Millionaires one step closer to a title

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Williamsport players celebrate with one another after defeating Delaware Valley on Friday at Logue Field in the District 2-4 Class 6A semifinals.

While Kyle Caringi watched Tanner Esposito and Cody Shimp pitch Williamsport to a district title last season, he couldn’t help but think that he could have aided it to a second straight district crown. The then-junior watched from the dugout as his senior teammates capped an extraordinary run with back-to-back stellar pitching performances. Though he wanted to be on the mound, he understood his time would come.

Caringi watched from the dugout while a couple of Division I bound pitchers — Esposito is at UMBC and Shimp is at St. Bonaventure — put their stamp on a thriving program.

Now a senior, and a soon-to-be Division I pitcher as well, Caringi finally got an opportunity to showcase his skills in a district postseason game.

The crafty and accurate lefty threw a complete-game four-hitter to lead Williamsport to another district title game berth with its 2-1 win over Delaware Valley in the District 2-4 Class 6A semifinals on Friday afternoon at Logue Field.

Williamsport (16-4) advances to its fourth straight district title game where it will play top-seeded Hazleton at Moosic’s PNC Field on Monday at 4 p.m.

Caringi hit the outside corner all afternoon with a knee-bending curve and a swirling changeup. The St. Bonaventure-bound pitcher struck out eight, didn’t walk any and threw 104 pitches. He kept an offense that was averaging over five runs per game at bay and only allowed one baserunner to reach third base.

It was a moment Caringi has waited for the last four years. Yesterday was his first time on the mound during a district game and only his second postseason appearance after pitching against Downingtown East in the opening round of states last year. He wasted little time showing that he belonged on the mound, pitching against some of the district’s best.

“Last year I wanted to do it but I had seniors in front of me. I figured I could do it last year but this year was my year,” Caringi said, who also went 2 for 3 at the plate. “I wanted to be that guy to step up in big games and be relied on.”

“Kyle shows up day in, day out. When there’s a big game on the line, I’ve never seen someone who wants it more than him,” Williamsport coach Kyle Schneider said. “I saw him in school today and I could tell he was ready to go. Getting down here, I knew he was going to throw a great game and he did. We had that one inning that went in our favor and that gave him momentum the rest of the way through, knowing that, ‘I got a lead, I just have to keep doing what I’m doing.'”

Caringi is part of a new wave of Millionaires after 10 seniors graduated last year, including seven starters. So is Brayton Rowello. The fellow senior’s two-run, two-out single in the bottom of the third inning gave Caringi all the run support he would need.

After Delaware Valley pitcher Devyn Fahnestock induced two quick outs via fly out and strikeout, strange things began to happen. A dropped third strike allowed Colin Esposito to get on base. Dallas Griess followed with a first-pitch lining rocket off the glove of Fahnestock that he nearly caught. Then, what appeared to be an easy throw from the second baseman to the first baseman was not so easy as the inaccurate throw pulled the first baseman off the bag, allowing Riley Hilner to load the bases with two outs.

The biggest hit of the game came from Rowello when he faced a 2-2 count and hit a liner right up the middle, easily scoring Esposito and Griess to give Williamsport a 2-0 lead.

“Going into this game I knew it was going to come down to who was going to get that inning,” Schneider said. “Who’s going to get that inning when it fell in their favor and that inning was a strange one but, nonetheless, we got that inning and that’s what carried us.”

The Williamsport offense had as much problems against Fahnestock as Delaware Valley did against Caringi. The Millionaires tallied just five hits, all singles, but Rowello’s poise at the plate proved to be the difference.

“All year long he’s had two-strike and I have just as much confidence if it was a 3-1 count,” Schneider said. “I knew he was capable of doing the job.”

Seven new starters stepped into the lineup this season and Williamsport hasn’t skipped a beat despite losing Division I talent throughout the lineup. The Millionaires have won 12 of their last 13 games and are on the brink of capturing a third straight district title for the first time since the mid-1990s.

“I knew we had a good group. I knew the seniors this year wanted it,” Caringi said. “The seniors last year, there was 10 of them, a lot of players. We lost a lot of guys. I figured I could hold my own with this team and this team could win as well.”

Williamsprt 2,

Delaware Valley 1

(DISTRICT 2-4 CLASS 6A SEMIFINALS)

Delaware Valley 000 010 0 — 1 4 2

Williamsport 002 000 x — 2 5 1

Devyn Fahnestock and Zach Innella. Kyle Caringi and Drake Mankey. W–Caringi (4-1). L– Fahnestock.

Top Delaware Valley hitters: Ryan Wingerter 1-3; Jack Curraba 2-3; James Conza 1-3, SB, run; Eric Peters, RBI. Top Williamsport hitters: Dallas Griess 1-3, run; Brayton Rowello 1-3, 2 RBIs; Kyle Caringi 2-3; Braeden Mazzante 1-2.

Records: Williamsport (16-4); Delaware Valley (13-6). Next game: Williamsport vs. Hazleton at PNC Field, Monday, 4 p.m.

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