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BASEBALL: Inter-Ac/Independents Earn First Carpenter Cup Title in Dramatic Fashion

By Marc Narducci, 06/29/24, 2:00PM EDT



Inter-Ac/Independents 2024 Carpenter Cup Champions (Photo by Zack Beavers for PSD)



PHILADELPHIA--Could we check the birth certificates please?

There is no way that in a pressurized championship game at a finely manicured Major League Baseball field that freshmen are supposed to step up in the biggest of situations.

Yet that is what happened to earn the Inter-Ac/Independents a stirring 3-2 comeback win over Tri-Cape of South Jersey, in the 38th annual Carpenter Cup championship at Citizens Bank Park.

It was the first-ever championship for this franchise, which had to produce two consecutive late-game comebacks to secure the title.

Both comebacks were spearheaded by Shipley School freshman designated hitter Jimmy Amplo.

The day before in a 5-4 semifinal win, Inter-Ac/Independents trailed defending champion Jersey Shore, 3-1 entering the top of the ninth, only to score four runs. The final two came off the bat of Amplo, who drilled a two-run single up the middle.

Semifinal 2-run single by Shipley's Jimmy Amplo. (Video/ Marc Narducci for PSD)

Shipley's Jimmy Amplo talks about tie-breaking 2-run hit. (Video/ Marc Narducci)

Semifinal Highlights 5-4 Inter-Ac/Independents win over Jersey Shore. (Video/Marc Narducci)

As if that wasn’t enough, Amplo went one step further in the final, crushing a walk-off sacrifice fly, scoring Germantown Academy sophomore Lucas Albert, who easily crossed home plate on a diving head-first slide and then the teammates dashed toward Amplo as the celebration began.

“I was thinking fastball right away, I got it and hit it,” Amplo said.

Sounds so simple, but it really wasn’t.

For the second game in a row, it was Albert’s bunting mastery that also helped finish the deal.

Carpenter Cup rules prohibit bunting until the seventh inning and a player can’t bunt until after his first at-bat.

In the semifinal win, Albert had an RBI bunt single in that four-run ninth inning.

During the championship, he opened the ninth with a bunt single and advanced to second on a throwing error and then reached third on a wild pitch.

After that it was Amplo applying the finishing touch. 

“First time here, obviously a new experience, new times with the guys,” Amplo said. “I played (some of) them in the regular season but coming along, getting to know new faces and just (had to) do my job.”

What a job it was.

While on the theme of first-year standouts, the winning pitcher was Episcopal Academy freshman righthander Hunter West.

Entering the ninth inning in a 2-2 game, West didn’t get off to the best of starts, issuing a lead-off double, but he got out of the inning unscathed, finishing matters by getting a ground ball out.

“I came out with a lot of energy and after I gave up that hit, I knew I had to settle down and get back on the mound and keep throwing strikes,” West said.

As it turns out, West was the last available pitcher for his team.

Inter-Ac/Independents vs. Tri-Cape Carpenter Cup Championship Hightlights at Citizens Bank Park. (video/ Marc Narducci for PSD)

Carpenter Cup rules allow a pitcher to throw a maximum of three innings per game. Both staffs were running on fumes after playing the day before.

A key for Inter-Ac/Independents was getting three innings each from seniors Kevin Reavey of Haverford School, Aidan von Zuben of Germantown Academy and DJ Peterson (Malvern Prep) in the semifinal win over Jersey Shore.

None of those three were available in the championship after a heavy workload in the semifinal.

Friends Central head coach Jon Rubin, who along with Haverford School’s Bob Castell, guided the Inter-Ac/Independents, had not seen West pitch during the high school season, so he received a quick scouting from his Carpenter Cup coaching staff.

“I asked the coaches if the moment ever gets too big for Hunter, and all the coaches said, ‘no,” said Rubin, who guided Friends Central to its fourth consecutive Friends League title this season. “So that gave me confidence we could roll him out there.”

For a brief moment, entering the game, West felt a little like a freshman.

“I had no idea when I was going in,” West said. “I was in the bullpen, staying loose and I was a little nervous, a little bit of nerves.”

After that opening double, the nerves disappeared.

