The rain, good sportsmanship and common sense ultimately won on a stormy Wednesday night at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
The game was delayed at 8:36 p.m. An hour later, the rains continued and the forecast had more rain on the way.
After a meeting of the teams, tournament officials and the umpires, Brooklyn manager Darrel Tiebout and his staff made a proposal to the AAABA national board and Johnstown Oldtimers.
The Grays offered to concede the game to Martella’s.
The Johnstown franchise already had locked up the top seed in Pool D by winning the first two nights. The winless Brooklyn SAYO Grays would not advance out of the pool, win or lose on Wednesday, because Maryland State won its second game.
“SAYO Grays has conceded the game to Martella’s,” AAABA Chairman John Austin said after a lengthy series of meetings, phone calls and huddles among tournament organizers at the stadium office.
“There is going to be no penalty involved. It’s not a forfeit. It’s a concession. They’re men enough to know that Martella’s has a game tomorrow and they don’t want to do anything that’s going to cause Martella’s any harm.
“Plus, their drive back, they’d rather start back in the morning to avoid all the traffic in New York,” Austin said of a 61/2 hour drive from Johnstown to Brooklyn. “They said, ‘We don’t get anything from this game.’ They were willing to concede the game and move on.”
Martella’s (3-0) advanced out of Pool D as the top seed and will face Pool C second seed Zanesville (2-1) as elimination play begins on Thursday. First pitch is 7 p.m. at the Point.
Johnstown joins Pool A winner New Orleans Boosters and Pool C winner Philadelphia as the tournament’s 3-0 teams advancing out of the pool play. New York (2-1) won a three-way tiebreaker (fewest runs allowed) for the top spot in Pool B, and then New Brunswick (2-1) won a head-to-head tiebreaker over Cleveland (2-1) to earn the second spot in the pool.
“A class act on the part of Brooklyn,” Johnstown Oldtimers member Mike Hudak said. “They were very gracious. A class act. They presented it to us and they should be commended.”
AAABA National President Jay Elliot said the Brooklyn team weighed many factors.
“They understood that they were eliminated,” Jay Elliot said. “For the players’ safety. For the ride home and everything else, their concern was (Johnstown) having to play two games (Thursday). They’re a class act and they handled it well.”
Martella’s Pharmacy had its own version of thunder while building a six-run lead over the Brooklyn SAYO Grays through four innings.
A couple walks and an error led to an unearned Johnstown run in the second. Martella’s had 10 batters and scored five times in the third to lead 6-0.
Adam Cecere, Jack Oberdorf, Jonny Kutchman, Andrew Pasko and Jake Ansell each singled during the inning.
The Grays rallied for five runs, including Jonathan Pena’s three-run triple to deep right field in the top of the fifth. Brooklyn had momentum, just as lightning appeared in the dark skies over the stadium and a slow, steady rain evolved into a full-blown downpour that soaked the field, partially flooded the dugouts and created large puddles throughout the concourse and nearby streets.
The teams made the best of the situation, bouncing baseballs across the field, trying to connect with players in the opposite dugout. The balls often landed in puddles, splashing those on the receiving end.
One person emerged from the SAYO Grays dugout shirtless, pretended to take a lead off first base and ran to second, sliding head first into the wet artificial turf.
“That’s just part of the whole rain delay festivities,” Martella’s manager Jesse Cooper said.
“We’ve had rain delays once a year for the past three years.
“They like to have fun and keep things loose. You try to keep things loose and show good sportsmanship between the teams. Kept the mood light and fun.”
As a manager and a competitor, Cooper knows the significance of Brooklyn manager Tiebout’s decision to concede. By major league rules, the game would have been official because Brooklyn batted and finished the top of the fifth. But AAABA Tournament rules state that all games must be nine innings unless a team is leading by 10 or more runs after seven innings.
The tournament planned to finish the game at 10 a.m. on Thursday and then hold a 1 p.m./7 p.m. doubleheader at the Point as well as a doubleheader at Roxbury Park – now to be played at Mount Aloysius.
Brooklyn’s concession enabled the tourney to go back to its original schedule with a noon game between New Orleans and New Brunswick (2-1) at the Point and the night game.
“You hate to cut a game short like that but obviously we can’t control the weather,” Cooper said. “In situations like this, a tournament, you’re kind of pinched for time. You’d like to get in every game you can.It makes common sense. They were definitely great sports about it.”
It’s great to have a team like Brooklyn here. They brought a lot of energy tonight. It’s unfortunate. They said, ‘You guys have a lot to play for and a great team.’ I have a lot of respect for them.”