BERWICK — Milton took early leads in both games of the North Branch League championship series against Berwick on Saturday.
Berwick rallied in both games to doom the Pirates, and capture the adult baseball league championship in a sweep.
Berwick claimed the first game 5-4 in eight innings after Milton took a 4-0 lead. The second game saw Milton lose a three-run advantage in the bottom of the first to eventually fall 4-3.
“It’s rough,” Milton manager Tim Walter said. “We did have a lead, and we were hitting the ball well, but you can’t blame this on pitching. We just stopped hitting. We put up four runs in the two innings of the first game, and then we didn’t score.”
Jared Bender, Alex Garcia and Vinnie Bender all drew walks in the top of the first inning of the opening game. Jared Bender scored on a passed ball, and Noah Showers knocked in Garcia with a single to right field.
Walks highlighted the second inning as Nate Martz continued to struggle with control. He issued free passes to three more batters before a single from Bryan Smith and a fielding error at third gave Milton two more runs.
“Game 1 of any series no matter what sport you play is super important,” Walter said. “We let that first game slip away and these guys knew it. They knew we needed it.”
Berwick rallied to tie the game with two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the sixth. Berwick drew a pair of walks to open the bottom of the eighth inning.
Bryan Smith faced all but one batter in the opening game for Milton before Walter pulled him in the eighth inning. Jared Bender entered, but the two walks proved costly as Jason Warner hit a ball into center field for a game-winning single. He went on to hit a double and two singles in the second game to finish with all three of Berwick’s hits in the night cap.
“Jason Warner is the oldest veteran on this team,” Berwick manager Bill Saxton said. “He started on this team when my grandfather coached. He’s been telling me for five years he’s retiring, and I won’t let him. This is why I won’t let him.”
Berwick fell behind in the second game when Jared Bender again opened with a walk. Showers followed with a single and Vinnie Bender cleared the bases with a home run over the left-field fence.
Berwick wasn’t down long as it used two walks and a double to tie the game in the bottom of the first inning. Berwick scored the series-winning run in the bottom of the fifth.
“All season we’ve learned to play from behind,” Saxton said. “All season we’ve come out a little shaky, and then we’ve come back and put it together. Every at-bat nobody has hung their head, and nobody has ever got down. We’ve had good pitching. Everybody was backing each other up, and I never had a doubt in my mind we could come from behind. Never.”
BERWICK 5, MILTON 4 (8 inn.)
Milton`220`000`00 — 4-4-2
Berwick`000`211`01 — 5-6-1
Bryan Smith, Jared Bender (8), and Maverick Kramer. Nate Martz and Jack Rarig.
WP: Martz. LP: Smith.
Milton: Vinnie Bender 1-for-3, double.
Berwick: Matt Mathers 1-for-3, triple, 2 runs; Austin Horsefield 1-for-3, double, run.
BERWICK 4, MILTON 3
Milton`300`000`0 — 3-5-1
Berwick`300`010`x — 4-3-0
Tony Manzano and Maverick Kramer. Jimmy Mullen, Mitch Sokolowski (5), and Nick Malatesta.
WP: Sokolowski. LP: Manzano.
Milton: Vinnie Bender 1-for-3, home run (1st, one on), run, 2 RBI.
Berwick: Jason Warner 3-for-3, double, run, RBI.