By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Staff Writer
MARGATE — Former Holy Spirit High School infielder Nolan Charlton had all of two home runs during his high school career. He equaled that in the span of about 15 minutes and two at-bats on Thursday night in Game 3 of the Atlantic County Baseball League Championship Series.
Charlton blasted a three-run home run in the bottom of the second inning, then came up later in the inning with the bases loaded and launched a grand slam to deep left-center, giving him seven RBIs in the inning. The power surge was part of a nine-hit, 11-run attack during that second inning as Margate cruised to a 15-4, five-inning win over Northfield, sending the series into next week. Northfield — the defending league champion and No. 2 seed in this year’s playoffs — still hold a two-games-to-one advantage and can close the series out with a victory on Monday night at Birch Grove Park, 7 p.m. Margate likely will go with Mike Adams, who pitched an inning in relief on Thursday, on the hill, where as Northfield can counter with either Anthony Capasso or Brandon Riggs, each of whom have a win in the series and will be on full rest.
Brian Valente picked up the win on the hill for Margate, allowing five hits and three runs while striking out six in four innings.

Nolan Charlton went 3-for-3 with a double, two home runs and seven RBIs in Game 3 of the ACBL Championship Series to help lead Margate to a 15-4 win over Northfield. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)


“It was definitely the best inning of my life,” said Charlton, who also led off the game with a double, walked and scored three runs. “(The second at-bat) I was ready to hit because it was bases loaded with two outs, so I knew he was going to come at me with fastballs. I was just waiting for another one when he threw it. I never hit two home runs in an inning before. I only hit two my whole high school career, so to have two in one inning is pretty crazy.”
“That was big. We were down on ourselves the other day, but we rallied. We knew we had to get back to playing our brand of ball. We’re better than what we showed (in the first two games). We were like, ‘look at the guys around you? We’re a great team. Let’s go out and play like it.’ And we showed that tonight, we hit the ball everywhere, made the plays in the field, pitched — we had all aspects of the game,” added Margate third baseman Monny Strickland, an EHT graduate who went on to have an outstanding career at Rowan University before graduating this spring. “That inning was crazy. (Nolan) just broke out. He told us before the game he loves the playoffs, and he definitely showed out tonight.”
Margate — one of the best teams in league history — came into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed after a dominating regular season, and cruised into the championship series. But Northfield scored a 5-4 win on Monday and beat the Canes 8-5 on Tuesday before Wednesday’s rain forced Game 3 to be played tonight. The if-necessary game is scheduled for Tuesday night at 7 at Margate.

Northfield pinch runner Sam Daggers steals second base in the second inning as Margate’s Dave Housel applies the tag. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)


Northfield jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by Juan Mejia, but Margate answered right back with a three-run homer from Eric Fitzgerald, his third dinger in the last two games. The Cardinals added a run in their half of the second to cut the deficit to 3-2. The bottom of the second began rather innocently with a broken-bat single from Dave Housel and a walk to Jimmy Pasquale, and after a force out at third the Cardinals were one pitch away from getting an inning-ending double play. But then the floodgates opened.
Charlton blasted a three-run homer to left to push the lead to 6-2, Strickland followed with an infield single, Fitzgerald added a bloop single to right and Chris Knott and Charlie Law ripped run-scoring hits as the lead reached 8-2. Housel and Alex Hunt added RBI singles to make it 10-2, setting up Charlton’s grand slam that gave the Hurricanes a 14-2 lead and put the game out of reach.
“We were kind of down on ourselves after the first couple of games, but we just kept saying, ‘take it one game at a time,'” Strickland said. “One game at a time, one pitch at a time, one at-bat at a time, and just play our game and good results will come.”
“Monny said before the game that we were playing too tight, that we had to be loose and play ‘Canes baseball,” Charlton added. “That’s what we did today. Now we have a couple days to rest up, we have Mike Adams ready, so we’re ready to go.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays