Baltimore eliminates Martella's in hard-fought contest
August 08, 2012 -
With host Johnstown Berkley Hills Renegades eliminated, the runner-up Johnstown entry--Martella's Pharmacy--assumed the role as host and played powerhouse Baltimore under the lights. The experienced Pharmacists squad was up to the task of playing the strong Orioles franchise, but Baltimore had timely hits and perfect fielding as they eliminated Martella's in a well-played 2-run game.
Johnstown shows poise and scores first
Martella's energized the home crowd with a brilliant ending to the first half-inning. With Dominic Fratantuono on first, Brendan Butler hit a ball that seemed able to fall into centerfield easily. But centerfielder Josh Staniscia made a late dive to catch the ball and enabled the Pharmicists to double-up Fratantuono at first. Baltimore starter David Sapp retired Flood City in order in the bottom of the first.
Martella's used a double-play and a pick-off at second base to retire the Orioles in the second, and then led off the bottom of the inning with Tony Strasiser's double to left-center. He stole third on a pass-ball and then scored on Matt McMillen's sacrifice fly to put the Johnstown team on top 1-0.
Teams show strong defensive play
Flood City starter Nick Cubarney struck out two in the third to maintain the slim lead, and it looked like Martella's could add on in the bottom of the inning. Jesse Cooper singled and then--with two outs--Ian Helsel doubled off the left-field wall, putting two runners in scoring position. However, Sapp induced a ground-out from Staniscia to end the inning.
"They're outstanding defensively," said Flood City manager Chris Pfiel. "Their short-stop (Brock Niggebrugge) makes hard plays look routine, and they got the tough outs when they need it."
Both teams allowed a walk in the fourth, but nothing else. Likewise, the fifth saw only 1 base runner for each team. Baltimore's Brady Sheetz (who finished the night 4-for-4) singled to left field but was stranded. Martella's Dan Abbenante was walked, but also stranded.
Baltimore has big inning
In the top of the sixth, the Orioles finally strung their hits together and jumped into the lead. Brock Niggebrugge led off with a single to right-center and Monte Wade followed with a double to left. Fratantuono scored Niggebrugge with a single to rightfield and advanced to second on the throw home. Manager Chris Pfiel then brought in Ian Stiffler to pitch. Butler singled off him to centerfield for the second run, but was caught stealing by catcher Pat Gully. After a walk to Kevin Hockaday, opposing-pitcher Fuller hit a sacrifice fly to center to score a third run for the Orioles. Sheetz also reached on a hit, but two runners were stranded as Mikkal Hill struck out. The Pharmacists managed only a walk in the 6th innings.
In the seventh, Allan Bencid led off the Baltimore top-half with a single to center but was thrown out on a fielder's choice two batters later. With Wade now on base, he attempted to steal second and was thrown out by catcher Gully, but shortstop Cooper could not hold onto the ball when Wade slid into his glove. Now safe at second, Wade scored on Fratantuono's single to right field. A hit by Butler and a double-steal put two runners in scoring position for the Orioles, but Hockaday grounded to second, stranding them both.
Pharmacists trim Orioles lead
After the stretch, Martella's responded with a run of their own. After two walks from Sapp to start the inning, Taylor Nace was brought in to pitch. Flood City's Cooper laid done a well-executed bunt to advance the runners, and Jimmy Stenger scored on Abbendante's ground out.
Ross Orgera came on in the eighth to close the game for Martella's He allowed 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3 over the final 2 innings. In the ninth, his walk to Hockaday loaded the bases (with two outs) for Ryan Ripken, son of Cal Ripken, Jr. Orgera struck out Ripken to end the inning, stranding three runners, and giving the Pharmacists momentum heading into the bottom of the ninth.
"Our pitchers did a great job at hitting their spots," said Pfiel. "They had 4 or 5 strike-outs-looking, and when you face a line-up like that, to be able to fool guys just speaks volumes to how they hit their spots and to the way Pat Gully called the game tonight."
Table set in the ninth for comeback
After having been retired in order in the eighth, Martella's led off with a first-pitch single to right-field from Luke Williams. Brian Weightman popped out to right field, but pinch-hitter Zach Solarczyk reached on balls. With the tying run aboard, Cooper struck out and Abbendante lined out to the short stop, as the Orioles hang on for a hard-fought victory.
"This is disappointing because we played well," said Flood City manager Chris Pfiel. "I'm proud of the way the kids battled. I know a lot of people are going to be disappointed to see Johnstown go 1-4 in the tournament, but this [Johnstown City] league was very young this year, and I can tell you that within a few years, there's going to be some teams that make some noise, and they're going to push anybody here to the limit, and somebody from Johnstown is going to make run at this title."
The loss eliminated Martella's Pharmacy from the tournament at 1-2. Baltimore stays alive to play Philadelphia as they continue their quest for a 3rd consecutive championship and potentially 9th in the past 10 years.