Narberth 5, Wayne 2

 ‘Unreal’ Cantwell adds another title to busy summer

By Matthew DeGeorge, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.@sportsdoctormd on Twitter


PLYMOUTH >> By the time the trophy made its way to Luke Cantwell Saturday evening, the outfielder had plenty of practice for the moment. 

So far in the spring/summer of 2018, the recent Marple Newtown grad has lifted a Central League crown. He led the Tigers to the PIAA Class 5A title, a first for a Delco school, in June. July saw his Broomall-Newtown legion team notch a district title. 

Before Cantwell starts his baseball career at West Chester University, he made sure to add a Delco League title Saturday. 

Cantwell was one of Narberth’s bevy of contributors in the championship series, which ended on a 5-2 win over Wayne, clinching the decisive Game 5 to earn Narberth’s second championship in three years. 

Cantwell was at the center of it Saturday. He provided insurance in the top of the seventh with a two-run single to open up a 3-2 game. And the final out of the game found its way naturally to his glove, a diving catch in center on Matt Briner’s fast-fading liner. 

“He’s unreal,” Narberth manager Steve DeBarberie said. “Usually with our squad, if you get a high school kid coming in, they’re going to have to earn their stripes because we’re so veteran-heavy. But we just plugged him right into the middle of the lineup and he just went off, and he’s been a huge part of our championship season.” 

Cantwell caught the continuation of Game 3 Friday at Narberth Playground, then switched to the outfield in Game 4, a 12-7 win sparked by his first-inning home run. 

An outfielder by trade, Cantwell likewise donned the catcher’s gear for the betterment of Marple Newtown this spring, shoring up a weakness of the defending District 1 champs. He possesses frightening potential in the outfield, with his rangy frame, power bat and deceptive speed. 

And it’s not a coincidence that Cantwell repeatedly finds himself on winning teams. That includes a veteran Narberth side where it takes a special player to contribute so early. 

“I just try to keep a positive energy all the time,” Cantwell said. “I’m blessed to be on this team with these guys. They asked me to play, I’m kind of young so they don’t really take that much young talent, so I just try to keep a good positive voice around them and just stay on their level. And they took me in and I have respect for them and they have respect for me. It’s a good relationship we’ve built.” 

“He’s so mature physically and mentally, he just fits right in with a bunch of mid-20s and early-30-year-olds,” DeBarberie said. “He fits right in. It’s been awesome.” 

Both sides of the game featured Marple Newtown contributors. Luke Zimmerman, the starter in Marple’s state final win who provided the walk-off hit in the 10th inning, got the ball for Wayne. He allowed three runs in the second inning, the big blow a two-run single by nine-hitter Joe Lake and a wild pitch that allowed courtesy runner Mike Coleman to sprint around from second. But he recovered to retire 10 straight batters, exiting only after a walk and a strikeout to start the seventh. 

The base on balls, issued to Spencer Stokes, resulted in a run when Cantwell greeted reliever James Dougherty with his single. 

“It’s huge. If you take a look across at Narberth, it’s a great lineup, just good hitters one through nine,” Wayne center fielder Kevin Mohollen said of Zimmerman. “For him to set them down like that in order for such a long time and just keep us in this game, he kept it at three runs for quite some time and we didn’t cash in when we probably should’ve. But the effort from him, Game 1 and Game 5, is outstanding. He’s been great for us.” 

Only one of those Marple Tigers could add to his summer haul of accolades, though. And Cantwell made sure he and his Narberth mates got it done. 

“I couldn’t ask for a better summer,” he said. “I’d rather play baseball every day with a bunch of fun guys than play $3,000 to be travelling and playing a couple of tournaments. It’s fun to play around here. There’s great baseball in the Delco League, so I’ve enjoyed all of it.”