Narberth 12, Wayne 7

Cantwell has Narberth ‘rolling’ into Game 5 of Delco League finals

By Matthew DeGeorge, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.@sportsdoctormd on Twitter


NARBERTH >> It took about a half hour Friday for Luke Cantwell and Narberth to be truly pushed to the brink. 

Cantwell strode into the box in the seventh inning of Game 3 of the best-of-5 Delco League championships series, suspended from Thursday night, as the potential go-ahead run with two outs. He ripped a comebacker off the mound of Wayne closer Tom Cockill that the lefty recovered and tossed to first to get the final out of an 8-6 Wayne triumph. 

By the time Cantwell next dug in, in the bottom of the first in Game 4, Narberth already faced a two-run deficit, courtesy of an Eddie Paparaella home run. It had been since Tuesday night, two losses and two suspensions ago, that Narberth had mustered so much as an extra-base hit. 

In one swing, Cantwell rectified that. 

The Marple Newtown All-Delco clubbed a solo home run, igniting the slumbering Narberth bats to a 12-7 win in Game 4 to even the series at two games apiece. 

Weather permitting, Game 5 will be played at Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth Saturday afternoon at 4. 

Cantwell — who caught in Game 3, then patrolled center in Game 4 — made the adjustment against Cockill. He fisted a curveball in his first encounter. Then when he worked the count full in Game 4 against Cockill, with whom manager Brian Fili started, he waited for that hook, and atoned. 

“I think it was a 3-2 count, so I was waiting for that curveball, because he didn’t throw it that whole at-bat,” Cantwell said. “And the game before, he got me on the curveball. So I was like, he’s got it in his back pocket. And on that full count, I was ready for the curveball, so when he threw it, I was able to get my hands out there and hit it pretty far.” 

That opened the floodgates for Narberth, which was shut out in Game 2 (stretched across Tuesday and Thursday) and stitched together just six singles in Game 3. They plated runs in each of their first four trips to bat in Game 4, batting around in the third and fourth innings. 

That made for an early exit for Cockill. The Lock Haven grad did the job in Game 3, though, inheriting a messy 8-5 lead with runners on the corners and one out. He relented a sac fly to Spencer Stokes, but escaped further damage, content to trade an out for a run. 

“I had a lot of experience in college coming out of the pen, both as a stop guy and as a closer,” Cockill said. “So I was familiar with being in that situation, which helped. I got to sleep on it and kind of build it. I knew what I was going into. I was alright giving up one. That’s why I didn’t try to make too big of a pitch. I got a sac fly and then built off that, got some momentum.” 

He allowed two singles in the seventh but reared back to strike out pinch hitter Brian Meagher and got Cantwell by the narrowest of margins at first to close out the win. 

Cockill lasted just two innings in the nightcap, the big blow a two-run double by Richie Tecco in the second. Narberth’s bats piled on Anthony Viggiano for eight runs (seven earned). Stokes and Mike White rapped RBI singles in the three-run third. White and Ryan Tecco added RBI hits in the fourth, aided by a passed ball and a run-scoring error. 

“There was some excitement after that (homer), and I think a lot of guys got rolling,” Cantwell said. “A lot of guys were aggressive at the plate. They were swinging early, they were swinging at good pitches and they were getting hits.” 

It was more than enough run support for Evan Raiburn. Manager Steve DeBarberie called on Raiburn two years ago to pitch Game 4 against Wayne, the hard-throwing righty winning with the series on the line. That year, the Mudcats lifted their first championship trophy. 

This time, Raiburn wasn’t as sharp, but he was perfect for the task. A quick worker with impending darkness threatening a third suspension of the week, he pumped in strikes. He gave up three two-run homers — to Paparella, Dan Williams and Viggiano — but he pitched to contact and got the job done. 

“It’s probably the last time I’ll pitch this summer,” Raiburn said. “So just go as long as I can, throw strikes, rely on the fielders and get a win. That’s what we needed to do. … You try to get the game in because of darkness and just throw more strikes, not as much quality, just so that they can hit the ball and go to the fielders.” 

“He threw a hell of a game today,” Cantwell said. “The way he can mix it up with his slider and his fastball, his fastball is even blowing some of the best guys in the league away, so it’s great having him in our system. I loved watching him pitch today to be honest.” 

Narberth led 12-2 by the time Viggiano poked his homer to left in the top of the fifth, and the potential tying run for Wayne never got near the plate. 

The chaotic scheduling has facilitated two major swings in the series. Narberth took Game 1, but then saw Wayne clinch two games on Narberth’s home field. The Mudcats hit back Friday, setting up the winner-take-all Game 5 that most would’ve predicted — and just about all would’ve hoped for — at the beginning of the finals. 

“We kind of had a relapse after that second game,” Cantwell said. “We kind of lost it, it kind of fell through our fingers where we were like, what the heck. But after this, it’s definitely helped our spirits and I think we’re rolling into Game 5.”