Proceeding without any interruptions this time
Bulls take 2-1 series lead with an 8-2 rout of Northampton
Those who follow the Blue Mountain League and either the Limeport Bulls or Northampton Giants know what happened at Lisetski Field in Game 3 of the 2018 BML Championship Series.
The game featured a controversial ending when Limeport had a seventh-inning rally negated because the game was called because of darkness.
Almost a year to the day later, the same two teams played at the same location and in the same situation — tied at a game apiece in the best-of-five series.
This time, however, Limeport scored plenty of runs before Mother Nature could intervene and a combined five-hitter by Chris Foundas and Rich Armento produced an 8-2 Game 3 win and a 2-1 series lead for the Bulls. Limeport can win its second straight title and fourth in five seasons with a victory in Game 4 on Thursday night at Limeport Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Bulls (27-9) had five of their 10 hits go for extra bases and got two runs off a Northampton error to seize the upper hand in the series, but player-manager Mike Cudwadie knows it’s far from over.
“This is a dogfight and we’ve got to find a way to win another one,” he said. “There’s no better place to win it than under the lights at Limeport. We’ve got to clear our heads and come back ready to go on Thursday.”
Cudwadie was pleased darkness wasn’t an issue even though the game was played from the start under overcast skies that dimmed quickly.
“It felt like it was dark as it could be at 5:45 when we started,” Cudwadie said. “I told our guys to be prepared to play five or six innings, but the umpires [Mark Brown and Mike Litzenberger] did a pretty good job of making sure the teams hustled on and off.”
It stayed light enough for the Bulls to get several clutch hits and quality pitching.
Ryan Seiz doubled and scored on C.J. Saliby’s single in the first inning and the Bulls tacked on four more runs in the third when three walks and an error fueled problems for the Giants.
Jorge Montes doubled in a run and Gianni Sinatore singled in another. After a two-run homer by Nate Kester got Northampton within 5-2 in the bottom of the fourth, Montes added another RBI double in the fifth and the Bulls closed it out with Damin Muth’s two-run homer in the seventh.
Foundas finds groove
Foundas is a Needham, Mass., native who relocated three years ago to be near his wife’s family in the Lehigh Valley and has found a baseball home in the BML with the Bulls.
He allowed four hits over five innings before running into some trouble in the sixth.
“I haven’t pitched in a little more than two weeks and my arm felt great,” Foundas said. “I had a lot of action on my fastball and breaking pitches, but the defense played great too. It was a team win.”
The 32-year-old Foundas said he was getting tired in the sixth and couldn’t find the fastball that had been so effective. Enter Armento, who worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and worked around a two-out single in the seventh.
“I enjoy this,” Foundas said. “There are four leagues like this back home. A lot of kids get out of college and still want to play, and this is like the teams I played with up in Boston.
“It’s a lot of hard-fought baseball and good competition. It’s intense with the Giants. These are two of the best teams in the league and I wouldn’t want to face any other team but these guys.”
Northampton manager Ed Wandler said his team needs to get the production that carried it to a league-best record of 23-7 in the regular season and a sweep of Easton in the semifinals.
“We’ve got to get better production from the top of the order,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of runners in scoring position and haven’t scored. We left 11 on in the win at Limeport [on Sunday night], and had the bases loaded with one out today and didn’t score. You’ve got to get something out of that. We’ve got to stop trying to hit the ball out of the park and worry more about making solid contact. We’re hitting too many weak popups.”
Wander said it’s gut-check time for his team.
“Everybody’s got to do their job and we’ve got to play solid defense,” he said. “Defense wins championships. They’re doing it and we’re not.”
Keith Groller can be reached at 610-820-6740 or at [email protected]
Chris Foundas is all smiles after he earned the pitching win in Limeport’s 8-2 playoff victory over Northampton on Tuesday.