Wayne 6, Marple Newtown 1 game 4

Cockill pitches Wayne into the Delco League Finals

 By Harry Chaykun

   Wayne starter Tom Cockill struck out three of the first four Marple Newtown Black Sox batters he retired in Game 4 of the Delco League semifinal series at Marple Newtown High Saturday afternoon.

   Of the final 17 outs he recorded, Cockill got only one on strikes – and that came with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

   Cockill gave up four hits in the second inning, when the Black Sox scored one run. Over the final five innings, he allowed only one more hit – a leadoff single in the fourth that was erased in an inning-ending double play.

   Wayne made the most of two hits in the first inning and two in the fourth to get Cockill more than enough runs to earn a 6-1 decision and win the series, three games to one.

   Narberth’s 7-1 decision over the defending champion Aston Valley Knights Saturday set up a best-of-5 title matchup between the Mudcats and Wayne for the second time in three seasons.

   Game 1 begins at 5:45 Monday night at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth in Plymouth Meeting. Game 2 will be played Tuesday night in Plymouth, before the series moves to Narberth Playground for games Thursday night and Saturday afternoon (if necessary).

   “I’m a pitch-to-contact pitcher,” Cockill, who was an assistant coach at Devon Prep last spring and is joining the coaching staff at Ursinus College for the 2019 season, said. “Those strikeouts (all called third strikes) were more of an accident. I’m not really to strike them out.

   “I went with the fastball, slider and change-up today. If they hit it, I knew we could get it. Tom Jacobs was my catcher today, and he will be playing for Ursinus this year and I’ll be one of his coaches.”

   Cockill was a member of a state championship baseball team while at La Salle College High School and played in the NJCAA D2 World Series while at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey. At Lock Haven University, he pitched for a team that set a school record for wins.

   These days, he spends a lot of his time doing recruiting for Ursinus.

   “I was going to pitch Thursday’s game,” he said. “But I got caught in (Washington) D.C. traffic and couldn’t get back up here.”

   His teammates made the wait worthwhile for him when they scored three runs in the top of the first inning before Cockill had to throw a pitch. Matt Briner walked with one out and moved up on hit by Dan Williams. After another walk, Anthony Viggiano hit a sacrifice fly, then Luke Zimmerman followed with a long double to right field as Wayne assumed a 3-0 lead.

   Marple Newtown got a run back in the bottom of the second as Chase Standen doubled, Luke Turner singled, and Alex Manzi hit a sacrifice fly. The Black Sox got two more hits in the inning, but Wayne center fielder Kevin Mohollen cut the rally short by throwing Turner out at the plate on Steve DiStefano’s single.

   A hit by Briner and a Williams walk preceded a two-run double by Ed Paparella in the Wayne fourth.

   Black Sox left fielder Manzi threw out a runner at the plate to keep Wayne off the board in the fifth, but hits by Mohollen and Briner and Williams’s sacrifice fly closed out the scoring in the top of the sixth.

   Viggiano, Williams, and Briner turned a double play for Wayne in the fourth inning, and James Kantner, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in left field in the sixth, threw out a Black Sox runner in that inning.

   “He’s pitched well all year,” Williams, who singled, was hit by a pitch, walked, and had a sacrifice fly in his four trips to the plate Saturday, said of Cockill. “We needed a game like that from him today.

   “Before I came (to the game), I was working with a younger player and got a chance to take a few swings. My timing was better today and I was seeing better pitches. (Black Sox pitchers) have been throwing pretty well. It was good that we got something going right away in this game.”

   Narberth earned its first Delco League championship by beating Wayne in the 2016 final series.

   “This one could be another good series,” Wayne manager Brian Fili said, looking forward to the upcoming games this week.