The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

July 23, 2010

MIKE MASTOVICH: Pitcher awarded scholarship

Mike Mastovich
The Tribune-Democrat

JOHNSTOWN — Berkley Hills Renegades pitcher Braxton Ferre’s name wasn’t among the list of major award winners in the AAABA League on Thursday night.

But as the league playoffs opened on Friday, Ferre learned he had been selected for another award that had special significance to him and his family.

The 18-year-old right-hander became the sixth recipient of the Marlon Mackel Award and scholarship named for the late umpire who called many AAABA League games over the years. The award is based on more than solid play. It is intended to assist a college-bound player with financial needs that extend beyond the everyday student loan and grant application process.

“We’re looking for someone who has a need,” said Bob George, one of the committee members for the award that is presented through the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. “Each team is supposed to submit a nomination.

“This is the sixth award. The scholarship is $1,000.”

Ferre went 3-3 on a Renegades team that won only 12 games. He lost a pair of 2-1 games, including a three-hitter against regular-season champion Martella’s and a setback to Principle on Monday.

“He does multiple things well,” Renegades manager Roland Black said. “He’s a great presence in the dugout. He’s always behind the rest of his guys. He’s been throwing really well. He hit 90 miles an hour on the gun this year. He’s a great character player too. He’s always positive and he’s a pleasure to coach.”

Those intangibles contributed to Ferre’s selection.

The recent Bishop McCort High School graduate will make the transition into college amid some challenges many other freshmen won’t encounter.

“It means a lot because my family is going through a hard time,” said Ferre. “I work hard.

“I keep my grades up. I’m really proud to receive this scholarship. Going through college is a tough time in any young teenager’s life. Any little bit of money that I could get to help me go through college is a really big help for me. I pay for a lot of my own things.”

Ferre will attend a nursing program at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

“He absolutely fits the profile of what this award is about,” Black said. “His family is hard-working people. They’ve just had a couple bad breaks. This money means a lot more to him than most people.”

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The All-AAABA team and the major award winners reflected the final standings.

Regular-season champion Martella’s Pharmacy had nine representatives, including Most Valuable Player Sam Watkins and co-Pete Vuckovich Award winner Scott Dixon. Mike LeViseur won the batting title (.476) and was on the All-AAABA Team as a first baseman.

Runner-up Delweld had eight selections, including co-Vuckovich winner Carter Lehman and Bill Jenkins Award winner Nate Plummer, the top rookie pitcher.

Renegades outfielder Dan Ranieri was the Ken Horoho Award winner at the top rookie position player. He was among three Renegades picked.

Roxberry Creamery also had three selections, and Principle Development, one.

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Watkins sits atop the Martella’s/former Johnstown Grays franchise all-time record list with 416 at-bats, 131 career hits, 115 runs and 92 RBIs. He also has the record with six career saves, though he only pitched 11⁄3 innings this year for one save.

LeViseur’s .476 batting average is a franchise single-season mark.

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Delweld rolled into the postseason with 19 wins in 21 games (18 of 20 on the field, plus one forfeit win).

The defending playoff champs are tough this time of year regardless of their position in the standings.

In 2007 and 2008 Delweld finished third only to upset its way to the playoff titles.

In 2003, manager Chris DelSignore’s squad advanced to the AAABA Tournament title round but lost a lopsided contest to perennial power Baltimore.

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Did someone mention Baltimore?

Youse’s Maryland Orioles of Baltimore are leading the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League with a 27-12 record entering Friday’s games and needed one win to clinch. The Orioles also play in their city league, which qualfies the team to play in Johnstown.

Second baseman Patrick Blair leads the Orioles with a .389 average, including nine doubles, a triple and two homers in 27 games. The  Wake Forest player scored 17 runs and drove in 14.

Right-handed pitcher Ben McKinney, a Georgia Tech product, was 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA, while Richmond’s Blake Geiger was 3-1 with a 0.25 ERA in 36 innings pitched. Reliever Benjamin Carhart of Stetson was 3-0 with four saves. George Mason left-hander Christopher O’Grady also is 2-1 with a 1.49 ERA.

Baltimore lost in the Altoona Regional last summer and should be extra motivated this year.

The Orioles will be in the lower bracket because of the regional loss. New franchise Miami is expected to be solid at the Altoona Regional and should the team advance to Johnstown it also would be in the lower bracket.

The Johnstown AAABA League playoff champion will be the city’s official representative and have the choice of playing in either the upper or lower bracket according to league rep Denny Altimore.

When Johnstown had one representative in the tournament the team always played in the lower bracket, which was considered an advantage.

This year that might not be the case, which could lead to an interesting decision.

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.