With a long day’s work already behind him as the ninth inning approached, Buffalo Royal Printing pitcher Joseph Barberio had no desire to not finish Wednesday afternoon’s game at Sargent’s Stadium at The Point.
After all, there was a spot in the quarterfinals of the 75th AAABA Tournament waiting for the winner of the Pool A clash between Buffalo and Johnstown-2 Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors.
Gutting his way through the ninth inning, Barberio got groundouts from Chasen Claus and Matt Privette before Jason Beranek was retired on a dropped third strike as Royal Printing held on to a 2-1 win, earning second-place honors in Pool A.
“I wanted from the start, as soon as I gave up that one run, I told everybody: ‘They’re not going to get another run off me,’ ” Barberio said. “So, I wanted to keep going out. And in the end, I wanted to save pitching for our team, because I felt like we were going to pull this game out.”
Buffalo sticks around to face New York City, the Pool B champion, at Mount Aloysius at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Paul Carpenter, the Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League’s regular-season champ and playoff runner-up, bows out of the tournament with a 1-2 record in pool play.
“We were the No. 1 seed in the regular season, we won a lot of games,” Paul Carpenter assistant coach/General Manager Tayler Sheriff said. “But really it was a fight. They showed a lot of fight, our guys did. A lot of moving parts all year. A lot of different things going on … It was a good run.”
Barberio allowed seven hits and one run, while striking out five and walking four. The soon-to-be Canisius hurler saw the only blemish on his ledger come in the third inning, when Beranek singled and later scored as Jake Shope beat a relay to first on a fielder’s-choice grounder.
After that run, Paul Carpenter poised to add to its ledger, only to have Barberio wiggle out of danger or shut the door on the Johnstown side.
There was still the matter of getting runs against Paul Carpenter’s pitching staff in support of Barberio’s effort. Royal Printing did enough, scratching out one run against starter Ben Vicini in the fifth and reliever Aaron Blake in the eighth.
Buffalo knotted the score at 1 when Matt Grace parked a Vicini pitch over the wall in left-center and onto Johns Street during the fifth inning.
“My first at-bat, I was pulling off the ball,” Grace said. “In the second at-bat, I said, ‘I gotta keep my shoulder in, and if (Vicini) throws me a fastball, I’m not going to be late.’ I took a good pitch that was a curveball, and I knew he was coming with (the fastball), and I wasn’t late. Just tried to get everything I could into it.”
It also ended a an early stretch of empty chances for Buffalo, as it left six runners on base – five in scoring position – over the first four innings.
“We just couldn’t come up with a key hit to get ahead, or to tie earlier,” Royal Printing manager Bob Carnevale said.
“I think frustration set in a little bit.
“They were excited when Matt hit the home run, because it tied it up. Now it’s a different game. We’re not behind any more. It lifted the bench up.
“Matt’s not a real big guy, and he hit that ball over the fence in left-center. It was tagged.”
The go-ahead run in the eighth came with a little station-to-station ball before some pinch-hit heroics.
Buffalo designated hitter Alex Whipple was awarded first base with one out in the frame when a first-pitch offering from Blake bounced off the plate and bounced off Whipple’s elbow.
Whipple advanced to second on a wild pitch to Will Lawrence, who grounded out to shortstop to move the runner to third. From there, a two-out double from pinch-hitter Jack Putney gave Buffalo its only lead at a very important time.
Barberio retired Paul Carpenter in order in the ninth to preserve the win, while also deflating the hopes of the Johnstown squad.
Claus and Beranek each had two hits for Paul Carpenter while Vicini struck out six and allowed four hits over five innings. Blake’s afternoon saw him pitch three innings with two punchouts and one hit allowed.
While the pitching was sharp for Johnstown, its offense was stymied in its two AAABA losses, scoring just a run in those games.
“It’s been the story of our year,” Sheriff said. “The arms have given us a chance to wi, and they’ve done a great job of that (Wednesday). We just didn’t hit enough.”