PittBull/Rebels headed to Pony World Series

The PittBull/Rebels recently won the East Zone Host Area Tournament to secure a spot to represent Johnstown in the upcoming Pony World Series in Washington. Team members are, front row, left to right, Dom Cannizzaro, Charlie Manzi, Xander Richardson, Eric McAllister, Erik Radkowski, Austin Schawl, Brady Gartner; back row, coach Dom Cannizzaro, Brennan Lohr, Ethan Shank, Alex McCartney, Liam O'Donnell, Grady Clark, Brock Bryson, Brody Mellott, Drew Irons, Bryce Goodman, coach Jim Bryson and manager Charles "Bugsy" Roberts. Dante LaRocco is absent from the photo.

WASHINGTON, Pa. – A game like Saturday’s Pony League World Series opener for Johnstown Recreation champion PittBull/Rebels – a 13-12 win over Hagerstown, Maryland – was anything but typical.

Johnstown built a six-run lead, only to see it disappear in the top of the sixth when Hagerstown tied the game at 7.

It wasn’t a problem for Johnstown, which scored five times in the bottom of the sixth to take a 12-7 lead, needing three outs for the win.

Within those three outs, Hagerstown notched five runs in the top of the seventh and sent the game into extra innings.

Johnstown finally pushed the winning run across in the bottom of the eighth inning on a single by Grady Clark that scored Drew Irons.

“What a game,” Johnstown manager Bugsy Roberts said. “We’ve never been in game like this, but that’s because of (Hagerstown). That’s a good team.”

Hagerstown had the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, but couldn’t push a run across.

“These guys have not usually had a game like this,” Roberts said. “They are used to being ahead.”

At one point, the two teams combined to score 16 runs in an inning and a half.

“I’ve had some games like this, probably not coming back twice like that,” Hagerstown manager Steve Berger said. “That was a heck of a comeback, and it was the subs. I put them all in when we were down 7-1. Somebody said to me, “Put the starters back in.’ I was like, ‘Why would I do that? The subs just killed them.’ ”

Center fielder Dante LaRocco went 2-for-5 and scored three times for Johnstown. Charlie Manzi went 2-for-4, scored twice and knocked in two.

Jackson Rise led Hagerstown, going 2-for-2 and driving in three runs.

The big blast in Johnstown’s sixth inning was a two-run home run by Brock Bryson. His towering drive over the left field fence scored Manzi and set off a celebration by teammates when he reached home plate.

The win moves Johnstown to Monday’s winners bracket game against New City Taipei, the Asia-Pacific Zone champion in this double-elimination tournament.

Hagerstown, champion of the East Zone tournament, will play Monday morning at 10 a.m. Hagerstown was coming off a win against Bay County, Mich., the North Zone champion, in its first game.

Everything turned once the decision was made to remove Irons from the mound after throwing three shutout innings while Johnstown built a six-run lead.

“We wanted to keep our Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers eligible for the next game,” Roberts said. “Hey, we were up 7-1 at the time.”

Hagerstown wasted no time taking the lead early. Leadoff hitter Ben Sattazahn was hit by the first pitch of the game. He stole second base and came home on a single to center by Brooks Norris.

Johnstown roared back over the next three innings, scoring twice in the first and second.

Dante LaRocco and Manzi hit back-to-back doubles to tie the game in the first. Manzi came around and scored on an error at third on a ball hit by Eric McAllister.

In the second inning, two errors on a ball hit by LaRocco brought in two runs and staked Johnstown to a 4-1 lead.

A two-run single by Ethan Shank made it 6-1. Shank came around to score when he stole home to make it 7-1.

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