Altoona Wise Trailer Sales AAABA

Errors abound as Altoona drops Johnstown

Wise Trailers will rematch Boston Sunday afternoon

By Brian Varmecky

  Altoona 7 - 4 Johnstown  Team Logo

    1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Johnstown   0 0 2   0 0 0   0 0 2   4 6 5
Altoona   1 0 0   0 1 0   2 3 X   7 8 3

The two Western Pennsylvania teams from Johnstown and Altoona played a sloppy and often confusing elimination game at the Point Stadium on Saturday night in front of a large crowd of local supporters. The two teams combined for 9 walks, 3 pass balls, 2 wild pitches, a steal of home base, a rundown, a double play, 7 batsmen hit by pitches, and ended with Johnstown sending the wrong player to bat. Through it all, Altoona reliever Trentin Martin did his part to keep the struggling Johnstown offense at bay, while the Rail City offense took advantage of Johnstown miscues late in the game to build a comfortable lead.

The loss eliminates Johnstown from the tournament at 3-2. Altoona moves on to a rematch against Boston on Sunday at 1pm. The winner of that game will play New Orleans at 4pm at Point Stadium for the 2015 AAABA national championship.

"We're excited for it and we're thankful for the opportunity," said Altoona manager Rick Westover of their upcoming games. "We need to focus. Boston is very aggressive and they made some plays against us. I think we left the bases loaded a couple times against them and they had clutch hits. We need to have better approaches at the plate and we need to control their running game."

Johnstown starter Noah Smith Altoona secondbaseman
Dylan Kerstetter
Altoona reliever Trentin Martin

Errors on both sides lead to first runs

Altoona scored in the bottom of the first. A lead-off walk, single from Brett Hileman, and Cy Treaster being hit by a pitch loaded the bases with one out. Eric Grace lined out to second base, but the double-up throw to first was wild which allowed Ethan Lewis to score from third.

Johnstown tied the game in the third in an unusual manner. Ernesto Rizzitano reached on a single and Ian Helsel walked, so Dillon Boyer came to bat intending to advance the runners with a bunt. His bunt was a good one and he reached safely. In the confusion of the play, however, the Altoona side did not call 'time' and an alert Rizzitano stole home while the Rail City side was mingling in the infield. Johnstown took the lead later in the inning courtesy a fielder's choice on Luke Williams' ground out, which scored Helsel.

Martin steadies ship until Altoona offense comes around

Rick Westover, the Altoona manager, pulled starter Zach Skirtich for game-one starter Trentin Martin after Johnstown had taken the lead. Although Martin walked the first batsman he saw and loaded the bases, he quickly settled down and retired 7 of the next 8 batters he faced and allowed only 1 hit from the 3rd inning until the 8th.

"We like Zach Skirtich a lot, but today he was just missing a little bit," said Westover. "Trent came in and I think he got better as the game went on. I could see him start to believe in himself, so I hope that was a big step for him in his development moving forward."

"It was really my first time in front of a big crowd, but I enjoyed playing in front of it. It kind of got me going, too," said Altoona's Martin. "My fastball command was on today. I was hitting my spots and making them pop up or get ground balls and I knew that we could field them."

"He came in and really kept our bats down," said Johnstown manager Paul Knupp. "I thought maybe we could get to him, but through the whole week, we didn't hit the way we should have." Johnstown stranded 12 runners in this game and 43 total in their 5 games. The Pharmacists scored 24 runs in 5 games for an average of 4.8 runs/game. This is only the fifth time that Johnstown has averaged fewer than 5-runs-per-game since 1980 and the second-lowest average of all the Martella's Pharmacy tournament teams.

Wise Trailer Sales tied the game in the fifth as Jake Stern hit the ball off the left field wall to score Ethan Lewis, who had been hit by a pitch. In the seventh, Hileman ripped the ball down the thirdbase line which the third baseman failed to field, allowing Stern to score. After a passed ball moved Hileman to third, he scored on Cy Treaster's singled to centerfield.

Johnstown Martella's Pharmacy Altoona Wise Trailer Sales Altoona fielding against Johnstown

Eighth inning brings base runners

In the eighth inning, both teams had their chance to score runs, but only Altoona was successful. With two outs, Negri singled to center and Wukich reached on an error. When Trexler was hit with a pitch, it loaded the bases, but Martin struck out Rizzitano to leave them loaded.

In the bottom of the inning, back-to-back singles from Servello and Sleigh chased Martella's reliever Justin Vardian for Tyler Morder. The first batter he faced was Dylan Kerstetter, who reached first safely on a well-placed bunt to third base. Servello scored on a wild pitch.

