Longtime rivals Johnstown and Altoona have reached the Final Four of the AAABA Tournament and will meet Saturday at 7 p.m. in an elimination game at Point Stadium.
Martella’s Pharmacy (3-1) remained alive in the double-elimination tournament Friday night as left-hander Shane Supanick allowed just four hits in a 3-0 complete-game victory over Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Altoona Wise Trailer Sales (3-1) suffered its first loss Friday afternoon at the Point in a winner’s bracket game, falling 9-8 in a slugfest against unbeaten Boston (4-0).
Johnstown has advanced to the championship round six times and Altoona twice in the 71-year-old tournament, which will conclude Sunday afternoon. The teams are a combined 0-8.
“It should be a good one against Altoona,” said Martella’s centerfielder Ernesto Rizzitano, who scored two runs and stole two bases against Philadelphia. “Altoona has a very good baseball team – they can really hit.
“It’s a big rivalry for both of us. A lot of us guys know each other, so that should make it exciting.”
In the other Saturday matchup, Boston will face New Orleans (4-1) at the Point at 1 p.m.
The Boston franchise has yet to lose in its maiden appearance in Johnstown, and would have to lose twice in the next two days not to take home the AAABA championship trophy.
“We’re hungry,” Boston manager Stef Lewis said.
“We did not win one thing yet. Saturday’s game, to me, is like Game 7 of the World Series.
“I didn’t look at anything after that game.”
New Orleans, which had a bye Friday and practiced at Iron Horse Complex in Windber, has won three of its 13 titles coming from the elimination bracket. The most recent time it happened was in 2009.
Johnstown Oldtimers Baseball Association President George Arcurio III said he has been pleased with the tournament so far.
He also defended the level of play, which many agree has slipped in recent years.
“We can’t appease everybody and we probably never will,” Arcurio said. “I think we’re still putting on a great show. We’ve had some great games this week and we’ve had some great names play here over the years, and hopefully that will continue.
“I believe the caliber of play still is very good. We’ve been told by a bunch of managers and coaches and other people this week that they still consider our tournament the top ones for our age bracket (18 to 21 years old) east of the Mississippi.”