"Frustrating," Dezzi said, summing up the last play and the loss for Tri-Cape.
The South Jersey team, composed of players from the Tri-County Conference and Cape-Atlantic League, rapped 21 hits in an 18-3 victory over Olympic Colonial in Monday's first-round game.
But on Thursday, with a trip to Citizens Bank Park for Sunday's semifinals on the line, Tri-Cape managed just nine singles and mounted just two serious scoring threats - in the first and ninth innings.
"Isn't that baseball?" said Tri-Cape manager George West, the coach at Buena. "It seems like the most energy we had was in the ninth inning. We were fighting uphill all game."
Tri-Cape took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, thanks to three Gloucester Catholic seniors. Brett Tenuto walked, took second on John Brue's single, and scored on Elliott McCummings' two-out single up the middle.
Suburban One American/Continental evened the score in the bottom of the first on Hatboro-Horsham junior Zach Prendergast's two-out RBI single and took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on Methacton junior Tyler Kirkpatrick's two-out RBI single.
The rest of the game was a taut duel of pitching staffs. Tri-Cape's Kevin Baxter (St. Augustine), Andrew Biggs (Millville), Joe Santone (Gloucester Catholic), Justin Smith (Hammonton), Brett Kennedy (Atlantic City), and Aaron Cox (Millville) combined to allow just six hits and record seven strikeouts.
"It was a great experience," said Kennedy, a Fordham-bound senior righthander who pitched 21/3 hitless innings. "I was just trying to throw strikes and let my fielders make the plays."
West praised the work of both pitching staffs.
"I knew the strength of our team was our pitching, and those guys did a great job in both games," West said. "You have to give their pitchers credit because they did a great job of neutralizing our batters."
Down to its last three outs, Tri-Cape rallied in the ninth as Williamstown senior Brett Virnelson led off with a walk and Salem senior Dylan Rush was hit by a pitch.
Highland senior Joe Sigismondi moved the runners along with a sacrifice, a rarity in Carpenter Cup play since bunts aren't allowed before the seventh inning and can't be executed by a player in his first at-bat.
That brought Dezzi to the plate with one out and the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second. The outfielder worked the count to 3-2 and leveled off on a fastball.
"Full count, I got a pitch to hit," Dezzi said. "But I hit it right at him."
Tri-Cape 100000000 - 192
SOL Amer./Continental 10010000x - 260
WP: Ricky Dennis. LP: Joe Santone.
Contact Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports