Culminating Stellar High School Baseball Career, Hun Grad Petrone Stars in Carpenter Cup Classic
HAVING A BLAST: Ben Petrone rounds third base after hitting a homer for the Hun School baseball team in a 4-0 win over Poly Prep (N.Y.) on May 6. Last Thursday, Lafayette College commit Petrone hit a homer for the Mercer County all-stars in the Carpenter Cup Baseball Classic championship game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Despite Petrone’s blast, Mercer fell 5-3 to Tri-Cape (N.J.) in the competition which features high school all-star teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Justin Feil
Ben Petrone would have liked to win the Carpenter Cup Baseball Classic championship, but otherwise has only fond memories of his final high school experience.
The Hun School graduate homered in the first inning to right field at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia last Thursday in the championship game of the tourney which features high school all-star squads from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware to get the Mercer County all-stars on the board first before Tri-Cape (N.J.) rallied to win 5-3 and earn its first Carpenter title.
“It was a pretty awesome way to end my high school career,” said Petrone, a Princeton resident.
“I had a couple big hits this year. That was definitely probably at the top of that list. It was an awesome way to kick off the game and end my high school baseball career. It was pretty awesome.”
Petrone was one of six Hun players selected to the 35th annual Carpenter Cup, which was not played last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Petrone joined Carson Applegate, Ryan DiMaggio, Jackson Kraemer, Ben Romano, and alternate Carson Wehner, in representing Hun after a 19-2 spring season that included Mid-Atlantic Prep League and Prep A championships. The Carpenter Cup selection was a special way to finish especially after missing out on the 2020 season.
“I was definitely excited to be a part of the team,” said Petrone.
“Five other Hun guys got chosen. I was pumped to get to be able to play a couple more games with those guys. I honestly didn’t know how the other teams would be. I wasn’t really thinking about that. We just showed up, played our game, and had fun. I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was trying to play my game and have fun with my friends. It turned out to be an awesome experience. I’m super happy with how we made that run. It was fun to get to be able to play with those guys.”
The Hun players united with other top players from around Mercer County to push within a win of Mercer’s second ever Carpenter Cup title. Their only title came in 2013.
“It was an awesome and really fun experience to get to play with a lot of local talented guys,” said Petrone, who was joined on the squad by Princeton High standouts Tommy Delany and Carl Birge.
“You never really get to play with guys from around Mercer County. It was really a local team with a lot of talent. I’d never gotten play with these guys or even really talk to them before this tournament. It was a really fun experience. It was something new and I think we all had a lot of fun.”
Petrone was one of the many talented Hun players to lend his talent to the team. He has started for the Raiders since his freshman year. He and shortstop Applegate started in the middle of the infield for the Mercer team as well. DiMaggio came in to strike out the final out and shut the door on Lehigh Valley in a 6-5 semifinal win to propel Mercer to the finals.
“I think nobody was surprised that we ended up in the final,” said Petrone.
“It was a really talented group of guys and a really good team. I think if a few balls went a couple feet in another direction, we could have easily won that game. It was awesome to get those wins and get to play at Citizens Bank twice. It was really fun. And everyone contributed all nine innings, and that’s how you win those games. That was fun to see a lot of guys contributing and that’s how we ended up in the championship and had a great chance to win it. I think we had the winning run at the plate. It was a bummer to lose, but it was fun getting there.”
Mercer had the bases loaded in the final inning, but could only muster one run before Tri-Cape closed out the game. Their only other run came on Petrone’s first-inning blast.
“I only had one homer for Hun this year,” said Petrone. “The one at the Bank, it was really fun. He hung a curve ball and I was able to put us on the board in the first inning which felt really good. It was really cool.”
Adding to the experience was the setting for the final two games. The semifinal and final games for Mercer took place at Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, who sponsor the Carpenter Cup.
“It’s hands down the coolest place I’ve played at so far,” said Petrone.
“The first time there, just walking onto the field, it was pretty cool. It was an awesome experience for everyone on both teams. You could tell everyone was really excited to be there. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been to a lot of Phillies games. It was really cool to be able to play at the Bank. It was really fun.”
Petrone is looking forward to more fun for the rest of the summer and beyond. He has been playing for the Trenton Generals of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League.
“We’re probably one-third of the way through our season right now,” said Petrone, who has been playing shortstop and second base for the Generals.
“We’re in first place in the league right now. That’s been a lot of fun. It’s a good team. That’s an awesome league. We probably play five or six games a week. It’s been fun so far. I’m doing that until August.”
As he competes for the Generals, Petrone will be gearing up for the next level. He is heading to Lafayette College where he will be joining the school’s Division I baseball program led by Tim Reilly, who has been coaching the Leopards for one year.
“I’m so excited,” said Petrone. “I couldn’t be happier that I’m going to Lafayette next year. I’m extremely excited to get there. I love coach Reilly. He’s awesome. And the guys in my class and the older guys in the program seem really cool. I’m super excited. I think it’s going to be a great experience. I’m just pumped to start up.”
Being a part of the Hun program helped Petrone develop into a college prospect. He got everything he could have wanted out of his four years with the Raiders. Right away, he knew he was in a good fit and he progressed as a player each year.
“I’ve developed a lot throughout my time at Hun,” said Petrone.
“The whole Hun baseball program has been so awesome. Looking back on it, I’m very happy with my decision to go over there. Just playing around so many talented guys from my freshman year to my senior year, I made so many bonds that will last forever. Playing around guys that want to be the best, and put in as much work as possible, that mindset was awesome and it’s something that rubbed off on me in my four years. I think putting in the work to be the best possible player is what developed me and got me to the baseball player I am today. Hun’s been awesome, the whole baseball program, the coaches, I love everything about it. It was a great four years.”
Petrone and his Hun classmates continue to work out together and motivate each other to succeed as they look to their future. Petrone would love to be able to make as big an impact as he did at Hun as a steady hitter and middle infielder, but he is willing to step in wherever necessary.
“I’m going to do my thing,” said Petrone. “If there’s an opportunity to play next year, I’ll play wherever. I’m primarily a shortstop, but I’ve switched back and forth.”
In the meantime, Petrone has a busy summer of baseball ahead as he transitions to the next level. After being a staple in the Hun lineup for four years, he made the most of his next chance and proved that he belongs among the elite players in the region at the Carpenter Cup.