The Brunswick Orioles are once again on the threshold of an NABF World Series championship.
To get there, the Orioles knocked off the reigning champion on Saturday.
Brunswick opened single-elimination play in the NABF’s Charles Blackburn Division World Series, at Battle Creek, Michigan, with a 4-3 win over the Lombard (Illinois) Orioles, which are managed by former Baltimore Orioles’ pitcher Tim Stoddard.
Later in the day, Brunswick earned its berth in Sunday’s championship game with a 5-4 win over the Beecher (Illinois) Muskies 5-4. The Orioles face the Berea (Ohio) Blue Sox at noon on Sunday for the tournament championship.
A win would give Brunswick its first NABF World Series title since 2004.
“It feels pretty good right now,” Orioles’ manager Rusty Potts said. “We’re in pretty shape. Hopefully, we can get the job done on Sunday.”
In both games on Saturday, Brunswick used some late-game scoring for the wins.
The Orioles scored their go-ahead run in the eighth on a Lombard error. “We played smallball for the win.” Potts said. “We’d move guys around the bases on bunts. In fact, we played smallball all day. Just take it one base at a time.”
Justin Smith and Matt Jeffery each had two hits for the Orioles in the win over Lombard. Josh Simons was the winning in pitcher in relief. Joey Zuniga was the starter, going six innings with five strikeouts.
The Muskies took a 4-0 lead in the first inning of Saturday’s semifinal-round game, but Brunswick came back with four runs in the fifth. The Orioles went ahead in the fifth when Nick Atkinson stole home as part of a successful double steal.
“Again, we got our smallball play to work for us,” Potts said.
Atkinson, Simons and Bryan Nolan each had two hits for the Orioles. Jacob Wetzel had a two-run double.
Zuniga went back to the mound as a starter against the Muskies, picking up the win with five strikeouts. Simons got the save.
“Joey was a real workhorse for us on Saturday,” Potts said. “He just gets out there and does the job.”