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MINERS WALK OFF QUEBEC

SUSSEX COUNTY LEAD CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES 2-1

September 14, Augusta, NJ – With a flair for the dramatic once again, the Sussex County Miners moved to within one win of their first Can-Am League Championship. Daniel Mateo’s third hit of the game pushed home the winning run as the Miners came up with a come-from-behind 7-6 win over the defending champion Quebec Capitales in front of a raucous crowd on Friday night at Skylands Stadium.

Quebec would strike first in the top of the second inning on a RBI double by Maxx Tissenbaum and a run scoring single by Brad Antchak. But the Miners would strike back in their half of the third when, with the bases loaded, Audy Ciriaco hit a bases clearing double to give the Miners a 3-2 lead. Ciriaco now has nine RBIs in the playoffs for the Miners, second on the team behind Mateo who would knock Ciriaco home with an RBI single in the very next at bat and give the Miners a 4-2 lead through four innings.

However, Quebec would answer with a big inning of their own in the fifth. Yordan Manduley would reach via error and TJ White would double, setting the stage for Kalian Sams. The Capitales slugger would launch a three-run home run – his fifth of the playoffs – to give the Capitales a 5-4 lead. Two batters later, Zach Wilson would drive home James McOwen to give Quebec a 6-4 advantage and chase Jordan Cummings from the game. Michael Wagner would get the final two outs of the fifth as Quebec would take a 6-4 lead into the later stages of the game.

Lazaro Blanco would pitch well for the Capitales, with just the third inning hiccup being a blemish to his overall numbers. But after feeling discomfort in the seventh inning, the Capitales went to the bullpen and Wendall Floranus in the eighth. Mateo would greet him with a solo home run over the wall in right field to cut the Capitales lead to 6-5. It was Mateo’s third longball and team leading 12th RBI in the playoffs. But the Miners were not done. Jayce Ray would reach on a fielding error and score on Christian Correa’s single that tied the game at six.

That all set the stage for the ninth. After Wagner set the Capitales down in order in the top of the ninth, the Miners would take to their bats to end it. With one out and batting against Mike Hepple, Mikey Reynolds worked a walk and advance to second base on a wild pitch. Audy Ciriaco would be intentionally walked and Will Dennis – who had given up a home run to Mateo in Game One of the series – would come on to face Mateo again. With a full count this time, Mateo would loop a broken bat single into left field, scoring Reynolds and sending the Skylands Stadium crowd into a frenzy.

Wagner got the win out of the bullpen for the Miners tonight, while Hepple was credited with the loss. The win now moves the Miners one game away from their first championship in franchise history. Game Four of the Best-of-Five Can-Am League Championship Series will be Saturday night at Skylands Stadium, with a 6:05 pm first pitch scheduled.

Article: Bret Leuthner
Photo: Dennis Mark