The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

July 15, 2014

AAABA League: Laurel blanks Ophthalmic

JOHNSTOWN — Laurel Auto Group is looking for some momentum as it finishes out the regular season and heads into this weekend’s AAABA best-of-5 semifinal playoffs at Roxbury Park.

Ben Webb singled home Gordon Barr in the bottom of the fifth to help Laurel grab a 10-0 win over Ophthalmic Associates Tuesday in the early game at Point Stadium.

“I just wanted to help my team to get a win there and finish out the season strong before the playoffs and get us home early,” joked Webb, who was 2-of-3. “It means a lot to get out early. Everyone has a lot going on and this helps guys to go home and get rested. It’s a lot easier to play when you’re energized rather than tired.”

Laurel jumped on Ophthalmic starter Tyler Black for three runs in the first inning aided by a Webb double and an error.

“Anytime you can, you want to get the early lead. It certainly helps your pitcher to settle down,” said Laurel manager Mark Thomchick, whose right-hander Nick Kolat threw four innings, allowing three hits with two walks and two strikeouts in the win.

Zac Heide doubled to open the third inning and went to third on a ground out, scoring on a Nick Vento single to extend Laurel’s lead to 4-0.

Laurel tacked on two more runs in the fourth on a Collin Laguzza single combined with a pair of Ophthalmic errors.

Three straight singles by Logan Urtz, Vento and Mike Nowicki to open the fifth helped key the four-run outburst that ended with Webb’s single up the middle.

“We have a lot of great hitters on this team,” Webb said. “Everyone can hit the ball well from No. 1 to nine in the lineup. That will be a key heading into the playoffs.”

Laurel also turned two double plays to eliminate Ophthalmic baserunners in the first and the fourth.

“We’ve played good defense all summer and that helps out your pitcher to know that you have guys behind you that can make the plays and you don’t feel that you have to be so perfect,” Thomchick said. “Nick did a nice job throwing strikes tonight, and he’s done that all summer.”

Black had a double while Wes Foor and Ryan Robinette had the other two hits, both singles, for Ophthalmic (6-24), which didn’t advance a runner past second.

“It’s been one of those years where our offense has been consistently putting the bat on the ball with guys getting on base, we just haven’t had continuity in the order to keep things going,” Ophthalmic manager Jason Kaminsky said. “I credit the pitchers in this league for doing a good job of keeping the runners off base and off balance. We don’t always make the plays when we need to and unfortunately in a league like this you don’t make the plays and give teams extra outs, it’s going to hurt you.”

Thomchick, whose team improved to 23-9, is currently seeded second with two games left, and will face Berkley Hills Renegades in the semifinals on Saturday.

“Technically, this game doesn’t mean much as far as seeding and going into the playoffs, but we talked before the game that we are treating this like a playoff game,” Thomchick said. “Our guys did a nice job tonight jumping on them and then tacking on runs during the game. It’s nice to get out in five innings and not have to extend your pitching staff, especially when you are headed into the playoffs.”


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