Ward, Oberdorf help Martella’s return to AAABA semifinals
Martella’s Pharmacy is not ready to give up its national championship trophy.
The lively baseball team from Johnstown is back in the semifinals of the 75th All-American Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) Tournament, a step away from another finals appearance.
They advanced with a 5-4, walk-off win over Zanesville Junior Pioneers Thursday night at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point in Johnstown.
Martella’s (27-13) plays the Philadelphia Bandits at 7 p.m Friday at the Point. In the other semifinal, New Orleans was set to take on Buffalo at noon.
Martella’s won Thursday on a walk-off wild pitch.
Drew Frear was hit on the elbow on a 3-2 count with no outs in the bottom of the ninth.
A pair of local players have made an impact during another lengthy postseason run: soon-to-be Seton Hill teammates Omar Ward (Derry/The Kiski School) and Jack Oberdorf (Greensburg Salem).
Ward, who was the Johnstown Collegiate Baseball League MVP last season, transferred to Seton Hill from Canisius. The outfielder and pitcher missed a large portion of this summer season due to an ankle injury but came back just when the team needed him.
It’s not quite Kirk Gibson, but an injured Omar Ward coming off the bench for a pinch-hit, go-ahead single in the bottom of the 8th just gave Johnstown all of the feels. @MartellasAAABA now leads 4-2 with Luke Dividock going out for the 9th. #AAABA2019 pic.twitter.com/QqwX9XK5iF
— Eric Knopsnyder (@eric_knopsnyder) August 9, 2019
Ward delivered a pinch-hit, two-run single to center as Martella’s took a 4-2 lead into the ninth inning.
“Omar is such a competitor,” Martella’s manager Jesse Cooper told the Tribune-Democrat. “He wanted to be in that position. You just have a lot of faith in a guy like that.”
Oberdorf, a key player all season at third base and an All-JCBL selection, dropped an everybody’s-safe sacrifice bunt to keep a late rally alive Thursday.
He has a number of clutch hits this summer.
“This summer has been an exciting experience,” Oberdorf said. “Getting to play with and against college players has taught me a lot about the game. The tournament has been electric as well. We have a great group of guys who have grown closer together throughout the season. Hopefully we can get two more wins and make it back-to-back national champions.”
Martella’s won its sixth consecutive JCBL title before the AAABA playoffs.
A third local player on Martella’s roster is Luke Hudson, an incoming Seton Hill freshman from Hempfield.
Another Hempfield product, Nick DiAndreth, won the JCBL batting title (.425) and was the top rookie. He played this season for league runner-up Paul Carpenter Capital Advisors.
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .