NORTHFIELD — The Margate Hurricanes evened the Atlantic County Baseball League best-of-five championship series at 2-2 on Monday, and now Tuesday’s game against the Northfield Cardinals will be winner-take-all.
Right fielder Charlie Law’s first inning three-run homer and the complete-game pitching of Mike Adams propelled the Hurricanes to a 9-6 win over Northfield at Birch Grove Park.
Game 5 of the series was set to decide the ACBL championship Tuesday night at Margate’s Jerome Avenue Field. The Cardinals are the defending champions, and Margate had the best regular-season record this year.
Margate had 14 hits Monday and led throughout, scoring three runs in the first inning and four in the second. Adams gave up seven hits, including three homers, but struck out 10 and walked one.
“Charlie’s homer put us up, and it was hard for them to come back after that,” said Adams, 24. “We’re really looking forward to (Tuesday). I didn’t have my best stuff, but our guys swung the bats and got us up early and tacked runs onto it.”
Margate’s Monny Strickland singled to left in the first inning, the first of his three hits. Chris Knott walked, and the 6-foot-7 Law blasted a home run to left center off losing pitcher Brandon Riggs.
“I was lucky to get something up in the zone,” said Law, 29. “We’re happy to be at Game 5. We took it one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, one game at a time.
“Mike is in the conversation for the best pitcher ever in this league.”
The Cardinals beat Margate 5-4 and 8-5 in the first two games of the series, and the Hurricanes won 15-4 in the fifth inning on the 10-run rule in Game 3 last week.
Margate manager Yogi Hiltner, who is also the ACBL president, said the best-of-five format in the championship series is 20 years old but that Tuesday’s game will be only the third time it has gone to five games.
“We beat Hammonton once in five games, and then Hammonton beat us,” said Hiltner. “It used to be best-of-three before that.”
“Mike Adams didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but we got some runs, and he’s going to keep it manageable. We’re hot, but they’re hitting the ball, too. It’s been pretty even in the series; that’s why it’s 2-2. I never say much (to the team). We have big-time players, and you don’t have to motivate anyone in this situation.”
Northfield got on the board in the bottom of the first inning as Justin Epifanio singled, JJ Swentkowski walked and Chris Caprio hit an RBI single to center.
But Margate scored four more runs in the top of the second inning and led by at least three runs the rest of the way. The Hurricanes got singles from Jim Pasquale, Nolan Charlton, Strickland and Law, plus two walks and Eric Fitzgerald’s two-run double.
“The first two games we got going too late and came up short,” said Strickland, 23. “Now we’ve gotten two wins, and it’s winner-take-all. With Mike on the mound, we knew we had a good shot, and we came away with the result.”
Swentkowski hit a two-run homer for Northfield in the third inning. Juan Mejia, the next batter, hit a solo home run to cut the lead to 7-4.
Law and Dave Housel had RBI singles for the Hurricanes in the fourth to up the lead to 9-4. Northfield scored an unearned run in the fifth, and Epifanio hit a solo homer in the seventh to make it 9-6.