MARGATE — The Margate Hurricanes pulled it off.
After dropping the first two games of the best-of-five Atlantic County Baseball League finals to Northfield, Margate clawed its way back into the series and then beat the Cardinals 17-13 in Game 5 at Jerome Avenue Park to clinch the championship Tuesday night.
With the game tied at 8-all in the bottom of the fifth inning, Margate scored five runs to take a 13-8 lead. Third baseman Monny Strickland hit a two-run homer in the inning.
In the sixth, Strickland delivered again with a three-run blast to make it 16-8.
In his previous at-bats, Strickland made contact on a lot of foul balls. He knew one of them was bound to go long and stay fair.
“After my second at-bat, I told the guys, ‘I’m locked in,’” said Strickland, a 2018 Rowan University graduate.
“I was just telling myself, ‘Just keep sticking with it, keep sticking with it, even if it’s a walk. Maybe that walk sparks something.’”
Hurricanes manager and league president Yogi Hitlner was confident his team could get the job done after it avoided elimination with wins in Games 3 and 4.
“We just knew we just had to grab one (win),” Hiltner said. “We were home (for Game 3), and then the tough game was going to be over there (in Northfield for Game 4).
“It’s pretty tough to beat us in Game 5.”
First baseman Jim Pasquale gave the Hurricanes their first lead of the game with a two-run homer in the second inning that made it 2-1. Right fielder Charlie Law finished the game with three singles and four RBIs and was intentionally walked once.
For Northfield, catcher Jack Loefflad had a solo shot for the game’s first run in the top of the second. He also had a sacrifice fly in the fifth during the Cardinals’ four-run comeback from an 8-4 deficit.
The Cardinals almost had Margate on its heels in the final inning. Trailing 17-8, first baseman Dom Lopez and Loefflad each hit an RBI single, and second baseman Mike DeSenzo blasted a three-run homer to make it 17-13.
Two groundouts and a fly out later, however, and the Hurricanes were on the field celebrating, and the league’s 134th season was over.
According to Northfield coach Joe Bunting, the Cardinals’ injuries were just too tough to overcome.
“An asset that has always been for us is the pitching depth that we had,” Bunting said. “And one of our No. 1s went down with an elbow injury.
“At the end of the day, Margate’s such a great hitting team.”
This ACBL title is Margate’s sixth in 10 years, Hiltner said.
“Twenty-two titles in 44 years is not bad,” he added.