Caesar Rodney takes memorable walk-off win over Dover

By Andy Walter
Posted 5/25/24

CAMDEN — Will Lorentz was a little mad at himself for not swinging at the first pitch he saw.

It had been a fastball, just what the Caesar Rodney High sophomore was looking for.

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

Caesar Rodney takes memorable walk-off win over Dover


CAMDEN — Will Lorentz was a little mad at himself for not swinging at the first pitch he saw.

It had been a fastball, just what the Caesar Rodney High sophomore was looking for.

“But then I was like, ‘He’s going to throw it again.’ “ said Lorentz.

The second time, Lorentz didn’t hesitate, drilling a two-out double into the left-center field gap to give the No. 6 Riders a dramatic 4-3 victory over No. 11 Dover in the second round of the DIAA baseball state tournament on Saturday afternoon.

Graham Buckson came all the way around from first base to score on the two-out, seventh-inning hit as he was mobbed by his teammates after crossing home plate for the walk-off win. Lorentz was also mobbed after ending what had been a wild seventh inning for the two Kent County rivals.

“It’s the best feeling in baseball,” Lorentz said about his game-winning hit.

As for getting congratulated by his teammates, “that’s another best feeling in baseball,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know, I love my team, It’s awesome. It’s so much fun.”

The news got even better for the Riders a little while later when they found out that No. 19 Middletown had upset No. 3 Cape Henlopen in its second-round contest. That means CR (14-5) will host the Cavaliers (12-8) on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in the state quarterfinals.

But the first baseball state tourney meeting between the Riders and Senators (14-6) was a memorable one.

Dover trailed 3-0 in the top of the seventh when senior shortstop Brandon Yoder delivered a clutch three-run home run over the left-field fence to tie the contest at 3-3.

Teammate Carter Bean then followed by launching a fly ball to deep center.

CR freshman centerfielder Jaidrian Sanchez, though, somehow made a running catch, reaching his glove over the fence as he slammed into it. Sanchez fell to the ground but then held up the ball as he completed the remarkable play.

“I was like, ‘Man, that could be a game-ending save’ — and it sure was,” said CR coach Jeff Gravatt. “For a freshman, on that stage? It’s incredible.

“I was talking about it with their coach (Nick Spadafino) a few days ago,” he added. “It’s set to be the biggest Dover-CR game in school history. It lived up to its potential.

“The crowd was phenomenal. It was probably one of the best high school baseball games I’ve ever been a part of. Kudos to Dover, too.”

The Riders broke a scoreless tie with a run in the third. After a pair of singles, Jordan Sims came home from third when another CR runner got caught in a rundown between first and second.

In the fourth, the Riders added two more runs on an RBI single from Canden Heritage and Buckson getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Dover had 10 basrunners in the first six innings but pitcher Steven Donigan always got out of the trouble. The junior left-hander struck out eight while allowing four hits.

In the seventh, however, two walks gave Yoder his chance to tie the game. Spadafino said Yoder has always been able to put previous at-bats behind him.

“If he’s down, he does not change his approach,” said Spadafino. “That’s one of his best attributes. If you watched his first couple at-bats, you wouldn’t think that was going to be the result on the last one.

“But he’s mentally tough. When it was his time, he stepped up.”

Heritage entered the game in relief and got the last two outs to earn the victory.

In the bottom of the seventh, a walk, a fielder’s choice and a strikeout set the stage for Lorentz’ dramatics.

After breaking into the starting lineup midway through the season, Lorentz has been batting seventh. But the youngster had been hitting the ball so well lately that Gravatt moved him to leadoff on Saturday.

“We had 10 days off and he was probably our top hitter (in practice),” said Gravatt. “I said, ‘You know what? We’re going to take a gamble. We’re going to put him in the leadoff spot.”

The Senators, who had an 11-game winning streak snapped, have only four seniors with 13 sophomores on their roster. Spadafino hopes Saturday’s experience will only make them better in the long run.

“We definitely didn’t want to send the seniors out that way for sure,” he said. “But when you’re returning as much as we’re hopefully returning, you can’t ask for much more. That experience hopefully carries them through the whole off-season and into next season.”

The Riders, though, get to play at least one more game. It’s the first time they’ve reached the state quarterfinals since 2011.

“I’m so excited,” said Lorentz. “We’ve been playing tough teams all season. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

“We’ll enjoy it today,” he said about Saturday’s win. “And then forget about it and get ready for the next game.”

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