The runs didn’t come easily on Tuesday night in the semifinal matchup between Norristown and Skippack, and when they did, it wasn’t pretty.
While the Diamonds were able to take a lead in the early innings off some costly errors, it was the Wranglers who tallied three in the sixth inning to take the game 4-3 and advance to the Perkiomen Twilight League Finals against Collegeville.
The heart of the lineup for Skippack dealt the final blow against Norristown pitcher Matt Zoltak after drawing two one-out walks, scoring both on a Matt Romano single and a Norristown error, their second of the game.
“That part of the lineup has been consistent for four years on this team,” said manager Jeff Murtha. “Being aggres- sive on the bases, that’s our style, that’s what we’ve been doing ... after two years of falling short, we’ve finally broken through.”
TheWranglers plated a run in the top of the first after Rob Zinsmeister drew a twoout walk and scored on two fielding errors once catcher Matt Albaugh slapped a single up the middle.
“Throughout this series we’ve struggled hitting one through nine, but tonight it came down to guts,” Albaugh said.
Their guts were put to the test when Norristown responded in the second inning when Pat Campion scored two runs on a bunt — advancing 360-feet on a bunt that rolled no more than 12feet from the plate.
Jesse Daywalt led off with a single, followed by Campion’s sacrifice that started a chain reaction of errors that resulted in a Diamond’s 2-1 lead. A throwing error by the catcher, Albaugh, advanced the runner to second while Daywalt rounded for third for home. Tom Romano’s throw home missed the backstop and allowed Campion to jog home.
“Those big errors really hurt Tyler (Eckman) on the mound,” Albaugh said. “Norristown is a dangerous team.”
Eckman, however, was able to stand tall and leave runners on in every frame— he stranded eight Diamonds’ players on base.
Norristown got a buffer in the top of the sixth after O’Hara reached on a hard-hit ball right at Wranglers Jason Brooke at third. A sacrifice and an RBI-single by Campion gave Norristown their most put-together run of the day, but stranding two on a strikeout and a groundout to miss a golden opportunity to tack on a few more.
“We needed to be aggressive in that situation,” Murtha said. “We knew this wasn’t going to be easy.”
Zoltak, who had difficulty finding the strike zone in the bottom of the sixth, allowed two one-out walks to Albaugh and Joe Casselberry. Romano scored Albaugh on an RBI-single; a throwing error by Campion allowed Casselberry to score with ease. Zoltak was pulled for closer Mike McGuire who allowed a standup double by Brooke to give Skippack the 4-3 lead.
Brett Moyer entered in the top of the seventh to close out the series, threatened only by a two-out walk to Matt Sperling.
“It was huge to take that lead, Jay had a big hit there,” Moyer said. “I aimed to get the win for my team and it felt good to go out and get it done.”
The series between Collegeville and Skippack will start Wednesday night at NorGwyn, all games slated for a 7:30 p.m. start.
Norristown pitcher Matt Zoltak delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against Skippack in the Perky League semifinals. Zoltak was responsible for three runs scored, none earned, in five and a third innings of work.