The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

July 22, 2013

Delweld claims a berth in AAABA League championship series


JOHNSTOWN — Delweld didn’t look like the regular-season champions the first time through the lineup against Laurel Auto Group right hander Chris Nolan in Monday’s AAABA League playoff game at Point Stadium.

But after making the proper adjustments and getting its timing down, Delweld exploded for nine runs on nine hits between the fourth and sixth innings. The outburst helped Delweld pull away from Laurel Auto Group with a 12-7 victory to sweep the semifinal series and advance to the championship round.

“It took us one time through to kind of see what he had and what he was working with,” Delweld manager Chris DelSignore said about Nolan. “That’s kind of what we do. We’re not the type of team to jump on somebody early. But we stay patient and we realize and know that we’re going to get our opportunities at some point. It’s just a matter of staying focused and staying patient.”

Seven different Delweld starters got a hit and six produced at least one RBI, showcasing a deep and talented lineup.

Laurel Auto Group got on the board first in the third inning on a Zach Zimmerman (2-for-4) RBI single to right field.

In the fourth, Delweld center fielder and league MVP Josh Staniscia reached on a one-out single to center and then stole second. Matt Martin lined a double off the screen in left-center to bring Staniscia in. With two outs, Drew Hemminger produced a run-scoring single to center, one of five two-out RBI’s for Delweld.

LAG tied the game at two with a Ben Webb (two RBI) RBI single to center in the fifth.

Delweld didn’t relent in the fifth, scoring three more runs to regain the lead. Ian Helsel brought in Eric Weyant with a single off the screen in left field. With two outs and a 3-1 count on cleanup hitter Martin, Nolan grooved a pitch the catcher drove to left field to score Helsel. Martin scored in a bizarre way as Nolan’s pickoff attempt at second sailed into center field. Martin went to third base and came around to score as the throw from the outfield went wide of home plate.

“The train derailed there in the bottom of the fifth inning,” Laurel Auto Group manager Mark Thomchick said. “Defensive miscues killed us the whole series. We gave them a lot of free runners. The big hit from Martin with a runner at second with two outs, we wanted to pitch around him a little bit. Just a bad 3-1 pitch. That snowballed the rest of the inning.”

Delweld (28-9) tacked on four more runs in the sixth inning. Weyant (two RBI) and Helsel (2-for-4, two RBI) had RBI singles. Staniscia (2-for-3) brought in a run with a sacrifice fly and Weyant stole third and came in to score on a throwing error to take a 9-2 lead.

“That’s what we were focusing on, getting into good hitting counts and getting something we could drive and put the ball in play and see what happens,” DelSignore said. “That’s the key to hitting and we were able to do that. Hopefully, we can carry that approach in through the championship series.”

Four-seed Laurel Auto did not back down, however. Webb brought in a run with a sacrifice fly and Ryan Bills produced a two-run single to center to close the margin to 9-5.

Delweld scored on a bases-loaded walk in the seventh and Luke Campbell blasted a two-run homer to left-center for another two-out knockout punch.

Laurel Auto scored twice in the ninth with a Gordan Barr RBI triple to right, and on a fielder’s choice.

Delweld lefty Austin Sleek went 62⁄3 innings for the win, giving up five earned runs and striking out five.

“Pitching, defense, timely hitting, that’s the recipe to winning baseball,” DelSignore said. “We’ve played, for the most part, clean defensively this series. We have to have that night in, night out and we have to have good pitching. If we get those two and we swing the bats adequate enough to where I think we can, we’re going to be in every game.”

Despite losing three key pitchers throughout the summer, DelSignore said, “We don’t have time to mourn the loss of our pitchers that we’ve had, so it’s just guys have to come in and step up and do the job. To this point, they’ve done so, so we just have to keep going.”

Laurel Auto ended the year 21-16, but Thomchick said he was proud of his team’s effort throughout the summer.

“Our team has fought back all year. We’ve done a good job throughout the regular season in never giving up. We’ve had some good comeback wins, so I’m proud of the way the guys fought at the end to put five more runs up and really scrap, claw, and fight there at the end.

I’m looking forward to staying involved in this league and having a competitive team year in and year out.”