WILMINGTON – Dover High’s bid to make its first baseball state title game since 1973 will have to wait another year.
Appoquinimink scored six runs in the fourth inning on its way to a 9-4 victory over the Senators in the DIAA semifinals Thursday night at Frawley Stadium.
The eighth-seeded Jaguars will meet No. 10 Cape Henlopen for the championship on Saturday at 1 p.m., also at Frawley Stadium. It’s the first time since 1990 that two public schools are in the finals.
Dover, the fourth seed, ended its season at 16-5 overall. It’s the third season in a row the Senators’ season came to an end in the semifinals.
“Three straight semis and not getting to the championship, that’s going to hurt a lot of us,” said Dover coach Dave Gordon. “Once you get over that and you look at the body of work — one we’ve been in the playoffs every year. Two, the last three years we’ve been here. We’ve beat some great team and two years in a row we beat the player of the year.
“They’ve got to be one of the greatest Dover High baseball teams of all time. They absolutely have to be. I’m proud of them.”
Dover had beaten the Jaguars 5-2 back on April 18.
“It’s hard to beat the same team twice in a season,” Gordon said. “Those guys didn’t hit that way on April 18. It’s really unfortunate. I knew this was going to be tough. I told my dad I felt like this was the championship. Not to take away from those other teams, but we played in April, it felt like a state playoff game.”
While the Jaguars did a majority of their damage in the fourth, they also scored three runs in the first to take an early lead.
The first three batters of the game reached base as Matt Alexander singled home the game’s first run. After a strikeout, Joe Otto laced a liner up the middle that plated a pair.
Dover got one run back in the bottom half when Kendall Small beat out a grounder which allowed Dakota Graham to cross the plate.
Then came the fourth inning which saw Dover use three different pitchers as the Jaguars sent 11 batters to the plate.
Appo scored its first run on a bases-loaded walk before Alexander cleared the bases with a triple to left. Ryan Steckline followed that by crushing a triple off the wall in right.
Steckline finished the scoring by coming home on a wild pitch.
Dallas Willey took over on the mound for Dover and kept the Jaguars off the board for the rest of the game but the damage was done.
Dover’s second run came in the bottom of fourth when Aaron Jenkins tripled to center to score Triston Harris.
The Senators put together a small rally in the seventh when Graham led off with a single and scored on Aven Purnell’s triple. Jordan Hutchins then hit a single to bring Purnell home but the Jaguars were able to retire the next three batters.
Dover had a few run-scoring opportunities go to waste. The Senators left the bases loaded in the first inning and stranded a total of nine runners.
The Senators graduate 11 seniors from this year.
“I know they wouldn’t quit,” Gordon said. “I thought there was a chance. I really did. Dallas did a great job keeping us in the game. He picked a great time to have his best outing of the year. He’s a senior and he performed at a high level. It couldn’t happen to a greater kid.”
Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at email@example.com or 741-8224.
Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.