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New Jersey Jackals defeat Sussex County Miners in Game 4 Thriller to Clinch First Can-Am League Championship

In a thrilling and nail-bitting game 4 of the 2019 Can-Am League Finals, the New Jersey Jackals pulled through, defeating the Sussex County Miners 8-7 to clinch their first Can-Am League championship.

Ladies, gentleman, and baseball fans, the 2019 Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball season has come to an end. The season came to an end on Sept. 14 in game 4 of the 2019 Can-Am League Finals at Skylands Stadium. The New Jersey Jackals defeated the defending champion Sussex County Miners in the game, winning the championship series three games to one to earn the title of 2019 Can-Am League champions.

Sussex County would capture the momentum early, in the bottom of the first inning no less. Breland Almadova lead off the inning with a single, took second on a wild pitch, then advanced to third on a fly ball hit by Jose Brizuela. Mikey Reynolds drove Brizuela in with a single to give the Miners the 1-0 lead.

However, New Jersey got the lead back in the top of the third. Richard Stock got it started with a leadoff walk, then advanced to third on a single by Jason Agreski. After back to back strikeouts to record the first two outs, Santiago Chirino lined a single up the middle to score Stock, tying the game at 1-1. The very next batter, Conrad Gregor, drew a walk to load the bases. Alfredo Marte proceeded to do the exact same thing, lining a single up the middle to score both Agreski and Chirino, giving the Jackals the 3-1 lead.

“I was expecting for something in the zone,” said Chirino. “When we play, we try to get ready early. Try to do something for the team. I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was focused to stay in the middle, and he threw me a changeup around the middle so I just followed the ball and use my hands to the middle.”

Sussex County bounced right back in the bottom half of the inning. After Jackals starter Christian Tessitore struck out the first two batters, he surrendered a single to Brizuela and walked Reynolds. Audy Ciriaco then singled to score Brizuela to make the score 3-2. Reynolds tried to score on the same play, but was thrown out at the plate.

In the top of the fourth inning, New Jersey would blow the game wide open. David Harris lead off the inning with a single, took second on a wild pitch, then scored on a single by Richard Stock. Later on in the inning, Richard Stock scored on a wild pitch. The big blow, however, came off the bat of Conrad Gregor, who crushed a ball to deep right field for a three run home run. Gregor’s first home run of the playoffs gave the Jackals a 8-2 lead.

“Baseball’s a funny game,” said Conrad Gregor. “You can hit it hard and right at people. Our team, one through nine, really came through tonight. And all series it was different guys every night. That’s how it is in the playoffs. It’s not about numbers or what you’ve done in the season. It’s about winning.”

However, despite New Jersey getting a big lead, in no way shape or form did that mean the game was over. Not by a long shot. Sussex County responded right back in the bottom of the fourth inning when Trey Hair hit a leadoff single. Hair then stole second base and scored on a single by C.J. Retherford. Gavin Stupienski hit a one run single later on in the inning to reduce the Jackals lead to 8-4. That would be Christian Tessitore’s last inning as he would leave the game after pitching four innings allowing four earned runs and striking out five.

Matt Dallas came in out of the bullpen to pitch the top of the fifth. However, he wouldn’t last long as he surrendered a leadoff home run to Brizuela, then walked the next batter Reynolds. Jackals manager Brooks Carey proceeded to take out Dallas before he even recorded a single out in the inning. Reece Karalus came in to pitch the rest of the inning.

Unfortunately, Karalus wouldn’t fair much better as he was likely fatigued after pitching so many innings in the playoffs. After getting the first two outs of the inning, Karalus walked Rutherford and surrendered a one run single to Jarred Mederos as the Miners now trailed the Jackals 8-6.

In the bottom of the fifth, Sussex County drew back to back walks to put runners on first and second with no outs. Reynolds laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to move the runners over. The Jackals then intentionally walked Ciriaco to load the bases. After getting Trey Hair to flyout to left field, Karalus hit Retherford with a pitch to score a run. The Jackals now lead the Miners by a score of 8-7. With no more room for error, New Jersey brought in closer Dylan Brammer to try and get the three inning save in the bottom of the seventh.

“It was pretty nuts, but this morning, I kinda got up and I was like ‘Something crazy’s gonna happen.’,” said Dylan Brammer. “And I just thought that, whether it be three or two innings, I thought I was gonna get the ball for multiple innings. So I kinda just prepared myself really the whole day for this moment.”

After pitching a scoreless bottom of the seventh and bottom of the eighth, the New Jersey Jackals would head into the bottom of the ninth inning only needing three more outs to clinch the championship. However, the defending champion Sussex County Miners would not let their inner state rivals take their crown without a fight. Retherford and Mederos lead off the inning with back to back singles to get the Miners going. Culver then flied out to shortstop for the first out. The very next batter, Stupienski, reached first on an infield single. The Miners now had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Breland Almadova came to the plate as Sussex County made one last push to try and force a game 5. After a six pitch at bat, Almadova hit a ground ball to third. Gregor threw home to get the force out to prevent the run for the second out in the inning. Jose Brizuela came to the plate as the Miners last hope to tie or win the game. After fouling off the first pitch, Brizuela hit a high fly ball to right field. Jackals right fielder Demetrius Moorer was right there to make the catch for the final out. The New Jersey Jackals won game 4 by a final score of 8-7, winning the series three games to one, and most of all, winning the 2019 Can-Am League championship.

“First thing that went to my mind was ‘Don’t drop it.’,” said Moorer on recording the final out. “Literally don’t drop it. And once I knew I had a beat on it, I started to celebrate, but I was like ‘You gotta catch the ball first.’ And once I caught it, I don’t know, I couldn’t move. I literally couldn’t move. I’m just so happy.”

“Before the game, I told everyone ‘We need to score nine today.’,” said Richard Stock. “And I was wrong. We needed to score eight. But man. It’s such a good team (referring to the Sussex County Miners). You saw they scored, I don’t know five innings in a row, which is chipping away. They never gave up. Gotta give it to them. They didn’t make it easy for us. Right now, I just kinda feel like we got lucky.”

The New Jersey Jackals 2019 Can-Am League championship is their first in franchise history. Furthermore, it is their first championship since 2004 when they won the Northeast League, and fifth championship in total. The New Jersey Jackals have now won at least one championship in three different independent baseball leagues, the Northeast League, the Northern League, and now the Can-Am League.

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New York & New Jersey Sports Staff Writer, New Jersey Jackals Beat Writer
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