For Delco League champion Wayne, Steven Wells played like a pro – Delco Times

EST-TOWN TNC. – The celebration was tidy and the crowd in anything less than an uproar on Sunday at Devon Prep, at least until it was Steven Wells’ turn to hold the Delco League Championship trophy high.

It was then that a few of Wayne’s teammates snuck up behind him to dump a small container of water on his head. It was then that Wells knew he was where he was meant to be at this point in his baseball career.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Absolutely. This is my fifth year in this league and my second with Wayne. And I can’t wait to come back and do it again.

He’s 27 and a construction manager at Yardley, a graduate of The Hun School and Jefferson University where he was a Division II third-team All-American. A left-handed hitter, he homered twice in the five-game championship series, and on Sunday he contributed one hit, one walk and one run to a decisive 2-0 victory over Upper Darby.

“It’s awesome,” Wells said. “Everyone in that dugout deserved it.”

It was a thrilling match in a thrilling series, with Wayne winning his 18th championship, his fifth under manager Brian Fili. But not too long ago, the atmosphere was so different for Wells, the powerhouse first baseman. It was then that he was playing in freelance professional baseball, in 2017 with the Pecos League High Desert Yardbirds in Adelanto, Calif., and in 2019 with the United Shore League’s Westside Woolly Mammoths in Utica, Aus. Michigan, earning around $1,000 a month for success.

Championships at this level result in Gatorade baths, not spring water sprays. Likewise, Wells would not have changed how he felt Sunday for all the potential parades around Adalanto, population 31,765.

“The amount of effort everyone puts in here makes it even more special, he said. “On a professional level, there will be a few thousand people watching. But it means even more, because everyone works all summer.

Wells played 22 total games as a pro, hitting .261 in High Desert and then settling for four hits on 38 at-bats for Westside.

“I was released,” Wells said. “And not to make it about the money – because it’s never about the money for me – but the amount of money I was making wasn’t enough to sustain me up there. I so I kind of weighed the options and prayed to God a lot and found that the best idea was to take a step back from that.

Wells used his Jefferson degree in construction management to land a federal government job with a bridge management agency in Yardley. With encouragement from high school teammate Ed Paparella, a former Wayne star, Wells turned to the Delco League, spending three seasons in Chester before moving to Wayne.

“It’s his first championship, so we were trying to get one for him,” Fili said. “He’s a professional hitter. He’s a professional player. He’s an awesome teammate. Every guy on this team loves him. He’s a great person.

Wells, who singled in the fourth, walked to a tie in the sixth inning Sunday and scored the winning run on an error. When Bill Ford also scored on the play for a 2-0 lead, it was enough for Cam Mathes, who pitched 3.2 innings without a hit in relief and was named the series MVP after winning his third victory in the series.

“It’s amazing to play with him, knowing that you’ve blocked him out of your lineup,” Mathes said. “He’s such a good hitter. He has such a big eye. It looks like he’s either hitting a double or both walking at bat. And he’s also a great leader. A great teammate. »

For years, if only in whispered conversation, a question has been bouncing around Delaware County: how could the top teams or players in the Delco League fare against small-town independent teams at the pro level? ? Could they sometimes win matches?

“It’s so competitive here,” Wells said. “It’s just as competitive as my time in professional baseball. The energy is about the same. Certainly, on a professional level, I think the guys are more polite than they are here. There, it is planned. Here, the guys are working to get there. So I would say there is a gap, but it’s not that far. It’s not that far. There are guys in this league – on our team, on their team – who can hit. The difference I noticed between professional ball and here is that anyone can hit there. Here, there are not so many people. But the good guys could definitely take that leap up there if they wanted to.

Wells has no burning desire to return to low-level miners. But he will listen.

“If the opportunity arises and someone offers a contract, I would do it,” he said. “I would feel it.”

He’s pretty young and he can hit. But there he was on Sunday, his hair drenched, his smile wide, a contented professional hitter from another season.

Contact Jack McCaffery at [email protected]

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