Monday's Schedule

Championship Saturday

A most-unlikely pairing; First-time champion will be crowned

A New Champion Will Be Crowned

In the 72 year history of the AAABA tournament, only 11 franchises have won a championship. This year, one more club will get to add their name to that list. Chicago-Metropolitan was the most-recent franchise to win their first championship, doing so in 2014. With their semi-finals wins on Friday, Flood City and Zanesville earned the right to compete for the title. Flood City is Johnstown's runner-up entry and is represented by Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors. Zanesville is represented as always by the Junior Pioneers.

The winner tomorrow will be the 5th different national champion in 5 years, which has not happened since the 1961-1965 tournaments (New Orleans, Washington, Brooklyn, Detroit, Pittsburgh). During this current 5 year span, 3 franchises have won their first championship, which has not happened in any previous 5-year span since the early days of the tournament.

Since Milford's first championship in 1958, championship games where a team wins its first AAABA title have been tight, low-scoring affairs. Milford won 5-1; Detroit won 3-1 in 1964; Pittsburgh won 5-4 in 1965; New Brunswick won 5-2 in 2012; and Chicago-Metropolitan won 5-4 in 2014.

Recap of Semi-Final Games

Zanesville scored twice in the first-half inning to quickly put pressure on the Chicagos.  In the sixth, Caden Mumaw tripled in a run and Dylan McDermett singled him home as the Pioneers built a 4-0 lead through the first two-thirds of the game. Marco Melgoza hit a 2-run single in the sixth to cut the lead to 4-2 and fielder's choice brought in a third. But the Junior Pioneers held on to their slim lead to eliminate the Indians and advance to their franchise's first ever national championship game. (Compiled from tweets by Shawn Curtis of the Tribune Democrat)

The Cleveland Blaze led for much of the game on Friday night against Johnstown's runner-up entry Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors. Trailing 2-1 in the fourth, Johnstown's Chris Common singled home Tommy Pellis to tie the game at two. But Cleveland added single runs in the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings to build a 3-run lead. A couple wild pitches and singles from Jake Jessell, Evan Price, Reno Rainey, and a Shane Mallon double brought the Carpenters to within 5-4 after seven innings. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Cleveland walked their first two batters of the game, setting the stage for pinch-hitter Patrick Ferguson to launch a massive 3-run home run over the right field rotunda! Some accounts claim it landed on the highway, but the important measurement is that it left the ball park and gave Johnstown a last-minutes 7-5 lead. Cleveland was down to their final strike when AJ Strnad hit a solo home run to centerfield. But the Blaze could not keep burning and were put out by one final ground ball out. In dramatic fashion, Johnstown wins 7-6 to advances to the championship against Zanesville. (Compiled from tweets by Mike Mastovich of the Tribune-Democrat)

Johnstown versus Zanesville

This is an unlikely match-up for the championship game. Both are underdogs and are playing for long-time franchises who have endured plenty of heartache with little relief.

On one side, Johnstown is represented by their runner-up franchise, Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors. Were it not for a procedural change that allowed two Johnstown entries in the tournament, the Carpenters would not have even been competing in this year's tournament.

This entry (called Flood City on this site) was first used in the 1989 Flood Anniversary tournament. In 2009, the Washington franchise withdrew from the tournament the day before registration, so tournament officials scrambled to find a replacement team to fill the void. They rallied Martella's Pharmacy (the Johnstown Junior League playoff runner-up) to compete in the tournament. Ever since then, Johnstown has fielded two teams in the tournament. The Flood City entry's previous best finish was Delweld's 5th place in 2011.

This year, Johnstown's host entry--Martella's Pharmacy--was 11-0 against PCCA during the regular season and playoffs. Had Martella's beat Cleveland on Wednesday night, they would have played against the Carpenters on Thursday. Instead, the Carpenters raced past Brooklyn 16-10 to advance to the semi-finals.

Noah Beasley and Nico Pecora are batting 0.542 for the Carpenters and Evan Price leads with 8 hits. Shane Mallon has scored 6 runs and Patrick Ferguson leads the team with 7 RBIs and the club's only home run. Jake Jessell's 11 strike-outs against Brooklyn leads the team and both Matt Hogue and Bryce Spak have 0.000 ERAs in two games of relief. They are managed by Dave Sheriff.

Flood City's 2016 Tournament
     WON Monday 5-1 over Youngstown (1-0)
     WON Tuesday 5-2 over Philadelphia (2-0)
     LOST Wednesday 2-4 to Columbus (2-1)
     WON Thursday 16-10 over Brooklyn (quarter-finals)
     WON Friday 7-6 over Cleveland (semi-finals)
     RECORD: 4-1 (35 runs, 23 against)

On the other side, the Zanesville Junior Pioneers are competing in their first ever championship game. Since joining in 1947, the small Ohio town has competed in every AAABA season and qualified for 57 tournaments. Additionally, they have been the gracious hosts of a regional qualifier 17 times, although they have never won a championship there, either. Long-time manager Doug Pollock retired in 2014 and third-year manager Dave Balo is making only his second appearance in Johnstown. (His team exited 0-2 in 2014)

Most interesting of all is that in any other year, the Junior Pioneers would have already been eliminated from the tournament. They lost to New York on Wednesday--their second loss--which would have sent them back home if the traditional double-elimination format was still in place. Instead, a strong showing against New Brunswick minimized their runs against and they advanced on a tie-breaker. What followed were two shocking victories over the two most-recent champions, New Orleans (4-2) and Chicago-Metropolitan (4-3). Zanesville has not won 3 consecutive games in the tournament since 1957 and has never won 4 games in a single tournament.

Pitcher Chris Sparks has recorded 12 strike-outs through 11 innings pitched. Dylan McDermett has 7 hits and a 0.412 average through 5 games including a run-scoring triple against New Orleans. Caden Mumaw leads the eam with 5 RBIs and 2 triples. Mumaw, Matt Lynn, and Joe Shunar have each scored 3 runs.

Zanesville's 2016 Tournament
     LOST Monday 2-3 to New Brunswick (0-1)
     WON Tuesday 4-2 over Livonia (1-1)
     LOST Wednesday 4-6 to New York (1-2)
     WON Thursday 4-2 over New Orleans (quarter-finals)
     WON Friday 4-3 over Chicago-Metropolitan (semi-finals)
     RECORD: 3-2 (18 runs, 16 against)

Technically, Flood City and Zanesville have never played each other in the tournament. However, Johnstown is 13-2 against Zanesville all-time and have outscored the Pioneers by a combined 148-50. Johnstown has a 10-game winning streak stretching back to 1985 which includes 4 mercy-ruled victories. The teams played against each other in consecutive years from 2004 through 2007, as well as 2009 and most-recently in 2011.

Johnstown has competed in 6 previous championship games. Hahn Packing lost to Washington 4-2 in 1956. Sani-Dairy lost to New Orleans 12-2 in 1995. Galliker's lost a double-header to Washington in 2001. And Delweld lost to Baltimore in 2003 (19-0), in 2010 (4-0), and in a double-header in 2013 (12-5, 13-3). No other franchise has competed in as many championship games without a win.

The championship game will be played on Saturday at 6:00pm at Point Stadium.

Site Information

AAABATournament.com is an independent website dedicated to covering the All-American Amateur Baseball Association national wood bat tournament held each year in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It is not affiliated with the All-American Amateur Baseball Association or Johnstown Old Timers. All articles and photographs on this site are property of AAABATournament.com unless otherwise noted.