Omar Ward wasn’t happy with his own performance at the plate during Tuesday’s Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League semifinal contest at Roxbury Park.
So, the Martella’s Pharmacy veteran ended his night with a three-run homer over the right field fence to provide some cushion in a 15-7 victory over Smith Transport.
“Before that I think I was 0-5 with nothing going on. I was pretty much trying to help the guys out,” said Ward, who finally joined Martella’s 15-hit attack in the top of the ninth. “I was in the dugout and I was like, ‘I can’t hit nothing.’ Brendon Bair looked at me and said, ‘Well, change it around.’ ”
Similarly, Martella’s outfielder Ryne Wallace recently had endured a personal dry spell at the plate before he launched a pivotal two-run shot to left field in the fifth inning, helping the second-seeded Pharmacy clinch the best-of-5 series 3-1. Martella’s earned a spot opposite of regular-season winner and defending JCBL playoff champ Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors in the best-of-5 championship series that begins on Thursday at Roxbury Park.
“I was in a slump for a while and everybody on the team just kept picking me up,” Wallace said.
“They said, ‘We know you’ve got it in you.’ That was the first ball I squared up in a while. Everybody was saying, ‘You had it the whole time.’
“That was a team win. Omar got a big hit. (Phil) Dull had a big double. Everybody produced throughout the game. We had good pitching.”
Both Martella’s and Paul Carpenter have secured spots in the 76th AAABA Tournament on Aug. 2. The championship series winner will play the night games at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
“The worst day of baseball is the last day,” Martella’s manager Kerry Pfeil said. “We felt coming into this series we weren’t ready for our season to be over. We felt like we had a slow start to the series. These guys aren’t ready to hang it up before they go back to school in the fall.”
Martella’s took a 3-0 lead in the second, an inning highlighted by Dull’s two-run double to left field.
But Smith Transport scored one in the bottom of the second and twice in the third to tie the game.
Martella’s Pharmacy went ahead 6-3. Smith Transport kept chipping away until the Pharmacy plated five in the seventh, one in the eighth and three in the ninth on Ward’s blast to right.
“We said, ‘Throw strikes, catch the ball, hit the ball and score runs,’ ” said Ward, who also threw five innings for the mound win. “I’m happy with the way the guys played behind me. I trusted the defense. I wasn’t trying to strike guys out. I was trying to throw it down the middle and see how far they could hit it.”
Martella’s Pharmacy had solid relief pitching from Troy Emert (three innings) and Jordan Ford (one).
At the plate, Wallace went 3-for-3 with three walks, three runs and two RBIs. Jared Dowey went 3-for-6. Brent Morris had two hits, Dull went 3-for-6 with a pair of doubles, and Zach Ramach drove in two runs.
“Ryne Wallace’s home run really started to create the separation,” Pfeil said. “Offensively, we had great approaches. We kept on it. It just seemed like with the 16 guys we got into this game, we had 16 major contributions.”
Smith Transport’s Sullivan Schueltz went 3-for-4 with a walk, Justin Turcovsky went 2-for-3 with three runs, and Josh Ulery and Chase Vargo each doubled.
“We accomplished a lot this season, especially this being our third year and us having five wins and seven wins (in the franchise’s initial two years),” first-year Smith Transport manager Tim Rubal said. “Getting more wins than the first two seasons combined this season and making the playoffs for the first time, getting the three seed, it’s really big for the team.”