After game two of the best-of-three Altoona AAABA League championship series Sunday afternoon, Johnston Realty coach Mel Curtis predicted that whatever team made the fewest mistakes would win game three.
Curtis could not have been any more correct.
Curtis' crew made only one error, while opponent Wise Trailer Sales committed seven of them, and Johnston Realty defeated Wise Trailer Sales, 11-4, at Juniata Field in a game that began Monday evening but was suspended in the top of the fifth inning and completed Tuesday evening.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Brandon Myers (9) collects high fives from his teammates after hitting a home run.
"I've been saying it's a one-game series and we have to win every inning," Curtis said. "When you put two teams like us on the ball field at the same time, you know there will be fireworks."
Johnston Realty, which improved to 19-5 on the campaign, advanced to the AAABA Regional Tournament, which begins on Friday.
"It feels great to be back in Johnstown," Curtis said. "We're excited because we missed out last year."
It seemed like a pitchers' duel might take place with both teams starting studs on the bump, with Jextin Pugh getting the nod for Wise Trailer Sales and Garrett Peterson starting for Johnston Realty. Peterson held up his end of the bargain, going four scoreless, allowing just two hits, striking out a pair of Wise Trailer Sales' batters. He also only walked a batter.
"Peterson was lights out," Curtis said of his starting pitcher. "He was great. He's a very focused pitcher."
Pugh was not his usual dominant self, allowing five hits, walking three in four-plus innings of work. Johnston Realty got on the board in the top of the second when Ryan Hill drove in Jordan Faretta. In the top of the third inning, Wise Trailer Sales committed two errors, which led to three runs for Johnston Realty. Cleanup hitter, Brandon Myers, and Cody Doran highlighted the inning with run-plating singles.
Jeff Miller, a coach for Wise Trailer Sales, replaced Pugh in the fifth inning with Chris Storm. Storm would pitch a scoreless fifth inning, but surrender three in the sixth, with Wise Trailer Sales aiding Johnston Realty with two more errors. In the top of the seventh, Wise Trailer Sales committed another error, which again led to more runs for their opponent, scoring four more in that frame. It was Myers again knocking in runs, hitting an opposite field blast that scored John Shaffer.
Wise never got onto the board until the bottom of the sixth inning when Jacob Stern doubled, and allowed Nate Negri to score. Following a one-out walk by Darian Herncane, Appleby flew out. Pugh, then followed his first hit of the game, putting two runners on for Kyle Morrow, drilled a three run jack, completing the game's scoring.
Johnston Realty finished the game with 11 hits, with Shaffer leading the way with three hits..
"All in all, I'm pleased with how we hit the ball tonight," Curtis said. "Shaffer had a phenomenal game."
Miller commented on his team's disappointing effort on defense.
"It's tough because we failed to take care of the baseball," Miller said. "And they're good enough of a team, if you don't take care of the baseball, they'll beat you."
With the victory, Johnston?Realty is assured of making the AAABA National Tournament in Johnstown.
JOHNSTON REALTY (11): Marcinko ss 532, Zimmerman rf 210, Shaffer 1b 513, Myers dh 422, Peterson p 000, Scholly p 000, Faretta 2b 310, Doran lf 401, Taylor 3b 300, Hill c 201, Costa c 221, Weibley cf 411. Totals 34 11 11.
WISE TRAILER SALES (4): Herncane cf 210, Appleby lf/3b 301, Pugh p/1b 411, Morrow c 411, Roche 3b, Negri lf 212, Stern ss 402, Pope 1b/rf 300, Fry 2b 200, Stover rf 300, Storm p 000, Wyland p 000. Totals .
SCORE BY INNINGS
Johnston Realty0130034 11 11 1
Wise Trailer Sales0000013 4 7 7
E Pugh 2, Morrow, Herncane, Fry 2, Stern, Faretta. 2b Shaffer, Stern. HR Myers, Morrow. Sac bunt Zimmerman. RBI Hill, Myers 3, Doran, Marcinko, Shaffer 3, Stern, Morrow 3. Hbp Fry byPeterson. WP Peterson. LP Pugh. SO Peterson 2, Scholly 2, Pugh 5, Storm 2. BB Peterson 1, Scholly 3, Pugh 3, Storm 1, Wyland 1.
Records: Wise Trailer Sales (18-6); Johnston Realty (19-5).