AAABA Opening Night 2015

Johnstown jets past Columbus

Boyer hit three-run triple in second inning

By Brian Varmecky

Johnstown 8 - 1 Columbus

    1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Johnstown   0 4 1   1 0 1   1 0 0   8 11 0
Columbus   0 0 0   1 0 0   0 0 0   1 8 4

Photos

Click here for photos of Monday night's opening ceremonies and the game between Johnstown and Columbus.

Recap

Johnstown's Dillon Boyer hit a two-out bases-clearing triple in the second inning, scoring three runs, and putting the hosts up 4-0. That big hit was preceded by two walks, an error, and a wild pitch from Columbus. The Jets from Ohio never seemed to settle into the game and struggled on the field, while Martella's Pharmacy's Stone Rice was steady on the mound and aided by a strong infield. The 8-1 now pits Johnstown against Buffalo on Tuesday night at 7pm at the Point Stadium. Columbus falls to the losers bracket and will play Brooklyn at Iron Horse at noon in an elimination game.

"Towards the end of the season, Stoney struggled and lost a little bit of confidence in himself," recalled Johnstown manager Paul Knupp. "But we know he's a composed pitcher and we wanted to give him the ball. He had command of all his pitches today, he pitched to contact, and we played defense behind him. I thought it was a great confidence builder for him."

"We played tight," said Columbus manager Tony Perz. "Obviously this environment was a little different than normal, and I think it had a little effect. It shouldn't have, but it did. Obviously giving up multiple unearned runs and multiple errors at very key times was critical." He also commented about his pitchers falling behind in counts, and cited strong pitching and defense as usual strengths for his team.

 
AAABA Ambassadors Johnstown Corvette Club with Ambassadors Players taking a selfie at Point Stadium

Boyer leads offense with big hit in second

Both teams were a bit nervous in the first inning playing in front of the large crowd. Despite the threat of rain, thousands of Johnstowners packed the Point Stadium for the official opener of the 71st annual AAABA national tournament. The first was quick and nearly clean inning, as the only non-out was due to a poor throw to first by Columbus, resulting in an error.

The second inning was much louder, both on and off the field. The veteran Martella's Pharmacy team from Johnstown settled in while the Columbus Jets ran into problems. With one out, an error at second base let Nathan Neiderhiser reach safely. A walk to Danny Wukich and a single from Nemo Trexler loaded the bases. Columbus starter Ben Hamilton threw a wild pitch, which allowed the first run of the game to score. Another walk to Ernesto Rizzitano re-loaded the bases for left-hander Dillon Boyer, who ripped a shot into right-center field. The ball got down and was also misplayed, which allowed a hustling Boyer to reach third while his three teammates safely crossed home plate. The Johnstown fans were ecstatic and those four runs would prove to be enough for the win.

"That was a huge spark," said Knupp. "It broke the game wide open. That's the veteran leadership that this team can bring. You're looking for that one guy to spark the team, and that was our spark tonight."

"I was struggling through the [league] championship series, and it just felt great to finally get a hit," said Boyer.

Strong pitching and defense for Pharmacists

Veteran Johnstown starter Brantley 'Stone' Rice was solid through 5 innings, throwing 3 strike-outs with 1 walk and allowing only 5 hits. Tyler Morder pitched the 6th through 8th innings, striking out 2 with 1 walk, 1 hit, and no runs. Closer Brian Albert struck-out 2 with 1 hit. Both Morder and Albert were pick-up players from Paul's Renegades, a rival team in the Johnstown AAABA League.

"The Renegades boys can throw is a little harder than what some of these guys are used to," said Boyer. "They're a great addition to our team."

Rice hit a rough patch in the third when Brad Burkholder singled up the middle, followed by a single to right from lead-off hitter Aaron Stausbaugh. Rice walked Matt Shannon to load the bases with one out, but secondbaseman Ian Helsel and shortstop Jack Shirk turned a double-play to escape the threat.

"That's the things those guys have been doing all year," said Knupp of his strong middle infielders. "They're confident with themselves, they know where each other is going to be, and they're constantly communicating."

"The [defensive] errors had an effect on the players offensively," said Perz. "They were all trying to make up for that with their at-bats all at one time."

