AAABA Playoffs Underway

League Playoffs Underway

Updates from 7 franchises

The 71st annual AAABA national tournament begins in just a few weeks and the local leagues have begun their playoffs to determine franchise representatives.

Altoona

Wise Trailer Sales and Johnston Realty both finished the regular season at 19-4, but Wise Trailers won the top seed by having beaten Johnston Realty in 3 of their 5 meetings. Therefore, the semi-final three-game series will place the Wises against the Railbirds while Johnston Realty will play Barton's Plumbing. The Wise/Railbirds first game is at 1pm today, followed by Johnston/Bartons at 4pm. All games will be played at the Juniata Field.

The playoff winner will advance to Johnstown. Wise Trailers Sales is the defending champion and won 3 games in Johnstown last year. Johnston Realty represented Altoona in the national tournament from 2002 through 2010 and again in 2013, compiling a record of 10-20 and a 4th place finish in 2008.

The previously-scheduled Altoona Regional has been cancelled due to the withdrawal of the Schenectady franchise.

Brooklyn

With the Cougars not competing this year, the Brooklyn championship has been down to the Youth Service League and the Bonnie Rams. So far in the 9-game series, the Bonnie Rams lead with 4 wins to 3. Currently, Youth Service is out of town competing at the AABC North Atlantic Regional. The AAABA schedule will depend on how well Youth Service performs at the AABC, so the deciding games will be played either Sunday or Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. The winning team will advance directly to Johnstown for the national tournament.

Buffalo

Defending champions Royal Printing won the Buffalo regular season title with a 10-1 record and 3.5-game lead over second place Ken-Hy Auto. The Printers opened the playoffs with a two-game sweep of Barrows, winning by scores of 3-2 and 4-0. Per the Buffalo website, winning pitchers Ken Johnson and Cam Voss both threw 8 strike outs. Dan Dallas drove in the winning run in the first game.

Meanwhile, Ken-Hy Auto also swept their semi-final series over Full Circuit Power. Mark McKenna hit a 2-run walk-off home-run in the first win, and Nick Pullo pitched a complete game in the second win.

Royal Printing and Ken-Hy Auto will now square off in a 3-game series for the right to advance to Johnstown. The games will be played on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (if necessary) at the McCarthy field in Buffalo.

Last year, Royal Printing lost both games in Johnstown. They played well but faced two strong opponents in New Orleans (6-5 loss) and New Brunswick (9-5 loss). The 1977 Royal Printing team won their league but lost in the Zanesville Regional. The 2000 team finished 3-2 in Johnstown. Ken-Hy Auto made their first and only Johnstown appearance in 2009, winning one game against Lansing. The 2011 club lost in the Zanesville Regional.

Columbus & Zanesville

The Ohio Independent Collegiate Baseball Association (OICBA) grew to 9 teams this year, split between the Columbus Collegiate League (CCL) and the Central Ohio Collegiate League (COCL). The Columbus Jets won the CCL title with an 11-6-1 record while the Zanesville Junior Pioneers won the COCL with a perfect 16-0 record. The two teams met in the league championship this past week. Columbus broke Zanesville's perfect record with an 8-5 victory in Game 1. The Pioneers evened the series with a 3-2 win in Game 2. In the final game on Friday night, the Columbus Jets claimed the league championship with a 12-4 at Dublin Coffman Field in northwest Columbus.

The Columbus Jets will return to Johnstown for the second consecutive year. Last year's club finished 1-2. Their win came against Zanesville.

TThe Zanesville Junior Pioneers are having one of their best seasons ever under 2nd-year head coach Dave Balo. Prior to the Columbus series, the Juniors built a 27-game winning streak against both collegiate and adult teams. The Pioneers have attended the past 13 national tournaments but this year, they must advance past Cleveland in the Zanesville Regional to qualify. The regional begins on August 1st with a noon doubleheader at Gant Municipal Stadium in Zanesville. A third game is scheduled for Sunday August 2nd if needed.

Johnstown

Martella's Pharmacy and Laurel Auto both opened their semi-final playoff series with a mercy-ruled victory. Regular-season champions Martella's Pharmacy won 14-4 over Ophthalmic Associates. From the Pharmacists' website, Martella's had 19 hits including a two-run homer-run from Luke Williams. Ian Helsel was 3-6 with 3 RBIs. Stone Rice recorded the win. The two teams continue this series tonight at 8pm and Sunday at 5pm, both games at Point Stadium.

Laurel Auto competed in the national tournament last year as the Flood City (Johnstown runner-up) entry, which included a wild 18-15 victory over New York City. The Laurels were close to winning the league this year, but finished 2 games behind Martella's. In the final game of the season, Martella's beat Laurel Auto 4-3 with a walk-off hit. Determined to rematch against Martella's in the playoff finals, Laurel routed the Renegades 13-3 in seven innings to win the first game of their semi-final series. Game 2 is today at 5pm and Game 3 is Sunday at 8pm, both games at the Point Stadium.

By winning the regular season, Martella's Pharmacy is guaranteed one of the two Johnstown spots in the tournament. The winner of the four-team playoffs will win the role of host and play in the evening games. If Martella's wins the playoffs, they will take the host role and the playoff runner-up will be entered as the Flood City team.

Livonia

The Michigan Hurricanes will return to Johnstown for Livonia. They are the highest-ranked AAABA-elligible team in the Michigan Collegiate League, placing third with an 18-17 record. The Storm placed fourth at 15-19, A-Green was fifth at 14-19, and Southfield was last at 4-27-1. The Michigan Rams were inelligible for AAABA competition this year due to the use of over-aged players and will compete in the NABF tournament having won the Livonia League with a 25-8-1 record with one game remaining.

New Brunswick

The Matrix will face off against New York in a three-game series to advance to Johnstown next weekend. First, however, the Matrix will be playing in the ABCCL playoffs. The Matrix are ranked 6th and will play a doubleheader against 3rd-place Medford Starz today at 11:00am. A third game will be played Sunday if necessary. The Matrix finished the regular season at 12-14-1 in the 10-team league.

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