The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


July 11, 2013

Portage defeats St. Michael in playoffs

ST. MICHAEL — When it comes to playoff baseball, pitching and defense are a tough combination to beat.

The Portage Legion team had both areas covered on its way to a 7-1 first-round victory over Central Division champion St. Michael.

Portage right-hander Jake Bryja went the distance, allowing only four hits, walking one and striking out seven.

“Hats off to Jake Bryja. He threw a heck of a game,” Portage manager Dan Kerch said. “We know we’re going to be in every game he throws. I can’t say enough about him. He’s a leader. I’m glad he’s on our side. When we play good defense and we get good starting pitching, we usually do well.

“Everything was clicking for us as a team out there today, our defense was phenomenal,” Bryja said. “We came up with big clutch hits when we needed them, played with a ton of energy. I was really able to hit my spots out there today, controlling my fastball. My change up was big for me today. When it works like it did today, it's my best pitch.”

While Portage played a clean game in the field, St. Michael made five errors and the Beavers took full advantage.

“Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it. It was like clockwork,” St. Michael Manager Denny Gramling said. “They capitalized on all of them. Collin Smay threw 100 pitches when I pulled him, and a lot of that was the fact that we didn’t make the plays and he had to throw that many more pitches.”

Portage got on the board in the top of the second. C.W. Miller drew a leadoff walk before Bryja lined a double to right-center to chase Miller. Bryja later scored on an error.

The No. 6-seed Beavers (10-11) tacked on another run in the fourth on an Evan Price (2-for-4, two RBI) RBI-infield single.

Third-seeded St. Michael answered with a run in the bottom half of the fourth. Ryan Wilson (2-for-2) and Spencer Ivock singled before pinch runner Blake Ivock scored on a wild pitch.

Bryja struck out the last batter with a runner at third.

Portage answered with two more runs in the fifth inning. Michael Bryja (2-for-3, RBI, two runs) brought in a run with an RBI-single to right, followed by a sacrifice fly from Zach Coukart.

“The last two games he (Bryja) pitched against us, he totally dominated us,” Gramling said. “When we got it to 3-1 and had a runner at third, I thought we’ll make a ballgame out of it. We made a couple mistakes in the fifth and they get a couple runs and the lead stretches back out again. The way he was throwing, he didn’t need a lot of runs.”

Bryja retired seven straight between the fourth and sixth innings and threw 97 pitches, 63 of which were strikes.

Bryja also threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 26 batters he faced.

Portage added two more insurance runs in the seventh, scoring on an error and on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.

Portage beat St. Michael three of the four meetings in the regular season, but fell a game short of the Central division title.

Portage moves on to play No. 2 seed-Patton, while St. Michael will play No. 7-seed Richland.

Elsewhere in the American Legion playoffs:

Claysburg 10, Lilly 0 (5): In Lilly, Tyler Ickes held Lilly to just a hit and fanned eight batters in Claysburg’s five-inning win. Kasy Hamm was 3-for-4 with four RBI to power top-seeded Claysburg while Michael Mock was 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI.

Mark Mardula’s infield single in the fifth was Lilly’s lone hit.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Pirates Brawl 0420 Brewers top Pirates in game highlighted by dustup

    Ryan Braun homered in the ninth inning to tie it, then Khris Davis hit a home run in the 14th that put Milwaukee ahead for good.
    Yet those were hardly the big blows that attracted all the attention Sunday in the Brewers’ 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Football team ends boycott of embattled coach

    Minnesota State University-Mankato’s football team has ended its boycott of reinstated head coach Todd Hoffner, who successfully fought child pornography charges and other misconduct accusations that removed him from the job for 20 months.
    Hoffner said he assured the players, who refused to take the practice field Wednesday, that interim coach Aaron Keen, who led the team in Hoffner’s absence, will continue in a major role with the team.

    April 20, 2014

  • Penguins 0420a Game 3 pivotal for both teams

    Not so long ago, the Columbus Blue Jackets were the worst team in the NHL.
    Now they’re heading home for tonight’s Game 3 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series with the star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins, hoping to make even more history.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0419 Blue Jackets outlast Pens in double-OT

    Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
    Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0419 Brewers rally to clip Pirates

    Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
    Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Area runners gearing for Boston Marathon

    The time was 12:15 p.m. It was Monday April 19, 1897.  Tom Burke had drawn a line across the dirt road with his foot. Eighteen men gathered near Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts.

    April 19, 2014

  • SRU vs UPJ baseball0418 1 UPJ takes one, drops second

    John Fees’ spring baseball season accurately mirrors that of his Pitt-Johnstown team.
    Fees started slow, losing his first four decisions, but has rebounded nicely in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0418 Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid

    Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
    Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drama lacking sans Tiger

    If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
    The course was there in all its splendor.

    April 18, 2014

  • Penguins 0418 Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets

    Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
    Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo