JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The New Orleans Boosters, one of the AAABA Tournament’s most veteran and premier franchises, made the most of their 75th trip to Johnstown.
After getting the opportunity to fly into Johnstown for the first time, New Orleans will once again board their flight back to Louisiana as champions.
The Boosters turned in another stellar offensive performance, scoring 17 runs to earn their 17th tournament title, as New Orleans defeated New Brunswick 17-6 in seven innings on Saturday night in front of 712 fans at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
“It’s a real special group of young men,” said Joey Latino, who led the Boosters to a championship victory in his first year as New Orleans manager. “To have this opportunity, and to be given this opportunity by Joe and Tyler Scheuermann, is both an honor and a privilege. It’s been a complete joy coaching these kids this summer. I hope we can bring the core group back next year and give it another shot.”
The victory marks the second consecutive championship for the Boosters, who improved to 12-0 overall in the past two tournaments. New Orleans has also claimed three of the past four first-place trophies and four of the last six.
“We came up here with one goal, and we got it accomplished in a dominant style,” Boosters shortstop Christian Westcott said. “We said it all week, the Boosters are hot, and the scoreboard reflects it. There’s a lot of lineups where once you get past a certain hitter, it goes downhill, but not for us.
“Our team is just made up of 20 people that love to go at it and can perform.”
Westcott was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after compiling a .552 average, 16 hits, including two doubles and a triple, and 14 RBIs.
The Division I Southeastern Louisiana University dual-sport athlete matched teammate Brennan Lambert with a team-high four RBIs in the title game. Westcott hit a two-run triple in New Orleans’ eight-run first inning and drove in a run with an RBI single in the fourth.
“This feels great, but it’s definitely a reflection of the hard work the team put in all summer,” Westcott said.
“We came up here and laid it all out on the line, and we loved playing up here. It’s a great feeling knowing that we get to leave here being on top. We worked hard to get here.”
New Orleans (6-0) capitalized on multiple New Brunswick miscues, drawing 10 walks, while utilizing two hit batsmen, three passed balls and three wild pitches to lead 15-1 through five innings.
Matrix ace Manny Corporan was scratched from his scheduled start in Saturday’s championship due to injury. He was replaced with position player Brad Edwards Jr., who surrendered 14 runs (12 earned) on six hits and nine walks in two innings, while being tagged with the loss. Joe Carrea finished the game for New Brunswick, throwing four relief innings.
“Manny picked up the injury warming up to come into the opening night game,” New Brunswick manager Glenn Fredricks said. “He gutted out 32/3 innings on Monday night to keep us in the game. He just wasn’t able to go tonight, and that was unfortunate because he definitely would’ve given us a good chance. The (New Orleans) lineup is what it is. They’re solid up and down, and we have the utmost respect for them.”
The Boosters, who outscored opponents 85-19, built an 8-0 lead after one inning. Lambert belted a three-run home run over the brick wall in center field, and Brady Faust, who went 3-for-3, hit a two-run single. New Orleans tallied runs in the next four consecutive innings, including five in the third, before being held scoreless for the lone time in the contest in the sixth.
“Everything kind of fell right for us this week,” Latino said. “We had great pitching, exceptional defense and our bats were just really, really consistent up and down the lineup.”
New Orleans starting pitcher Carson Lore earned his second complete-game victory of the tournament, going all seven innings. He allowed six earned runs on nine hits while striking out five and not allowing a walk. The Delgado Community College product claimed the win on opening day against Johnstown-2 Martella’s Pharmacy.
The Matrix (4-2) received back-to-back singles by Edwards Jr. and Andrew Schmid to open the second inning, before Edwards Jr. was brought home on a Christian Petriello groundout. Lore retired the next 11 New Brunswick hitters in a row to close out the fifth.
New Brunswick scored two runs in the sixth inning and three in the seventh, highlighted by Gianni Marano’s RBI triple to the right-center field gap and two-run home run over the bricks, but it was not enough to get below the 10-run mercy rule.
“We left it all out on the field this week,” Fredricks said. “To make it to the championship game is a blessing in itself. I couldn’t be more proud of my guys. We never quit. They fought all week and all summer. This was a great way to cap it off. I know it wasn’t the result we wanted in this game, but I can’t ask for anything more when I know they gave all they could.”
2021 AAABA Tournament awards
Most Valuable Player: Christian Westcott, New Orleans; .552 average, 16 hits, two doubles and one triple.
The Tribune-Democrat Local Franchise Most Valuable Player: Joe Olsavsky, Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors, .476 average, two doubles, eight runs, nine RBIs and .933 fielding percentage in 30 chances.
Batting champion: Tyler Phillips, Buffalo, and Alex Rivera, Maryland State, .583 average.
RBI leader: Owen Petrich, Philadelphia, 16.
Team Sportsmanship Award: North Carolina Disco Turkeys.