Martella’s Pharmacy No. 8 hitter Zach Ramach simply was trying put his bat on the ball while facing an 0-2 pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning on Monday at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
Ramach might not have produced the hardest-hit ball of his career, but his bloop single just over the first base bag plated the winning run in Game 3 of the Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League semifinal series against Smith Transport.
Marella’s won 5-4 and will take a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-5 series into Game 4 on Tuesday night at Roxbury Park.
“I was just trying to get something in play, something to help our team out and win the game,” said Ramach, the Pharmacy’s catcher. “I just threw my hands at it.”
The walk-off single plated pinch-runner Matt Frazetta, who entered the game after Brent Morris’ one-out walk in the ninth. A couple of wild pitches and a walk to Troy Emert set up the final at-bat.
“Zach was sitting on the fastball, you react to the offspeed,” Martella’s Pharmacy manager Kerry Pfeil said. “It was a very good 0-2 pitch. He was able to go out and extend it. It wasn’t a bad pitch.
“The way baseball is played, unfortunately, someone has to lose. We were on the other side of it.”
Martella’s also won Game 1 in walk-off fashion, and Smith Transport took Game 2 by a 12-7 score. The third-year Smith team just as easily could have won two, if not all three games in the tightly played series.
“It’s going to be a dogfight,” said Pfeil, whose squad was eliminated in the JCBL semifinal round against Laurel Auto Group in 2020. “We learned that last year. This 2 vs. 3 series is a dogfight. We were sitting in the same situation a year ago, and the outcome wasn’t great. We don’t want history to repeat itself.”
Smith Transport led 1-0 as Joe Olsavsky was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on Josh Ulery’s double to right field in the top of the first.
Martella’s Pharmacy answered with one run in the first and three in the second to lead 4-1.
Jared Dowey led off the bottom of the first with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Omar Ward’s single up the middle.
Singles by Garrett Greco and Jake Ansell combined wiht two Smith Transport errors and Dowey’s sacrifice fly to plate three runs in the Martella’s second.
“We came out a little flat,” Smith Transport manager Tim Rubal said. “We only scored one run in the first couple innings.
“We just need to come out and be more energetic.”
Smith Transport got a run back in the fifth. Olsavsky led off with a single and Ulery followed with his second hit. Chase Vargo’s sacrifice bunt and Lenny Piccini’s ground out scored Olsavsky to make it 4-2.
Martella’s starter Kyle Glass struck out nine and walked five in six innings. Reliever Matt Mosholder got into a bases- loaded jam with no outs. The left-hander was poised to work out of trouble after a pair of strikeouts. But Smith’s Olsavsky stole home to make it 4-3 before Mosholder got the final out.
“I didn’t see him coming until someone screamed something,” Ramach said of his play at the plate. “That was just a gutsy play. That just shows they are willing to do anything to win.”
Rubal said Olsavsky made the suggestion to try to swipe home.
“Honestly, it wasn’t even my idea,” Rubal said. “Joey Olsavsky came up to me before JT’s (Justin Turcovsky) at-bat even started with two outs. He said, ‘Do you want me to steal home?’ I looked at him and said, ‘What do you mean?’
“During JT’s at-bat he said he attempted it in high school and got there. There was a lefty on the mound (Matt Mosholder) and a righty at-bat, Ben Wolf. It kind of aligned like that. He ended up taking the bag and igniting us to tie up the ballgame. We just didn’t finish it up.”
Smith’s Evan Becquet tied the game with a home run that landed in the right field bleachers just inside the foul pole to make it 4-all in the top of the eighth.
“It was a shot,” Rubal said. “At first I thought it was foul or just popped up, but it was the straightest ball down the line I ever had seen. It just kept carrying and carrying, a moon shot.”
Jordan Ford threw a scoreless top of the ninth before the Martella’s game-winning rally.
“Jordan Ford has been our go-to, picks up his second win in the series,” Pfeil said.
“Jordan is not going to wow you. Jordan is going to compete against you. That’s why we like to go to him.”