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Aungst, Whitmore lead Giants over Yanks

Daron Whitmore spent his first postseason in the Blue Mountain League sidelined with a shoulder injury as the Northampton Giants won their first league championship in 2014.

On Sunday, he pitched a gem to lead the Giants back to the Blue Mountain League championship series.

Whitmore pitched six stellar innings, allowing just two runs on four hits as Northampton completed the sweep of the Northern Yankees with a 3-2 victory at Northampton High School. The Giants will face the winner of the Limeport Bulls and Orioles in the championship series beginning this week.

“It feels good to get back,” Whitmore said. “It’s been about four years ever since we won our last one. We won one and then haven’t been able to make it back. It’s huge to get a sweep in there, too.

“For me, personally, it’s nice to get there and be able to compete and pitch. I kind of blew out the shoulder a couple years back and had to sit on the sidelines for it.”

Northampton scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning, and it turns out that’s all Whitmore would need to close out the series with a three-game sweep.

After Jake Wandler walked to get the rally started, Pat Kregeloh double to right field to put both runners in scoring position. Two batters later, Nate Kester’s single scored Wandler. Kregeloh scored on the play as well on a Yankee outfield error to make it a 2-0 advantage.

Hugh Harris also singled two batters later to score Kester and put the top-seeded Giants in front early, 3-0. The Yankees wouldn’t lead the rest of the game, and did not hold a lead all series.

“To clinch a series, obviously I’d want the ball for it at any time,” Whitmore said. “Not to put anybody else out, but I feel like I can win a game if we need to. And I like pitching.”

Whitmore was happy that temperatures were hovering in the 90s all afternoon.

“It helped a little with the heat,” Whitmore said. “It was bigger with the heat than it would be in a normal game. Just knowing that they were going to score some runs and there was going to be a little bit of wear and tear with the heat.”

Tyler Schreiner got the Yankees on the board with a solo home run in the top of the third inning. His brother, Trevor Schreiner, singled to bring home the Yankees’ second run in the next inning.

The Yankees got a leadoff single in the fifth inning and place that runner on second base with one out, but could not bring the tying run across home plate.

“There wasn’t a ton of strikeouts, but they don’t strike out much,” Whitmore said. “They put the ball in play. The kid hit a first-pitch changeup out for a homer, and I’m lucky we don’t have to play him again because I can’t seem to get him to not hit the ball hard.”

In a series and postseason stretch that has been dominated by Northampton’s pitching, Justin Aungst pitched the first two games and allowed just one total run to the Yankees. He put the Giants ahead 2-0 in the series with a one-hitter on Saturday.

On Sunday in the close out situation, it was Whitmore’s chance to seal the deal and return to a place he missed out on four years ago. This time he hopes to play a key part in the Giants’ potential championship run.

“Aungst has essentially been untouchable all season,” Whitmore said. “Our one through five batters, I don’t really think any team compares to the guys that we throw out there. And those guys are consistently at games and consistently having good at-bats. It’s huge.”