Pit Spitters Are Northwoods League Champions on Walk-Off
Traverse City, MI – The Traverse City Pit Spitters added the cherry on top of their record setting first season in the Northwoods League by walking off winners Friday, taking the Northwoods League championship over the Eau Claire Express 3-2. The win came in front of over 4,600 fans and took season attendance at Pit Spitters Park to over 70,000.
From the first inning, it was an uphill battle for the Pit Spitters. They fell behind 2-0 in the first inning, as the Express plated two runs off Chad Patrick (SO Purdue Northwest) on a Sam Kohnle two RBI single. Despite constant pressure, the Pit Spitters struggled to find a breakthrough in the early innings. They put the leadoff man aboard in each of the first three innings and left seven runners on base through the first five frames.
In the fifth inning, the Pit Spitters would load the bases on a pair of walks and an error by Express pitcher Nick Alvarado before Andrew Morrow (JR Michigan State) drove in the first run of the ballgame for the home side, plating Riley Bertram (FR Michigan).
While the offense was looking for its footing, Kevin Hahn (SR CSU- Stanislaus) was dealing. The Pit Spitters relief ace came out of the bullpen to post six consecutive scoreless innings. He worked out of three jams of two runners or more aboard, allowing six hits and two walks, while striking out six.
Trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the bottom third of the Traverse City lineup came up huge. Nick Powell (SO Ball State) led off the inning with a walk and was moved to second on walk to Adam Proctor (SO Michigan State). Riley Bertram than reached on a bunt single, and a throwing error allowed all three runners to advance, bring home Powell for the tying run. After a walk to Hudson Byorick (JR Wofford) to load the bases, Express pitcher Brandon Dieter was able to retire Mario Camilletti (SO Oakland) and Michael Slaten (JR Benedictine) without allowing the winning run to score.
With the bases loaded and two outs, the Pit Spitters leading run producer on the season, Andrew Morrow stepped to the plate. He worked the count 1-1 before hitting a sharp ground ball to third. It was fielded cleanly by third basemen David LaManna, but his throw was off the mark and the error allowed Proctor to come home as the winning run. Kevin Hahn earned the victory in the championship game.
The Northwoods League Championship trophy comes to the Cherry Capital after a truly remarkable season that saw the Pit Spitters sweep the Great Lakes East subdivision, taking the first half, second half, overall, and playoff titles. They tied the league record for most wins in a season and set records for the longest win streak and most shutout victories in a campaign.