Wran­glers steal win, even se­ries 1-1

The Colonial - - SPORTS - By Rick Kauff­man rkauff­man@21st-cen­tu­ryme dia.com

With a win at home, Norristown would have placed Skip­pack in stran­gle­hold in the Perkiomen Val­ley Twi­light League semi­fi­nal play­off match, and through six in­nings it seemed as though the odds were in their fa­vor.

Yet, with the two, three and four hit­ters com­ing up to the plate at the top of the seventh, the Wran­glers were set to firmly tip the mo­men­tum in their fa­vor. And they did. Scor­ing four runs in what could have been their fi­nal frame, Skip­pack sur­vives with a 5-3 vic­tory and evens the se­ries a one game apiece.

“If we went down into the 0-2 hole in the se­ries, we’d be fight­ing, strug­gling to get back into this se­ries,” said Skip­pack pitcher Tyler Eck­man who al­lowed three runs, two earned, on nine hits. “Both pitch­ers are great, both teams can hit, we can ex­pect ev­ery game in this se­ries to be tight.”

Through three-and-a-half in­nings of score­less base­ball, Norristown struck first in the bot­tom of the fourth when Matt Sper­ling reached on a fielder’s coach and ad­vanced to sec­ond on a throw­ing er­ror. Catcher Bryan Mul­h­ern ad­vanced the run­ner on a sin­gle, be­fore Mark Roth scored Sper­ling on a sin­gle to cen­ter, but Mul­h­ern was gunned down at third base to end the in­ning.

A long fifth in­ning for Nor- ris­town pitcher Mike Zwanch re­sulted in a run scored and the pos­si­bil­ity for many more, but was bailed out twice on spec­tac­u­lar catches by cen­ter fielder Kyle Wenger. Both times, Wenger had to turn and sprint in full stride to track down the deep fly balls — the sec­ond, with bases loaded, he slid to the fence to make the bas­ket catch over his shoul­der.

At the time, it was the play that saved the game.

Norristown re­sponded in the bot­tom of the fifth with the go-ahead run to make the score 2-1. But, af­ter a clean sixth, it was Skip­pack’s time to turn up the of­fence.

“We know how big it is to go down two games in this se­ries, so we came into the sixth in­ning with a lot of con­fi­dence,” said Wran­glers’ des- ig­nated hit­ter Joe Cas­sel­berry.

Tom Ro­mano led off the in­ning with a hard liner that bounced un­der the glove of Di­a­monds’ third base­man Dave Wolf­son giv­ing Ro­mano sec­ond, stand­ing. Cas­sel­berry then stepped to the plate and drove in Ro­mano on an RBI-sin­gle.

“Once you get the lead­off man on, you ex­pect runs,” Cas­sel­berry said.

But, the Wran­glers were able to tack on three more in the in­ning to make the score 5-2. Norristown got one back in the bot­tom of the seventh, but on some well-time leaps, Wran­glers’ sec­ond base­man Chris Leahy and Mark Ro­mano snagged a cou­ple hard­hit lin­ers right out of the air to fin­ish the game with min­i­mal dam­age done.

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