Lehigh Valley Carpenter Cup team set to shape up for another title chase – The Morning Call
The Pennsylvania Eastern Conference and Colonial League baseball tournaments start next week and if you wanted a breakdown of the best players to watch in the playoffs, Ted Plessl is your man.
The former Palmerton High baseball coach has been watching school games since the first allowed play date on March 25.
Plessl goes to the games because he loves baseball and because he wants to see talented kids who might want to play for the Lehigh Valley Carpenter Cup team.
Plessl serves as field manager each year, and he partners with general manager and founder Joe Pirro to build a competitive roster that has won the Phillies-sponsored tournament three times (1998, 2001, and 2011) and reached the half-times. finals five times. including last June when the locals lost a 6-5 heartbreaker to Mercer County.
Practice will begin at 8:15 a.m. on May 15 at Limeport Stadium.
Further trials are scheduled for 8.30am on May 22 and 29, also in Limeport, with the squad to be finalized on June 7. All testing will take place rain or shine.
“We are asking for the cooperation of our high school coaches to distribute the Lehigh Valley Cup information they received about a week ago and to try to change Sunday practices to late morning or early afternoon- noon on those dates,” Plessl said. “In addition to the paperwork, profile, waiver and fees, we are also asking all players to bring their own helmets and bats and receivers to bring their equipment.”
Plessl said that in addition to Pirro and himself, the staff includes Joe Candelmo, Jeremy Gigliotti, Tom Plessl, Ken Serfass and Cody Weiss.
“The staff and I have attended 30 high school games and have directly or indirectly seen every team in the Lehigh Valley area,” Plessl said. “We have found a lot of very good players and we are looking forward to the first try.”
Under Carpenter Cup rules, the roster will consist of 25 players – 18 position players, one designated hitter and seven pitchers.
In addition to the guys who will be back in high school in 2023, each team will be allowed to field 15 seniors.
The opportunity to play at Citizens Bank Park is always a draw for players.
A team must win its first two games, scheduled for Richie Ashburn Field at FDR Park, and reach the semifinals in order to play at the Phillies’ home.
“I consider the Carpenter Cup to be one of the best amateur baseball tournaments around,” Plessl said. “There are nearly 100 college and MLB scouts attending these games and skills day is a scouting combine for 64 underclass. Over the years, Joe Pirro and I have often received phone calls in the dugout about players that scouts have noticed.
Plessl proudly notes that the Lehigh Valley entry has had many alumni signing professional contracts and three players – Brian Schneider of Northampton, Anthony Recker of Catasauqua and Matt McBride of Liberty – playing in the big leagues. All three were catchers and Mike Piazza, another catcher, recently became the first Carpenter Cup alumnus to be inducted into the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.
Plessl noted that in 2008, Lehigh Valley played future MLB stars Mike Trout and Joey Wendle.
“Last year we faced eight pitchers who were Division I prospects at the time and we were talked about as players who would be drafted,” Plessl said. “Two of the pitchers were drafted in the first round and signed.”
Pirro said it’s a great opportunity for local players to experience the best that’s out there.
“What’s always important is to highlight what makes the Carpenter Cup what it is – the opposing talent and the opportunity to play on a team [Lehigh Valley] who has more talent than any other team, each of our individuals will have played on and against better individuals and teams [than] they will never have faced,” Pirro said. “He’s the best talent you can muster in all three states — bar none. It’s every year and it always has been.
“What kids need to understand is the difference in level of play and speed of play to help both show them the difference and determine their own readiness to play at the next level,” Pirro said. . “Even the Carpenter Cup trials may represent the first time an individual has had to compete for a place.”
Pirro added the importance for players to stay engaged.
“What we need is full and sustained commitment once the players have been in the team, not just for a game or two, or an appearance at Citizens Bank Park, but throughout. of the tournament,” he said. “You have to finish what you start. We can’t let players play the first game and then disappear into another state for another showcase when we moved on to the quarter-finals. It hurts everyone, and then we are not the team we selected.
With that in mind, a mandatory practice is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on June 12. Skills Day with selected players receiving an invitation will be June 13 and Lehigh Valley will open the tournament at 4 p.m. on June 14 against Burlington. The quarter-finals are scheduled for June 17, the semi-finals on June 19 and the championship game on June 20.
After a 1-4 start, defending Colonial League champion Northwestern Lehigh is on the right track as the regular season heads to the finish line. A 12-inning win over Southern Lehigh on Thursday night was the Tigers’ seventh straight, a streak that began after a 10-6 loss to Saucon Valley on April 22.
“That was just the growth factor,” first-year coach Chad Cooperman said. “At any given time, we’re starting two freshmen and five sophomores. The fact that they got used to the pace of college baseball and the guys kicked in with great performances made the difference. The most important factor is that we started playing baseball as a team. That was the turning point after the Saucon Valley loss because we had been playing selfish baseball up until then. Since then, the guys have flipped the switch.
Cooperman said he also developed a closer bond with the players as the season progressed.
“We’ve had a good relationship from the start and now they’re finally starting to see results,” the former Salisbury High and Bloomsburg University standout said. “The level of confidence has increased enormously. But the kids were really great. They show up every day and work hard in training and they bring the energy on game days. They play a very good baseball team and as a coach, it’s your dream.
As for the next six-team tournament set to begin with a pair of games on May 13, Cooperman said he’s wide open.
“This will be the most competitive tournament the Colonial League has seen in a while,” he said. “It will be very interesting to see how the final standings go and how the clashes line up. You have two teams with two league losses and two teams with three losses with others just behind. It’s really close.
BEN BOYER, NORTH WEST LEHIGH
Although Cooperman emphasized that this was a team effort for the Tigers during their winning streak, several people were instrumental in the team’s rise. One of them is Ben Boyer, a senior.
“He’s been a terrific leader for us,” Cooperman said. “He’s had a lot of success on the mound and on the flat and has done a really good job lately of bringing in the younger guys and getting them to play at a really high level, which has been great to watch as a coach. .”
Boyer is hitting .450 with nine doubles and hasn’t struck out.
“He hits well in the clutch and is very successful when we need him and has been a staple in our lineup all year,” Cooperman said. “He’s also our main guy on the mound. He has 51.2 innings and a 1.35 ERA with 53 strikeouts. He’s 7-1 and he takes the ball every five days and when he does we have a lot of confidence he’s going to dive deep into the game and be successful. It was monumental for us.
Ranking, team, record, last time
1., Liberty, 17-1, 1
2., Park, 13-5, 3
3., Emmaus, 15-4, 2
4., Nazareth, 13-5, 9
5., Easton, 12-5, 4
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6., South Lehigh, 15-3, 5
7., Saucon Valley, 15-2, 8
8., Palisades, 14-3, 6
9., Notre-Dame-GP, 14-3, 7
10., Northampton, 10-7, 10
Others to watch: Northwestern Lehigh (12-7), Panther Valley (13-4), Palmerton (12-7), Pleasant Valley (13-6), Pocono Mountain East (10-8).
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