Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors completed one of the most dominant seasons in league history and won the franchise’s first playoff championship on Friday night at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
Josh Spiegel went 4-for-4 with two homers, three RBIs and two runs, and Nate Davis pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Paul Carpenter’s 5-1 victory over Laurel Auto Group.
Manager Cole Shaffer’s team swept the best-of-5 series and was perfect in six playoff games to improve to 32-2 overall this Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League season.
Paul Carpenter also snapped a string of four consecutive series setbacks in the championship round since 2016. PC made its fifth straight appearance in the league’s big show.
“It’s the first championship for this organization and I’m glad I was able to be a part of this,” said Spiegel, a catcher who played at Oklahoma State University. “It was a good day. I made a little adjustment going into this game from the past two. It felt good and I just let it go.”
Regular-season champion Paul Carpenter had gone 5-12 in four previous appearances in the championship series until sweeping Laurel Auto, the third seed and an upset winner over defending playoff champion Martella’s Pharmacy in the semifinal round.
“I thought that was the best team that would have represented Johnstown in a long time,” Laurel Auto Group manager Jim Skiles said after Paul Carpenter outscored his team by a combined 27-5 in three games. “I felt like they had no weaknesses. I felt that they would have swept through the tournament and won it. From a coach’s point of view, looking to attack them, there is no weakness.”
Unfortunately for both teams, the 76th AAABA Tournament was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and won’t be played until 2021.
“It started at the first practice at Roxbury,” said Windber’s Trevor Pfeil, a third-year pitcher whom Shaffer put on the mound with two outs in the ninth. “Usually every year you get a week or two until you start clicking and know everybody. Literally from Day 1 we knew what we had here.
“It sucks the tournament didn’t happen this year. I would have put a lot of money on us.”
Pfeil gave up two hits and two walks, as LAG tallied its lone run, but he recorded the final out via strikeout. The former Rambler then found himself at the bottom of a dogpile celebration on the mound.
“My ribs are hurting but I’ve been dreaming about that since the playoffs started,” Pfeil said. “I knew that was going to be an opportunity. They told me I would have the last go at it.”
The left-handed Davis, who struck out seven and walked one while allowing four hits, also had a rough time in the pile.
“I took two knees off the face and Spiegel’s leg protector hit me in the neck,” Davis said. “But it was worth it.”
Davis typically had a 75- to 80-pitch count limit from his college coach. But he was permitted to throw 90 pitches on Friday and finished his season 6-0 with one save.
“I knew it was my last game of the year and I talked to my IUP coach and he told me I could raise my pitch count, plus 10,” said Davis, the league’s Pete Vuckovich Award winner as top pitcher. “I knew I had to make a good show and win the last game of the year.”
Central Cambria graduate Devin Renzi, UPJ’s Christian Pfrogner and Ben Mongelluzzo each pitched in relief prior to Pfeil.
“Finally to get over the hump for Paul Carpenter is a big deal,” said PC assistant GM Dave Sheriff, a veteran on the staff.
“This team that we had this year could have gone so far. The talent that we had and to finally get that elusive championship for Paul Carpenter means the world to me and (GM) Tayler (Sheriff).”
Mario Disso doubled and scored on Spiegel’s homer over the screen in the bottom of the first.
Paul Carpenter added two more runs in the second via Disso’s two-run single to lead 4-0.
Spiegel, who shared the league’s Ken Horoho top rookie award, launched another shot over the screen in the fifth to make it 5-0.
“Big-time players show up in big-time games,” Shaffer said. “That’s exactly what Josh Spiegel’s been all year. He’s been an anchor for us behind the plate and a leader in the dugout.”
Jake Swank, the JCBL Dr. Hartnett MVP Award winner and batting champion, singled twice to go 2-for-4. Will Miller singled and two walks forced in Swank with the lone run in the ninth.
“This is huge,” Shaffer said. “Paul (Carpenter) has been supporting this franchise for a number of years, and for us to finally get this big one that’s kind of been elusive the last couple years is awesome. Hopefully this is a changing of the guard at the top of the league.
“I had a really good group of players. They made my job easy.”