Delweld notched its seventh and eighth consecutive wins on Thursday night, even though the winning streak continued in a somewhat unorthodox fashion.
Manager Chris DelSignore’s 17-8 team was awarded a pair of forfeit victories when only one opposing player showed up at Point Stadium for a scheduled interleague game against Altoona’s Ketrow Insurance.
Delweld has climbed the AAABA League standings in a manner that local baseball fans have become accustomed to over the past 13 years.
On the field, the second-place squad has won six in a row and 11 of 12. Counting the forfeits, the string extends to eight straight and 13 of 14 in the official standings.
So much for that uncharacteristic 4-7 start.
“We’re still very much a work in progress,” DelSignore said after a 9-1 win over rival Martella’s Pharmacy on Wednesday. “We have some guys we’re trying to nurse back to health and get them eased back into playing.
“We’re very young but we have a lot of talent. We knew sooner or later we’d hit our stride. We’re playing good ball right now and we just want to continue to do so.”
DelSignore had to replace the likes of 2011 league MVP/
batting champion Zach Vignero, Pete Vuckovich Award winner Andy Smithmyer and All-AAABA Team selections Matt Donaldson and Josh Robinette from a 23-13 regular-season championship team.
The dugout wasn’t left empty though. All-league players Josh Stanscia, Eric Weyant and last season’s Ken Horoho top rookie player Zach Solarczyk returned.
So did experienced players Logan Brown and Nate Plummer.
Early in the season, DelSignore predicted his team would take its lumps. But he was confident young players such as Marcus Shippey, Ian Stiffler, John Szmed, Ian Helsel and Stone Rice would mature. The manager also counted on a solid return to the mound from Ben Legath, who has made big strides in his comeback from Tommy John surgery a year ago.
“We’re gaining confidence at the plate,” DelSignore said.
“Defensively we feel very comfortable playing here at the Point. The pitchers are starting to figure out what needs to be done to be successful. Again, we’re still a work in progress.”
Renegades Rampage: The Berkley Hills Renegades have consistently remained atop the league standings though the margin is thinner. First-year manager Larry McCabe’s Renegades are 18-7, with a one-game lead over Delweld.
Renegades Ryan Uhl (.440 average) and Nate Campbell (.422) ranked first and third, respectively, in the league batting entering this week. Campbell had a league-best 34 runs scored, and Dylin Brooks added 23.
John Jones had a league-high 34 RBIs for the Renegades.
On the mound, McCabe has relied on multiple hurlers, with Ryan Dandrea, Billy Elliott and Nate Spohn each having three wins entering this week. Braxton Ferre had two victories.
Mound Presence: Martella’s Pharmacy pitcher Derek Younker was tied for the AAABA League lead with four wins and had league bests with a 1.25 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 28 innings.
Manager Chris Pfeil will rely on the right-hander, who will be a junior at Pitt-Johnstown as Martella’s attempts to work through a slump.
Martella’s lost four of six games, and seven of its past
11 through Wednesday night.
Bills on the hill: Laurel Auto Group’s Ryan Bills was tied for the league lead with four wins entering the week.
The 6-foot-3 hurler from Westmoreland County had a 2.04 ERA, 19 strikeouts and only two walks in 172/3 innings.
Manager Len Beiter’s team was trying to rebound from a string of seven losses in eight games prior to Thursday’s scheduled interleague doubleheader against the Altoona Rail Birds at Roxbury.
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.