By BRIAN CUNNIFF
NORTH WILDWOOD — Emily Cimino wasn’t happy at all when she gave up a leadoff home run to Buena’s Brittanie Gilliano during Tuesday’s key Cape-Atlantic United Conference game.
Cimino immediately made amends in the bottom of the inning, however.
The left-handed hitting Cimino blasted a three-run home run over the high fence in right at the Eighth Avenue Field to put the Crusaders on top to stay. Cimino went on to allow just one run the rest of the way as Wildwood Catholic posted a 7-2 victory to jump into an early lead in the race for the conference title.
Wildwood Catholic improved to 6-1 overall, 1-0 in conference play. Buena fell to 2-1, 0-1.
Mercedes Rivera singled and Brianna Bailey walked ahead of Cimino’s three-run blast.
“That was huge,” Megines said. “That was a bad pitch call by me and we gave up the home run, but knowing how (Cimino) is, I knew she’d come out that first at bat looking to drive the ball into the gap and she hit it well.”
Wildwood Catholic plated two more runs in the third inning. Anna Mae Peterson, who had doubled, and Tahtiyana Camba, who was hit by a pitch, were moved to second and third on Heavyn Perez’s ground out before Mackenzie Joslin singled to center to score both runners.
Cimino doubled and scored and Peterson singled and scored as Catholic pushed across two more runs in the fourth.
All told, Wildwood Catholic stroked 11 hits off Buena pitcher Natalie Ampole. Rivera led the Crusaders with three hits.
“We left more runners on base than we wanted to but we got on base almost every inning and put some pressure on them,” Megines said. “We wanted to come out early in the count and attack and control the strike zone and force their pitcher to throw our pitches, because that’s only going to benefit us.
“The way we swung the bat was good. That’s a good team and a good pitcher so to come aggressive like that with the bats was awesome for us.”
Cimino allowed four hits and struck out 11 for the pitching win.
Wildwood Catholic next plays Thursday at Holy Spirit.