Delweld Joel Martin

Delweld pitcher Joel Martin throws against Principle Development during a AAABA League game in July. The left-hander from Marion Center will be starting pitcher when the 63rd annual AAABA tournament officially opens Monday night at the Point Stadium.

Without a doubt, Delweld’s Joel Martin’s performance in Game 1 set the tone of the AAABA League championship series against top-seeded Johnstown Grays.

Martin often was dominating in a 4-0 shutout as his fastball consistently was in the low-90’s. His offspeed pitches effectively complemented his power game.

The left-hander from Marion Center hopes for a successful encore on the biggest stage of the 63rd annual AAABA Tournament. Delweld manager Chris DelSignore named Martin his opening night starter on Monday at Point Stadium.

“He’s been here three years and we want to give him the ball on opening night,” DelSignore said as his veteran squad prepared for the hoopla associated with being the city’s representative in the tournament.

Martin tossed seven scoreless innings and allowed only two infield hits by the Grays on July 26. He retired the side in order four times.

“If he’s not the hardest thrower in the league, he’s in the top three,” said Grays shortstop Matt Petrowsky, the league MVP and a Delweld pick-up player.

“His 90-plus fastball keeps any hitter off balance, especially at this level. Lately, his breaking stuff has been off the table. It’s been just ridiculous.”

Martin went 4-1 during the regular season with a 3.44 ERA. He struck out 34 batters but also walked 24.

When his control is on the mark, Martin is especially difficult to beat.

“He’s hit 93 and when you throw that hard from the left side of the plate, that gets you some looks,” DelSignore said. “We just want to give the scouts something to look at and give Joel an opportunity to make something of his baseball career.”

Martin appreciates this chance.

“It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to ever since I came down here three years ago,” Martin said. “It’s a big-time confidence builder the way the last start went. I’m not even worried about coming out this next game. I’m just going to go out there and throw hard and throw strikes.

“Opening night is big,” Martin added. “In Johnstown everybody shows up. It’s a great time. It’s an unbelievable feeling to know that I’m going to be the starter.”

Delweld’s pitching staff includes experience and an abundance of left-handers.

Lefty Tim Freshour had three regular-season wins and was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in the playoffs. Left-handers include Andrew Stiffler, Adam Keyser and Brett Vescovi. Right-handers are Paul Keith, Matt Staub, Eric Wingard and Aaron Vescovi. Righty Garrett Pampiks might return from an elbow injury that sidelined him on July 10.

DelSignore picked up Pete Vuckovich Award winner Ben Watkins from the Johnstown Grays and Principle Development ace Paul Bugajski, both right-handers.

“We haven’t thought too much past the first day. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” DelSignore said. “You’re only guaranteed two (games). We’ll worry about the third one after we win one. We want to get Timmy Freshour the ball. We have a lot of lefties and we’re going to use them. We have Benny Watkins and Paul Bugajski, and we’re excited to get those two on the mound for us. Every single one of the pitchers on our staff is capable of starting for us. We’ll use starters in relief spots. We’ll use relievers in starter spots if we have to.”

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