Through three scoreless innings at Point Stadium, the Altoona Rail Birds held their own against Martella’s Pharmacy in a AAABA League interleague contest.
But Martella’s patience at the plate and aggressiveness on the base paths turned a close game into a 10-run mercy rule affair on Tuesday.
Martella’s had nine hits and 11 runs over its final three at-bats to beat the Rail Birds 11-1 in six innings during the early game at the Point.
“Their guy didn’t really have a lot of velocity. It just took us a little while to stay back on him,” Martella’s manager Chris Pfeil said. “Once we did, we started putting the barrel on the ball.”
The 10-5 Pharmacy methodically pulled away with a single run in the fourth, three more in the fifth and seven tallies to close out the bottom of the sixth.
Pfeil’s team collected 10 hits, including three by third baseman Jordan Giannini and two apiece from right fielder Dillon Boyer and catcher Anthony Fanelli.
Martella’s also had six hit batsmen, three walks and five stolen bases.
“We did a very good job of having some guys who were unselfish and took some pitches,” Pfeil said. “On the bases we did a great job of executing our running game. They didn’t seem like they were prepared to stop us, so we continued to take bases at will.”
The offense backed a solid outing by right hander Andrew Keirn, who tossed a complete game, scattering five hits while striking out six and walking one. Three of the Rail Birds hits came in the top of the sixth, when Keirn stranded all three base runners.
“Andrew did a good job and was mixing his pitches and hitting his spots,” Pfeil said. “He broke three or four bats. He was able to get the ball on the inside part of the plate. He really never gave them an opportunity to get into the game offensively.”
The Rail Birds (0-3) held a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth after Jordan Swope doubled and scored on starting pitcher Eric Grace’s ground out. Martella’s tied it in the bottom of the inning after Giannini singled, Fanelli doubled and Pat Gully hit a sacrifice fly.
Boyer, Fanelli, Gully and Jimmy Stenger each singled in the three-run fifth.
In the sixth, Martella’s had singles by Giannini, Matt McMillen and Boyer – the last one driving in a pair to put the mercy rule into effect.
“This is the time of the year all of the teams are starting to settle in,” Pfeil said. “We’re getting excellent pitching and our defense has been outstanding. Our offense is still a work in progress. We still have some guys who are trying to find their way. Once they do, with our team speed, we can be very dangerous.”