If anyone has a true appreciation for the vast amount of depth between the plate and the backstop at Allentown, and the adventures that can unfold when a pitch heads into that abyss, it’s Pete Marsicano.
The sophomore catcher is acutely aware of the perils associated with the expanse that lies behind him.
“Once it gets back there, a baserunner is gonna move up and possibly take two,” Marsicano said of a backstop that gives the appearance it may be in an entirely different zip code.
Armed with his invaluable local knowledge regarding the lay of the land, Marsicano, who delivered a clutch base hit during a rally in the bottom of the seventh, capped the uprising by racing home from third on a wild pitch to give Allentown an improbable 5-4 victory over Robbinsville on Wednesday in Allentown.
Trailing, 4-1, heading into its final at bat, Allentown (11-4) parlayed three hits, two walks and three wild pitches into a four-run outburst.
“We battle,” Allentown coach Brian Nice said. “We got a couple of breaks in the last inning and were able to squeeze one out that we probably didn’t deserve.”
Yet, it was the relentless tenacity Nice referenced in the first part of his post-game comments that ultimately put Allentown in a position to seize the win, avenge a 3-2 loss to Robbinsville on April 27 and end the Raven’s six-game winning streak.
Mark Duffy, who pitched the first six innings for the Redbirds, allowing two hits and two unearned runs while striking out three, helped get himself off the hook by opening the seventh with a single. One out later, Brandon Ruetsch singled to put runners on at first and second.
The base hit by Ruetsch prompted the exit of Robbinsvile right-hander Steve Krebs, who yielded six hits and fanned six against no walks over 6 1/3 innings behind a tantalizing curveball.
After reliever Adam Vorraso induced a pop up for the second out, pinch-hitter Michael Anthony drew a walk to load the bases for Marsicano, who stroked a two-run single to narrow the deficit to 4-3.
“I got the pitch I was looking for,” Marsicano said. “I was looking for an inside, high pitch and I got it and hit it to left. It was such a good feeling.”
Robbinsville (9-8-1) struck for two runs in the second. With one away, Vorraso lined a single to right and Ryan Fischer reached on an error. A walk filled the bags and Tyler Margotta drove in a run on a fielder’s choice that included a throwing error which supplied Fischer the chance to score from second for a 2-0 lead.
Allentown got a run back in the sixth on an RBI single from senior Matt Alpaugh but Robbinsville crafted a rebuttal in the top of the seventh that featured run-scoring singles from Matt Samel and Kris Weigand.
Krebs was particularly solid for Robbinsville with his control and keen utilization of his off-speed pitches. The junior righty retired the first nine batters of the game. After Kyle Golla and Alpaugh, who went 2-for-3, opened the fourth with consecutive singles, Krebs got a fly out and double-play grounder to defuse the Ravens.
“We know he’s going to throw strikes,’ Robbinsville coach Tom Brettell said. “He keeps kids off balance and he’s around the plate. He hits spots effectively off the plate and on the corner.”
Duffy held up his end of the pitching matchup, neutralizing Robbinsville’s bats by giving up the single to Vorraso in the second and a single to Ryan Fischer with two outs in the sixth.
“That’s what kept us in games all year. Our pitching has been the one constant,” Nice said. “We’ve gotten good performances. Some have been rewarded, some haven’t. Duffy deserved a good fate. Fortunately we were able to turn one around and get him off the hook there at the end.”
Gregg Lerner covers baseball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner