RADNOR – Chris Zupito knows there will be a question. The combination of his current high school, Upper Darby, and the North Carolina State High School he chose to attend college creates a slight dissonance in their baseball record.
And when a large private school in a block is, literally, the regional authority in the same block, yes, there will be questions.
However, he has never been to Zupito.
“Upper Darby is my hometown,” Zupito said Friday after starting on the mound for the Delaware County Carpenter Cup team. “The big school on the block was Bonner. Everyone said, “Go there.” In my opinion, fighting in battles, turning a bad team into a good one, is a great honor and more of a man’s job than going to a team that goes 25-0 every year. For me in the future, being on a team that loses a lot and being able to make it a winning team is a good thing that I can take with me.”
Zupito is proud to represent this hometown not at national baseball presentations, but at the 36th Philadelphia High School Premier Show. He got the ball through the first three innings on Friday in the second round, passed to Archbishop Carroll with the stadium at Roosevelt Roosevelt Park flooded from Thursday’s storms. While Zupito put Delco on track for victory, the Inter-Ac/Independents, with three runs to ninth place, instead sent them to the semi-finals at Citizens Bank Park, 8–6.
Against the strongest opponent, Zupito was great. He took charge from the start and gave up two hits and one unearned run in three innings. He struck out five, including two punches in the first inning to avoid a bases-laden jam.
“That’s great,” Zupito said. “You have players on your side, on their side, who are the best here. And I’m honored to start the game and do it well.”
Zupito was one of two players from Upper Darby selected to the Delco team (the other, Chris Chung, didn’t pitch on Friday). He played against Inter-Ac rivals who had once sought his services.
The reason Zupito stayed at Upper Darby is because he is part of a core group that he hopes, under the guidance of Delco Carpenter Cup head coach and assistant Tom Carey, will bring the program back to prominence. Most of the backbone of the team are former UDHL players who have been together for many years. Zupito, who became captain of the junior team this spring, is ready to lead the team, which went 1-15 in 2019, to great heights.
It hasn’t happened yet – the Royals were 6-10 last year and 3-13 this spring, but there is hope that the Zupito class can grow together into something bigger by next spring.
“It’s great to have him,” Carey said. “This year he was captain as a junior. He definitely has a lot of weight in the program. Despite the fact that this year did not go the way we wanted, he still performed very well. It’s special because he goes to high school in his hometown and he’s with all the kids he grew up with and they’re all his best friends and he stays with them.”
Zupito’s efforts nearly brought Delco to Citizens Bank Park for Sunday’s Carpenter Cup semi-finals. Delco secured enough hits to get there with 16 fuses. But they held up 13 runners, including eight in scoring position. They loaded the bases for three straight innings without scoring from second to fourth. Delko had hits in every inning except the first, when they went over the series on two errors, and the ninth, when Penn Charter’s Scott Doran swept the side to seal the win.
“It’s sad to lose like that, especially with all these hits and runners,” said Strath Haven’s Delco center back Alex Pak. “But I think overall we had a great match. We could have done better, but we did a good job.”
Delko led 3-2 after five thanks to a double from Reed Farrell (Pomegranate Valley), an RBI Dom Carafa (Marple Newtown) groundout and Farrell rushing home after being toppled by a first baseman. RBI singles Justin Brennan (Marple) and Evan Bobert (Haverford) in the sixth extended the lead to 5-2.
The Inter-Acs tied the game with three runs in the seventh, Trey Tiffan’s RBI doubled the big hit. Delko returned to eighth when Carafa dunked a single and scored against Tigers teammate Jason Bennett.
But Delco’s Josh Lillis ran into trouble in ninth place. It all started with Shipley’s nine-man Fran Turner hitting five fouls in a 10-inning bat. On the 10th, he scored a double in left center.
“It was a good starting momentum because the pitcher went over 10 pitches,” Malvern’s Tiffan said. “He worked with him. It was good for the rest of our team.”
Tiffan tied it with a sack fly on the left. The Friends Central duo of Alejandro Flores and Darius Adkins then hit an RBI double off the wall to make it 8–6.
Teammates Ridley Connor Kelly and Bryant Cawthorne led the first Delco Platoon with two hits each of eight and nine places. Bobert had two hits and Karaf had two RBIs in the second group.
Zupito was followed by a strike from Haverford’s Ethan Mahan who gave up a two-plus innings run. Springfield’s Sean Williams held up both runners he inherited in the sixth, but was touched by three unearned runs in the seventh due to a dropped volley ahead of Tiffan’s RBI double.
Doran, Inter-Ac’s fifth pitcher, took the win. Malvern Prep’s Charlie Oshell started and gave up five hits, but just one unearned run in 2.1 innings before Springside Chestnut Hill’s Gabe Olsen got the next eight outs with four hits and two runs (one earned) surrendered. Turner and Luc Buscaglia both scored twice for the second division of the Inter-Ac. Tyler Beaulieu of the Episcopal Academy doubled in the first block, but was bowled out by a Pac flyball in the middle.