Morder struck out the next two and looked poised to escape the jam with minimal damage, but another wild pitch let Sleigh score from third. When the Johnstown catcher tried to play the ball back to Morder, who was covering home, it flew past him up the third base line. An alert Kerstetter took advantage of the mis-throw and raced home for the second run on the play. When the dust settled, Altoona was leading 7-2.

"We tried to put a little pressure on them and play for one run, but we were fortunate to get three in the inning, so that definitely let's you take a little bit of a breath," said Westover.

Johnstown's last stand

Down to their final at bats, Johnstown's representative Martella's Pharmacy did not go out quietly. Boyer walked with one out, and Williams singled to left with two outs. Shirk hit the ball up the middle which the secondbaseman missed, allowing it to roll into centerfield and score Boyer. Negri followed with a clean hit up the middle to score Williams. Even though there were two outs, the local Johnstown fans remained hopeful and serenaded the Pharmacists with chants and clapping as they tried to rally at the last minute.

The next batter was supposed to be Brian Albert, who was a defensive substitution in the 8th inning. However, catcher Bryan Buzi--who was also a defensive substitution in the 8th innings--came to bat instead. He worked the count to 2-2 before the Johnstown bench realized their mistake and sent Albert out to bat. According to the rule book, since the batting team notice the mistake before the fielding team, the batter was not automatically out. As a result, Albert came out to face a 2-2 count, but went down swinging at the first and only pitch he faced.

"We have a great sponsor and we've got good fans, and I like to believe that we do things the right way and that people respect how hard my kids play," said Westover. While the crowd at the game was mostly Johnstown fans, there was a large contingent of Altoona supporters in attendance, as well.

"The fan support is outstanding every year," said Johnstown's Knupp of the local fans. "At some point we're going to make a serious run at this. I just wish we could put on a better show for the fans and win this for Johnstown; not just for Martella's--we want to win this tournament for the city."

Altoona manager Rick Westover (left) Altoona celebrates a run scored Altoona Wise Trailer Sales

Unofficial Play-by-Play Recap 

1 - Noah Smith; 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 Neiderhiser

1 - Zach Skirtich; 2 - Brett Hileman; 3 - Justin Sleigh; 4 - Dylan Kerstetter; 5 - Ethan Lewis; 6 - Jake Stern; 7 - Cy Treaster; 8 - Adam Polites; 9 - John Servello; DH - Eric Grace

