PHILADELPHIA – A little rain couldn’t dampen their spirits.
The opportunity to roam the outfield, warm up in the bullpen, step in the batter’s box or simply sit in the dugout was all worth it.
Despite a 12-7 loss to Jersey Shore under cloudy skies Friday in the semifinals of the 32nd annual Carpenter Cup, getting the chance to play at Citizens Bank Park will be a memory not soon forgotten.
“Being able to come out here and throw … I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid,” said Shawnee pitcher Brian Hendry, who struck out two batters in 1 1/3 innings of relief. “For it to come to reality is just a great experience.
“This is definitely a future goal of mine, to play pro or at a high level of college. To get out and compete with the best gives me a real good feel for what I’ll have to face in the future.”
Said Washington Township catcher Alex Gattinelli, who singled and scored in the second inning: “We had one team goal and that was to get to ‘The Bank.’ We wanted to win the whole thing, but this was a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I’m glad I got to experience it.”
The winningest franchise in tournament history with five titles, Olympic-Colonial fell behind 1-0 and again at 3-2 after five innings and was never able to take a lead.
Jersey Shore, second in tournament history with four crowns, scored five runs on four hits in the sixth to hold an 8-2 advantage. Olympic-Colonial cut the deficit to 8-6 with four runs in the bottom half of the frame only to see the winners answer right back with three in the seventh.
Jared Bellissimo and Josh Jackson led the surge for Jersey Shore. Bellissimo (Toms River North) went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and four runs, while Jackson (Monmouth) was 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.
Lou Priolo (Eastern) had a double for Olympic-Colonial, while Jack Herman (Eastern) and Jake Topolski (Lenape) had RBI doubles. Herman and Jake Owens (Cherry Hill West) each went 2-for-3, with Teddy Sparks (Woodbury) scoring two runs.
“It was exciting to hit that,” said Topolski, a Duke recruit who doubled in all three O-C games. “To hit a double at Citizens Bank Park, it was pretty cool. Hopefully this gives me confidence in the upcoming summer and next year.”
The experience of reaching the Phillies’ home turf was not lost on the coaching staff, too.
For someone who played in the Carpenter Cup at Veterans Stadium in 1998 as a senior at Pitman, assistant Dan McMaster welcomed the chance to coach Olympic-Colonial in its first visit to CBP.
“It’s an incredible experience that these guys are going to carry with them for the rest of their lives,” said McMaster, head coach at Cherry Hill West. “To come full circle, I know that well after my playing career was over I still look back on those memories fondly.
“The guys showed well. They had a nice tournament. It was an outstanding hitting lineup that got us here. We couldn’t close the deal, but the guys can walk out of here with their heads held high and memories they will always have with them."
Members of the Olympic-Colonial squad stand for the national anthem prior to the start of Friday's semifinal at Citizens Bank Park.
Jersey Shore 12, Olympic-Colonial 7
J. Shore 100 025 301 -12-17-1
O-C 010 014 001 - 7-10-4
WP: Dan Chiusano. LP: Matt Kennedy. 2B: Nick Hohenstein, Josh Jackson, Justin Scotto, JS; Jack Herman, Lou Priolo, Jake Topolski, OC.