WILMINGTON — Some of the ways the Cape Henlopen High baseball team found to get out of jams almost defied belief.
Then there were the rallies its offense was able to put together.
“It had a little magic to it,” said freshman Austin Elliott.
With that magic, the underdog Vikings are in the state title game for the first time in school history.
Elliott’s two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning helped the 10th-seeded Vikings stun Caravel, 8-7, in the semifinals of the DIAA baseball tournament on Thursday night at Frawley Stadium.
No. 10 Cape Henlopen (14-7) enters Saturday’s final (at Frawley Stadium at 1 p.m.) having won 10 of its last 11 games.
And this wasn’t any team the Vikings beat. This was Caravel, seeded third and the defending state champions.
The Buccaneers had played in the last three championship games and four of the last five. They also defeated Cape, 16-7, back on April 22.
“We felt like they were just looking by us,” said Cape senior Kai Vitella. “We don’t think they respected us as much as they should have. We’re hot right now and it’s the state tournament where anything can happen.”
Elliott’s double gave the Vikings their first lead of the day. The rally in the ninth happened with two outs as Jason Dominick walked and Jason Wiberg singled to end up scoring when Elliott roped a liner down the left field line toward the bullpen to break a 6-6 tie.
But Caravel scored a run in the bottom half of the ninth on two walks, a sacrifice and a dropped third strike.
The tying run was at third and the potential winning run was at second and Vitella, who took over on the mound in the sixth for Cape, needed two outs.
He got the first on a strikeout, then forced a flyout to center to set off the celebration. Cape players mobbed Vitella on the mound while some walked behind the plate with their hands on their heads taking the moment in.
“I was nervous as anything,” Vitella said. “I couldn’t throw a strike. Having guys make plays like that gives you so much confidence. This is the best moment of my life. Oh my gosh, this is awesome.”
Caravel didn’t have a hit from the fourth inning on, but still threatened multiple times.
In the sixth the Buccaneers loaded the bases with one out for No. 3 hitter Adam Weber. Weber hit a rocket toward right but Dominick, a late-inning replacement at second base, made a leaping catch and was able to double off the runner at second.
Even better, it was Dominick’s birthday on Thursday.
“He made a game-saving play,” said Cape coach Ben Evick.
In the eighth, Caravel had runners on second and third with one out.
Vitella got a big strikeout of leadoff batter Jason Bilous and the Vikings decided to walk Brandon Fraley intentionally. Catcher Richard Carey then recorded the final out with a lunging catch on the on-deck circle in front of Caravel’s dugout.
“I’m just pretty excited to be a part of a team like this,” Elliott said. “We kind of knew we had a chance to do it and it finally worked out.”
Caravel took an early 3-0 lead and eventually went on top 6-3 after the bottom of the fifth before the Vikings answered with a three-run sixth.
Wiberg doubled, Elliott singled and Alec McCoy walked to load the bases with one out. Drew Mulcahy then walked for the fourth time in the game to bring home a run and make it 6-4.
Vitella then lined a single to left field that plated a pair to tie the game.
The start of the game was delayed by a half hour due to thunder in the area. The official length of the game was three hours and 22 minutes.
But it was worth the wait for the Vikings.
“It’s huge,” Evick said. “I had a team here one other time in the semifinals and we had a heart-breaking loss to Dickinson. This one, you see these guys, it’s huge for our school and program. We’ve been battling and trying to put quality teams out there.”
Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 741-8224.
Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.