The Pirates baseball team saw its 2016 season come to an end on Friday in the South, Group 2 final with a 3-1 loss at #1 West Deptford.
#6 Cinnaminson (14-13) jumped right on Eagles starter Derek Wakeley in the top of the first with back-to-back singles from Jake Perkins and Christian Massara before a strikeout, pickoff and strikeout ended the Pirates threat.
The bottom half of the first inning was a mess if there ever was one and it was caused by the umpiring crew, which consisted of three men for the title game.
Jack Conville (3-4) got the start for the Pirates and he was dominant Friday, going all six innings for the complete game loss.
“I felt fine. In baseball, you can’t get frustrated with the umpires,” Conville said. “I just have to come out and do my job. I can’t let them affect how I pitch.”
The inning started with a throwing error by shortstop Mike Graff. The Eagles picked up their first run with two outs on a single to left. A walk loaded the bases and this is where things got interesting.
Conville threw a two-strike pitch to the next hitter that was swung on and missed for what looked like strike three and the end of the inning.
The home plate umpire called the batter out as both teams cleared the field, but West Deptford’s coach complained and the umpires met.
The infield umpires overturned the call of the home plate umpire, saying it was a foul ball, which should have been called immediately if that was the case.
“I felt fine. In baseball, you can’t get frustrated with the umpires,” Conville said. “I just have to come out and do my job. I can’t let them control how I pitch.”
The teams went back to their spots in the field and on the bases and Conville’s very next pitch was lined into right field for a two-run single to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.
“I felt good. Mike Hess had phenomenal catches out in center field,” Conville said. “I knew that if my defense could make catches like that, I had nothing to worry about.”
Conville allowed three runs, all unearned, on just four hits. He walked three and hit one batter.
“He (Conville) pitched so well today,” head coach Kevin Merrill said. “His last start was probably one of his worst starts of the season on Saturday (16-4 loss to Holy Cross).”
“For him to bounce back and have his best start of the season just shows his character and how hard he works. He knew coming in this was going to be a tall task. He did above and beyond anything I could ask of him today.”
Catcher Mike McAndrews spoke glowingly about Conville’s effort after the game.
“Conville was locked in from the start. Awesome job. It’s a shame we couldn’t help him out with run support. The kid’s a gamer and he’s a guy that’s gonna go out there and give it his all every time out.”
Hess saved at least two runs for the Pirates with incredible catches in center field. One quite possibly robbed the Eagles of a home run late in the game.
“He (Hess) is by far the best defensive outfielder I’ve ever coached,” Merrill said. “He’s so fundamentally sound. I call him Mr. Baseball all the time because he doesn’t do anything wrong. He kept us in the game and gave us an opportunity to possibly win it in the last inning.”
Wakeley was hittable, but would not break, as the Pirates could not come up with a big hit on the day. Wakeley went 5.2 for the win. He allowed eight hits, walked two and struck out eight.
Drew Wilden relieved Wakeley with two outs in the top of the sixth.
Cinnaminson had two runners picked off on the basepaths and nearly had a third picked off late in the game that took the Pirates out of two innings, the first and the top of the sixth.
“We had two guys picked off and almost a third one,” Merrill said. “They have two Division I pitchers and when they needed to make a pitch, they made a pitch. We battled. We have a lot of guys on this team and hopefully they come back hungry and ready to go.”
In the sixth, the Pirates had two runners on with two outs when pinch runner Sean Harris was picked off at first for the final out of the inning by catcher Ryan Baglivo.
The only Pirate with a multi-hit game was Perkins, who singled with one out in the top of the seventh inning after Joe McGugan picked up a single.
With two runners on and two outs, third baseman Nick Mahoney came to the plate. He was down to his final strike when a ground ball turned into a fielder’s choice and a throwing error by the second baseman to score a run and make it a 3-1 game.
Still with two outs and now the tying runs at second and third, designated hitter Joey Cody stepped to the plate. Cody went down on strikes to end the threat and the Pirates season.
“I am extremely proud. It is an honor to wear this uniform. The six seniors that are leaving us, it’s a shame they are leaving. They are the reason we got here,” Conville said. “Their motivation and leadership got us to this point. Our group coming back next year, we will be a tough challenge for a lot of teams.”
Wilden wound up striking out the side around the two hits and error in the seventh.
“I hope the seniors left a competitive attitude on this team,” McAndrews said. “The younger kids, a lot of talent and depth. It’s gonna be exciting to come back from college and watch them guys play.”
Follow Cinn City Sports on Twitter for news, scores and live updates from games throughout each season. Like Cinn City Sports on Facebook. Sign-up for our daily newsletter, which arrives daily at 8am with the previous day’s stories, on the homepage.