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July 16, 2014

Renegades forfeiting final four games

JOHNSTOWN — Ophthalmic Associates manager Jason Kaminsky saw his team play a half inning and suffer a AAABA League loss in the completion of a game at Roxbury Park on Wednesday evening.

Then, Ophthalmic swept a doubleheader without throwing a pitch or swinging a bat.

With the league best-of-5 semifinal playoffs set to begin on Saturday and three of his pitchers out for the season with injuries, Berkley Hills Renegades manager Butch Odenthal opted to forfeit the final four games of the regular season to save his arms.

“The four forfeits, it’s strictly what’s best for my team,” said Odenthal, whose Renegades were to play two against Ophthalmic after completing the half-inning game. “We’ve played 11 or 12 games since July 7.”

Renegades pitcher Ricky Jones faced four batters and recorded three strikeouts to finish off a 7-5 victory in a game originally played on June 11 but halted after six innings.

Ophthalmic, the fifth place team, will not advance to the playoffs. Kaminsky’s team plays regular-season champion Martella’s Pharmacy in the late game at the Point on Thursday.

“I can understand,” Kaminsky said of the forfeits. “It’s just a tough situation dealing with the weather and the playoffs pending less than

72 hours. Everybody’s in the same boat as far as pitching goes and playing so many games in the last few days.

“Our boys are here to play baseball. Everybody wants to make the playoffs,” Kaminsky added. “Everybody has the ultimate goal to reach the tournament. But at the same time the guys are grounded in the fact that they’re here to play baseball and here to get better for their college teams. That’s how we’ve approached things. We’ve had a lot of great individual contributions and a lot of great players.”

Odenthal said the Renegades will miss pitchers Lucas Cox (1-0), Andy Grace (2-1, one save) and Brett Myers (2-0, 1.64 ERA) due to injuries.

The Renegades will face second-place Laurel Auto Group in the first round of the playoffs, which begin Saturday at Roxbury Park. Long-time rivals Martella’s Pharmacy and No. 4 Delweld will play the other semifinal series.

AAABA League Commissioner Tony Crisafulli said the Renegades’ four forfeits are an unfortunate situation. Berkley Hills has scheduled games Thursday against First Commonwealth and Friday against Delweld, which Odenthal said will be forfeited.

“It’s not the ideal situation and it’s something the league tries to discourage,” Crisafulli said. “It’s even more difficult when you’re the opposing team and you have things scheduled, umpires are scheduled and they come into town. It’s not something we encourage but this was a strange year. We’ve had a lot of weather issues this year. We could only schedule games when we scheduled them. Unfortunately it’s what we had to do. What the managers choose to do is up to them and their sponsor.”

In Wednesday’s completion of the June 11 game, the official statistics included two hits and two runs by the Renegades’ Matt Kastelic, a home run, a double and two runs by Austin Mock, and two hits, including a double, by Jake Haubrich. Ophthalmic’s Kirk Davis, Tyler Black and Logan Fluke each had a double and scored a run. Renegades pitcher Kyle Droz had five strikeouts, and Jones had the save with three strikeouts.

In Wednesday’s early game at Point Stadium, Delweld scored six first-inning runs and beat First Commonwealth, 7-1.

Ian Helsel had three hits, including a double, and scored a run.

“We approached this like any other game,” Helsel said. “The playoffs are coming up and this is a good tune up for the playoffs. We came out and played hard in the first inning and put up six runs. It helps a lot getting up early on any team.”

Ross Dirienzo drove in a run with a double, Luke Campbell hit a two-run single, Michael VanLenten drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, and Tanner Stull had a run-producing single in the big first inning.

Delweld finished with nine hits. First Commonwealth’s Matt Amick had two of his team’s four hits.

“It was good to get out to a fast start,” Delweld Manager Chris DelSignore said. “We hadn’t played in three days. I was worried about rust. But we were able to square up some balls in the first and had hits with runners on base.

“Our pitchers were outstanding. It’s the kind of performance we need to have from here on out and into the playoffs.”

Thursday’s schedule now includes a doubleheader at the Point, with Laurel Auto Group and Delweld playing at 5:30 p.m., and Ophthalmic Associates and Martella’s Pharmacy set for 7:45.

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @masty81.


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