The pitching rotation for Delweld looks nothing like manager Chris DelSignore envisioned before the season started.
There’s no Ian Stiffler, a Somerset product who was recently drafted in the seventh round by the Atlanta Braves. Stiffler was the first Pennsylvania high school player selected. Bobby Carbaugh is pitching for the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks of the Futures collegiate Baseball League, though he did strike out 12 in five innings in his lone appearance for Delweld. Andy Smithmyer is pitching in the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Overcoming the absence of three quality arms would be tough for most in the AAABA, but Delweld has thrived.
Following Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over the Rail Birds (Altoona) at Roxbury Park, Delweld sits comfortably atop the standings with a sparkling 11-1 record.
“Pitching has been key for us,” said DelSignore, who ran his career record to 304-154. “We have a wealth of arms even though we lost a couple good ones for now. Like every other team in America, if you pitch well, you’ll have success.
“We have a nice wealth of arms and the thing is they can play a couple positions for us.”
As of June 10, Delweld pitching boasted an ERA of 1.60 and an 1.12 WHIP with 65 strikeouts in 57 innings. Ben Legath pitched six shutout innings against the Rail Birds in running his record to 2-0. Derrick Capciak, Nate Plummer and Brad Ditzler, who has two wins and a save, are also off to strong starts.
It’s the type of stuff that has Delweld thinking big, and why not?
“Our goal is to win a national championship,” DelSignore said. “We have some guys who have lost in the final and, me personally, I’ve lost twice. We have a good team that can compete in this league, and our goals never change. Every game, we expect to win.”
It takes more than pitching to put together a start like Delweld’s, and the team is putting up some eye-popping offensive numbers.
Delweld is batting .364 (92-for-253) with a .990 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Somerset product Austin Sleek, who recently completed his freshman season at Division II Seton Hill in Greensburg, is batting .733 (11-for-15) with a 1.067 slugging percentage and seven RBI. Sleek sat out Wednesday’s game with a hamstring injury.
“He’s real valuable to us,” DelSignore said. “He’s been a surprise at the plate and he’s giving us good pitching.”
DelSignore was quick to credit the offensive contributions of Eric Weyant and Ian Helsel as keys to the team’s success.
Weyant scored two runs against Altoona, giving him a team-high 18. Helsel is batting .429 and is tied with Josh Staniscia for the lead in RBI with 11.
“Those guys have been great and they’re leaders on the team,” DelSignore said.
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Normally, up-to-date statistics accompany this column, but that’s not the case this week because The Tribune-Democrat was unable to collect current numbers for four of the six Johnstown-based franchises.
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Mike Kovak is sports editor of The Tribune-Democrat