Big 7th leads to a de­cid­ing 5th

Northamp­ton’s rally forces win­ner-take-all matchup with Lime­port

The Morning Call - - VARSITY - BY KEITH GROLLER Keith Groller can be reached at 610820-6740 or at [email protected]

Per­haps the large con­tin­gent of cow­bell-ring­ing Lime­port Bulls fans were dis­ap­pointed with what hap­pened Thurs­day night, but if you love the game of base­ball you’re prob­a­bly pleased.

That’s be­cause a three-run upris­ing in the top of the sev­enth in­ning by the Northamp­ton Gi­ants paved the way to a 6-3 win to even the Blue Moun­tain League cham­pi­onship se­ries at two games apiece and sets up a win­ner-take-all Game 5 at 1 p.m. Satur­day at Northamp­ton’s Liset­ski Field.

Pat Kregeloh’s third hit of the game and se­cond dou­ble drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the sev­enth and he was able to trot home on Steve Sul­coski’s long two-run home run over the fence in left as the Gi­ants struck for their three big­gest runs of the sea­son.

Those two big hits de­cided what had a been a hard-fought pitcher’s duel be­tween two of the BML’s best — Northamp­ton ace Justin Aungst and Lime­port’s Cooper Michael.

“It took un­til the last in­ning to put some good runs up on the board … but as a team we fought and I got good de­fense again and it was a good team win,” said Aungst, who picked up his se­cond win of the se­ries with both com­ing at Lime­port. “We’ve been pretty evenly matched all year long, so it’s fit­ting we’re go­ing to a Game 5. We did last year and it went in their fa­vor. Hope­fully it swings to us this time.”

The Gi­ants (28-9) have a chance to se­cure their first ti­tle since 2014 if they can swing the bats as they did in Game 4 when they col­lected 10 hits.

No one had a hot­ter bat than Kregeloh, a Pleas­ant Valley High School and Ship­pens­burg Univer­sity prod­uct.

After Tues­day’s Game 3 loss, Northamp­ton man­ager Ed Wan­dler talked about his team need­ing to get pro­duc­tion from the guys who pro­duced all year. He also talked about not wor­ry­ing about hit­ting home runs and just fo­cus­ing on solid con­tact.

Kregeloh must have been lis­ten­ing to his skip­per. He rose up when it was most needed.

“They have a good pitch­ing staff with smart pitch­ers who know how to pitch you,” Kregeloh said. “You can’t take a pitch off. You have to bat­tle through the en­tire at-bat and hope they make a mis­take over the plate.”

Like­wise, the bat­tle ex­tends to all ar­eas of the game.

“You have two very good teams bat­tling against each other and this is what we ex­pected,” Kregeloh said. “We have to come out and fight ev­ery sin­gle game. If we take a pitch off here or there, they’re go­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on it, so we have to play the full seven in­nings and 21 outs and fo­cus on the task hand.”

Kregeloh’s dou­ble to deep right plated Jake Wloczewski who be­gan the in­ning with a sin­gle.

Sul­coski capped the upris­ing with his no-doubt-at-it blast.

“Steve was sit­ting fast­ball and jumped on one,” Kregeloh said of Sul­coski. “He has been putting to­gether good at-bats the whole se­ries. He had been bar­rel­ing balls up and had lit­tle to show for it. It was good to see him get one.”

Twice ear­lier when Northamp­ton scored to take the lead, Lime­port came right back to tie it in the bot­tom half of the in­ning.

But after Kregeloh and Sul­coski’s big hits, Aungst, who fin­ished with a five­hit­ter, re­tired the Bulls 1-2-3 in the sev­enth.

Asked if he could go for any length of time on Satur­day, Aungst said: “We’ll see about that. I’m start­ing to get down to my end. But we’ll see how I feel.”

Lime­port, mean­while, will re­group and re­main con­fi­dent in go­ing for its fourth ti­tle in five years. Ev­ery time the Bulls (27-10) have won the cham­pi­onship they did so in a Game 5, in­clud­ing last year’s de­cid­ing vic­tory at Northamp­ton.

“We are used to Game 5s,” Lime­port player-man­ager Mike Cud­wadie said. “Un­til this year, we had never played a semi­fi­nal or fi­nals that hadn’t gone five games. But I think Fri­day be­ing a day off is a good thing. There was a lot of emo­tion in this game and it got sucked out in the sev­enth in­ning tonight. But you have to clear your mind and come back and fo­cus. What else can you ask for but a Game 5 and the chance to win an­other ti­tle?

APRIL GAMIZ/THE MORN­ING CALL

Northamp­ton Gi­ants pitcher Justin Aungst de­liv­ers to the plate against the Lime­port Bulls dur­ing Game 4 of the Blue Moun­tain League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

APRIL GAMIZ/THE MORN­ING CALL

Steve Sul­coski fol­lows through on a piv­otal two-run homer for the Gi­ants.

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