Martella's unimaginable comeback defeats Brooklyn
August 10, 2011 - It was a game that you would only see in the AAABA. Despite falling behind 7-1 in just 2 innings, Johnstown's Martella's Pharmacy staged a massive comeback that saw the hosts not only take the lead, but end the game after 8 innings on the mercy rule. The game featured 18 walks, 13 men left on base, 20 hits, 5 errors, 24 runs and 2 grand-slams: one over the Screen Monster and one an inside-the-parker to the right field wall.
With the win, Johnstown stays alive to play intracity rival Delweld tomorrow at 6:00pm at the Point Stadium. Brooklyn is eliminated.
Rams charge into the lead
Brooklyn's bats made a big statement in the first two innings. With two outs in the first, Angel Pimentel singled an Anderson Mateo walked, which allowed Melvin Rios' hit to score a run. With runners on second and third, Stan Simmons doubled off the wall in left to score two more. Johnstown's David McKolosky ended the inning with a great diving catch in right field.
The Rams added four more in the second when Pimentel hit a grand slam home run over the Screen Monster. Joamy Dominguez had reached on a hit-batsmen, and both Emilio Martinez and Angel Vidal reached on errors prior to Pimentel's slam.
Johnstown had managed to score a run in the bottom of the first thanks in large part to poor pitching from the Bonnies' starter Christian Cardenas. He walked the first three batters on 13 pitches. Mike Cima then flew out to center to score a run. Johnstown left two on base in the inning and 8 all game.
In the bottom of the second with Johnstown trailing 7-1, more pitching problems for the Rams gave the Pharmacists new life. Matt McMillen walked, Brian Weightman doubled, and Jesse Cooper walked. Dan Abbenante was also walked, scoring a run. Eliesel Then came in to pitch and recorded a pop-out before walking in another run. After a second pop-out in foul territory, David McKolosky blooped a single over third base, scoring two runs.
In the third, the Rams led off with hits from Simmons and Jhony Comas. However, Johnstown started Nate Kohuth settled down and recorded two strike-outs and a line-out to end the inning, stranding three.
The game turned upside-down
Improbable though it seemed, Johnstown took the lead in the bottom of the third. Two lead off walks and wild pitch put runners at 2nd and 3rd. Hot hitter Jesse Cooper then doubled up the middle to tie the game. He advanced to third on an error and Max McDowell brought him home on a fielder's choice.
"We knew we were going to come back and start hitting the ball," said Cooper. "We just wanted to stay in it, keep playing hard, and play from the heart."
"Cooper is about as hot as you can get right now," said Pfeil. "He's doing a great job, he's had great at-bats, and he's moving the ball around the field."
With the momentum of the game having turned, Brooklyn went down in order in the fourth. Pimentel was caught stealing after a single, Mateo struck out and Rios grounded out. Johnstown would not go down so quietly in their half of the inning.
Mike Cima opened the inning with a solo homerun over the Screen Monster. McKolosky reached on a bunt single thanks to a throwing error. Brett Quiggle was walked, and Matt McMillen also reached on a bunt. With the bases loaded, Brian Weightman--playing in his first game of the tournament--cracked a shot to right field which Mateo attempted to catch while diving. He missed and the ball rolled into the right field corner, giving Weightman enough time to round the bases for an inside-the-park grand slam.
"When I hit it, I saw the guy coming in, and I was just hoping it was going to get down," said Weightman. "I knew that we were probably going to get a run out of it, but once it got past him, I was just thinking 'you've got to turn it on' and try to get four. It was unbelievable."
What had been a 7-1 deficit was now a 13-7 lead for Johnstown. Pitchers Kohuth and Evans James would not allow another run during the game. After a lengthy delay in the fifth due to a hole in the mound and a missing grounds crew, the Rams went down quickly. James struck out the first batter he faced, and Matt McMillan had another defensive gem, diving to his left to rob Simmons of a hit.
Rams cannot recover
The Rams were set down in order in the 6th and 7th, as James threw 3 strike outs. Martella's added 2 runs in the sixth. After 2 walks and a single loadd the base, McDowell scored Weightman on a single and Cima was walked to score Cooper. Finally, Quiggle led off the seventh with a double and Weightman was walked with one out. They both advanced on McDowell's fly out to right, and a poor decision defensively by the cut-off man let Quiggle score. Dan Abbenante then sent the first pitch he saw off the wall in left to score Weightman and end the game in a mercy rule.
"We hit the ball very well in the first two innings, but unfortunately we didnā't get the pitching to back it up," said Brooklyn manager Jerry Katzke. He said that the umpire had a small strike zone for both teams, but his pitchers struggled to deal with it. Martella's manager Chris Pfeil saw the same thing.
Pfeil said: "All three of their guys came in and had good velocity on the ball, they were struggling with their location, which meant that they weren't really going to anything off speed, and when they did get it over the plate we knew what was coming and were able to sit back and drive the ball."
"We didn't throw enough strikes," said Katzke. "We knew we came to the tournament that we were a little short on pitching depth, and unfortunately that hurt us big time."
A team effort
"Everybody's hitting," said Weightman. "When you put up 17 runs, that's a whole team effort."
The team effort extended off the field, too, where a high-intensity dugout and spirited banter have contributed to a resilience that now must seem unshakable. The Pharmacists have fallen behind in all three games, but have battled back to win 2 and make the third close. While their boisterous antics may be seen as 'bush league' by some, it most certainly keeps the Pharmacists loose and focused, and creates a few humorous situations, such as hearing in-game banter spoken in three languages: Spanish from Brooklyn, Chinese from Johnstown, and English from both.
"We're just trying to have a lot of fun," said Cooper. "That's what we do, that's what we did all year, and it helps us produce."
Martella's will now host arch rival and fellow Johnstown entry Delweld tonight at the Point Stadium at 6:00pm. The winner will advance to play either Livonia or New York City on Friday night. Pittsburgh's The Clarks will play a concert following the game on Thursday, and fireworks will follow the game on Friday.