The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local Sports

June 20, 2013

MIKE MASTOVICH| Rookie manager righting Laurel Auto Group ship

JOHNSTOWN — Casey Craig is new to his role as GM of the Laurel Auto Group franchise in the AAABA League.

But Craig has seen enough of Mark Thomchick to realize the first-year manager has brought instant respectability to a team that finished eight games under .500 last season.

Thomchick joined Laurel after three seasons as an assistant baseball coach at Washington & Jefferson College, where he also was a catcher during his playing days and still is among the career leaders with 21 homers and 91 RBI.

Last summer, the Indiana native was an assistant coach with the Cotuit Kettleers in the prestigious wooden-bat Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League.

“Mark has done a great job,” Craig said prior to Laurel Auto Group’s 6-3 upset of league-leading Delweld on Tuesday night at Point Stadium. “Mark’s an alum of the league who played for Delweld, so I think he understands the caliber of baseball in the AAABA League.

“His spending two summers in the Cape Cod League brings a lot of credibility for him as a manager of the team, especially with the young kids.”

Laurel Auto Group was 9-4 after Tuesday’s win over Delweld, a team that had won 13 of its first 14 games prior to the setback. LAG and Delweld met again Wednesday at Roxbury Park. Delweld won that game, 3-2.

Put into perspective, Laurel won only 14 of 36 games played last season.

“I really like the energy Mark brings to the team,” said Craig, himself an addition to the LAG team late last fall. “He does a great job of not only managing the game but also teaching as he manages. I think that’s a pretty unique talent to not only be focused in on the strategy of the game but also to teach on the side.”

Thomchick is assisted by IUP product Tony Piccolini and Dan Fenton, a Richland High graduate who played at Juniata college. Dan Webb also assists.

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