Laurel Auto belts way to victory

JOHNSTOWN — Zach Heide’s two-run home run cleared the Screen Monster in left field at Point Stadium and kick-started Laurel Auto Group’s scoring in its 8-2 victory over Ketrow Insurance Monday night in  a AAABA league game.

The first-inning homer was one of two for Laurel Auto Group.

Jesse Bortner led off the fifth inning with a solo home run and got the bats moving for Laurel Auto’s biggest inning of the night – a four-run outburst.

“It’s nice when you can get some instant offense, especially with the wooden bats,” Laurel Auto manager Mark Thomchick said. “We had some big hits. Those two home runs certainly helped us out there.”

Ryan Matsko doubled in the fifth inning with two outs. The first out came after Joe Fearer tried to steal second, but didn’t manage to beat the ball. The second out came after Ben Webb, who singled to get on base, was headed home when Ketrow catcher Jaret Berardinelli made the tag as Webb tried to slide to safety.

Heide walked and Ryan Bills singled before Matsko crushed a double off the outfield wall. Matsko’s shot was so close to a home run, some believed it was, but it was ruled a double that scored the final two runs for Laurel Auto Group.

“Ryan Matsko had a big hit late in the game. We gave up a run early in the game and got down, which you don’t like, but the guys did a good job responding in the bottom half of the first,” Thomchick said.

Ketrow Insurance’s first three batters swung at the first pitch offered by pitcher Mike Nowicki and the strategy worked well for Ryan Slagenwiet, who singled and scored the first run of the game on a two-out error.

Nowicki held Ketrow to one run until the sixth inning, when he gave up another, also on an error.

“Mike Nowicki did a good job attacking and working down the zone,” Thomchick said.

Ketrow is an Altoona-based team and is 0-3 in interleague play. Playing the Altoona teams broadens the field for the Johnstown league. With the addition of two more teams, the season has expanded from playing the same teams repeatedly and features more diversity.

“It’s nice to see some different competition, I think it helps our guys out,” Thomchick said. “We treat them like they’re league games. We try to get better and help ourselves out in the long run.”

Ketrow fell 18-0 to Martella’s on June 15 and 8-0 to Ophthalmic Associates on June 11. With the loss to Laurel Auto Group, Ketrow is 0-3 against Johnstown teams. Laurel Auto Group improves to 8-4 after the win and plays Delweld tonight at 7:45 at Point Stadium.


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