JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — Austin Lewis kicked off Johnstown’s Martella’s Pharmacy franchise in the knockout bracket of the 77th AAABA Tournament on Wednesday, then said he was eager to see if his teammates could win a championship.
Lewis worked seven innings and allowed just one unearned run in the first frame of an eight-inning 11-1 win over Brooklyn at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.
Martella’s Pharmacy exploded for seven runs in the fourth inning and then the game was in Lewis’ hands. He gave up two hits while walking three and striking out six — consistently outscoring Bonnie Rams hitters.
“It was a hot day, so I wanted to throw in a bunch of strikes and get into the dugout as fast as I could,” said Lewis, a recent graduate of Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School in Altoona who is heading for the Mansfield University.
“When you have a defense that comes out and makes plays for you, it’s really easy to do that.”
Martella’s Pharmacy scored an unearned run in the top of the first when leadoff hitter Alex Glumac reached on an error, moved to an infield and returned home on a Jake Felton single.
Brooklyn tied that late in the first on a single from leadoff batter Anderson Moreno plus a batter hit, walk and pitch error.
At the start of the second, Brycen Rearick doubled home Bryce McCleester to put Martella back in the lead, 2-1.
Brooklyn pitcher Argenis Betances beat two Martella hitters — Jake Bredl and McCleester — to start the fourth.
Zach Ramach then dropped a bunt that Betances lifted past the first base sack and onto the right field line for an error, scoring Bredl.
Martella manager Kerry Pfeil called the play “a Ramach bunt that turned into a seven-run inning.”
Troy Emert followed with an RBI single before a pair of walks made it 5-1, prompting Brooklyn manager Linton Dyer to go to the bullpen.
Owen Potter came to throw and Glumac greeted the southpaw with a right hit that tackled another run.
Jared Dowey followed with the first of his two sacrificial flies, before Felton capped the explosion with a two-run single to left center.
Martella finished 2-1 in Pool B after starting with a 3-0 loss to New Brunswick. A 12-6 victory Tuesday over Maryland State preceded the win over Brooklyn.
“We knew we had seen a really good pitcher on day one, and we knew our pitch had depth,” Pfeil said. “Once we had guys on base, our offense was going to come to life.”
He added: “When you’re on base, you’re not just on base. You’re on base to build pressure and get that pitcher thinking about the runner and the batter. And we think when that happens, we’ll have some good pitches to hit.
Martella will face Philadelphia, winner of Pool A, Thursday at 2 p.m., back at Point.
“In this tournament, you like your chances at all times when it comes to a game,” Pfeil said. “You just have to be better than someone for a game. It’s one game at a time. We can’t think about Friday. We can’t think about Saturday.
Felton had two hits and drove in four runs for the Johnstown-2 entry. Rearick reached base all four times he went home — on a double, an error and two walks — with two runs scored.
Glumac, McCleester and Garrett Greco all scored twice.
Lewis was laying down the Brooklyn batters before Chris Hasse pitched the eighth.
“The offense made it easier,” Lewis said. “They put one in early. When you have a lead it’s a lot easier to shoot and you know your defense can create plays for you.
The Brooklyn Bonnie Rams finished 1-2 after opening the tournament with a victory on Monday. Dyer’s team committed three errors Wednesday while their pitchers walked four and hit three batters.
“You have to make games, you know?” said Dyer. “The basic games we didn’t manage, but the team is really young and we will come back.”
The Martella Pharmacy is still alive, thanks in large part to a Wednesday gem from Lewis.
The franchise won Johnstown’s only AAABA title in the event’s 77-year history in 2018.
“It’s awesome,” Lewis said. “That’s why you play. … And when you have a team like this, we can make things happen. It’s fun to play with them and I can’t wait to see where we can go.
Chip Minemyer is editor and general manager of The Tribune-Democrat and TribDem.com, general manager of The Times-News of Cumberland, Md., and CNHI’s regional editor for Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia -Western and North Carolina. He can be reached at 814-532-5091. Follow him on Twitter @MinemyerChip.