Players enjoying the banquet at Saint Francis

Johnstown will face Columbus in opener

Plus historical stas on all the match-ups

By Brian Varmecky

The opening round pairings for the 71st annual All American Amateur Baseball Association national tournament were drawn Sunday night at Saint Francis hall in the West End. Tournament host Johnstown Martella's Pharmacy drew the Columbus Jets for opening night. The game will begin at 7:30pm at the Point Stadium, preceded by an hour of opening ceremonies, including the Player Parade. A full schedule is now available on our site and we will also be updating the game day page with live scores, as available.

The Boston franchise is scheduled to play their inaugural AAABA contest Monday at noon against Chicago-South Shore in Portage. However, bus problems prevents the Astros from arriving in town on time. They were not present for either morning registration or the evening banquet, but are still expected to arrive for the tournament.

Defending champions Chicago-Metro will pick up right where they left off, as they begin their title defense against last year's runners-up from Philadelphia. The two teams will christen the brand new Iron Horse Sports Complex, which will be hosting AAABA games for the first time this year.

The fields to be used this year are the Point Stadium, Roxbury Park, Fichtner Field (Middle School), Westmont, Lilly, Portage, and the Iron Horse Sports Complex in Windber.

Johnstown vs Columbus

This is the second time Johnstown has hosted Columbus for the tournament opener. The only other time was in 2003 when Johnstown's Delweld beat the Columbus Hawks 8-2. Tony Perz was the manager for Columbus that year, too.

The two franchises have met a total of five times and Johnstown has won all five: 1987 (10-4), 2003 (8-2), 2005 (11-1), 2007 (13-6), and 2014 (10-4).

Columbus manager Tony Perz will start either Ben Hamilton or Jacob Chrysler, both right-handers. He considered them both to be "number 1" pitchers, but wanted to talk with them before making his decision. Johnstown Martella's Pharmacy will throw Pitt-Johnstown's Stone Rice. Both Perz and Knupp cited their team's cohesiveness as being a strength.

Flood City vs New Orleans

The Flood City entry has only played New Orleans once, when the Boosters eliminated Martella's Pharmacy with a 3-2 walk-off in 2010. Including that game, New Orleans is 13-2 against Johnstown teams all-time.

Flood City manager Mark Thomchick has preached offensive aggressiveness to this team all season and expects them to continue with that approach against New Orleans. He said that his defense has been "crisp" and the pitchers have "attacked hitters" so it sounds like the Laurel Auto Group will come out swinging. They will start Pitt-Johnstown's Tyler Tubbs on the mound.

For New Orleans, first-year manager Joe Teuton is bringing a new energy to the team, but also wants to recapture the grand tradition of the New Orleans franchise. His team is excited to be able to begin their tournament at the Point Stadium and he does not expect that they will need any motivation. The Dixielanders will start lefty Brooks Vial, a Delgado CC sophomore. Vial pitched in 2014 against Chicago-Metro, allowing 6 runs and 7 hits in 4 innings. He pitched against Baltimore in 2013 in relief, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits in 2-1/3.

New Brunswick vs Cleveland

New Brunswick and Cleveland have a surprisingly full history against one another. The teams met in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, and 1992 as Edison Boys Baseball and Mill-Rose, respectively. They also squared off three times in the 2012 tournament when New Brunswick beat Cleveland for the championship, as well as a rematch in 2013, represented by the New Brunswick Matrix and Chardon Blizzard.

Cleveland won the first bout 9-2 at Vo-Tech, but New Brunswick took the next four in convincing fashion: 12-5 at Roxbury, 19-1, 10-6, and 6-0. The Chardon Blizzard won their first game against New Brunswick 9-6 at the Point Stadium in 2012 to become the last undefeated team in the tournament, but then dropped the two final games to eventual-champion New Brunswick 4-1 and 5-2. The Blizzard got some revenge the following year when they eliminated the Matrix from the tournament 8-5 at Point Stadium.