PSD Reporter Marc Narducci recaps the Inter-Ac/Independents' Dramatic Carpenter Cup Championship Title Victory at Citizens Bank Park.

Staying on the theme of first-year standouts, can we mention the major contribution of Episcopal Academy freshman shortstop JD Amoroso.

In the title game he went 1-for-1 with a run scored and also gunned down a runner at the plate on an outstanding relay throw in the seventh inning. During the Carpenter Cup, he was 4-for-10 (.400) with three runs scored.

Inter-Ac/Independents was in the position to win it in the ninth after Malvern Prep senior first baseman Cole Kirschner erased a 2-0 deficit in the eighth inning with one swing of the bat that delivered a game-tying two-run double to right centerfield.

“Their pitcher was pretty good, his fastball had some life, and he threw me two sliders for balls so then it got to a 3-2 count, and I was hunting for a fastball, trying to be really aggressive with guys in scoring position,” Kirschner said. “…I got a fastball I was looking for and was able to drive it to right-center and help the team out.”

Malvern Prep's Tague Davis starting pitcher in Carpenter Cup Championship Final. (Photo/ Zack Beavers for PSD)

Inter-Ac/Independents received outstanding mound work in the final.

Malvern Prep lefty Tague Davis, the Louisville commit and an MLB draft candidate, was the starter and pitched three strong innings, allowing one unearned run, striking out five and walking none.

“It was cool to throw at a big-league park,” Davis said. “First time I have ever done that, it was kind of surreal and it was a great time, I enjoyed every bit of it.”

The day before Davis had gone 2-for-2 with a double, but since he pitched, he was unable to bat in the championship. Carpenter Cup rules mandate that pitchers can’t hit.

Episcopal Academy junior lefthander Logan Correll had an impressive outing with three shutout innings with five strikeouts.

Penn Charter junior righthander Cole Stocks added a scoreless eighth inning before West took over in the ninth.

One can’t emphasize enough what a talented team that Inter-Ac/Independents beat.

This was the fourth straight year that Tri-Cape, which draws players from the Tri-County Conference and Cape Atlantic League, was in the Carpenter Cup championship. Tri-Cape won consecutive titles in 2021 and 2022 and lost in last year’s final to Jersey Shore, 8-1.

In this year’s championship, Inter-Ac/Independents faced a strong pitching staff led by Miami commit Tate DeRias, of New Jersey Non-Public B state champion Gloucester Catholic. DeRias pitched three hitless and scoreless innings to open the game.

Like Davis, he will be a candidate when the MLB draft takes place.

That is the caliber of player a team has to face and beat to win a championship in this tournament, which is sponsored by the Phillies.

On the other hand, the Tri-Cape was impressed with Inter-Ac/Independents.

“It’s a very good franchise, you see the Louisville commit, potential Major League draft pick start the game against us, (but) we had our (DeRias) going too and it was a treat for the fans to watch them,” said Tri-Cape head coach DJ Gore, who is the head coach of Highland. “It’s a really good franchise, they do a good job, they do things the right way, and we just needed to play a little better today.”

The first two rounds of the Carpenter Cup are played at nearby FDR Park, with the real carrot being to get to play the semifinal and final at Citizens Bank Park.

“It’s unbelievable,” Kirschner said about playing on the Phillies home field. “You watch your favorite players on TV all the time. I was playing first base; Bryce Harper played the same spot I did today.”

And in this instance, Kirschner had a Bryce Harper-like moment with the game-tying double.

“It’s pretty surreal, especially as a diehard Phillies fan for this opportunity,” Kirschner said.

The Inter-Ac/Independents have one more bit of business at Citizens Bank Park. On Aug. 14, the team, along with the Carpenter Cup softball champion Lehigh Valley, will be introduced before the Phillies game against the Miami Marlins.

It’s a well-deserved honor after making it through this meat-grinder of a 16-team single-elimination tournament.

What made this even more special is that Inter-Ac/Independents got major contributions from all four classes, freshmen through seniors, who all pulled together to earn the experience of a lifetime.

Photo Gallery by Zack Beavers for PSD (for more 2024 Carpenter Cup photos click here).