By Phil Anastasia
This is the team that they all saw when they closed their eyes in the winter.
Now it's late spring, and Washington Township is everything they imagined, and maybe a little more.
"We're trying to make history," Washington Township senior catcher Ryan Long said after the Minutemen completed a remarkable tour de force on Sunday with a pair of imposing victories in the semifinals and finals of the 40th annual Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic.
Long was 3-for-4 with a pair of triples, and senior third baseman Tom Hildebrand was 3-for-4 with four RBIs as Washington Township beat Camden Catholic, 14-1, in the championship game Sunday night at Eastern.
Earlier in the day, Justin Sommerman hit a grand slam as Washington Township beat Vineland, 14-2, at Deptford.
Two victories, 28 runs, two games cut short to five innings by the mercy rule.
Counting a 7-5 win over Audubon in the quarterfinals on Saturday, as well as a 12-7 win over Cherokee in an Olympic American game on Friday, the Minutemen scored 47 runs in four games in a little more than 48 hours.
"These guys would play every day if they could," Washington Township coach Bill Alvaro Jr. said of his squad, which has won 12 in a row, improved its record to 21-5 and risen to the No. 1 spot in The Inquirer Top 10.
Camden Catholic (17-9), stunned Bishop Eustace by a 4-3 score in the semifinals on Sunday afternoon at Eastern.
Christian Bilan ripped a two-run double to back effective pitching by sophomore Dan Hartson as the Irish advanced to the tournament title game for the first time since they won the inaugural event in 1974.
But in the championship game, Camden Catholic walked seven Washington Township batters, and all seven came around to score. Two other batters were hit by pitches.
"That's the ballgame right there," Camden Catholic coach Bob Bergholtz said.
Washington Township scored three in the first, four in the second and seven in the third against Vineland, and one in the first, seven in the second and three in the third against Camden Catholic.
"We're all taking good approaches at the plate," Long said. "We're just trying to put everything hard in play."
The Minutemen were determined to win their first Diamond Clasic title since 1993 and second overall. They used ace pitcher Mark Scarpa, a junior right-hander, rather than hold him for Monday's first-round South Jersey Group 4 tournament game against Toms River South.
Scarpa pitched a three-hitter with four strikeouts and zero walks. He faced just 17 batters.
"Once our young (pitchers) got us through yesterday and earlier today, we absolutely were going for it," Alvaro Jr. said.
Washington Township was 27-3 last season and returned most of the team. But the Minutemen got off to a bit of a slwo start with a 3-3 record.
"I think we were coasting a little bit early," Long said.
The team is 12-0 in May, starting with a 3-2 win over Olympic American and SJ 4 rival Eastern. They've outscored opponents 106-36.
"We're playing our best baseball," Hildebrand said.
Joe Hartmann Diamond Classic
Washington Twp. 173 03 -- 14 11 0
Camden Catholic 100 00 -- 1 3 0
WP: Mark Scarpa. LP: Tom Gallagher
3B: WT-Ryan Long 2, Tom Hildebrand.
HR: CC-Joe Craig.
Bishop Eustace 001 020 0 -- 3 6 0
Camden Catholic 300 100 x -- 4 6 2
WP: Dan Hartson. LP: Justin Hagenman.
2B: CC-Dom Messina, Christian Bilan.
HR: CC-Mike Wheeler
Washington Twp. 347 00 -- 14 6 0
Vineland 002 00 -- 2 5 3
WP: Chris Haruch. LP: Mark Rowan.
HR: WT-Justin Sommerman.