Giants win first BML crown since 1994
Northampton's Cody Kramer just missed on a pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 3 of last week's Blue Mountain League championship series that would have propelled the Giants to a series win.
When he saw the same pitch one throw later from Limeport's Adam Maini, he made the Bulls pay for it.
With that swing also came history for the Northampton Giants.
Kramer's two-out RBI-single to right field scored Hugh Harris, lifting the Giants to a 6-5 victory in Wednesday's Game 3 after they squandered a four-run lead and trailed 5-4 going into the seventh. The win propelled the Giants to three wins in the best-of-five game series and their first Blue Mountain League title since the 1994 season.
"I was looking at the first pitch for a certain pitch I could drive up in the zone," Kramer said. "He threw one down in the zone, and I wasn't going to swing at that one. The next pitch, he threw me one up in the zone, and I missed it by about six inches. With 0-2, anything close I was going to swing at, just put it in play and make something happen. The 0-2 pitch was exactly the same pitch that I missed at 0-1."
The Giants' comeback in the seventh was kept alive when Hughes beat out a potential game-ending double play. With two outs, Jake Wioczewski's RBI-single tied the game at five. During the next at-bat, Kramer's liner into shallow right field made for an interesting play at home. But the tag from Limeport's Allen Umbenhauer was a bit late after Harris' slide completed the three-game sweep.
"You definitely don't want to be down a run going into the seventh inning," Kramer said. "I knew our team had the potential to win this championship.
"We had to work our way through that inning. We had a couple of squeakers get through. Hugh beat out a double-play ball by six inches. He hustled there and kept it going. This team hasn't been in the spotlight for 15 or 16 years. We just wanted to show everybody in the Blue Mountain League and the Lehigh Valley that the Northampton Giants can win the Blue Mountain League championship."
The first four batters reached base for Northampton to start the game, building up a quick 4-0 lead for the Giants.
Harris, who finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs, brought home the Giants' first two runs on the day. Kramer recorded the first of his three singles two batters later to make it a 3-0 game, and Nic Ampietro's RBI-triple to right field capped the Giants' first-inning explosion.
"I had the hit that ended up winning it, but we had a lot of hits over the course of the game," Kramer said. "In the first inning, we had three hits. Every run was crucial to winning this game. Everybody on this team has played a part this year.
"Our starting pitcher, Robbie Williams, he kept us in the game. Ben [Hammel] came in, and he kept us in the game. Everybody contributed. I'm just the one who had the seventh RBI."
While Limeport recorded just three hits through three innings off Northampton pitcher Robbie Williams, the team wasn't ready to watch the Giants walk with an easy series sweep.
Led by Maini, who allowed just five hits and no runs in innings two thru six, the Bulls were able to tie the game.
After Brady Sandercock's RBI-single in the fourth broke the Bulls' scoreless-inning streak, Dan Hemberger drove a two-run single down the third-base line in the fifth to make it a one-run deficit. Adam Ganser's sacrifice fly to right field tied it at four two batters later. A Northampton error in the sixth led to Justin Fizer scoring and a 5-4 Bulls' lead.
"It was tough in the sixth inning," Kramer said. "We had a ball hit to Tyler Tocci at second base. He's a sure-handed fielder. He just let one eat him up a bit. We knew our team could pick him up. The important thing is that we tied it up in the seventh. We gave ourselves a chance if we needed it in the eighth inning."
Justin Aungst pitched a five-inning no decision in Game 1 as the Giants doubled-up the Bulls, 8-4. In Game 2, Nic Ampietro pitched a complete-game in the Giants' 2-1 victory.