Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors had a historic run throughout the 72nd annual AAABA Tournament week as the Johnstown-2 representative.
On Saturday night in front of an estimated 4,000 fans at Point Stadium, Paul Carpenter finished on the wrong side of history.
In a matchup of teams looking for their first AAABA Tournament championship, the Zanesville Junior Pioneers used a five-run sixth inning to pull away in an 8-2 victory.
The Junior Pioneers have been part of the AAABA Tournament since 1947, only two fewer years than Johnstown. Zanesville won its first title in its championship game debut.
“It’s really unbelievable,” said Zanesville manager Dave Balo, who told his players that Saturday would be his final game in charge of the team. “It’s all attributed to the kids. The last three games we’ve played outstanding baseball.
“We’ve been due for that sixth inning where we put up a five spot. We hit the ball hard at times and came away with nothing to show for it.”
A Johnstown team finished as runner-up for the seventh time in the AAABA Tournament.
Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors was the first Johnstown-2 team to advance to the title round as the city’s second representative. At the outset of the week, Johnstown Junior League champion Martella’s Pharmacy played the night games at the Point as the city’s No. 1 host team.
Due to tiebreakers, Martella’s, a team that played in eight straight tournaments, didn’t advance out of Pool C despite posting a 2-1 record.
“It was just an incredible week,” said Paul Carpenter GM/assistant coach Tayler Sheriff. “I wasn’t sure what to expect having to be the second Johnstown team after we took over the night game. I wasn’t sure what kind of support we were going to get from Johnstown.
“I think we got very nice support. There were a lot of people here and it was a great atmosphere. It was fun. All the guys enjoyed it.”
Paul Carpenter and Zanesville each finished the tournament with a 4-2 record.
This is the first time in history that the tournament used pool play during the first three days, followed by a single-elimination bracket the rest of the week. The previous 71 events followed a double-defeat elimination format.
Zanesville advanced out of Pool D by winning a tiebreaker among three teams with a 1-2 record.
“We know coming in at 1-2 everybody thought we were underdogs and they had us at the bottom,” said tournament MVP Dyson Bowman, who earned the save after entering in the sixth inning Saturday and finishing a workhorse week with three appearances. “We wanted to prove we can play with the best of them.”
Paul Carpenter advanced with a 2-1 mark in Pool B.
Each team had plenty of drama and clutch plays during the final three days.
Zanesville defeated defending champion New Orleans on Thursday and earned a title shot by beating 2014 champion Chicago Metro on Friday.
The Johnstown-2 team used a mammoth, three-run, pinch-hit home run by Patrick Ferguson to win Friday’s game against Cleveland, 7-6.
“The whole experience was unbelievable,” Paul Carpenter second baseman Evan Price of Portage said. “This is something you dream of from being a little kid, being out here under the lights with this big crowd.
“Even though we didn’t win it, it still was fun. It’s something I’ll always remember.”
Zanesville scored first. Johnstown pitcher Brian Albert, known for his control and location, had difficulty finding the plate early.
Walks to Caden Mumaw and Dylan McDermott preceded A.J. Kazmiercak’s run-scoring single to center. The Junior Pioneers’ rally was halted when left fielder Chris Common threw out McDermott attempting to score from second on a single.
The Junior Pioneers scored twice in the fifth to lead 3-1. Ben Van Wey reached on a bunt single and moved up on Austin Devore’s sacrifice bunt – Zanesville’s fourth sacrifice bunt to that point.
Matthew Lynn doubled in a run, and after two walks he scored on Mumaw’s sacrifice fly.
The Johnstown-2 team made a habit of putting Zanesville baserunners on to start an inning.
The Junior Pioneers’ leadoff batter reached base in six of the team’s eight at-bats. Four of those were lead-off walks and one was a hit batsman.
“Not a lot of things went our way. A lot of leadoff walks. The lead-off batter got on literally almost every inning,” Sheriff said. “Obviously that’s not a recipe for success having a leadoff guy on and walking guys.
Paul Carpenter cut the lead to 3-2 via an unearned run in the sixth. Matt Tarabek had a run-scoring single.
Zanesville stretched the advantage to 8-2 after a five-run outburst in the sixth inning. The Junior Pioneers had four hits in the big inning, including a two-run double by Joe Shumar and a run-scoring single by Caden Mumaw.
“These boys have been hitting the heck out of the ball lately,” Bowman said. “They’re putting good wood on it and they’re falling.”
Tournament notes: In addition to Bowman earning the most valuable player award, other honors went to Buffalo Leib’s Alex Whipple, batting champion with a .545 average; and Cleveland Blaze’s Luke Caple, RBI leader with eight. … Buffalo Leib’s won the Sportsmanship Award. … Patrick Ferguson, who had a game-winning run, a game-winning hit and a two-run insurance hit among his seven RBIs, including the historic three-run homer to right field that traveled out of Point Stadium and into the Stonycreek River, was named The Tribune-Democrat local tournament MVP.