By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — It wasn’t the prettiest high school baseball game ever played, but it sure was entertaining.
After blowing a 4-1 lead through five innings, Wildwood rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring the tying and winning runs with two outs, to post a wild 8-7 victory over Lower Cape May Saturday evening at Warrior Field.
A hard ground ball by Nick Cripps was misplayed by the Lower Cape May defense, allowing the tying and winning runs score. Pinch runner Daniel Sanzone slid across home plate for the winning run as a throw from shallow left-center field skipped away, igniting a euphoric celebration by Warrior players and coaches.
Trailing 7-4 entering its half of the seventh, Wildwood put its first two runners on base before Ethan Burke’s seeing-eye single between shortstop and third base scored a run to make it 7-5. Josh Vallese later hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded to bring the Warriors within a run, with the other runners on base moving up to second and third after an errant throw. Wildwood then got the win when the ground ball by Cripps couldn’t be handled in the infield.
Wildwood freshman Junior Hans was excellent on the mound through five innings, allowing just an unearned run in the second. But he tired in the sixth and was lifted with the bases loaded with no outs. After a run was walked in, Lower freshman Hunter Ray blasted a three-run triple to right-center to give the Tigers their first lead. Ray later scored on a passed ball.
Lower added another run in the top of the seventh on a walk with the bases loaded, but Wildwood pitcher Dom Troiano got out of further trouble by retiring the next two batters.
Wildwood scored its first four runs in the bottom of the second on RBI singles by Dom Troiano, Ryan Troiano and Hans.
Hans, Cripps, Dom Troiano and Miguel Claudio each had two hits for Wildwood (5-10).
Ray, John Roach and Kody Lewis each had two hits for Lower (4-12).
Walks and errors played a significant role in the contest. Lower Cape May batters walked 10 times, while Wildwood earned all three of its free passes in the critical seventh inning. Lower Cape May committed five errors to Wildwood’s two.