Larry McCabe appreciated the Berkley Hills Renegades’ ascent to first place in the AAABA League more than most people.
A first-year AAABA League manager but veteran of the region’s baseball scene, McCabe still is waiting to see how the Renegades perform when their lineup consistently is at full strength.
“We have not had a full lineup yet. We’ve had so many people injured,” said McCabe, who took over the Renegades managing duties this year. “(Pitcher) Jason Shirley played his first game (Monday) after he tweaked his hamstring in Youngstown State’s playoffs. Our first baseman had been sick and had a virus and has been on the disabled list. A couple people have hurt their arms. We’ve moved some people around.
“We’ve played games with nine and 10 kids because of kids getting out of college late or kids getting injured or graduation ceremonies. I’m sure everybody else is in the same position.”
Still the Renegades took an 8-3 record into Wednesday night’s game against Delweld at the Point. Berkley Hills held the top spot, with new franchise Laurel Auto Group in second.
Traditional powers Martella’s Pharmacy and Delweld held untraditional spots in the lower half of the standings.
“We’ve scored some runs and hit the ball relatively well,” said McCabe, the long-time Portage High School coach. “We’ve had some good performances from (left-handed pitcher) Nate Spohn and (right-hander) Ben Weimer. They have four of our eight wins between them. We went over to Altoona against Ketrow Insurance and Johnny Jones had a good day for us.”
Berkley Hills is 4-0 in interleague play against Altoona.
The Renegades opened the season with a win over defending playoff champion Martella’s but dropped the next two games of the series.
After that, Berkley Hills ran off six consecutive victories before Laurel snapped the string on Friday.
“I think it’s a good ballclub,” McCabe said. “When everybody is healthy we should be very competitive.”
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Interleague success: Johnstown teams were 13-5 against Altoona through Tuesday.
The Renegades were perfect in four interleague dates, including doubleheaders against Ketrow Insurance and Johnston Realty.
Martella’s was 3-1 and Laurel was 4-2.
Delweld had a 2-2 interleague mark through Tuesday.
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Series bound: Former Delweld MVP George Roberts and his Kent State University teammates are headed to the NCAA Division I College World Series in Omaha after a dramatic win in the Oregon Super Regional.
Roberts was named the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Player of the Year last month and earned Most Outstanding Player at the Gary (Ind.) Regional. Kent State (46-18) will face Arkansas (44-20) at
5 p.m. on Saturday.
The AAABA League/Johns-town Junior League has had a few other notable connections to the College World Series.
Future major leaguers Mike Holtz and Keith Williams each played for Clemson University in the 1991 College World Series. Holtz was a pitcher who went onto a long career as a relief specialist in the majors. Williams was a slugging outfielder who briefly played for the San Francisco Giants.
In 1954 Tommy Yewcic was named Outstanding Player of the College World Series even though his Michigan State team did not advance to the final.
Yewcic and Holtz are in the AAABA Hall of Fame.
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On the Web: The AAABA League has its own website at www.leaguelineup.com/jtn_aaaba_league. The site includes schedules, scores and other information.
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.