Baseball: Olympic Colonial wins Carpenter Cup opener


By Phil Anastasia

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Joey Craig kept his pre-game pep talk short and to the point.

"Let's play hard and let's get to the Bank," Craig told his Olympic Colonial teammates before the first game of the 29th annual Carpenter Cup Classic baseball tournament.

Craig, a recent graduate of Camden Catholic, backed up his words with a two-run home run as Olympic Colonial beat Delaware North 3-2 Thursday morning at Ashburn Field in FDR Park in South Philadelphia

.Craig's blast over the left-field fence and a run generated in the top of the first by speedy Eastern outfielder Tom Flacco was all the scoring that OC needed in a fast-paced, well-pitched game on a misty, cool morning.

OC advances to face the winner of Thursday's scheduled second game between Burlington County and Lehigh Valley in the quarterfinals Monday at 10:30 a.m.

With a win in that game, OC would advance to the semifinals next Thursday at Citizens Bank Park.

"We've never made it (to the Phillies' home stadium)," said Bishop Eustace coach Sam Tropiano, who served as OC's manager. "That's a big goal."

OC was one of the most successful franchises in the early days of the Carpenter Cup, winning five titles from 1989 through 1997. But the team has never advanced past the second round and to Citizens Bank Park since the Phillies opened their new stadium in 2004.

"That's big for us as seniors," said Craig, who will play baseball next year at Monmouth University.

Pitching and defense were the keys for OC. Five pitchers allowed just five hits and one earned run.

Bishop Eustace senior LHP Devin Smeltzer worked the first two scoreless innings. Cherry Hill East senior RHP Nick DiEva earned the win by pitching three solid innings, allowing an unearned run.

Washington Township senior RHP Mark Scarpa pitched two scoreless innings and Haddon Township senior RHP Nick DeRitis worked a scoreless eighth.

Sterling senior RHP Donovan Casey earned the save by piching the ninth. Casey allowed a run on two hits, but worked out of trouble with two strikeouts and a key pick-off of a runner on second.

"Smeltz (Smeltzer) started us off and Donovan shut the door," Tropiano said.

Casey's pick-off play was the second by OC. The team also caught two runners trying to steal as Camden Catholic catcher Dom Messina threw out a pair with strong pegs.

"Our pitching staff is incredible," Craig said.

OC took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first as Flacco hit the first pitch of the game for a double, stole third and scored on a throwing error on the play.

With the score tied 1-1 in the sixth, Craig drove a fastball over the left-field fence.

"I got to first and the first-base coach was like, 'Slow down, Joe,'" Craig said. "It was awesome."

Olympic Colonial 100 002 000 -- 3 5 2

Delaware North 000 010 001 -- 2 6 1

WP: Nick DiEcva. LP: Will Stranahan.

2B: DN-Kyle Baker.

HR: OC-Joey Craig.

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