Columbus' Brad Burkholder Johnstown's Jack Shirk Johnstown's Nathan Neiderhiser and coach Pat Gully

Single runs added insurance for Johnstown

Johnstown added single runs in the third, fourth, sixth, and seventh. In the third, Luke Williams led off with a double to the left-field corner and scored on another throwing error from the shortstop. In the fourth, Jeff Sliker came on to pitch for the Jets, but gave up a single to Helsel and walked Boyer. Nate Negri's sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, and Helsel scored on a pass ball. In the sixth, Williams double to the left corner again, this time with one out. Jack Shirk advanced him to third with a ground-out, and Neiderheiser singled him home. Finally, in the seventh, Nemo Trexler reached third on a single and two-base error by the right fielder, who misjudged the ball and let it roll to the wall. The next batter--Ernesto Rizzitano--singled to right field to score Trexler from third.

Columbus' only run came in the fourth. With Rice pitching, Jacob Chrysler doubled off the left-field wall, and moved to third on Tyler Cowles' infield single. A one-out fielder's choice scored Chrysler.

"It's a privilege and an honor to be here [competing on opening night]," said Knupp. "But for me, it's more about the players and the excitement on their faces and the fun that they have. It's the greatest event in Johnstown."

"[Tomorrow, we have to] play at our talent level, because we didn't even come close to playing to our talent level [tonight]," said Perz. "The biggest thing for us is to relax, to play to our talent level and abilities, and if we do that we can continue to play in tournament very easily."


Johnstown Martella's Pharmacy Columbus Jets Justin Childers and Aaron Strausbaugh Columbus Jets

Unofficial Play-by-Play Recap 

JOHNSTOWN:
1 - Brantley Rice; 2 - Danny Wukich; 3 - Luke Williams; 4 - Ian Helsel; 5 - Nate Negri; 6 - Jack Shirk; 7 - Dillon Boyer; 8 - Ernesto Rizzitano; 9 - Nemo Trexler; DH - Nathan Heiderhiser

COLUMBUS:
1 - Ben Hamilton; 2 - Matthew Matheas; 3 - Kasey Brown; 4 - Aaron Strausbaugh; 5 - Matt Shannon; 6 - Justin Childers; 7 - Tyler Cowles; 8 - Brad Burkholder; 9 - Jacob Chrysler; DH - Steven Asbury

