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July 25, 2013

Working overtime: Delweld takes AAABA series opener in 10 innings

JOHNSTOWN — Delweld used two long balls to build a big lead in Game 1 of the AAABA League championship series on Thursday night.

But a couple of small balls led to Delweld’s 6-5, extra-inning victory over Martella’s Pharmacy at Point Stadium.

“It was huge,” said Delweld reliever Stone Rice of No. 2 hitter Ian Helsel’s infield hit with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning. “Give credit to everybody for being smart, not going up there hacking.”

Game 2 of the best-of-5 series will begin at 7 tonight at the Point.

“We’ll be back to play. That’s the way things go,” Martella’s manager Chris Pfeil said. “We misplayed a ball and then had the infield up and got the ground ball but just didn’t make the play. We’ll be back.”

Delweld’s 10th opened with Ben Legath’s five-pitch walk.

No. 9 hitter Devin Pritts put down a bunt on a 3-2 count. Reliever Andrew Keirn made an errant throw, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Martella’s intentionally walked Eric Weyant to load the bases and set up the force out at home.

Helsel tapped a full-count pitch to third baseman Jimmy Stenger, who was part of a drawn-up, five-man infield. The ball caromed off his hand and near the hole, allowing the winning run to score.

“We told Ben to take a strike to see what he has,” Delweld manager Chris DelSignore said. “What a great at-bat Devin Pritts had. With two strikes he gets a bunt down. Who would have thought that play would result in an error? That allowed us to put more pressure on them. We loaded the bases, and Ian got the big hit.”

Martella’s struck in the first via Matt McMillen’s run-scoring single.

Legath had smacked a two-run homer over the left-field screen in Delweld’s four-run second. Martella’s got one back on Anthony Fanelli’s RBI single in the top of the third, but Delweld catcher Luke Campbell launched a solo shot over the Screen Monster in the third to make it 5-2 in the bottom of the inning.

“I thought both starters struggled early on and then they kind of settled in,” DelSignore said of his right-hander Marcus Shippey and Martella’s Pete Vuckovich Award winner Mike Mulvey.

“There’s two great pitchers on the mound,” Pfeil added. “Both teams came out at the plate very aggressive and attacking. But then you’d look up and the scoreboard had a lot of zeroes.”

Martella’s tied the game at 5-all with four hits and three runs in the fifth. Sam Barbera, league batting champion Dillon Boyer and Jesse Cooper each singled. Tony Strasiser hit a two-run double to the left-field corner.

Fanelli walked, but Shippey worked out of trouble after McMillen’s sacrifice bunt attempt resulted in an out at third base. An earlier pitch in the at-bat hit McMillen’s hand and was ruled a foul ball.

“We did a great job tying it, had first and second and nobody out,” Pfeil said. “Our batter gets beaned in the hand and they call a foul ball even though it hit him so square on the ball he probably has a broken hand. You can see the swelling. They insist they heard the bat.

“That’s unfortunate because I would have liked to have the bases loaded with nobody out but that’s the game. You’ve got to overcome bad calls.”

Delweld collected 16 hits, and Martella’s had 10 hits.

Rice got the win in relief. He gave up a leadoff single to his former North Star High teammate Strasiser in the 10th, but got the next three batters out.

“I think I’ve started him off with a curveball every time down here, every time I threw to him ever,” Rice said.

“He knew it was coming. He got some good wood on it. I just tried to forget it and focus on the batter. We ended up getting three outs.”

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