hit batter.

Central took a 3-2 advantage in the third when Noah Burroughs hit a two-run triple into the right-field corner and Joaquin Rodriguez singled him home.

The Knights then scored twice in the sixth on a Jace Jarmon RBI single and Chet Furmanek’s bases-loaded walk.

Central had beaten the Sals, 15-2, on April 6 in chilly conditions. But Long said that early-season contest didn’t really have any bearing on the rematch.

Sallies has now seven games in a row.

“I told the boys, I don’t think we took them lightly,” said Long. “That wasn’t the case at all.”

The Knights were playing in the state semifinals for the first time since 2009 when Long was playing. Central beat Sallies, 9-1, in the semifinals to reach the title game.

This time, the Knights fell short.

“To me, this was the group that should have won the whole thing,” said Long. “You can say that but you’ve got to handle business. Hopefully we’re back (next year) and get another opportunity to win the whole thing.”

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.