1st INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Ben Hamilton
2HelselOUT 1:Pop-out to second base
6BoyerOUT 2: Fly out to left field
1NegriE6: Two base throwing error on short-stop
12WilliamsOUT 3: Fly out to center field
0 R 0 H 1 E 1 LOB = No score
1st INNING - Columbus
Pitcher: Brantley Rice
10StrausbaughOUT 1: Groundout to shortstop
13ShannonOUT 2: Groundout to third base
6ChildersOUT 3: Groundout to third base
0 R 0 H 0 E 0 LOB = No score
2nd INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Ben Hamilton
9Shirk OUT 1: Pop out to second base
5NeiderhiserE5: Fielding error on secondbaseman
23WukichBase on balls
4TrexlerHIT - Single to centerfield 
24RizzitanoWP/1 RUN - Neiderhiser scores on wild pitch
Base on balls 
2HelselOUT 2: Swinging strike-out
Boyer HIT/3 RUNS - Triple to right-center; Wukich scores; Trexler scores; Rizzitano scores
Negri OUT 3: Pop out to second base 
4 R 2 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 4-0
2nd INNING - Columbus
Pitcher: Brantley Rice
19ChryslerHit by pitch
22CowlesOUT 1: Fly out to left field
44AsburyOUT 2: Swinging strike out
26BrownOUT 3: Ground out to shortstop
0 R 0 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 4-0
3rd INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Ben Hamilton
12WilliamsHIT - Double to left field corner
9ShirkOUT 1: Fielder's Choice 1-3 (Williams to third)
5NeiderhiserOUT 2: Fly out to centerfield
23WukichHIT/1 RUN/E6: Single to shortstop; Williams scores; Wukich to second on throwing error
4TrexlerBase on balls
24RizzitanoOUT 3: Swinging strike out
1 R 2 H 0 E 2 LOB = Johnstown lead 5-0
3rd INNING - Columbus
Pitcher: Brantley Rice
16MatheasOUT 1: Ground out to short stop
49BurkholderHIT - Single up the middle
10StrausbaughHIT - Single to right field
13ShannonRunners advanced on passed ball
Base on balls
6ChildersOUTS 2 & 3: Double play, 4-6-3
0 R 2 H 0 E 3 LOB = Johnstown leads 5-0
4th INNING - Johnstown
PITCHING CHANGE: Jacob Chrysler for Ben Hamilton
2HelselHIT - Single up the middle
6BoyerHelsel advanced on passed ball
Base on balls
1NegriOUT 1: Sacrifice bunt, runners advance
12Williams1 RUN - Helsel scores on passed ball
Base on balls
9ShirkOUT 2: Fly out to centerfield 
5NeiderhiserOUT 3: Ground out to second base
1 R 1 H 0 E 2 LOB = Johnstown leads 6-0
4th INNING - Columbus
Pitcher: Brantley Rice
19ChryslerHIT - Double off left field wall
22CowlesHIT - Infield single
44AsburyOUT 1: Called strike out
26BrownOUT 2/1 RUN: Fielder's Choice; Chrysler scores
16MatheasOUT 3: Swinging strike out
1 R 2 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 6-1
5th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Jacob Chrysler
23WukichOUT 1: Fly out to left field
4TrexlerHIT - Infield single
24RizzitanoTrexler steals second
HIT - Chop single up the middle
2HelselOUT 2: Fly out to left field 
6BoyerOUT 3: Ground out to pitcher
0 R 2 H 0 E 2 LOB = Johnstown leads 6-1
5th INNING - Columbus
Pitcher: Brantley Rice
49BurkholderOUT 1: Fly out to center
10StrausbaughHIT - Double off the left field wall
13ShannonOUT 2: Ground out to shortstop
6ChildersOUT 3: Ground out to shortstop
0 R 1 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 6-1
6th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Jacob Chrysler
1NegriOUT 1: Fly out to right field
12WilliamsHIT - Double to left field corner
9ShirkOUT 2: Ground out to second base
5NeiderhiserHIT/1 RUN - Single to right field; Williams scores
23WukichOUT 3: Ground out to third base
0 R 0H 1 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 7-1
6t6h INNING - Columbus
PITCHING CHANGE: Tyler Morder for Brantley Rice
19ChryslerOUT 1: Swinging strike out
22CowlesOUT 2: Fly out to left field
44AsburyHIT - Single to centerfield
26BrownOUT 3: Called strike out
0 R 1 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 7-1
7th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Jacob Chrysler
4TrexlerHIT/E9: Single to right field; two-base error by right fielder
24RizzitanoHIT/1 RUN: Single to right field; Trexler scores
2HelselOUT 1: Pop up to first base
6BoyerOUT 2: Called strike out
1NegriOUT 3: Ground out to second base
1 R 2 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 8-1
7th INNING - Columbus
Pitcher: Tyler Morder
16MatheasBase on balls
49BurkholderOUT 1: Ground out 3-6
10StrausbaughOUT 2: Ground out 5-6
13 ShannonOUT 3: Strausbaugh advances to second on wild pitch; thrown out by Morder at third
0 R 0 H 0 E 0 LOB = Johnstown leads 8-1
8th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Jacob Chrysler
12WilliamsOUT 1: Fly out to short stop
9ShirkOUT 2: Fly out to center field
5NeiderhiserOUT 3: Swinging third strike
0 R 0 H 0 E 0 LOB = Johnstown leads 8-1
8th INNING - Columbus
Pitcher: Tyler Morder
13ShannonOUT 1: Fly out to left field
6ChildersOUT 2: Fly out to right field
19ChryslerOUT 3: Ground out to second base
0 R 0 H 0 E 0 LOB = Johnstown leads 8-1
9th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Jacob Chrysler
OFFENSIVE CHANGE: Bryan Buzi for Danny Wukich
18BuziBase on balls
4TrexlerOUT 1: Swinging strike out
24RizzitanoOUT 2: Fly out to left field
2HelselOUT 3: Pop out to catcher
0 R 0 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 8-1
9th INNING - Columbus
PITCHING CHANGE: Brian Albert for Tyler Morder
DEFENSIVE CHANGE: Bryan Buzi to catcher
22CowlesHIT - Infield single
OFFENSIVE CHANGE: Trent Thompson pinch runs for Tyler Cowles
44AsburyThompson to second on balk
OUT 1: Swinging strike out
26BrownOUT 2: Ground out to short stop
16MatheasOUT 3: Called strike out
0 R 1 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown wins 8-1

Site Information

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