Before the pandemic, the Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League’s players’ banquet was slated for Sunday.
Fittingly, a player nicknamed “Chewy” delivered the big hit to help send Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors into the championship series again.
Christian Kubacka’s three-run double highlighted a 13-run sixth inning as Carpenter Capital swept its semifinal in three games with a 13-0 win over O in seven innings at Sargent’s Stadium.
The contest was scoreless through 5½ innings when the top seed sent 18 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth.
Kubacka – called “Chewy” because his last name sounds like that of Han Solo’s co-pilot Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” franchise, not because of any fondness for food – came up with the bases loaded and cleared them on a drive into the left-center field gap for Carpenter’s second, third and fourth runs.
“They were struggling with arms later in the series, so we knew they were most likely going to start throwing balls, being a little wild, so we were pretty sure our bats were going to start coming alive,” Kubacka said. “Their infield was in, so I was just looking to put something over their head. I got a hold of the ball, drove it to left-center and got a double out of it.”
Carpenter pounded out 10 hits in the pivotal inning. Matt Wicker, who opened the frame with a single to center, had two hits in the stanza, as did Jordan Sabol and Connor Bannias.
Carpenter only had three hits through five innings.
“We’ve been an offensive team all year,” Carpenter’s manager Cole Shaffer said. “All it took was one big hit to get things started, and Matt Wicker gave us that.”
Wicker broke the scoreless tie when he crossed the plate on Sabol’s grounder into left.
Sabol went 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs after striking out three times in Game 2.
“(Shaffer) talked to me. I was coming back from an injury; I took a ball to the face,” Sabol said. “He told me just to try to hit the ball hard somewhere. That’s what I did.”
Wicker, Bannias, Josh Spiegel and Tyler Horvat each finished with two hits.
Hayden Ford pitched the first six innings for Carpenter to get the win, although O had two baserunners in both the first and fourth innings.
However, after a double play in the fourth, Ford retired nine straight.
“I was a little shaky, gave up a couple of early hits. Then it clicked. I just let my defense work behind me, because they played a heck of a game. I just pitched to contact,” Ford said.
Carpenter’s threatened in the fourth, getting runners on second and third with one out before Jayke Saiani got Kubacka and Bannias to ground out to second to get out of the frame unscathed.
Nate Horner, who relieved in Game 1 after throwing a complete game in the regular-season-final win over Smith Transport to clinch a playoff spot, opened on the mound for O and only allowed one hit before giving way to Saiani after two innings.
“We fought hard for 23 innings,” O manager Ken Ashbrook said. “We just ran out of pitching. We battled. It just came down to they got their bats on the ball.”
Carpenter’s, which is making its fifth straight trip to the finals, now will have at least two days to rest up.
“Two days off is big,” Kubacka said. “This was the eighth day in a row we’ve played. It’s going to give us a lot of rest.”
Martella’s Pharmacy 6, Laurel Auto Group 5
Grant Norris smashed a two-run homer over the left-field screen with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to give his team its first lead of Sunday’s late game at the Point, and Martella’s Pharmacy made it stand up in a victory over Laurel Auto Group.
Third-seeded Laurel Auto Group held leads of 5-0 and 5-2, but the second-seeded Pharmacy came back to take a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-5 semifinal series. Game 4 will be played at 7 p.m. on Monday at Sargent’s Stadium.
Brian Yetter smacked a two-out, two-run double to pull Martella’s within a run of Laurel Auto just before Norris hit his 11th home run of the season in the eighth. Yetter went 3-for-4 with a run and three RBIs. He had a run-scoring triple.
Adam Cecere had two hits, including a double, and Troy Emert had two hits for Martella’s. Ryne Wallace doubled.
Martella’s pitcher Matt Mosholder pitched 62/3 innings of relief without allowing an earned run. He struck out six and walked two for the win.
Jake Ansell pitched a scoreless ninth, with three strikeouts and the save.
Laurel Auto had a three-run first inning and posted single runs in the second and third to lead 5-0. Martella’s scored once in the third and again in the fourth to set up the four-run bottom of the eighth.
Austin Brown went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and one run scored for Laurel Auto Group.
Logan Kasper had two hits and two walks. Dallas Hite had a hit, one run and drove in a run.