Wise Trailer Sales is walking all over Johnston Realty in the teams' best-of-five Altoona All American Amateur Baseball Association League championship series.
The squad, which previously qualified for the national tournament under the sponsorship of Red Bull, drew eight walks a night after taking nine free passes and topped Johnston, 9-3, to take a commanding 2-0 series lead Wednesday at Juniata.
"We keep preaching to the kids that they are good enough to hit with two strikes," Wise Trailer Sales manager Rick Westover said. "They can hit late in the count, and they are finally starting to realize that and believe in themselves. They showed a lot of patience and a good approach."
Cy Treaster, playing his first season for Wise Trailer Sales, came up big for the second consecutive night. Treaster drove in four runs, scored another and finished 3-for-5. He is 5-for-8 with two runs scored, three doubles and eight RBIs in the series.
"I've just been trying to keep my swing short and quick," Treaster said. "I'm starting to get a little excited. I'm not going to lie, but we've got to stay focused on the task at hand. It would mean a lot to move on."
Treaster's third-inning double Wednesday drove in a pair of runs and gave Wise Trailer Sales a 3-2 lead. Johnston Realty had taken a 2-0 lead on a Jordan Faretta RBI groundout and a Pat McHenry solo home run.
"Cy has been playing really well and hitting in clutch spots," Westover said. "He's giving us a chance and putting the ball in play and putting the pressure on the defense. We have two capable catchers, but Cy is hot right now, and we're going to ride it out."
Johnston tied the game at three on a double steal in the bottom of the fourth inning, but back-to-back errors coupled with two walks spelled disaster for Johnston in the fifth.
Jake Stern reached on an error to begin the inning, and after Jacob Belinda relieved Johnston starter Chad Speigle, another error put runners at second and third. Treaster followed with a two-run single. Belinda walked Darian Herncane and Lucas Runk before Isaac Stern drove in two with a single. Christian Helsel, who had a pair of doubles, two RBIs and played solid defense at first base, capped the five-run inning with a sacrifice fly.
Wise Trailer Sales starter Jextin Pugh allowed just one base runner in the fifth and sixth innings and left with his team up six.
"Jextin really battled after struggling early with his control," Westover said. "He showed his composure when things weren't going his way early and hung around for six good innings."
Defending league champion Johnston Realty is facing long odds to make a return trip to the national tournament. It must win three straight against a team it is now 0-5 against this year including the regular season.
"It all comes down to pitching and defense. We got behind hitters, and like I said last night, against a good team you're going to pay every time," Johnston Realty manager Joe Faretta said. "Without our two horses on the hill, it's very tough to match their firepower."
Johnston is playing without its normal pitching rotation. Mark Curtis and Kane McCall would be available if the team makes it to the weekend, but two more pitchers are completely unavailable.
"(Garrett) Peterson and (Justin) Taylor both had their arms shut down by their colleges, and they are our No. 1 and No. 2 starters," Faretta said. "That's not to make excuses, but when you don't have those two, it makes it a challenge for the rest of your rotation."
The series will continue tonight at Juniata at 5:30 p.m.
WISE TRAILER SALES (9): Runk cf 310, I. Stern rf 512, C. Helsel 1b 312, Pugh p 401, Z. Helsel p 000, . Stern 2b 420, Stover ss 221, Treaster c 513, Laurito c 000, Polites 3b 300, Herncane lf 211. Totals - 31-9-10.
JOHNSTON REALTY (3): Belinda cf-p-3b 311, Zimmerman ss 301, Faretta 2b 300, Heckathorne dh-c 300, Hill c-rf 210, Summers lf-cf-lf 301, Bush rf-lf 200, Martin cf 000, McHenry 1b 311, Bennett 3b-p 200, Pepperday p 000, Klingensmith ph 000. Totals - 24-3-4.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Wise Trailer Sales003 050 1-9 10 0
Johnston Realty110 100 0-3 4 4
E-Zimmerman, Faretta, Bennett, Hill. 2B-C. Helsel 2, Treaster. HR-McHenry. RBI-Treaster 4, I. Stern 2, C. Helsel 2, Pugh, Faretta, McHenry.
WISE TRAILER SALES
Pugh (W): 6IP, 4H, 2BB, 3K, 3R, 3ER, 93 pitches
Z. Helsel: 1IP, 0H, 2BB, 2K, 0R, 0ER, 26 pitches
Speigle: (L) 4IP, 3H, 5BB, 3K, 4R, 3ER, 91 pitches
Belinda: IP, 2H, 2BB, 1K, 4R, 0ER, 23 pitches
Bennett: 1IP, 3H, 0BB, 0K, 0R, 0ER, 23 pitches
Pepperday: 1IP, 2H, 1BB, 1K, 1R, 1ER, 30 pitches
Umpires: Steve Oakes (HP), Brandon Hoover, Dave Adams.