Aungst, Giants even series
Northampton pitcher Justin Aungst took a few steps off the mound toward the Giants dugout in the fourth inning, having thought a called third strike was coming from the home plate umpire. Instead, the former Salisbury ace had to walk back up the dirt after a called ball.
Limeport’s Damin Muth singled on the next pitch to bring home the Bulls’ first run of the game, leaving Aungst visibly upset.
But he didn’t let that adversity affect him. Aungst got Pat Rhoads to pop out to end the Bulls’ threat in the frame. He would only look stronger as the game progressed. Aungst, a Salisbury High School graduate who will return to his alma mater as head coach in spring, finished with a complete-game five-hitter as Northampton evened up the Blue Mountain League championship series at a game apiece with a 3-2 win on Sunday night at Limeport Stadium.
“I felt good the whole way,” Aungst said. “I had command of my fastball really, and then my off-speed stuff played off the fastball. I threw the change-up well. The slider I kept up a little bit and that hurt me.”
Muth’s single, which scored Mott Dobeck from second base, cut Northampton’s lead to 2-1. The Giants took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning on a clutch RBI double from Jake Wandler that scored Brady Mengel. Nathan Kester also scored on a groundout in the frame.
“I knew I hit it well, but this is a deep park,” Wandler said. “He [Limeport pitcher Jarred Schaffer] throws a lot of off-speed stuff, so I was just trying to sit back on the ball and put good wood on it.”
Northampton added a run to its lead in the fifth inning. After Ian Luberti, C.J. Gantz and Jake Wloczewski all singled to load the bases, a walk from Steven Sucloski put the Giants in front, 3-2.
Limeport got that run back in the bottom half of the frame, however, on an RBI-single from Andrew DeCew
“It’s always tough to play here in front of these guys,” Aungst said. “But we got the home field advantage back, and we’re even through two. We have three more left. Hopefully we don’t need them, but we have two home games left if needed.”
The Giants loaded the bases once again in the sixth inning with just one out, but this time could not bring any more runs across home plate for Aungst. The defense, luckily, helped neutralize the Bulls’ opportunities with three inning-ending double plays.
“We had a lot of chances,” said Aungst, who played college baseball at St. Joe’s University. “We had the bases loaded how many times? It took a walk to get that run in. We just have to execute a little better when they give us opportunities. But we hit all throughout the year, so I’m not worried about it.”