ABSECON - Margate pitcher Joe Noyes found himself in a seventh-inning jam Tuesday.
Absecon already had scored one run. Two more runners were on base with the tying run at the plate.
But coach Yogi Hiltner knew better than to pull him. He left Noyes in the game, and the pitcher didn't disappoint.
Noyes worked out of the predicament and Margate beat Absecon 6-3 in an Atlantic County Baseball League championships series game at Pitney Park. The Hurricanes (27-4) are up 2-0 in the best-of-five series and can clinch the title if they complete the three-game sweep today in Margate at 7 p.m.
"He's a big-game pitcher," Hiltner said. "I can't take him out of a game. He'll let me know when he wants to come out."
Noyes (10-0) allowed three runs on six hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
Absecon (21-11) hadn't had a base runner since the third inning. Its first two batters got on in the seventh and Matt Allen scored when Anthony Cocuzza reached first on a fielder's choice.
After Absecon pitcher Dan Allen singled, Noyes got first baseman Kenny Morgenweck, who prior to that at-bat was 2-for-3 with an RBI, to fly out to center field to end the game.
"You've just got to bear down," Noyes said. "You've got to throw a lot of strikes. Walks get you in trouble."
Margate's offense did its best early to make Noyes' job easier. The Hurricanes scored all of their runs in the first four innings. Steve Shrenk homered to right-center to start the second. Charlie Law, who had three RBIs, hit a two-run single in the third.
Hiltner has said multiple times that timely hitting would decide the series. Margate had just one more hit than Absecon, but got six runs out of their seven hits.
"That caught up with us last year (Margate lost the championship to Northfield) and its catching up to them now," Hiltner said. "That's a good team. They've got hitters through the lineup."
Meanwhile, Absecon had trouble seizing chances.
Absecon loaded the bases with one out in the second inning, but left the inning with no runs. After picking up two runs in the third, its batters were retired in order for three straight innings.
"We're just not taking opportunities that we need to," said Absecon player/coach Mike Hampton. "The same thing happened (in Monday's 13-1 loss). … But every game is a new one. That's the beautiful thing about baseball."
Absecon now faces a must-win situation today. The young squad is in the finals for the first time since the team returned to the league eight years ago.
Margate's players know they can't be complacent today.
"We have to step on them while they're down," Noyes said. "If you let a team like that get back in the series, 2-1 turns to 2-2 and then it's in game five and you're in trouble."
If Absecon wins, the series will continue Monday.
The Hurricanes look to win their 19th ACBL championship and their sixth in the last seven years.
However, Absecon won't go down without a fight. All four of Margate's losses this season were at home, one of which was at the hands of Absecon.
"It's baseball, and they could beat us tomorrow without a problem," Hiltner said. "But I like our position better than theirs."
Contact Brittany Grugan:
Margate 112 200 0-6 7 1
Absecon 002 000 1-3 6 0
2B-Costello M. HR-Shrenk M.
WP-Noyes (10-0) 2k. LP-Allen (8-2) 5k.
Records-Margate 27-4; Absecon 21-11.