NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – After the conclusion of Game 1 of the 2017 New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) Championship Series was delayed nearly 24 hours due to rain last night, the Valley Blue Sox added late insurance to make their early lead hold and take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series before defeating the Ocean State Waves, 6-3, in Game 2 to sweep the best-of-three series and earn the franchise its first title since its inception.
The pair of victories on Tuesday wrapped up a perfect 5-0 postseason for the Blue Sox, which concluded the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the Northern Division and had to first play a winner-take-all Wildcard Round game to even get to the Divisional Finals. But the Blue Sox, which originally called Concord, New Hampshire, home for the first seven seasons of their existence (2001-07), would break through this August after a pair of one-run victories over Upper Valley in the North Championship Series.
That would set up the dramatic meeting with the team ranked No. 1 in Collegiate Summer Baseball most of this summer in Ocean State, but the Blue Sox were undaunted, erasing an early one-run deficit yesterday at Old Mountain Field en route to taking an eventual four-run lead (5-1) after three and a half innings.
The Waves got to within two runs in the home half of the fourth, but that was the closest they got. The visitors restored their three-run lead in the top of the fifth before mother nature forced a suspension of the game in the later part of the contest. The game was eventually resumed on Tuesday in Holyoke, where the “host” Blue Sox, playing as the away team still, added three more insurance scores in the top of the ninth to wrap up a six-run victory (9-3) in Game 1.
Knowing a win would either give Valley the title or push the series to three games and back to Rhode Island tomorrow night, Ocean State was quick to strike first in the top of the second in Game 2, securing a run on a wild pitch.
However, the hero of Game 2 and one of Valley’s most popular faces this summer – Niko Hulsizer (Morehead State) – singled in the bottom of the second and eventually scored to tie things up at 1-1 after two frames.
Ocean State edged back in front in the top of the fourth – again on a wild pitch – but Michael Wroth (AIC), who plays his college ball for nearby American International college, homered in front of his hometown fans to tie the game once again at 2-2 heading to the fifth.
But it was Hulsizer who would again come through in the clutch for Valley, knocking in two runs with a base hit in the bottom of the fifth to give the Blue Sox all the runs they would need for the remainder of the contest.
Ahead by two, Valley’s pitching allowed only one run the rest of the way, while righty Dazon Cole (Central Michigan) went almost three full innings without a run allowed and three strikeouts to secure the save and preserve the lead that would give the Valley franchise its first Fay Vincent Sr. Cup.
Hulsizer, Wroth and outfielder Mark Grunberg (Towson) each had multiple hits and drove in two runs apiece in Game 2, while the Valley pitching staff limited Ocean State to only five total hits.