Johnston Realty and Wise Trailer Sales could not be any more evenly matched.
Both teams finished the regular season of the Altoona AAABA League 21-game slate with identical 17-4 records. The teams are at it again in the best-of-three league championship series.
After a close 5-4 win by Wise Trailer Sales in game one, Johnston Realty bested its rival, 2-1, in game two Sunday at Juniata.
"It was a well-played game by both teams," Johnston Realty coach Mel Curtis said. "In the situation we are in, with identical records, you know you're going to see great games."
Both teams scored a run in the first inning as Wise Trailer Sales got a two-out single by Clint Roche, who plated Jextin Pugh. Pugh reached when he was hit by a pitch, and cleanup hitter Kyle Morrow followed with a book-rule double. Then Roche scored Pugh from third.
In the home-half of the first, Mike Marcinko led off with a single. Ty Zimmerman laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, and the Wise Trailer Sales defenders could not get him out at first. After the bunt single, John Shaffer reached on a fielder's choice, with Zimmerman forced out at second base.
It allowed Marcinko to advance to third base, and the next batter, Jordan Faretta, grounded out to second baseman Matt Fry, and scored Marcinko with the game-tying run.
For the rest of the game, both pitchers, Cal Schneider of Johnston Realty, and Nate Pope of Wise Trailer Sales, were nearly unhittabble. Both threw one scoreless inning after another. Neither team even threatened to score until the fifth inning.
In the top of the fifth, Wise Trailer Sales had a pair of baserunners on with two outs, but Jacob Stern flew out to center. With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Jake Weibley reached on an infield single. Marcinko was retired for the second out, but Zimmerman followed with a clutch RBI triple to win the game for Johnston Realty.
Schneider allowed just the one run, scattered six hits, fanned four and did not issue a walk. Pope was just as good, pitching a four-hitter, striking three out and walking one.
"Schneider threw a gem," Curtis said. "But Nate [Pope] threw well too."
"It was a well-pitched game for both teams," Wise Trailer Sales coach Jeff Miller said. "Hats off to Cal [Schneider]. He did a wonderful job today and deserves the win. Nate [Pope] deserves the win as well, but we couldn't get the hit when we needed one."
Because both teams are so evenly matched, both coaches expect another great game with another close margin of victory in game three.
"We'll come with everything, and they'll come with everything, Miller said. "It's going to be awesome."
"Tomorrow will be very interesting," Curtis said. "It's down to a one-game series. I believe it will come down to what team makes the fewest mistakes."
WISE TRAILER SALES (1): Wise cf 100, Herncane cf 201, Stern ss 300, Pugh 1b 210, Morrow dh 301, Pope p 000, Roche 3b 301, Appleby lf 301, Laurito c 301, Stover rf 300, Fry 2b 301. Totals 26 1 6.
JOHNSTON REALTY (2): Marcinko ss 311, Zimmerman rf 302, Shaffer 300, Peterson dh 300, Schneider p 000, Faretta 2b 200, Doran lf 300, Taylor 3b 200, Costa 200, Weibley cf 211. Totals 23 2 4.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Wise Trailer Sales100 000 0 1 6 1
Johnston Realty100 010 X 2 4 2
E Weibley, Taylor, Roche. 2b Morrow. 3B Zimmerman. RBI Roche, Shaffer, Zimmerman. Hbp Pugh by Schneider. WP Schneider. LP Pope. SO Schneider 4, Pope 3. BB Pope 1.
Records: Wise Trailer Sales (18-5); Johnston Realty (18-5).