Defeat Allentown 7-5 and 3-2 for the 2013 ACBL Championship
August 5, 2013
The North Jersey Eagles following a familiar script captured their 2nd consecutive ACBL title yesterday at Overpeck Park. The Eagles, for the second time in two years, did it the hard way – having to win 4 consecutive elimination games to take the crown.
After dropping Friday’s Tournament Opener to the top seeded Trenton Generals 8-7, North Jersey beat the Staten Island Tide 3-0 behind Jordan Gross’s (Tulane) seven shutout innings and a six out save from Steven Bloodworth (Wagner) on Saturday morning.
Saturday night the Eagles looked to Sophomore Gianni Zayas (Seminole State) to keep their Title hopes alive. Zayas threw 6.1 solid innings before turning the game over to RHP Steven Bloodworth for his second save of the day as North Jersey eliminated the Trenton Generals 7-4 to advance to Championship Sunday.
North Jersey gave the ball to LHP Brendan Ryan (U Albany) against the Allentown Railers who were undefeated coming into Sunday’s Tournament action. Trailing 2-0 after the 1st inning, the Eagles scored 3 times in the top of the 3rd on big hits from Chris Smith (Wagner) and Ken Kirshner (St Thomas Aquinas) to take a 3-2 lead that they would never relinquish. Brendan Ryan pitched 7.2 gutty innings before Ryan Casey (Wagner) shut the door with a 4 out save.
After a 40 game regular season and three days of Playoff baseball – the stage had been set for one final, winner-take-all game for the 2013 ACBL Championship. The game was destined to be a Classic.
For the second consecutive game the Railers struck first. Brett Bittiger (Fairleigh Dickinson) lead off the bottom of the 3rd with a walk and scored on a wild throw on a bunt play. Andrew Brandstetter (East Stroudsburg) then scored on a 4-6-3 double play to give the Railers a 2-0 lead. North Jersey’s Zach Passerelle’s (Marist) RBI single in the 4th cut the lead in half. And in the 7th the Eagles pulled even with a Passerelle double to left-center and a RBI single by John Brucker (Rutgers). Both starting pitchers turned in stellar outings – Alentown’s Michael Burke (Lehigh) and North Jersey’s Danny O’Neil (Willaim Paterson) allowed only 3 and 4 hits respectively.
Allentown and North Jersey would take the season to its FINAL inning and one of the most exciting finishes in ACBL history.
Allentown’s Brandon Shimo (Kutztown) retired the first two batters in the top of the 9th inning before Chris Chiaradio (Seton Hall) stepped to the plate. After battling the count to 3-2, Chiardio blasted his first home run of the season onto the right field knoll giving the Eagles its first lead of the game. The Railers continued the battle in their half of the 9th inning. James Bertolotti (Alvernia) lead off with a bad-hop single to right. After being bunted to second, Bertolotti took 3rd on a wild pitch with one out. Jeff Birkoffer (Moorehead St) then drove a towering fly ball to ceneter field. Eagles CF Chris Smith (Wagner) made the catch and then unleashed a great throw to cut down Bertolotti at the plate to secure the win and the 2013 ACBL Championship.