NORTHAMPTON — With two outs, the bases loaded, and a full count, all three Northampton base runners were in motion on the pitch, but they didn’t need to be. Zac Brittain finished off a long at bat with a grand slam over the right field fence.
Brittain’s big fly capped a six-run sixth inning for the Blue Devils (5-1) that powered the 7-2 comeback win over Central (2-5) at home Thursday.
“Zac Brittain has been phenomenal this year,” Northampton coach Mark Baldwin said. “Through six games, he’s been awesome. One of the best at bats, he must have fouled six pitches off, then he left one up and he gave it a ride.”
Brittain worked the count to 3-2 by spraying foul balls to all sides of the field before he got a high fastball that he could handle for the game-clinching grand slam.
“It's the thing you always think of as a kid. Just kind of kept battling until I got the right one,” Brittain said.
Before Brittain’s grand slam broke the game open, Beau Garbarini knocked a two-out single into right field that drove in Joe Pion, who had doubled down the left field line earlier in the inning, tying the game at 2.
“That was huge. That really kind of set the stage,” Baldwin said. “If we don’t score there, we probably don’t win, but when he ties that up it’s looking pretty good, so that’s big.”
Back-to-back walks followed Garbarini’s hit, putting Northampton ahead 3-2 before Brittain dramatically added four insurance runs.
Now with a five-run lead, pitcher Andy Grygorcewicz threw his third one-two-three inning of the game in the top of the seventh to seal the victory.
Grygorcewicz shut down the Central batters other than a pair of solo home runs, one in the third and one in the fifth.
“I think that's probably Andy’s best game in three years,” Baldwin said. “He worked really hard tightening up his curve ball during the week, kind of his stride and mechanics, he was opening up a little bit, and he fixed all of that so his pitches were crisp. He just left two outside fastballs up, and they went with it. That’s ok, solo homers aren’t going to kill you.”
Grygorcewicz struck out seven batters over seven innings of work for Northampton, allowing four hits, a walk and hitting one batter.
“My curve ball was really working, I was spotting the ball really well, and my defense behind me was pretty good,” Grygorcewicz said.
Brittain complimented his teammate's performance on the mound.
“Andy pitched terrific. Only had a couple hits and the ones he did were kind of unfortunate, but he pitched a hell of a game,” Brittain said.
Northampton center fielder Will O'Connor had a chance to rob first home run but couldn't haul it in, as he fell over the temporary outfield fence.
O'Connor made a diving attempt over the fence for the second homer, but the ball was hit too far for the senior to make a play.
Before Northampton took the lead in the bottom of the sixth, Grygorcewicz worked out of a jam, inducing a pop up to second base and striking out a batter to escape a one-out, runners on second and third situation.
“We're really confident, we don't lack confidence, so they don't get rattled by stuff like that,” Baldwin said.