JOHNSTOWN, Pennsylvania – Third-seeded Martella’s Pharmacy had 13 hits against Capital Advisors regular-season champion Paul Carpenter in the opener of a best-of-5 championship series on Wednesday night.
Two of them left the court at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point, including Bryce McCleester’s mammoth shot to center field and Zach Ramach’s drive to the screen from left field.
But perhaps even more important than the offense was the combined effort of Martella pitchers Michael Marinchak and Alec Petroff. The right-handed duo limited the damage caused by Paul Carpenter’s powerful formation.
Martella won 9-4 to take the lead in the series, which continues at 7 p.m. Thursday at The Point.
“Mike Marinchak came in here and wasn’t really polished the first, second, or third innings,” Martella pharmacy manager Kerry Pfeil said. “He settled in and we thought he had gotten stronger. He’s a competitor.
“He hit his pitch count and he was completely confident of getting the ball to ‘Pet’.
“Petrov did his job. He left a pitch in the ninth inning, but when your sticks give you a seven-run lead, that’s okay.
Marinchak scatter eight hits in six innings. He allowed one earned run, had four strikeouts and four walks on 99 pitches. Petroff threw three frames, retired five and walked three.
Paul Carpenter had 11 hits but blocked 15 base runners, including eight players in scoring position.
“There’s too much left on base,” Paul Carpenter’s manager Dave Sheriff said. “We didn’t have good quality hitting when we had the bases loaded or two guys with less than two outs. We just didn’t put the ball in play when we needed to.
“They had the momentum coming back from (Tuesday). We were gone for two days.
“They had the momentum. It happens.”
Paul Carpenter swept O in three games.
Martella’s won a series against second-seeded Mainline Pharmacy in four games, with the game-clinching goal on Tuesday and a dramatic 11-inning victory on Monday.
— Michael Mastovich (@masty81) July 21, 2022
“It was huge to get first,” said Martella catcher Ramach, who scored a double and two runs to go along with his home run.
“Right now, it doesn’t matter. We have to come back (Thursday) and do the same, because they are a very good team.
Martella took an early lead, as Garrett Greco singled, stole a base and scored on Andrew Weaver’s single in the top of the first.
Paul Carpenter charged the bases late in the inning after Aiden Dunlap’s first single and a pair of walks, but Marinchak rebounded with two strikeouts on six straight pitches.
With two outs, center fielder Greco made a run and dive catch on Nick Fleming’s drive that traveled more than 400 feet into right center field. Greco sprinted about 70 feet from the brick part of the wall to the right side of the field past the scoreboard to keep it 1-0 up.
In the Martella’s second, McCleester singled to start. Brycen Rearick, who had three hits, doubled up the wall on the left, but Zach Seaman kicked out McCleester at third.
With two out, Jared Dowey hit a left hit, but was kicked out by Seaman at second base to end the inning.
Paul Carpenter made it 2-1 in singles by Lucca Baccari, Seaman and Aiden Dunlap in second.
Pharmacy opened up a 4-1 advantage in the top of the fourth. McCleester scored on a delayed home flight in a first and third situation. Greco singled out and Jake Felton walked with the bases loaded.
Ramach walked, advanced on Troy Emert’s sacrificial bunt and scored on McCleester’s sacrifice fly to give Martella a 5-1 lead in the fifth.
Paul Carpenter scored an unearned run in the sixth after Aiden Dunlap hit a two-out error and scored on Noah Sweeney’s double to left center field.
“They just did a really good job of hitting their runs,” Ramach said of pitchers Marinchak and Petroff. “They were filling the area all day, throwing really good shots and working our plan.”
Ramach cleared the screen into left field in the top of the seventh.
“I was just trying to keep it simple, really do my job, hit the ball hard and get on goal,” Ramach said.
Martella added two unearned runs in the eighth after a two-out error, a walk, a single to Felton’s infield and another delayed double steal on a first-and-third situation to lead 8-2.
McCleester threw a two-out solo homer to center field where the brick wall ends and the fence begins.
“Offensively we have two bases, get runners on base and score at least one run every inning,” Pfeil said. “PC is a well balanced team and there’s a lot of strength in this lineup, 1-9. We were lucky to build a lead against some good pitchers.”
Paul Carpenter’s Baccari hit a two-run triple late in the ninth.
“You just washed this game to move on. It’s a new game,” the sheriff said. “We were 7-0 against them in the regular season. It is bound to happen. It’s a bit difficult to stay undefeated against a team.
Mike Mastovich is a sports journalist and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.