Here’s a quick trivia question: How many of the 23 baseball teams in Delaware County will be able to take a winning streak into next season?
The answer is three: Penn Wood (who toppled Glen Mills in its regular-season finale), Haverford School (winners of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Association tournament) and the Christian Academy.
Whatever you may think of the league in which they play – and no one is under any illusion that it is the most daunting league in the state – that’s the goal at the end of every team’s season. And the Crusaders accomplished it with aplomb in 2013.
A 15-0 win in the championship game of the Tri-State Christian Conference is an impressive exclamation point on the season, impressive even for the 16-2 season that TCA compiled. And the scary part is that they did it with a lineup laden with underclassmen. Shortstop Chad Gisel (.433 averge, 26 runs, 16 RBIs) is a senior, as is first baseman and resident big bat Andrew Boykin (.481 average, .582 on-base, 27 RBIs).
But the rest are underclassmen, and given their dominance of the league this season, that’s scary. The entire pitching staff is back, led by junior co-captain Andrew Wisneski and the 1.24 ERA he used to compile a 7-1 record. Classmate Brandon Burns was also solid, and freshman Brit Haseltine showed commendable poise when given the ball to start their playoff opener, giving up one run over four innings to get the win.
Then there’s the lineup. Wisneski and Haseltine are no slouches at the plate either combining for 55 hits and 45 RBIs, the former hitting .596 (!). The staff will be handled by Joseph Opdenaker, just a sophomore, while the focus of the lineup next year will shift toward third baseman Matthew Crockett and outfielder Brady Waller, both of whom will be called on to fill that middle-of-the-order power gap left by Boykin. And Gisel’s lead-off spot should be well filled by centerfielder Trevin Jones, just a junior.
Lightning in a bottle, this championship run wasn’t. For a team that waited 19 years between league championships, the wait for another looks decidedly shorter.