Martin forces Game 5

The George B. Kelley Federation championship series is going the distance.

Martin Oil forced a decisive fifth game with a 4-1 win over Park Home Sunday at Vets Field to tie the best-of-five series at two games apiece.

Game 5 is 7 p.m. this evening at Vets Field.

“We’ll find out (Monday). This is what it’s all about,” Park coach Scott McClellan said.

Blake Johnston pitched a complete-game six-hitter to get the win. The right-hander was effectively wild, walking six and hitting three, but gave up just the one run in the bottom of the seventh with his team up 4-0.

“It wasn’t my best game, but you just have to battle. That’s what baseball’s all about,” Johnston said. “It’s never easy. Somedays you have it. Some you don’t. On those days, you just keep throwing and never give up.”

League MVP Nevin Wood went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, and Brendan Kowalski knocked in a pair of runs to lead the Martin Oil offense.

Kowalski was moved from the leadoff spot to fifth in the batting order after going just 1-for-9 in the first three games of the series.

“It feels good to contribute. I was just trying to put the ball in play and get the RBI,” Kowalski said. “They weren’t big hits, but runs are hard to come by.”

After Joe Padula’s one-out double in the first, Kowalski brought him home with a fielder’s choice groundball. Kowalski did the same in the third, this time scoring Wood.

Martin Oil padded the lead with two in the top of the seventh. Wood, Jack Showalter and Kowalski all singled to load the base with no outs. Wood scored on a Troy Walker groundout, and Noah Burns singled to bring in Owen Shaulis, who was running for Showalter.

Park had runners on every inning but only managed to get one home, leaving 13 runners on base.

“We had a lot of chances but couldn’t come through. Stranded too many runners,” McClellan said.

Johnston was in the trouble from the outset, walking the first three Park batters to load the bases with no outs.

“It was definitely nerves. My legs were a little shaky in the first then I got into a little groove,” Johnston said. “The same thing happened in the fourth for some reason. My teammates just kept talking to me. That helped a lot.”

Jake Plunket grounded into a 5-2-3 double play, and Ian Yon flew out to center field to end the threat with no runs.

“That was massive. It gave me a real boost of confidence,” Johnston said.

Park left two more in the third. With runners on first and second, Yon drove a ball into right center that Kowalski managed to grab on the dead run, saving Martin Oil two runs.

“I’m glad he’s fast,” Johnston said.

“The speed in our outfield is pretty unreal,” Martin Oil coach Brock Anders added. “They run everything down that has even a little air under it. You have to hit it on a line.”

Park left the bases loaded in the fourth and the sixth before scoring it’s only run in seventh. Plunket led off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Yon single.

MARTIN OIL (4): McFarland lf 400, Padula 1b 311, Wood ss 322, Showalter c 301, Shaulis cr 010, Kowalski 401, Johnston p 000, Wertman dh 300, Troy Walker dh 100, Burns 3b 302, Trent Walker rf 201, Schmoke 2b 200, Whaley ph 100. TOTALS — 28 4 8.

PARK HOME (1): Sheetz ss 100, Kravetz c 200, Gority 1b 300, Plunket p-rf 412, Yon 3b 401, Benton rf-lf 400, Gibson 1f-p 000, Georgiana dh 401, Wike 2b 200, Folcarelli ph 101, Miller cf 301. TOTALS — 28 1 6.


Martin Oil 101 000 2–4 8 0

Park Home 000 000 1–1 6 2

E–Plunket, Wike. 2B–Padula, Trent Walker, Wood, Georgiana. RBI–Kowalski 2, Troy Walker, Burns, Yon. WP–Johnston. LP–Plunket. SO–Johnston 5, Plunket 3, Gibson 2. BB–Johnston 6, Plunket 4, Gibson 1.

Best-of-five series tied 2-2.