By BRIAN CUNNIFF
ERMA – While it was a senior’s big day at the plate that sparked the Lower Cape May Regional High School baseball team, the contributions of a group of younger players certainly made a difference as well in the team’s victory over a local rival Friday afternoon.
Senior Jake Kronemeyer went 3 for 4 with two doubles, three RBI and three runs scored to pace a Caper Tiger offensive attack that finally broke out after scoring two runs or fewer in five of its previous six games in a 10-0 win over Cape May Tech.
“I had talked before the season about how I thought pitching might be a weakness for us but the last couple of weeks our pitching’s actually been a pretty strong point,” Lower coach Ryan Slaney said. “We just haven’t produced offensively in a while. We needed to get the bats going and we finally did.”
In addition to Kronemeyer’s three hits, all but one of th remaining eight Lower starters had a hit, with the hits by Hunter Ray (RBI triple), Kody Lewis (RBI double) and Kyle Satt (double) going for extra bases. Lower had 10 hits total.
“It wasn’t just one guy,” Slaney said. “It was up and down our lineup. Everyone contributed. We got baserunners on and we got some timely hitting.”
Matt DiCave, one of many younger players making a contribution to this year’s Lower team, made a major impact on the outcome. The freshman pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just three hits, and also started the Caper Tiger offense by poking an RBI single to right field in the second inning.
DiCave’s only real trouble came in the second inning, when a hit and two walks loaded the bases, but the righthander recorded a strikeout to end the threat.
“I have all the confidence in Matt DiCave as a freshman,” Slaney said. “Numbers-wise, he’s our ace right now.”
In addition to DiCave, Ray, Lewis and Evan Shoffler (1 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored) are sophomores playing key roles for the Caper Tigers. Some other freshmen have also received some playing time with the varsity.
“It’s definitely something to get excited about,” Slaney said. “We have some young guys getting hot for us and that’s going to help us not only for this year but for years to come. It builds their confidence and it builds our confidence as a team.”
Holding a 6-0 lead in the top of the sixth, Lower made the defensive play of the game when second baseman John Roach slid to field a ground ball up the middle and flipped to shortstop Evan Shoffler for the force at second before Shoffler fired to Lewis at first for an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
Lower then scored three times in the bottom of the inning to end the game on the 10-run mercy rule. Kronemeyer’s two-run double came before a throwing error sent home the winning run.
Lower improved to 4-10 with the victory. The team’s schedule is a bit more favorable over the next couple of weeks, lending hope that the Tigers can string together a few more wins and end the season playing its best baseball.
“I’m excited,” Slaney said. “We talked about turning the page and ignoring what’s gone on in the past. We have 10 games left and there’s no reason why we can’t have a chance to win all of them.”
Donnie Seitz had all three hits, including a double, for Cape May Tech (8-8).