The Colonial - - SPORTS - By Rick Kauff­man

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.

21st Cen­tury Me­dia photo / RICK KAUFF­MAN

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.

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