This offseason, there was one major change in the Altoona Greater City Baseball League - having a playoff format that emulated that of Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball added a second wild card team in both the American and National League last season with the teams squaring off in a one game playoff, with the winner advancing on.
On Thursday night, the first one in Altoona Greater City Baseball League history was staged, with Mountain View Archery dominating Crown Jewel/Cox Refractories, 11-1, in five innings at Vets Field.
Both starting pitchers - Tyler Sweeney of Mountain View Archery and Bill Dicken of Crown Jewels/Cox Refractories - allowed first inning runs, but both pitched scoreless second innings. Sweeney then would throw a goose egg up onto the board in the top of the third inning. It was in the bottom half of the third inning that things got interesting.
Dave McCloskey and Nate Clancy began the half-inning by reaching on errors, and after Damian Lascoli was retired by a line out, cleanup hitter and first baseman Josh Harshbarger hit a long fly ball to left field. Crown Jewel/Cox Refractories left fielder, Luke Weber, was injured, and all three runners scored, as Harshbarger hit an inside-the-park homer. Crown Jewel/Cox Refractories did not have a sub and the umpires ruled the designated hitter could not take the place of Weber and Mountain View Archery would win by forfeit.
Many players and fans left the game assuming the game was over. Then it was discovered that the umpires had errored and the designated hitter could take Weber's spot. So then coaches tried to get a hold of their players who had already left the stadium. Over 45 minutes later, the game was picked up from the bottom of the third inning.
"I can honestly say I've never seen anything like this happen before," Mountain View Archery manager Dale Snyder said.
When the game resumed, Mountain View Archery scored two more runs in the inning - making it a 6-2 game. Snyder's gang had a four-run fourth inning, highlighted by an RBI double by Will Snyder. The game ended an inning later when Lascoli hit a run scoring single that plated Clancy.
Sweeney went the distance, picking up the win for Mountain View Archery. He allowed just four hits and did not walk a batter.
"Tyler [Sweeney] has done that all year for us," Snyder said.
Mountain View Archery advanced to the best-of-three league semifinals against top-seeded Lilly Conrad Chiropractic/American Legion. Snyder is confident playing against the team that has won the Altoona Greater City Baseball League championship nine out of the last 10 years.
"They [Lilly] beat us all four times we played each other," Snyder said. "But everything's wiped clean entering the playoffs. We held our own twice and they had their way with us twice. I feel confident moving forward to the next series."
Mountain View Archery will start Alex Marchi in game one.
"[Alex] Marchi did a great job pitching for us all year," Snyder said.
Crown Jewel/Cox Refractories committed six errors and player/coach Bill Dicken commented on his team's defense playing so poorly.
"We struggled defensively all year," Dicken said.
CROWN JEWEL/COX REFRACTORIES (1): Weber lf 211, Criste ss 201, Eckenrode p 000, Plummer 3b-p 201, Moyer c 200, C. Walter lf-1b 200, Dicken p-3b-lf 200, Brown cf 200, K. Walter dh 200. Totals 16 1 4.
MOUNTAIN VIEW ARCHERY (11): McCloskey cf 410, Clancy ss 432, Lascoli c 422, J. Harshbarger 1b 312, R. Harshbarger 1b 000, Sweeney p 323, Williams 3b 321, W. Snyder lf 301, Marchi 2b 201, Ebersole rf 300, K. Snyder rf 000. Totals 29 11 12.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Crown Jewel/Cox Refractories100 00 1 4 6
Mountain View Archery105 41 11 12 0
E C. Walter 2, Criste 3, Dicken. 2b Lascoli, Clancy, Williams, Eckenrode. HR J. Harshbarger. RBI J. Harshbarger 4, Williams, Marchi, . Sb McCloskey 2, Clancy 2. Hbp Criste by Sweeney, Weber by Sweeney. WP Sweeney. LP Dicken. SO Sweeney 2, Dicken 1, Plummer 1. BB Plummer 1.