Martin Oil will be making its second straight trip to the National Amateur Baseball Federation national tournament this weekend, and manager Ron Mock is hoping that members of his team will be able to take advantage of the experience they gained there last season.
Martin Oil will be making the return appearance in the round-robin national tournament in Struthers, Ohio after becoming the first Altoona area team in more than five decades to win an NABF regional championship.
Ten players from last year's Martin Oil team that played three hotly-contested games en route to an 0-4 record at the national tournament will be playing in Struthers again this weekend.
"It's exciting,'' Mock said. "The boys are really excited to go up there again, and I think we have a good chance to win some games this year.''
Pairings for the tournament, which will include at least 20 teams, will be finalized at a manager's meeting this evening.
Dick's Pharmacy, which was awarded a berth in the NABF national tournament for being one of the host teams in the regional, will not be participating in the national tourney due to a lack of available players.
Martin Oil rode its pitching to the regional championship last weekend, and Mock is hoping for continued contributions from those arms this weekend.
In the regional championship game, a 3-2 win over Baltimore Diamond Pros, Martin righthander Tristan Lingafelt threw 6 innings and allowed just three hits.
"All of our pitchers have done well,'' Mock said. "Tristan Lingafelt pitched the last game in the regional, and [lefty] Danny Beech has been our closer and has pitched well all season.''
Three players picked up from other teams - Damian Moist [D.C. Moyer], Trent Martin [Corporal Miller], and Jordan Rabits [Park Furniture] - have also provided valuable pitching help.
"The pitching we've picked up has been a key for us,'' Mock said.
Last season, the Martin Oil team dropped a pair of one-run decisions and a two-run decision at the national tournament before being shut out and beaten handily in the fourth game.
"Last year, our pitching was good, but we just didn't have the timely hits when we needed them,'' Mock said. "That's always a key.''
George B. Kelley Federation president Tom Stout expects Martin to make a solid showing at this year's national tournament.
"Martin is a very talented team,'' Stout said. "They're a steady ballclub that knows how to play. They played very good ball at last season's national tournament, and I expect them to represent this area well.''
Dick's Pharmacy, which went 0-2 at the regional, had - for various reasons - only 11 players available for the national tournament, and decided to cancel the trip to Ohio.
"I had a bunch of kids determine that they were not going to be available to go,'' Dick's Pharmacy manager Pat Yon said. "Some went on vacation, some got jobs. I had only 11 players available, so we had to bow out. We made that decision this past Sunday so that another team would have the opportunity to get in there.''