Glenn Fredericks and the New Brunswick Matrix are back this year, but Cleveland is now represented by Joe Borkey and the Cleveland Blaze.

Baltimore vs Altoona

Altoona's only win over Baltimore came in 1965 when Ernie Columbia's team beat Leone's Cafe. Baltimore has since won four contests against Altoona in 1966 (11-0), 1987 (13-8), 1992 (13-1), and 2006 (4-2). All of those games were played at Roxbury except the 1992 tilt in Nanty Glo. Lilly is Altoona's de facto home field and they have played at least one game at the field in 22 of their past 25 tournaments.

Baltimore won the first game played at Lilly in 1989 when they beat Buffalo 11-7. They have played there 14 times and are 10-4, with their most recent trip in 2012 resulting in a 12-7 loss to Livonia. They also played the second Altoona team at Lilly in 2011 and beat them 10-0 in 7 innings.

Chicago-Metropolitan vs Philadelphia

Chicago-Metro and Philadelphia didn't have a history until last year. The Des Plaines Patriots from Chicago beat Philadelphia twice (6-5 and 5-4) on their way to the national championship. This will be the third meeting between the two franchises, but the first ever AAABA contest at the new Iron Horse Sports Complex in Windber. Reviews have all been positive about the new facility and its turf field.

This will be the first AAABA game in Windber since 1989, when New Brunswick beat Cleveland 19-1 in seven innings. Cleveland also lost to Chicago-Metro in Windber during the same tournament.

Brooklyn vs Buffalo

BBuffalo beat Brooklyn in their first two meetings, taking the 1955 contest 6-4 at Price Memorial Field and the 1965 contest 12-0 and Engh. Since then, it's been all Brooklyn, who have formed a 5-game winning streak, winning in 1978, 1990, 2005, 2008, and 2009. Brooklyn has scored at least 8 runs in each of those contests. Current Brooklyn manager Jerry Katzke managed the 2009 Bonnie Rams team that finished in third place with a 4-2 record.

Although the teams have met twice in Westmont, Monday's contest will be their first at the Westmont High School. Buffalo has played at Westmont both years that it has been used, but this will be Brooklyn's first trip to the field./p>

Boston vs Chicago-South Shore

Boston will be making their AAABA debut against Chicago-South Shore. The Chicago team is carrying the weight of an 18-game losing streak stretching back to their own debut game in 1995. Their only win came against Baltimore's Corrigan Insurance at Pitt-Johnstown on opening day in 1995. The Satchel Paige All Stars have been to Portage five times--in 2005 (twice), 2006, 2013, and 2014--which is the most of any field.

Youngstown vs Livonia

Youngstown and Livonia have not met since 1989, when Livonia won 6-5 at Point Stadium. The Michigan side also won their first meeting in 1981, also at Point Stadium, by a score of 12-5. Youngstown has played at Fichtner Field 4 of the last 5 years and is 1-3, with a win over Schenectady and loses to Altoona, New Orleans, and Cleveland. Livonia's only game at Fichtner was a 12-1 loss to Cleveland in 2012.

Youngstown is still managed by Bob Mingo, but have changed their name from the Ohio Glaciers to the Creekside Crocodiles and are sporting a great new logo. They led their league all season but lost to Canton in the semi-finals. They were also semi-finalists in the recent NABF world series.

Bracket Drawing Results

HHere are how the brackets were drawn, in order. Teams are divided into upper and lower brackets based on their performance in the previous year's tournament. As host, Johnstown is given their choice between the upper and lower bracket, with the Flood City entry taking the opposite bracket.

Upper Bracket
• Altoona = 4
• Baltimore = 3
• Chicago-Metro = 6
• Chicago-South Shore = 2
• Flood City = 7
• New Brunswick = 1
• New Orleans = 8
• Philadelphia = 5

Lower Bracket
• Boston = 5
• Brooklyn = 3
• Buffalo = 4
• Chicago-South Shore = 6
• Columbus = 2
• Johnstown = 1
• Livonia = 7
• Youngstown = 8

Click here to view the tournament bracket.

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