SKIPPACK — Jason Kelmer’s blast in the fifth inning helped reestablish Skippack’s comfortable advantage over Collegeville as the Lumberjacks regained control of the Perky League semifinal series Wednesday night.
The White Sox sliced a 9-0 deficit down to just two after scoring seven runs in the top of the fifth but the top-seeded hosts answered with five in their half of the frame – Kelmer capping the output with a three-run home run to left field as Skippack moved a win away from the finals with a 14-7 Game 3 victory at Palmer Park.
“I guess at that point in the game, base off of at-bats I’ve had in the recent in the series I was just looking for something that I could drive,” Kelmer said. “I swung over the first pitch, just missed it and just looking for something similar and just got one.”
Held to one run for only the second time this season in Tuesday’s Game 2 loss, the Lumberjacks’ bats returned to form, recording 14 hits in taking a 2-1 series lead. Skippack scored six as it sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom of the second then added three more in the third to go up 9-0.
“We played like crap yesterday and the guys, even after the game and the texting exchanges and everything were pretty fired up about today and coming out and having a good game,” Skippack manager Jeff Murtha said. “So yeah, bounce back.”
No. 4 seed Collegeville got its offense going with its big fifth, collecting six of its nine hits as the Sox batted around to pull within 9-7. The Lumberjacks, however, recaptured control the bottom of the inning. Chad Evans – celebrating his 21st birthday – hit a bases-loaded, two-RBI single with Kelmer following with his three-run shot for a 14-7 lead.
“This team, you can’t ever sleep on those guys over there,” said Kelmer of Collegeville. “We’ve known these guys for quite some time – we’ve played tournaments with these guys. We know they can all hit and we knew that we’ve had to outslug them at some point in this series and today was just one of those days.”
Skippack proceeded to wrap up the win to avoid darkness suspending the contest, giving it the opportunity to wrap up the best-of-five series in Game 4, which is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Thursday at Collegeville Community Park.
“Last thing I wanted to do was come back,” Murtha said. “Cause rules are weird, it’s a suspended game so we’d have to come back. And it’s supposed to rain tomorrow and then it just throws it into next week.”
Kelmer was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored while Matt Cavagnaro singled his first three at-bats and finished 3-for-5 with three RBIs and scored twice. Jason Miller went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored, Lenny Del Grippo was 2-for-3 while Charlie Hooker had three RBIs.
“We came out and scored early and we hadn’t done that in any of the first two games of the series so I think that kind of lightened the load for us,” Kelmer said. “And I think today offensively we capitalized on their mistakes and everybody contributed.
Brian Hartsell, batting ninth in the White Sox’s lineup, went 3-for-3 with a double, RBI and run scored.
Skippack starting pitcher Matt Sperling earned the win, allowing two runs – one earned – on three hits in four-plus innings. He walked one and struck out two. Mills picked up the save, giving up two runs – both earned – on four hits in three innings. He walked one and had two strikeouts.
“That’s what Sperling does,” Murtha said. “You’ve seen him pitch for a lot of years, man. You know what you’re going to get out of him.”
Cooper Webb took the loss for Collegeville, allowing nine runs – eight earned – on eight hits and five walks in 2 1/3 innings.
A Miller single, Kyle Wenger double and Jim Fasano walk loaded the bases with no outs for Skippack in the bottom of the second. On a Kelmer fielder’s choice, Collegeville got a force out at home but an error going for a second out at first allowed Wenger home. An error on Pete Moore’s fielder’s choice scored Fasano to make it 2-0.
After Rob Zinsmeister drew the first of his three walks to again load the bases with no outs, Cavagnaro connected on a two-RBI single. Hooker plated two more with his triple the next at-bat for a 6-0 Lumberjacks lead.
“It’s nice that we were able to actually capitalize on those things,” Kelmer said. “We stopped rolling over on pitches, we hit a lot of balls hard and we made them make the plays – that was the result of it.”
Kelmer led off the bottom of the third with a single. Moore followed with a walk with both advancing on Zinsmeister’s sacrifice bunt. Cavagnaro’s RBI single scored Kelmer while Moore came in to make it 8-0 on a Hooker RBI sac fly to right.
After a Del Grippo base hit, Miller put Skippack up nine with an RBI single.
Collegeville’ seven-run outburst in the fifth began with Scott Young reaching on an error, a Cole Luzins Single then Young scoring on a close play at the plate on Matt Altieri’s single. Hartsell’s RBI double made it 9-2.
Mike Kelly’s walk loaded the bases for Pat O’Neill, who singled to score Altieri with an error on the playing allowing Hartsell to come home, getting the Sox to within five.
Kyle Feaster’s RBI ground out scored Kelly. After Cody Clarke was intentionally walked Drew Frankenfield cut the margin to 9-7 with his two-RBI double.
Young followed with a single but Frankenfield was thrown out at home trying to score from second. Skippack finally ended the top of the inning with a force out at second on a Luzins fielder’s choice.
In their half of the fifth, the Lumberjacks loaded the bases with one out after a Del Grippo single, Miller was hit by pitch and Wenger walked. Evans plated a pair with his single with Kelmer bringing in Skippack’s final three runs with his homer.