Athletes, coaches, officials, and fans of Delaware County high school baseball came together for the 37th annual Joseph J. Barrett, Sr. Memorial All-Star Game and Scholarship Fund on Saturday (June 3) at Neumann University. This year, it was Del-Val League’s turn to host Central League.
While this is an opportunity for the county’s stellar baseball players from the Class of 2023 to face each other, it is also a time to remember Barrett, the namesake of the scholarship fund.
Scholarships go to honors students and those in financial need. Through corporate sponsorship, over $150,000 has been given since the tradition began in 1985. Additionally, this day is one more reason to keep showcasing how important local baseball can be.
“It’s a great event,” said Central League head coach Anthony Monzo. “It brings seniors from all over the league. That doesn’t happen often.”
The high school baseball experience for these graduating seniors began on an uncertain note. COVID-19 struck in March 2020, bringing their freshman season to a screeching halt. The jarring, but expected, announcement soon came that the season was canceled. Nevertheless, they persevered and made the best of their high school years as normalcy gradually returned and they earned their chance to conclude by playing in this important match.
“Seniors have done a lot these last three years,” said Monzo. “There’s a lot of talent.” A pregame ceremony took place with all players announced. Aiden MacLaren, Barrett’s great-grandson, tossed out the first pitch at noon sharp with Mike Costanzo, who spent 11 seasons in Major League Baseball, catching.
Del-Val’s strong second inning was all that it took for the team to declare a 5-3 victory over Central League. A bases-clearing double, that ultimately earned Sun Valley’s Ikon Jones the MVP award, did it.
That did not happen right away. Central League was off to a solid start. Ridley’s Mike Happersett collected a hit. Ridley’s Jeremy Stranix was walked. Garnet Valley’s Logan Nelson belted a two-run single to give his team an early 2-0 advantage.
“I had runners on,” said Nelson. “I had two strikes on me. I just wanted to slap a single there, get some runs in.”
Del-Val saw its comeback in the bottom of the second.
Haverford School’s Jac Campbell got on base with a walk. Cardinal O’Hara’s Paul Daly singled. Interboro’s Frank Suga was hit by a pitch to load the bases with only one out. Then, came Jones’ moment in the spotlight. He drove home all three runners and Del Val took a permanent lead. “I was leading myself to just stay calm,” said Jones. “Eventually, something happened. I came through.”
The inning was not over yet. Chichester’s Jason Hankins was walked and scored on a single by Haverford School’s Mark Quatrani. Hankins managed to steal home to make the score 5-2. Garnet Valley’s Shane McDermott relieved Happersett on the mound and got his team out of the inning.
Central League got a run back in the fourth. Malvern Prep’s Matt Tsiaras came to the mound. Conestoga’s Alex Seman singled. Springfield’s Luke Jones was hit. Springfield’s Shane Lennon walked to load the bases with an out. Marple Newtown’s Kevin Taraborelli walked in the lead runner. Campbell took over pitching allowing no more runs or hits.
Campbell pitched two more innings and also hit a double in the fifth. Trying to call it a game, Sun Valley’s Josh Lillis relieved Campbell in the seventh and delivered despite giving up two hits.
“We battled back, fought hard,” said Nelson. “It was a good game.”
Lillis, Campbell, Tsiaras, and Daly combined for a total of six strikeouts.
“Jac Campbell came in and shut it down completely,” said Daly who pitched the first three innings. “They weren’t touching him. He did great.”
Central League pitching was strong as well. Happersett, McDermott, and Haverford’s Joe Barnes combined for eight strikeouts on the afternoon.
After the teams wished each other the best of luck, Jones was awarded on the field… MVP. “It means a lot,” said Jones. “We work hard and eventually it will pay off.”