Altoona cruises to a title
Johnston Realty manager Mel Curtis was looking for a breakout game, and he got it Sunday afternoon.
Johnston pounded out 13 hits, including two homers and five doubles, en route to a 15-1, six-inning spanking of the Youngstown Glaciers in the All American Amateur Baseball Association’s Altoona Regional Tournament championship game at Juniata Field.
“We accomplished what we set out to do,” Curtis said. “The other day I was worried. We were seeing the ball, but we weren’t getting hits. Today, we turned it completely around.
“We saw the ball real well today,” Curtis said, “and we got a gutsy performance on the mound from Justin Taylor.
“All in all, I’m proud of these guys. It was a great team win, and I think we’re ready to make some noise [in Johnstown].”
Both Johnston and Youngstown will participate in the AAABA National Tournament, which starts in Johnstown on Aug. 5.
Johnston defeated Philadelphia, 2-1, on Friday and Youngstown, 4-2, on Saturday, but Curtis wasn’t happy with the team’s offense.
Sunday was a different story. Only two starters – Ty Zimmerman and Cody Doran – didn’t have a hit, but both garnered RBIs on sacrifice flies.
Jordan Faretta had five RBIs with a two-run single in the first inning and a three-run double in the fourth. Kyle Morrow ripped a RBI double in the first and crushed a two-run homer in the sixth.
“I was seeing the ball well today,” Faretta said. “I got some pitches I could hit and the people before me were able to get on base.
“It was big to score first,” Faretta said, “because whoever scores first gets the momentum.”
Johnston built a 10-0 lead with three runs in the first, two in the second, one in the third and four in the fourth.
After Youngstown got a run in the bottom of the fourth, Johnston sealed it with a five-spot in the sixth, highlighted by two-run homers from Morrow and Jake Weibley.
“It was good to finally tee some balls up,” said Morrow, a Mount Union native who played for Wise Trailer Sales. “Both of the balls I hit were on 2-0 pitches so I was looking for fastballs middle-in. That’s what I got and I hit both well.
“I’m so glad [Johnston] picked me up, and I’m happy I can help,” Morrow said.
Weibley, from Hollidaysburg, went 2-for-4, drove in two runs and scored twice. Nate Pope, another Hollidaysburg product, started at third base and doubled, walked and was hit by pitch. Bishop Guilfoyle grad Jextin Pugh, another pickup player, had a pair of singles and scored once.
Shortstop Mike Marcinko was the league’s regular-season MVP after leading Johnston in several offensive categories. He set the table Sunday with a pair of singles and a walk and scored three runs.
“It was a total team effort,” Marcinko, from Philipsburg, said. “The amount of runs we put up … we’re a solid 1-through-9 team and I’m excited to start nationals with this group.
“Our goal was to win regionals, even though we had the automatic berth,” Marcinko said. “We wanted to show we had the guys to produce in nationals and maybe make a run for a title.”
Taylor went the distance for the victory, scattering six hits while striking out three and walking two.
“It’s always nice to get some run support,” Taylor said. “We should be able to hit the ball like that against anybody.
“We said from the beginning it didn’t matter that we had an automatic bid [to Johnstown] we came here to win, and we did.
“I thought we played well in all aspects of the game, and that’s what we have to do in order to have a good week next week.”
JOHNSTON REALTY (15): Marcinko ss 432, Zimmerman dh 210, Myers rf 321, Morrow c 332, Pugh 1b 412, Pope 3b 111, Costa 3b 111, Faretta 2b 302, Doran lf 310, Weibley cf 422, Taylor p 000. Totals-28-15-13.
YOUNGSTOWN (1): McGivern 2b 301, Leone 1b 300, Gentile ss 311,Popio rf 200, Reinthaler dh 302, Hix cf 301, Sierra lf 100, Cuckovich c 200, Pitzo 3bv 201, Yoder p 000, Rhoades p 000, Burdick p 000. Totals-22-1-6.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Johnston Realty 321 405 x 15-13-0
Youngstown 000 100 x-1-6-3
E-Gentile 2, Cuckovich. 2b-Myers, Morrow, Pope, Costa, Faretta. HR-Morrow, Weibley. RBI-Faretta 5, Morrow 3, Weibley 2, Zimmerman, Doran, Reinthaler. SB-Marcinko, Zimmerman, Weibley. DP-Johnston 1.
Johnston . IP H R ER SO BB
Taylor (W).. 6 6 1 1 3 2
Youngstown IP H R ER SO BB
Yoder (L) 2.1 7 6 5 1 3
Rhoades 2.2 1 4 0 2 1
Burdick 1 5 5 2 1 0
HPB-Pope (by Rhoades).
Umpires-Brandon Hoover (HP), Larry Stitt (1b), Steve Oakes (2b), Dave Adams (3b).