Pat Gully has a unique perspective of the AAABA Tournament.
The Martella’s Pharmacy catcher will play in his fourth consecutive tournament beginning on Monday at Point Stadium.
Gully continues to live a dream with roots to his time as a bat boy with the former Johnstown Grays squad 11 years ago.
From bat boy to veteran backstop, Gully appreciates the opportunity.
“Some people play in the league four or five years and never get to play in the tournament,” Gully said. “Matt McMillen and I have been fortunate. It just goes to show we have a good core team to get us there and good coaching.”
Gully and McMillen, who is a veteran infielder and outfielder, each joined the four-tournament club this season. Martella’s advanced as the Johns-town-2 team after finishing as the local AAABA League playoff runner-up.
“I’m really lucky to be able to play four in a row,” McMillen said, echoing his teammate’s thoughts. “Some people play three or four years and don’t get a chance to play in the tournament. It means more to be from Johnstown, growing up around AAABA all of my life.
“When I was younger, I’d go to the games and look at them play. Now they (fans) are looking at me.”
Gully batted .321 during the regular season, his third as an All-AAABA League catcher. His ability to handle Martella’s pitching staff is an intangible appreciated by manager Chris Pfeil.
Gully has backstopped the local league’s past two Pete Vuckovich Award winners in Mike Mulvey (2013) and Derek Younker (2012).
“Pat came in as our backup catcher as a 17-year-old and developed into one of the best catchers the league has seen in a long time,” Pfeil said. “He has been our starter the past three seasons and takes total control of the game behind the plate. Our pitchers love throwing to him. He is one of the biggest competitors that has ever played for us.”
McMillen has contended with injury and health issues sporadically, both during spring ball with UPJ and in the AAABA League. But he still batted .247 and played a solid left field and shortstop.
“Matt has done it all for us the past four seasons,” Pfeil said. “He has played second, shortstop, third, and the outfield. He plays them all well. He is a tough out at the plate and has great instincts on the bases. His versatility has been crucial for us the past few seasons.”
As a former bat boy in the tournament, Gully actually has five tournament appearances. His uncle, Paul Knupp, is an assistant coach for Martella’s. Knupp also assisted Pfeil with the Johnstown Grays and managed the 1998 Wise Trailer Sales team that represented Johnstown in the AAABA Tournament.
Those family ties enabled Gully to participate in the Grays’ 2002 tournament.
“I grew up, when I was a little kid, following Wise Trailer Sales. I followed East Hills TV,” Gully said of two former Johnstown league franchises. “I know what a big deal it is.
“It gives you an extra incentive to play hard to get there when you’re at that age,” said Gully, who was 12 when he worked the Grays dugout. “Every little kid that comes down to the tournament, I’m sure they want to be in our shoes just like I was when I was younger.”
Those Johnstown Grays teams of a decade ago also impacted McMillen.
“Matt Petrowsky was one of my idols when I was growing up,” said McMillen of the former Johnstown slugger. “I watched his whole career with the Grays.”
Local baseball fans have watched McMillen and Gully mature on the baseball diamond.
They might get another chance too. Because of the rule change to allow 21-year-olds – and in some cases 22-year-olds – both Gully and McMillen are eligible to play next season.
“The best thing about both of them is that we have them back for another season,” Pfeil said.
Pat Gully has a unique perspective of the AAABA Tournament.
Altoona AAABA player helped Cardinals eliminate Pirates
While much of western Pennsylvania winced at St. Louis Cardinals slugger Matt Adams’ towering two-run homer against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS, Mel Curtis jumped up from his couch and cheered loudly.
It’s not that Curtis is an anti-Pirates fan.
AAABA | The bracket
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NLDS hero remembers AAABA Tournament
Six years ago, Matt Adams smacked a game-winning hit off the Point Stadium screen in left-center field playing in front of an estimated 7,000 fans – the largest crowd he’d played in front at that juncture of his baseball career.
Last week, Adams ripped a towering two-run homer to effectively seal the St. Louis Cardinals’ 6-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the decisive fifth game of the National League Divisional Series in front of 47,231 fans at Busch Stadium.
Campbell, Solarczyk nominated for Point award
Delweld pick-up player Nate Campbell and Richland running back Tanner Solarczyk earned Point Stadium Award monthly nominations for August and September, respectively.
A center fielder, Campbell laced a one-out double to deep right field, driving in a pair of runs that provided the margin of victory in the Johnstown representative’s 12-10 victory over Chicago Metro in the AAABA Tournament.
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Youse’s Maryland Orioles of Baltimore overcame an early deficit and forced a second championship round game in the 69th AAABA Tournament Sunday afternoon at Point Stadium.
Baltimore scored eight runs over the fifth and sixth innings and beat Delweld 12-5 in front of an estimated 3,000 fans.
Triumphant Delweld heads to title game
Josh Staniscia has produced plenty of big hits with the game on the line this AAABA season.
That comes along with being the local league MVP.
The Delweld center fielder didn’t have a tape-measure homer or blistering line drive in the bottom of the 10th inning on Saturday night at Point Stadium.
Baltimore bounces back to earn rematch with Delweld
Baltimore right-hander Bobby Ruse knew just what to expect Saturday after a deflating loss by his team to Johnstown’s Delweld Friday night in AAABA action at Point Stadium.
Ruse threw a complete game, scattering eight hits with eight strikeouts and one walk as Baltimore defeated New Orleans for the second time this week, 8-4, eliminating the Louisiana squad.
AAABA Sidelights| AAABA fan is a true oldtimer
Johnstown Oldtimers President George Arcurio III made an impromptu presentation in the Point Stadium stands on Friday afternoon.
Arcurio learned that super baseball fan Frank Albert of Johnstown was in attendance.
Albert told Arcruio he is 99 years old and has been in attendance at every AAABA Tournament in Johnstown.
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