1st INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Zach Skirtich
2HelselOUT 1 - Fly out to right
6BoyerOUT 2 - Line out to center
1NegriBase on balls
12WilliamsOUT 3 - Ground out 5-4
0 R 0 H 0 E 1 LOB = no score
1st INNING - Altoona
Pitcher: Noah Smith
13LewisBase on balls
12SternOUT 1 - Fly out to left
7HilemanHIT - Single to right-field; Lewis to third
24TreasterHit by pitch
31GraceOUT/E5/1-RUN - Line out to second; throwing error by secondbaseman; Lewis scores
19A. PolitiesOUT 3 - Fly out to center
1 R 1 H 1 E 2 LOB = Altoona leads 1-0
2nd INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Zach Skirtich
9ShirkBase on balls
5NeiderhiserShirk steals second base
OUT 1 - Swinging strike out
23WukichHit by pitch
4TrexlerOUTS 2 & 3 - Double play 1-6-3
0 R 0 H 0 E 1 LOB = Altoona leads 1-0
2nd INNING - Altoona
Pitcher: Noah Smith
14ServelloHIT - Single up the middle
27SleighOUT 1 - Fly out to center
16KerstetterOUT 2 - Fly out to center
13LewisServello steals second
OUT 3 - Ground out 5-3
0 R 1 H 0 E 1 LOB = Altoona leads 1-0
3rd INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Zach Skirtich
24RizzitanoHIT - Single to center
2HelselRizzitano to second on passed ball
Base on balls
6BoyerHIT/1-RUN - Bunt single; Rizzitano steals home
1NegriOUT 1 - Fielder's choice, tag on Boyer
12WilliamsOUT 2/1-RUN - Negri steals second
Fielder's choice 6-3; Helsel scores
9ShirkBase on balls
PITCHING CHANGE: Trentin Martin for Zach Skirtich
5NeiderhiserBase on balls
23WukichOUT 3 - Ground out 1-3
2 R 2 H 0 E 3 LOB = Johnstown leads 2-1
3rd INNING - Altoona
Pitcher: Noah Smith
12SternHIT - Single to left
7HilemanOUT 1 - Swinging strike out
24TreasterStern steals second
OUT 2 - Fly out to left
31GraceOUT 3 - Line out to second
0 R 1 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 2-1
4th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Trentin Martin
4TrexlerOUT 1 - Fly out to right
24RizzitanoHIT - Single to left
2HelselOUT 2 - Rizzitano caught stealing by Hileman
OUT 3 - Ground out 6-3
0 R 1 H 0 E 0 LOB = Johnstown leads 2-1
4th INNING - Altoona
Pitcher: Noah Smith
19A. PolitiesOUT 1 - Swinging strike out
14ServelloBase on balls
27SleighOUT 2 - Fielder's choice ground out 5-3
16KerstetterOUT 3 - Called strike out
0 R 0 H 0 E 1 LOB = Johnstown leads 2-1
5th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Trentin Martin
6BoyerOUT 1 - Ground out 6-3
1NegriOUT 2 - Ground out 4-3
12WilliamsOUT 3 - Fly out to center
0 R 0 H 0 E 0 LOB = Johnstown leads 2-1
5th INNING - Altoona
Pitcher: Noah Smith
13LewisHit by pitch
12SternLewis steals second
HIT/1-RUN - Double off left field wall; Lewis scores
7HilemanOUT 1 - Fly out to center
PITCHING CHANGE: Justin Vardian for Noah Smith
24TreasterOUT 2 - Ground out run down 1-5-6
31GraceOUT 3 - Swinging strike out
1 R 1 H 0 E 1 LOB = tied at 2
6th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Trentin Martin
9ShirkOUT 1 - Ground out 5-3
5NeiderhiserE1 - Pitcher ran to cover first but missed the bag
23WukichHit by pitch
4TrexlerOUTS 2 & 3 - Double play 5-3
0 R 0 H 1 E 1 LOB = tied at 2
6th INNING - Altoona
Pitcher: Justin Vardian
19A. PolitiesOUT 1 - Swinging strike out
14ServelloOUT 2 - Ground out to first
27SleighE6 - Shortstop threw the ball too high
16KerstetterSleigh advances to second on passed ball
OUT 3 - Ground out 4-3
0 R 0 H 0 E 1 LOB = tied at 2
7th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Trentin Martin
24RizzitanoOUT 1 - Pop up to second
2HelselHit by pitch
6BoyerOUT 2 -Fly out to center
1NegriOUT 3 - Swinging strike out
0 R 0 H 0 E 1 LOB = tied at 2
7th INNING - Altoona
Pitcher: Justin Vardian
13LewisOUT 1 - Fly out to right
12SternBase on balls
7HilemanStern steals second
E5/1-RUN/E7 - Third baseman missed ball down the line; Stern scores from second; Hileman to second on error by left fielder
24TreasterHileman to third on passed ball
HIT/1-RUN - Single to center; Hileman scores
31GraceOUT 2 - Fly out to right
19A. PolitiesTreaster steals second base
OUT 3 - Ground out 1-3
2 R 1 H 2 E 1 LOB = Altoona leads 4-2
8th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Trentin Martin
12WilliamsOUT 1 - Fly out to right
9ShirkOUT 2 - Called strike out
5NeiderhiserHIT - Single to center
23WukichE3 - Firstbaseman does not keep foot on the bag
4TrexlerHit by pitch
PINCH RUNNER: Bryan Buzi for Danny Wukich
24RizzitanoOUT 3 - Swinging strike out
0 R 1 H 1 E 3 LOB = Altoona leads 4-2
8th INNING - Altoona
Pitcher: Justin Vardian
DEFENSIVE CHANGE: Brian Albert to centerfield
14ServelloHIT - Single to center
27SleighHIT - Single to right
PITCHING CHANGE: Tyler Morder for Justin Vardian
16KerstetterHIT - bunt
13Lewis1-RUN - Servello scores on wild pitch
Hit by pitch
12SternOUT 1 - Swinging strike out
7HilemanOUT 2 - Swinging strike out
24Treaster1-RUN/E2/1-RUN - Sleigh scores on wild pitch; Catcher throws past pitcher at home; Kerstetter scores
OUT 3 - Ground out 5-3
3 R 3 H 1 E 1 LOB = Altoona leads 7-2
9th INNING - Johnstown
Pitcher: Trentin Martin
2HelselOUT 1 - Fly out to center
6BoyerBase on balls
1NegriOUT 2 - Pop out to third base
12WilliamsHIT - Single to left
9ShirkE4/1-RUN - Ball gets past second baseman; Boyer scores from second; Williams to third
5NeiderhiserHIT/1-RUN - Single up the middle; Williams scores
18 & 8Buzi & AlbertOUT 3 - Swinging strike out; Buzi batted to 2-2 out of order; Albert batted for final strike
2 R 2 H 1 E 2 LOB = Altoona wins 7-4

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