BML baseball title goes to the Bulls again
Limeport head coach Mike Cudwadie and plenty of other Bulls remember when Northampton swept them in the championship series in its first season of the Blue Mountain League (BML). That was back in 2014.
Jorge Montes doesn’t recall the deflating feeling five years ago. Montes is from Puerto Rico, and recently moved back to the Lehigh Valley area in 2017.
He came up with the biggest hit in Game 5 of the championship series in his first season with the Bulls. Montes blasted a three-run home run in the fifth inning, and Limeport held on down the stretch for a 5-3 victory over Northampton and the Bulls’ fourth BML title in five seasons.
“This is my first year with the team,” said Montes, who played high school baseball at the Perkiomen School in Pennsburg. “It’s pretty common to face them in the finals. All I hear is that every year is always a dogfight. So I knew just getting that separation and getting those extra runs, getting a cushion, that was going to help us out a lot down the road.”
“They are our top team absolutely,” Cudwadie said. “I think we were the top-two teams all year, so we had a feeling it would come down to us two. Our first year in the league they swept us in the finals, and we kind of remembered that.”
Montes, who was recruited by Andrew DeCew who also played at Perkiomen, ripped a two-out blast over the left field wall that gave the Bulls even more of a cushion at 5-1. He had no doubt the ball was leaving Northampton High School’s Mike Lisicki Field.
“Honestly all I was looking for was something I could hit hard and put in play,” Montes said. “He was throwing a lot of fastballs and curve balls. At least the ones he threw to me, he wasn’t really getting it there…I was just sitting for a fastball the whole time, and I got the pitch.”
Limeport starter Adam Maini pitched five innings of one-run baseball for the Bulls. But Northampton wouldn’t go away without adding a bit of drama late.
The Giants tacked on two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to get within two runs. Pat Kregeloh blasted a solo home run early in the frame, followed by an RBI-single from Brady Mengel that cut Limeport’s lead to 5-3.
But after Jake Wandler grounded out into a fielder’s choice, Jared Angerman grounded out to Limeport shortstop C.J. Saliby for the final out.
“For the longest time, he [Maini] was our top guy, our ace,” Cudwadie said. “Time gets the best of you sometimes. Adam Maini didn’t have the best season that he wanted all season long. But it’s a guy we trust to give the ball to in the biggest game of the season. He did exactly what we needed him to do.
Cudwadie couldn’t help to feel a little nervous as the seventh inning played out.
“It was to the point where they were one hit away from tying the game,” Cudwadie said. “Saliby made an absolutely amazing play there at the end. That ball is spinning, he bare hands it and throws a ball perfectly to first.”
Rich Armento pitched the final two innings for Limeport to close out the Bulls’ second consecutive championship.
“I trust Rich; he’s been great the whole time,” Montes said. “There was no doubt in my mind. When he settles in, he’s probably one of the better pitchers in this league.”
Limeport jumped in front 2-0 in the fourth inning aided by a Giant error that should have ended the frame. Instead, a two-out ground ball by Gianni Sinatore was handled by Kregeloh at shortstop, but overthrown to first base, which scored Pat Rhoads from second. DeCew then brought home Sinatore on an RBI-single.
Northampton cut the Bulls’ lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI-single from Jake Wioczewski that scored Justin Aungst. But Limeport’s lead was ultimately too much to overcome.
Now the question is, can the Bulls continue this dynasty for yet another summer? Cudwadie and his wife are expecting a daughter in November, so the future is a bit hazy. But if this core group returns, don’t count out the Bulls from competing for a title once again in the summer of 2020.
“Whatever we have to do to keep this core together is what we want to do,” Cudwadie said. “We have a special team here that obviously shows it…I’d like to keep this going and try to go as far as we can.”