Baseball: Maria rushes from school to save day for Tri-Cape

TriCape baseball player Dylan Maria. PHIL ANASTASIA/Staff


Dylan Maria woke up Thursday morning, got dressed and went to school.

"Just like a normal day," the Highland High School sophomore said.

Maria was sitting in Spanish class around 8:30 a.m. when he got a text from his mother, saying she was coming to pick him up because he needed to play a baseball game.

Like, now.

And that's pretty much how Tri-Cape ended up beating Mercer County by a 5-3 score in the first round of the 32d annual Carpenter Cup Classic in FDR Park.

Maria scrambled to go from school to South Philadelphia, arriving around the fourth inning of the game that started at 9 a.m.

The outfielder entered the game in the sixth inning and ended up going 2-for-2 with an RBI double that tied the game at 3-3 on a two-out, 0-2 pitch in the bottom of the seventh.

"Unbelievable," said Tri-Cape coach D.J. Gore, who also is Highland's coach.

Gore needed a player when an athlete didn't show up as the team gathered on the Phillies' Urban Youth Academy Showcase Field a little after 8 a.m.

The coach knew he could rustle up one of his own players, so he texted Maria's mother.

"Got you out of Spanish class," Gore joked with Maria after the game.

Tri-Cape, consisting of players from the Tri-County Conference and the Cape-Atlantic League, advanced to the second round on Monday.

The South Jersey franchise got strong work from its pitching staff, with St. Augustine junior Kevin Eaise setting the tone with three solid innings to open the game.

Four relievers closed out the game with four straight shutout innings: Pitman senior Billy Cavender, Egg Harbor Township senior Drew Hickman, Pennsville junior Daulton Montagna and Ocean City junior  Dan Nunan.

Nunan, a tall left-hander, pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts.

Tri-Cape also got RBI hits from Clearview senior Tim Dezzi as well as Absegami sophomore Sam Daggers and St. Augustine junior Josh Hood.

Daggers and Hood delivered RBI doubles as Tri-Cape broke a 3-3 tie and took a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth.

But the game's biggest hit came in the bottom of the seventh, with Tri-Cape trailing 3-2 and Maria down 0-2 in the count with two outs and Delsea junior Mason Maxwell on second base.

"I was sitting curveball," Maria said. "I saw him shake off (the catcher's sign) and he threw me one before and I froze on it. He threw it and it cut over the plate and I got a good swing on it."

Maria roped a liner into left-center that chased Maxwell home with the tying run and ignited the Tri-Cape dugout and cheering section.

"That was such a big hit," Gore said.

In the sixth inning, Maria led off with a single and advanced to third but was stranded.

His perfect day at the plate began with a routine trip to school and an unexpected text in Spanish class.

"I felt a little strange just randomly showing up after the game started," Maria said. "But I know some of the guys on this team.

"I just wanted to help the team, do what I do. It feels great to play a part in the win."

Mercer County 010 110 000 -- 3 8 3

Tri-Cape 002 000 12x -- 5 10 3

WP: Daulton Montagna. LP: Nick Houghton.

2B: MC-Drayven Kowalski; TC-Dylan Maria, Sam Daggers, Josh Hood.

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