WEST NORRITON — Lenny Del Grippo launched a ball upwards out to center field and Collegeville sent its Perky League semifinal series with Nor-Gwyn onwards to a fourth game Friday night.
Del Grippo capped a two-run rally in bottom of the seventh inning with a bases-loaded RBI sacrifice fly as the third-seeded White Sox walked off with a 4-3 Game 3 victory over the visiting No. 4 Packers at Norristown Area High School.
“I was looking to elevate the ball cause I had opportunities tonight and last night in the same situation and I didn’t come through,” Del Grippo said. “I hit the ball on the ground, grounded into two double plays. So my approach that at-bat was to why as hard as I possibly can and just lift the ball.”
Nor-Gwyn, looking to compete the sweep in the best-of-five series and reach a fourth-straight league finals, built a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth on Corey Stouffer’s solo home run to right.
Scott Young, however, answered with a solo shot over the right-center fence in the bottom of the frame and in the seventh the Sox completed the comeback. Kyle Feaster tied things 2-2 with a one-out RBI single. Two batters later, Del Grippo’s sac fly to center brought home Cole Luzins to force a Game 4 7:30 p.m. Monday at Hostelley Field.
“Young’s home run was the turning point of the game,” Del Grippo said. “That was a momentum changer for us. Gave us a little bit of life. The home run that they hit kind of took the wind out of our sails then Young answered right back with one, that kind of brought us back up. So, I think we fed off that home run.”
Cody Clarke began the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff walk off Liam Grande — who came in after six innings from starter AJ Stento — while Cody Luzins followed a strikeout with a single through the left side of the infield. A wild pitch put runners on second an third for Feaster, who pulled the Sox level with his RBI through the left side to score pitch runner Michael George.
Matt Altieri was intentionally walked to load the bases and on the next at-bat Del Grippo delivered his walk-off sac fly.
“AJ pitched a hell of a game, he gave us everything he had — six great innings — just thought it was time to make a change there,” Nor-Gwyn manager Tony “Pep” DiBricida said. “And I said the same thing last night, you’re playing against a lot of ex-MVPs, a lot of great ballplayers with a lot of titles behind them so they’re not going to go away. So, they made it happen tonight.”
Luzins, Bryan Mulhern and Brian Hartsell each went 2-for-3 for Collegeville while Brett Clarke earned the win in relief of starter Drew Frankenfield, striking out a pair of batters in pitching a scoreless seventh. Frankenfield allowed three runs — two earned — on five hits, walked one and struck out three.
“I think as a team we were loose today,” Del Grippo said. “We were loose, just wanted to come here and play hard. Whatever happens, happens.”
Nor-Gwyn leadoff hitter Jon McGlone was 2-for-3 with two RBIs while Mike Knipe scored twice. Grande took the loss while Packers starting pitcher Stento gave up two runs — both earned — on eight hits, struck out one and did not walk a batter in six innings.
“It’s nothing new to anybody that’s played baseball before,” Stouffer said. “Last night, we were in the same situation but we ended up pushing a few keys runs across in the last inning and tonight we were on the flip side of it. It’s just baseball.”
Nor-Gwyn broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the fifth. Knipe started the inning reaching second after an error on his grounder to third. Knipe went to third on Eric Lewandowski’s sacrifice bunt then scored on McGlone’s RBI single two batters later.
Stouffer extended the Packers’ advantage to 3-1 in the sixth when he belted a two-out solo homer to right.
“Saw the pitcher shaking off a few times and I was sitting first pitch off-speed and after saw him shake off a few times, just thought he was going to try to challenge me and he did,” Stouffer said.
Young responded with a two-out solo blast of his own to make it 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth. After a Hartsell single kept the inning alive, Mulhern doubled off the right-center fence but the Packers threw out Mulhern at home to keep the one-run edge.
Nor-Gwyn went up 1-0 in the top of the third as McGlone’s RBI single to right scored Knipe. Collegeville made it 1-1 in the bottom of the inning as Altieri’s RBI single brought home Glenn Seymour.