BY JAKE OSWALT
Facing a 6-1 deficit in the top of the fifth inning would be a daunting task for most teams. Martella’s Pharmacy proved that patience is a virtue to pull off a comeback and beat the Berkley Hills Renegades 11-9 to take a 2-0 series lead in the AAABA league best-of-5 semifinals.
“The situation was that we wanted to get counts in our favor where we could swing it aggressively,” Martella’s manager Chris Pfeil said. “When we do that, we’re a very good offensive team and when we don’t have counts in our favor, we tend to struggle. Fortunately, some of their guys struggled with their control and we played good team baseball, were patient, and capitalized on the opportunities.”
It should not come as any surprise since both teams split the six regular season meetings with only a three run difference between the two teams (31-28 in Martella’s favor). Martella’s pulled off a 7-6 miraculous win in 10 innings on Saturday trailing by two with two outs in the ninth inning.
The Pharmacy took advantage of 10 walks and two hit batsmen, but still left 12 runners standed.
“You don’t win ball games doing that,” Renegades manager Larry McCabe said. “You got a
6-1 lead and we’re just not throwing strikes, we’re just not getting people out. We outhit them 17-11. Anytime you do that, you expect to be on top. We got to recover, first one to win three wins this series and there’s three games left so we believe we have a chance. I know I believe and I believe these guys believe, so hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.”
Martella’s got on the board first with a Matt McMillen sacrifice fly in the top of the first.
The Renegades answered with a four-run first inning. Jake Pribanic drove in a run with an RBI double to left field. Catcher Dan Gray followed with a two-run double to right field. Gray later scored on a throwing error.
The third-seeded Renegades followed with Rick Jones’ (3-for-5) RBI double in the second and an Oliver Girman run-scoring single in the third.
Two-seed Martella’s took advantage of two walks and an error while batting around in the fifth inning.
Dillon Boyer (2-for-5, three runs) and Jesse Cooper (2-for-5, two RBI) had RBI singles before Tony Strasiser (two RBI) walked to set the stage for Anthony Fanelli. The designated hitter lined the pitch to left-center to score all three runs and tie the game at six. Fanelli would come around to score on a throwing error to take a 7-6 lead.
“He (Fanelli) absolutely laced that ball into the gap,” Pfeil said. “We got a good bounce there in the corner and got all three runs in. I think once that happened, that sparked the dugout and you could see that our guys believed. I think that was the thing that got us over the hump and let us know and gave us the belief that we could get back in the game.”
John Jones (2-for-5) tied the game with a solo home run to left-center in the bottom of the fifth.
Martella’s added on in the sixth inning, again batting around the lineup and getting three free passes. Cooper executed a suicide squeeze with the bases loaded and Strasiser followed with a two-run single to center for a 10-7 lead.
Despite allowing 17 hits, Martella’s Derek Younker earned the win after going 71⁄3 innings and striking out three. Rylan Schnably got the save in one and two-thirds of scoreless relief.
“Derek Younker showed a ton of character because he settled down and slowed their offense down,” Pfeil said. “When they had 10 hits in the first three innings, he calmed their offense down and gave us an opportunity to get back in the game.”
Pribanic had a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Nate Campbell
(3-for-5, three runs) scored on a wild pitch in the eighth for the Renegades.
Martella’s Pat Gully added an RBI single in the eighth.
Despite owning a 2-0 series lead, Martella’s knows they will have their hands full with the potent Renegades.
“They’re the defending league champion,” Pfeil said. “They got guys that have been in this league and have a lot of maturity. The third win in a best of five is always the toughest win. We know they’re going to come out with their season on the line. We just got to come out and try to put good at-bats together and play the way we’re playing.”
Dylin Brooks, Matt Kastelic, and Brett Marabito each had two hits for the Renegades.
McCabe remained positive after the game, “I said you have to win three to win this series and there’s three games left so we know we have three to win and there’s three left for us, so we’re still in it.”
Martella’s Pharmacy 7, Berkley Hills Renegades 6: Singles by Pat Gully, Luke Williams and Jimmy Stenger helped Martella’s Pharmacy forge a ninth-inning tie during Saturday’s late game at Point Stadium.
Jordan Giannini’s pinch-hit single in the 10th gave second-seeded Martella’s a Game 1 triumph over the Berkley Hills Renegades. Dillon Boyer, who had two hits, singled in the 10th and took second on a sacrifice by Jesse Cooper. After an intentional walk was issued to Tony Strasiser, Gianini delivered the game-winning blow to bring in Boyer.
Anthony Fanelli was 2-for-4 with three RBI while Gully went 3-for-5. Strasiser and Stenger also had two hits apiece.
Ricky Jones, who was 2-for-3 with three RBI, broke a 4-all tie in the sixth with a two-run home run.
Teammate Jake Haubrich swatted a solo home run in the third to put the Renegades on top 1-0. Dylin Brooks’ 3-for-3 night boosted the Renegades attack while John Jones and Nate Campbell each had two hits.