Wise Trailer Sales clinched the Altoona AAABA League championship Thursday night by playing with the same type of urgency that had driven the team throughout the entire series.
"We knew today was going to be tough,'' Wise Trailer Sales manager Rick Westover said after watching his team complete a three-game sweep of the best-of-five championship series against Johnston Realty with a 5-2 win at Juniata. "We felt that the longer the series went on, the more fight they would come out with. We're glad we were able to get it today.''
Catcher Cy Treaster knocked in three runs with a pair of singles, and three Wise Trailer Sales pitchers combined to limit Johnston to five hits as Wise Trailer Sales earned the right to represent the Altoona AAABA League in the upcoming 70th AAABA national tournament, which begins Aug. 4 in Johnstown and surrounding communities.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Jake Stern heads home for Wise Trailer Sales
"We're excited,'' Westover said about playing in the national tournament. "We want to go there, compete, and represent Altoona in the right way. We have good kids on this team who work hard. (Getting to the national tournament) was a goal that they set early in the season.''
It became a reality Thursday for the Wise Trailer Sales squad, which built a 5-2 lead after three innings and held on the rest of the way.
Left-hander Pete Schaeffer worked five innings to get the victory, allowing just three hits and two runs. Cam Kyle tossed a solid scoreless inning and a third, and Zach Helsel came on in the seventh to induce a game-ending double play.
"We had really good pitching tonight,'' Westover said. "I knew that this wouldn't be too big of a stage for Petey Schaeffer, and he gave us a real solid performance. I'm real comfortable with our bullpen. A lot of people can contribute. Cam Kyle got us out of a jam, and Zach Helsel came in and made a big pitch in a big spot.''
Schaeffer is a product of Central Cambria High School, and Kyle graduated from Altoona Area High School and is currently on the baseball team at Mount Aloysius College. Helsel is going into his senior year at Altoona.
Treaster is a Lewistown native who graduated from what is now Mifflin County High School. He's on the baseball team at Bloomsburg University. Treaster carried a hot bat throughout the championship series, driving in a total of 11 runs in the three games.
"We came in with a good mindset the whole series,'' Treaster said. "This was a big win. We got out of here in three games, and saved some (pitching) arms.''
Treaster's run-scoring single to center field in the second inning scored Jake Stern from second base and started a three-run rally for Wise Trailer Sales. Treaster and Cayden Stover came around to score when two Johnston Realty outfielders collided on Lucas Runk's fly ball to left-center field and the ball dropped to the ground.
"We were beaten by a better team,'' said Johnston Realty manager Joe Faretta, whose squad went on to represent Altoona in Johnstown last summer after upending Wise Trailer Sales in last season's AAABA championship series. "They're a solid team from 'A' to 'Z' and I am real excited to see how they will do in the national tournament this year.''
Faretta's son, Jordan, got Johnston Realty on the board with a two-run double into the left field corner in the top of the third inning, scoring Evan Bush, who had singled, and Caleb Bennett, who had been hit by a pitch.
But Wise Trailer Sales answered quickly in the bottom of the third inning, with Treaster's two-run single to left field scoring Jextin Pugh and Stover, who had both singled ahead of him.
"Cy Treaster has been on fire this entire series,'' Westover said. "Cy has really been playing well.''
After Treaster's bat put Wise Trailer Sales into the driver's seat, the Wise pitchers slammed the door and ensured the team's berth in Johnstown.
"We're definitely excited, and ready to go,'' Treaster said about the upcoming national tournament. "We're playing really well as a team right now.''
Game notes: Stover and Isaac Stern joined Treaster as Wise Trailer Sales players with two hits apiece, while Jordan Faretta had a pair of hits for Johnston Realty ... Two Wise Trailer Sales players, Jextin Pugh and Christian Helsel, were named as the league's co-Most Valuable Players in a ceremony before the game ... Johnston Realty has two players on its roster with family ties to the major leagues. Pitcher Justin Beimel's cousin, Joe, is a veteran relief pitcher who is now with the Seattle Mariners and formerly pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Third baseman Zach Belinda's uncle, Stan, was a key contributor as a relief pitcher on the Pirates' three National League Championship Series teams from 1990 to 1992.
JOHNSTON REALTY (2): Calliari cf 200, Zimmerman ss 301, Faretta 2b 302, Hill c 300, Heckathorne rf 300, Belinda 3b 200, McHenry 1b 300, Bush lf 111, Summers lf 201, Bailey p 000, Beimel p 000, Bennett p-dh 210. Totals - 24-2-5.
WISE TRAILER SALES (5): Runk cf 400, I. Stern rf 302, C. Helsel 1b 401, Pugh dh 311, J. Stern 2b 411, Stover ss 322, Treaster c 312, Polites 3b 301, Herncane lf 201, Schaeffer p 000, Kyle p 000, Z. Helsel p 000. Totals - 29-5-11.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Johnston Realty002 000 0-2 5 2
Wise Trailer Sales032 000 X-5 11 0
E-Bush 2. 2B-Faretta.RBI-Faretta 2, Treaster 2. SAC-Calliari. LOB-Wise Trailers 9, Johnston Realty 4. DP - Both teams turned one apiece.
Umpires -Scott Viehdorfer (plate); Larry Stitt (first base); Brandon Hoover (third base).
JOHNSTON REALTY: Dailey (L), 2IP, 8H, 5R, 3ER, 1BB, 3SO; Beimel 1P, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 0SO; Bennett 3IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO.
WISE TRAILER SALES: Schaeffer (W), 5+IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 2SO; Kyle 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO; Z. Helsel IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0SO.