JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Hunter Draper is the lone player on the New Orleans roster who was part of the historic franchise’s run to the AAABA title in 2019.
Draper helped pitch the Boosters out of Pool A play on Wednesday, combining with two relievers on a three-hit shutout over the Brooklyn SAYO Grays, 10-0 in seven innings at Roxbury Park.
New Orleans moves into the single-elimination championship bracket without having played a full nine-inning game.
The Boosters rolled through pool play with a 12-2 win over Johnstown-2 Martella’s Pharmacy on Monday, a 16-6 triumph over Columbus on Tuesday, then Wednesday’s white-washing of Brooklyn-2.
“We’re hot right now,” said Draper, a lefty from Delgado Community College. “The Boosters are hot.”
Draper pitched the first three innings, giving up two singles in the first but picking off a runner to end the frame. He struck out a pair. He said his approach was simple: “Work the zone. Throw strikes early. Let the defense play behind you. Low pitch count. Get outs.”
Cory Cook pitched innings four through six, striking out four and walking four. Michael Mims yielded a leadoff double in the ninth but stranded that runner on third after a wild pitch with a fly ball, a strikeout and a grounder to shortstop.
At the plate, the Boosters were led by Stephen Klein (double, triple, run), Kaile Levantino (double, single, two RBIs), Nick Lorio (double, RBI and run scored) and Brayden Caskey (2 runs, 2 stolen bases).
New Orleans knew it would be playing on Thursday regardless of Wednesday’s outcome, but first-year manager Joey Latino was pleased with his team’s intensity.
“Everyone played with a sense of urgency,” Latino said. “There are no off days in this tournament. I’m real proud of the effort, real proud of the energy.”
Now New Orleans will hunt for back-to-back titles – broken up by the COVID-19 break in 2020 – and what would be a 17th title overall for the club. This is the 76th year of the All American Amateur Baseball Association national tournament and the 75th year that the event has included a New Orleans representative.
The Boosters have won titles in 1948, ’53, ’54, ’55, ’61, ’68, ’71, ’84, ’88, ’92, ’95, ’00, ’09, ’15, ’17 and ’19 – recorded along with other facts from the program’s history in the team’s information guide, shared by Tyler Scheuermann, the athletic communications/advancement coordinator at Delgado Community College.
Tyler Scheuermann’s father, Joe, managed New Orleans to three titles – as did Joe Scheuermann’s father, the late Louis “Rags” Scheuermann. Both Joe and Louis Scheuermann are in the AAABA Hall of Fame.
The 2021 players and coaches have the No. 75 on their hats in honor of the New Orleans franchise’s legacy in Johnstown.
“That number is very special,” Latino said. “For Joe Scheuermann, his son Tyler, and of course his dad Rags – we know that number means a lot to them, and that number is very special to our boys as well. They understand the history here. They know what that number means.”
Brooklyn franchises have a long relationship with the AAABA, too. But the SAYO Grays were a young squad that dropped three games by scores of 20-7, 14-2 and 10-0.
First baseman Clarence Givhans had one of his club’s three hits Wednesday, and he looks forward to another shot at the AAABA in 2022.
“It was a great experience, being able to come here and see the competition,” he said. “We learned a lot playing out of state against good competition.”
Jose Ramon Santos doubled in the ninth for Brooklyn-2.
Starting pitcher Isaias Espiritusanto was solid for four innings, but got wild in the fifth.
New Orleans scored one in the first and three runs each in the second, fifth and seventh innings.
Grays coach Eddie Pagan called the tournament a “great experience” for his players.
“Most of these kids had never been here,” Pagan said. “And we were a little short of pitching. ... We hopefully will get more quality pitching next time.”