Johnston done in by errors

JOHNSTOWN — Johnston Realty got strong pitching performances from Alex Mykut and Brendan Hileman.

Unfortunately for Altoona, the strong pitching performances were not the story line of the game.

Johnston Realty committed five errors, leading to four unearned runs. Martella’s Pharmacy also committed a key error in the ninth that allowed three runs to score, but Altoona could not overcome its miscues, losing 6-5 to the Johnstown host entry in AAABA National Tournament.

Altoona’s entry finished the tournament with a 4-1 record, falling one game short of the title game. However, manager Dan Servello was positive after his team’s loss.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Servello said. “It has been a long time since an Altoona team has actually come over and done as well as I think we have done. It’s a testament to the kids. They just worked hard all week trying to get here, doing the job they did all week as far as swinging the bats, making plays. We came a up a little short, but we are happy with how we played.”

The errors were too much to overcome.

“I told the guys after the game that I don’t think I have ever seen a game of this importance where all but about one of the runs on the board I think were unearned, with errors,” Servello said. “It shows you have to take care of the baseball. If we don’t have the errors we had, potentially we are on the upside of that game. It just worked out that way. We weren’t making the plays.”

Martella’s opened the scoring in the second inning, thanks to an error by left fielder Frank Montecalvo. T.J. Adams opened the second frame with a line drive toward Montecalvo. He took a step in, then tried to retreat, but had the ball go off his glove.

After an infield single by George Coyle, Jake Swank hit a bloop single into right center field. However, when the ball hit the turf it bounced over the heads of both the right fielder and center fielder, allowing Adams and Coyle to score. Mykut responded by inducing a groundout and a double play to keep the Johnstown lead 2-0.

Altoona responded with an unearned run of its own in the bottom of the frame, but a questionable call by the umpires limited what could have been a big inning.

Trenton Creppage reached on an error and Lennox Pugh was hit by a pitch to give Altoona two on with no outs. Tyler Treese then hit a groundball to third. Creppage avoided a tag by Martella’s third baseman and slid in safely at third to load the bases with no outs. However, Martella’s manager questioned the call.

The base umpires got together to discuss the play, and ruled that Creppage was out for going out of the baseline. After a walk loaded the bases, Montecalvo drove in a run with an RBI groundout.

However, Johnstown starter Braxton Roxby wiggled out of the jam, leaving the bases loaded and Martella’s holding a 2-1 lead after two innings.

Altoona tied the game 2-2 in the third inning when Lennox Pugh singled home John Servello. However, Martella’s came right back and retook the lead in the top of the fourth. Boston Bradley plated two runs with a two-out single to push Johnstown to a 4-2 lead.

Two miscues in the sixth inning allowed Martella’s to add to its lead. Swank singled to center field. However, the ball got under Servello’s glove, allowing Swank to advance to third. A passed ball plated Swank, increasing the lead to 5-2.

The score remained that way until the ninth inning. Martella’s got what proved to be a crucial insurance run. Andrew Walker led off the frame with a bunt single. Walker advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and stole third base. He scored when a two-out groundball by Jonny Kutchman got under shortstop Cory Storm’s glove. The unearned run set the lead at 6-2 Johnstown going into the bottom of the ninth.

Altoona mounted a rally, thanks to an error by Johnstown. With two outs, Altoona had runners on first and second. Servello then singled to right field. The ball rolled under Adams’ glove to the right field fence, allowing three runs to score, trimming the deficit to 6-5. However, Swank made an acrobatic catch of a popup to end the game and Johnston Realty’s strong tournament run.

“Altoona is a heck of a team,” Martella’s manager Jesse Cooper said. “They are a heck of a team. They can swing it. They had a great pitcher on the mound tonight. He dealt. In these games you have to take advantage of mistakes. Walker had a huge ninth inning. He stole third base, and Kutchman hit the ball hard, making them make a play. We took advantage of that mistake. It was huge. That was the difference.”

Altoona’s pitching definitely could not be faulted. Mykut and Hileman combined to allow only eight hits and two earned runs, striking out five while only walking two.

“That’s exactly how we drew it,” Servello said. “Alex would start and give us five or six innings, and throw the way he does. He has a little more velocity than Brendan Hileman. Then bring Brendan in and try to get them off balance a little bit and have them hit on their front foot, and that’s exactly what happened. We just didn’t make the plays.”

JOHNSTOWN (6): Walker cf 511, Smith 2b 301, Ward rf-p 501, Kutchman 200, Adams lf-rf 410, Coyle 3b 321, Swank ss 423, Diehl c 300, Bradley 401. Totals – 29 6 8.

ALTOONA (5): Storm ss 100, Soltis 2b 410, Servello cf 422, D. Bankovich rf 400, Creppage dh 300, Pugh 3b 311, Treese 300, Blair c 100, A. Bankovich c 211, Montecalvo lf 200, Weglarz lf 200. Totals – 29 5 4.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Johnstown 020 201 001 – 6 8 2

Altoona 011 000 002 – 5 4 5

E–Kutchman, Adams, Montecalvo, D. Bankovich, Pugh, Storm, Servello,. 3B–Ward. RBI-Bradley 2, Montecalvo. WP-Roxby. LP–Mykut. SO-Roxby 5, Ward 4, Mykut 3, Hileman 2. BB-Roxby 5, Mykut 2.

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