The fact that both regular-season champion Martella’s Pharmacy and runner-up Delweld each have locked up spots in the upcoming AAABA Tournament didn’t curb interest in their championship series.
A crowd estimated at more than 500 – some in the press box guessed the attendance was closer to 700 – watched Delweld’s 10-0 win in Game 1 of the best-of-5 series at Point Stadium on Wednesday.
Throughout the stands were groups of fans wearing the colorful t-shirts and hats associated with their respective team, orange and blue for Martella’s and gold and blue for Delweld.
Martella’s and Delweld established themselves as the class of the now five-team league and their fan bases mirror that success.
With both teams representing Johnstown in the 66th AAABA Tournament beginning on Aug. 9, those same fans will have two opportunities to see a local team through at least the first two days of the tournament.
There is one downside to having the top two teams in the tournament though.
As mentioned in this space back in March, the local playoff winner won’t be able to pick up players for the tournament from the runner-up squad.
If Delweld repeats as playoff champ, manager Chris DelSignore won’t have any Martella’s players on his roster. If Martella’s comes back to claim the title, manager Chris Pfeil won’t have a Delweld presence in his lineup.
The two managers will have the option to select as many as four players from the three remaining teams, none of which won more than
12 games. That doesn’t mean there aren’t worthy pick-ups out there. In fact, there are members of the Berkley Hills Renegades, Roxberry Creamery and Principle Development who would fit nicely on a tournament roster.
But that doesn’t diminish the fact that either a Delweld champion or a Martella’s champ would be much stronger with a few of the league’s top players from the other front-runner’s roster.
That’s the trade off for having two spots in the 16-team bracket.
The playoff champion gets to choose its pick-up players first. Teams may pick as many as four players but don’t have to take that many.
The local AAABA League rules also state that the league playoff champion has the option of choosing to play in either the upper or lower bracket.
Joining Martella’s Pharmacy and Delweld as the teams reporting directly to Johnstown for the AAABA Tournament: Altoona; Baltimore; Buffalo; Chicago Metro; Cleveland; Columbus; Maryland State; New Orleans; New York; Toledo; and Zanesville.
In addition to the host franchises, there will be one more team from the Altoona Regional and Zanesville Regional. The winner of a now two-team playoff in New Brunswick will advance. Brooklyn and host New Brunswick are in that playoff.
Elk County, Philadelphia and the expansion franchise from Miami, Fla., are in the Altoona Regional.
Originally, Philadelphia was part of what then was a three-team playoff at New Brunswick, but the Philly franchise was summoned to Altoona after Schenectady dropped out of Altoona’s regional
Lansing, Livonia and Youngstown will play in the Zanesville Regional.
Baseball fans have an opportunity to save some bucks at Point Stadium.
Point Passes cost $12 for adults and $10 for students. The passes may be purchased during the local AAABA playoff series and at various locations in the area.
The tickets are good for any AAABA Tournament game played at the Point. Fans using the passes for opening night still must purchase an official booster ticket to have an opportunity to win prizes.
Local fans could save a bundle if they want to catch games of the two Johnstown representatives. Also there will be three games played at the Point on the first three days of the tournament.
The first day has games at
10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the stadium. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the schedule will be 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Regular-priced tickets at the Point are $4 for adults. Tickets for children under 12 and accompanied by an adult cost $1.
Regional play will begin on Saturday and run through Monday.
Teams report to their respective regional city today.
John Austin is chairman of the Altoona Regional, which will be played at Penn State-Altoona’s field.
Saturday’s schedule has Philadelphia facing Miami at noon, and Elk County playing Altoona’s Johnston Realty at 4 p.m.
On Sunday, the two opening-day winners will play, and the two opening-day losers will meet.
Altoona will play at 4 p.m. Sunday whether Johnston Realty wins or loses on Day 1.
Monday’s semifinals will begin at 10 a.m., with the title game to follow about 30 minutes after that contest concludes. If a third game is needed on Monday, it would be played 30 minutes after the second game.
Jim Wright is chairman of the Tom Checkush Memorial Zanesville Regional, which will be played at Gant Municipal Stadium, home of the Junior Pioneers.
Saturday’s first game will pair Livonia and Youngstown at
4 p.m., with Lansing and Zanesville to meet at 7 p.m.
Three games will be played on Sunday at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The championship game will be played on Monday at 11 a.m. If a second game is necessary it would be played 30 minutes after the first.
New Brunswick and Brooklyn will play at noon on Saturday and again 30 minutes after that contest concludes. If the teams split, a game will be played Sunday at noon in New Brunswick.
There will be six fields used for the AAABA Tournament.
In addition to the Point, games will be played at Roxbury Park, Greater Johnstown Middle School, Lilly Memorial Field, Portage’s Haschak Memorial Field and St. Michael adjacent to Forest Hills High.
A Family Kitchen fundraiser for St. Vincent DePaul Society will be held on Aug. 12 at the Point. Fans will receive $1 off the ticket price if they donate a canned good.
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.