UPPER GWYNEDD — Matt Cavagnaro doesn’t get to bat right-handed too often. Skippack’s switch hitter estimates he only hits from that side of the plate around 25% of the time due to a lack of left-handed pitchers in the Perkiomen Valley Twilight League, but he still works on it as much as he can.
The practice paid off in Game 2 of the Perky League championship. Against Valley Forge left-hander Ray Gambone, Cavagnaro went 2-for-2 in the first two innings with a home run and three RBIs to help start a 12-4 win at Hostelley Field that gives Skippack a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
After Rob Zinsmeister led off the top of the first inning with a double, Cavagnaro knocked him in with a single to left field. Frank Pollock and Jason Kelmer added RBI singles in the top of the first and a run scored on an error to give the Lumberjacks a quick 4-0 lead.
Top-seeded Skippack added four more in the top of the second. Zinsmeister singled before Cavagnaro hit a two-run home run down the right field line.
“We’re getting comfortable at the plate,” Cavagnaro said of the fast start. “We’re seeing good pitches and hitting good pitches. Hitting is contagious. Robby leading off – it’s been great getting on base for all of us in the middle of the order.
“I was looking for a pitch to drive to right-center. Robby was on first base, so I was just trying to get a good pitch. Wound up getting a pitch up in the zone and good things happen … I’m not a home run hitter. When I run into them it’s nice, but at the end of the day I just try to hit the ball hard and get on base for the big guys behind me. That’s my job and one luckily got out – I’ll take it.”
Jim Fasano and Chad Evans added RBI singles later in the inning to make it an 8-1 lead.
That was more than enough run support for Skippack pitcher Pete Moore. The right-hander threw a complete game, striking out three batters to three walks and allowed four runs on eight hits.
“(Catcher) Frank (Pollock) did a great job mixing it up back there,” Moore said. “He’s a young kid catching at the University of the Sciences and as the year’s gone on we’ve gotten more and more comfortable with each other. My age, with what I throw, it’s not the easiest guy to call a game for, but he was tremendous tonight. I was able to use all four pitches – the cutter was effective, the changeup I used more than I have all year and caught a couple timely curveballs that worked out really well.
“(The early run support) is everything. I really struggled last week, got hit around by Collegeville a little bit, and the guys come out and put up a big number right away – it lets you relax so much as a pitcher. You can just attack the zone. If you give up a couple hits, a couple runs, it doesn’t matter because the idea at the end of the game is to have more runs on the scoreboard. When you put up 12 and give up four – you feel good about it.”
Zinsmeister singled home Skippack’s ninth run in the top of the fourth inning. In the fifth, Lenny Delgrippo had an RBI groundout and Fasano hit a two-run single.
Zinsmeister, Cavagnaro and Fasano all went 3-for-5 to combine for half of the Lumberjacks 18 hits.
Third-seeded Valley Forge got on the board in the bottom of the first inning when Chris Connor hit a sacrifice fly. The Bucks added two runs in the fourth on a Marquise Wood two-run home run and one run in the fifth on Connor’s RBI single.
Gambone took the loss for the defending champs. He allowed six runs on eight hits in 1.1 innings. Jack Cossa surrendered six runs over 3.2 innings before Thomas Bost threw two scoreless innings.
Skippack will look to close out the series Wednesday night at Hostelley Field at 7:30 p.m.
Skippack 12, Valley Forge 4
Skippack 440 130 0 – 12
Valley Forge 100 210 0 – 4
WP: Pete Moore 7 IP 3 K 3 BB 8 H 4 R
LP: Ray Gambone 1.1 IP 0 K 1 BB 8 H 6 R
2B: S: Rob Zinsmeister, Matt Cavagnaro.
HR: S: Matt Cavagnaro. VF: Marquise Wood