ST. MICHAEL, Pa. – A construction crew working on Route 869 could be heard off the third-base line at Forest Hills High School during Wednesday’s Pool B contest between Philadelphia and Zanesville.
Between the foul lines, Philadelphia proved they were men at work as well. The Bandits tallied 23 hits, eight for extra bases, and limited Zanesville (0-3) to one knock as they cruised to a 22-0 victory shortened to seven innings because of the 10-run rule. Philadelphia improved to 3-0 and has outscored its first three opponents 48-0.
“We just kept trying to keep the bats going,” said Philadelphia infielder Owen Petrich, who went 4-for-6 with four runs, four RBIs and three doubles. “Our pitching has been amazing this week. We were just trying to keep the momentum and stay excited to play baseball.”
On Thursday, the Bandits meet Martella’s Pharmacy (2-1) at noon at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point in a AAABA Tournament quarterfinal.
A blend of strong pitching, a balanced lineup and outstanding defense has helped the Bandits.
Ben Spadea and Nick D’Apolito combined on a one-hit shutout. All 10 players in the lineup contributed at least one hit, with seven providing multiple knocks and six with multiple RBIs.
“Every time we step on the field, we want to win a game,” Philadelphia manager Greg Olenski said. “Obviously, that was a core principle coming out to win the game. We’re swinging the bats well right now. We’re throwing strikes. Our defense all week has been spectacular, so you can’t ask for anything better than that. We’re peaking at the right point right now. The environment we were talking about was loose, high-energy, top-effort.”
A relaxed, yet determined group got the job done for Philadelphia.
“We’re just riding a momentum train right now,” Olenski said. “I think our GM was saying there hasn’t been a team in 76 years that has given up zero runs in pool play. We were playing for something, for sure. At the end of the day, these guys know this is one step. We came here with one team goal to win a championship. That’s the sole focus.”
Zanesville fielded just nine players in Wednesday’s lineup.
Ryan Rusnak led off the second inning with a single for the Junior Pioneers’ lone hit.
“Just for my guys to go out and have fun,” was Zanesville manager Jay Bonifant’s message to his team. “That’s the main thing I told them – to have fun and play baseball. What happens happens. Just give me 110% like we have all year and do the best you can do. Have fun.”
Philadelphia shortstop Eric Marasheski led off with a single. He stole second base and broke a finger on his head-first slide. Phil Stahl replaced Marasheski in stride and went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and four RBIs.
The Bandits scored three runs each in the first three innings. Petrich provided a pair of two-run doubles in his first two at-bats.
Already leading 9-0, Philadelphia sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth and supplied nine runs on seven hits. Anthony Bruno (3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs) doubled home a run. Stahl plated two runners with a triple to left field.
“All of us are seeing the ball pretty well,” Petrich said. “Everyone is a part of the hitting. We’ll just keep trying to get our pitchers some runs so they can pitch ahead.”
Four more runs in the sixth expanded the lead to 22-0.
Cavan Tully finished 3-for-6 with two runs and three RBIs. Seth Floyd (three RBIs), Gaetan Grandelli and Trey Obarowski all provided two hits. Dean Bergmann scored three runs and plated two runners.
In the seventh, Philadelphia’s slick-fielding defense was on display when Petrich ranged to his right at second base and glove-flipped the ball to shortstop Tully, who recorded the out at the bag, spun and threw a strike to first base for a double play.
Bonifant is hoping to use this tournament experience as a springboard for future seasons.
“I’m hoping a lot of them that are age-eligible come back,” he said. “That’s why we’re kind of young. We wanted to bring them up here to get the experience and wanting them to see what it’s like to play here in Johnstown in the AAABA Tournament. It’s a very good tournament. I was part of it back in the 1990s. This is my first time back since then. It’s always been an experience up here.”