Johnstown opens against Philadelphia
August 05, 2012 - For the third time in tournament history, Philadelphia and Johnstown will meet in the opening round. Johnstown's Berkley Hills Renegades and the Philadelphia Bandits drew the bottom slot in the 16-team double-elimination bracket and will open the tournament tomorrow night at 7:30pm at the Point Stadium. Pregame ceremonies are scheduled to start at 6:30pm with the player's parade.
Philadelphia has outscored Johnstown in all three previous first-round encounters but are credited with only two wins. Philadelphia was Johnstown's first ever AAABA opponent and defeated the hosts 9-1 at Fichtner Field, but were later disqualified for using ineligible players. The teams next met on opening night in 1957, with Philadelphia's Delaware Valley Cardinals defeating Johnstown's Westmont AC 6-5 at Point Stadium. The most recent contest was between the ABCO Phillies and Johnstown's Principle Development in 1996, which Philadelphia won handily 20-3 in seven innings. All-time, however, Johnstown is 5-4 against Philadelphia and has a 2-game winning sreak (2004 and 2010).
Philadelphia manager Mike Gossner has been with the club for the past three games and so is familiar with playing in front of the large Johnstown crowd.
"We didn't talk about it too much [with the players], we just told them a lot of people come out--the town sort of closes down--and they root for the home team," explained Gossner. "It will be exciting because some of these kids will never play in front of a crowd like that. The biggest thing is just to relax and enjoy it and have some fun."
The Bandits will start 6'-4" right-hander Kurt Sowa, a sophomore at Rider University. In 14 appearances with the Broncs this season, he is 5-4 with a 4.78 ERA. Sowa has 51 strike-outs and 43 walks in 75.1 innings.
Johnstown's Larry McCabe has plenty of experience with playing in big games, but--as with most AAABA opponents--he does not know much about the Bandits.
"We're not familiar with them, but we know they have a sound program and they always have good representation," said McCabe. He hopes his players will treat this as just another ball game even admist the excitement and festivities.
"I've been telling our players all summer that it's about performance," said McCabe. "It's about how well you can perform and that's what we're looking for: to play good fundamental baseball and perform."
The Renegades will start Nate Spohn, a 5'-11" left-hander from Point Park University and a second year AAABA player. Spohn was a pick-up player for Martella's in last year's national tournament. In his sophomore year at Point Park, he was 8-1 in 12 appearances with a 2.45 ERA. He struck out 33 and walked 22 in 66 innings.
All-Time Series Results
1945.....Johnstown.............1-9* (Philadelphia disqualified)
JOHNSTOWN ( 5 ) - PHILADELPHIA ( 4 )