Smith Transport belted out 13 hits en route to a 12-7 victory over Martella’s Pharmacy in Game 2 of their best-of-five first round series in the Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League playoffs.
Smith Transport evened the series at 1-all after giving up a five-run lead late in Game 1 on Saturday.
“That was the turn around we really needed,” Smith Transport manager Tim Rubal said. “Today we put up a lot of good at-bats, especially with guys in scoring position.
“They tried coming back again, but we ended up having the three guys in there in that last inning and they ended up getting the job done. The biggest thing is we need to come back with the same energy tomorrow and keep hitting the ball like we’re doing and getting guys on base and scoring whenever they get in scoring position.”
Smith Transport held a 12-4 advantage entering the ninth, but Martella’s was able to start a rally at the top of its order.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Jake Felton and Bryce McCleester ripped back-to-back singles to cut into the lead. That run forced Smith Transport to change pitchers twice to get the final three outs, with Sully Schultz inducing a double play to get the first two outs while Alex Glumac eventually shut the door with a game-ending strikeout.
Martella’s Pharmacy stranded a pair of runners in the ninth, and left 10 out there for the game. Manager Kerry Pfeil believed that played a role in the loss, but was not the only reason.
“I thought we hit the ball hard and we had some hard outs there,” Pfeil said. “I think the story begins with too many free passes, and when we allowed the free passes, they did a nice job of scoring with two outs.”
Smith Transport had all nine players reach base safely during the game, with six players recording hits against Martella’s Pharmacy pitching.
Joe Olsavsky led the way with three hits, including an RBI double in the fourth inning.
Josh Ulery, Lenny Piccini, and Evan Becquet all finished with two hits apiece.
“There’s a lot of guys on our team that can hit the ball really well, and they’ve had really good plate appearances all year, especially in the top half of the order,” Rubal said. “It looks really good whenever the bottom half of the order can also contribute in hitting and getting guys in scoring position.”
Third-seeded Smith Transport got a strong starting effort from pitcher Garrett Starr. He went seven innings, scattered nine hits and fanned six batters. He worked out of a big jam in the fourth inning, when Martella’s had second and third with just one out. He got Brent Morris to groundout before striking out David Shroyer.
In the sixth after a leadoff walk, Starr struck out the side to end that threat as well.
“(Starr) threw awesome,” Rubal said. “The is his first time on the team. and every time he comes he just wows me even more. He comes and does what he does, and we knew that was going to be a thing. Every time he throws, I tell the guys we need to score at least two or three runs, but today I said we need to score 15 or 20 and we almost did it with 12.”
With the series now tied, the two teams have a best-of-three series to determine who will play in the championship.
“We need to be more aggressive with our pitchers,” Pfeil said. “We need to fill up the zone and we’ve got to work ahead in the count and offensively slightly change our approach a little bit.”