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Martin Oil repeats as Kelley Federation champs in 2002

Martin Oil accomplished an unbelievable feat by going undefeated during the regular season and playoffs to win their first-ever George B. Kelley Federation championship in 2001. But that was past history when the federation season came around in the summer of 2002.
This was a different team from the Martin Oil of a year past when the Bellwood-Antis team became the first in the fifty-plus years of the Kelley Federation to go undefeated. Six starters, most of who had been three-year starters were gone. Even with the return of several players, who had played prominent parts in the 31-0 season, this was a new team with a new personality.
The emphasis had changed from brute power and big innings to speed, speed and more speed, combined with solid defense and excellent pitching. The defense and pitching were also there during the 2000 season, but because of the switch away from the feeling they were never too far out of a ballgame with the offensive power, those items played a lesser part in overall strategy than they did this year.
The 2002 club swiped bases like they were criminal masterminds planning a big heist, using more team speed than anyone can remember to put pressure on an opponent’s defense. Take just a shade of extra time or maybe just the slightest bobble and Martin Oil had a baserunner. Infield hits accumulated and extra base hits hit rained on the opposition, not just because of the power, errors piled up for opponents, all because of the speed to burn up and down the Martin Oil lineup.
Five times during the regular season, the Martin Oil baserunners stole 10 bases in a single game and 14 times, they averaged a stolen base an inning. In many of the other games, Martin Oil jumped out to big leads and manager Ed Davis reigned in the horses early or there would have been much higher totals.
The streak continued at the beginning of the current season, reaching 14 in 2002 and a grand total of 45 straight wins over two years before being stopped 9-7 by Park Furniture with several regular starters away for various reasons. The wins kept on coming, with just two more bumps in the road for Martin Oil, who finished the 2002 regular season with a first place mark of 19-3 and the top seed for the Kelley playoffs for the second straight year.
Another quick trip through the playoffs with seven straight wins netted Martin Oil their second league title in as many tries. Reaping trophies for league and playoff championships, Martin Oil also added a MVP trophy for Adam Plummer, the third straight year a Martin Oil player had won the award, following back-to-back wins by Dave Miller, and a Co-Pitcher of the Year Award for Plummer, who shared that award with Altoona First pitcher Eric Bridenbaugh, as well.
Plummer was joined on the Kelley Federation All-Star Team by Troy Beaver, Jordan Taylor and Nate Carlson
Martin Oil’s two straight championships mark the 13th time a team has won back-to-back titles, with the most recent being Park Furniture in 1997 and 1998. Tyrone Legion won league championships in 1992 and 1993 and also made the championship finals in 1994 and 1995. Bellwood finished in second place in 1984 and 1988 in their only two previous trips to the finals.
Three major holdovers did much toward leading by example in 2002. Troy Beaver, Jordan Taylor and Adam Plummer were three aces manager Davis could always draw to when the team needed a clutch pitching performance, defensive effort or clutch basehit.
Beaver, brought into the infield this season to solidify the shortstop position led the team in hitting (.486), walks (23), doubles (10), on-base percentage (.622) and runs scored (41) and was second in stolen bases (23), hit two triples and despite hitting leadoff all year had 27 RBIs. On a hot streak going into the playoffs, Beaver hit .833 (10-for-12) in his last four regular season games.
Taylor led the club in hits (39) and stolen bases (27), was second to Beaver in walks (19) and runs (39), hit five doubles, four triples and one home run and drove in 26 RBIs. Taylor was the only Martin Oil batter to hit safely in all seven playoff games.
“Troy and Jordan were our two 18-year olds this year that were starters,” said Martin Oil manager Ed Davis. “As I like to say, Troy was our vocal leader and Jordan was our silent leader. Both made tremendous contributions to our season, both offensively and defensively. By just their shear presence on the field, they picked up a lot of our younger kids during the course of the season. Statistics-wise, they both had tremendous years, but their real importance was the unsung things, that the average fan doesn’t see behind the scenes, every practice and every day before the game. The way they talked and led by example showed the real value of my two leaders, who will be very much missed next season after doing so much so well for the past two years.”
Plummer batted .422 with a .515 on-base percentage, scored 26 runs, walked 14 times, hit two doubles, three triples and had a team-best 10 homeruns and 49 RBIs.
On the mound, Adam compiled a 4-1 mark with one save, appearing in nine ballgames. Plummer allowed 36 hits, while striking out 43 and walking 25 in 44 and 2/3 innings. The league hit .226 against him and Plummer’s ERA was 2.19.
“I always expect a lot from Adam,” said Davis, “because we know what talent he has and what a force he can be. He was our cleanup hitter all year, leading the team in home runs and RBIs. Obviously Adam was one of our top contributors.”
Nate Carlson was for at least part of the year, Martin Oil’s top hitter and pitcher before ending up with the best win-lost mark going 7-1 with a 1.88 ERA, while opposing batters hit just .187 against him. Nate also had a save. Carlson allowed 28 hits and had 47 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 41 innings and 10 appearances on the mound.
Offensively, Carlson batted .439, after being on a hot streak early in the year when he practically carried the team with a .737 batting average through the first seven games,. During that same time, Nate was 2-0 with a save and a 0.00 ERA on the mound with 18 strikeouts and two walks.
Carlson had a .526 on-base percentage with 11 walks, eight stolen bases, four doubles, two homers and 23 RBIs.
“For the first two/thirds or three/fourths of the season Nate was just absolutely crushing the ball,” said Davis. “And he pitched some big, big ballgames for us as well. In the final round of the playoffs, he came in and relieved in two of the three games and in each case shut down the opposition.”
Zach Stere rounded out the three starters who Davis used for much of the year, although manager Davis also brought Dan Houser, (3-0) Derrick Miller (2-0), Ryan Myers (2-0) and Ryan Rhoades (2-0) into the rotation at times as well and all performed well.
Stere led the squad in appearances with 14 and tied Carlson for the lead in strikeouts with 47, while walking 19 and allowing 49 hits in 45 innings. The league batted .256 against Zach and he had an ERA of 4.36 and a record of 6-1 with one save.
At bat, Stere hit .443 with an on-base percentage of .537, 20 runs, 16 walks, six doubles, a team-high six triples and 33 RBIs.
Dan Houser batted .392 with a .444 on-base percentage, 27 runs, 11 stolen bases, five doubles, two triples, one home run and 20 RBIs. Houser, a regular on the 2001 team as a 16-year old, got off to a slow start, hitting just .176 over the first seven games of 2002, but rebounded to bat .448 (26-for-58) over his final 16 games to raise his final average 216 points. Danny was used sparingly on the mound, but the left-handed thrower notched two big wins in the playoffs, including clinching the championship in Game three of the final series.
Shawn Weiand batted .410 with an on-base percentage of .478, eight doubles, three triples and 19 RBIs. Derrick Miller batted .372, had an on-base % of .493, scored 24 runs, stole 13 bases, and had four doubles , two triples, one homer and 18 RBIs. Damion Miller hit .352, with an on-base % of .431, 17 runs, two doubles eight stolen bases and 11 RBIs.
“This is a super bunch of kids,” exclaimed Davis, “You just couldn’t ask for better leaders than Troy and Jordan. You have to give credit to the regulars, and the unsung heroes as well. Those kids played good defense, and kept coming up with key hits when we needed them. The pitching was super for just about every game, both starters and the kids who came on in relief. The courtesy runners and pinch runners and pinch hitters who didn’t get a chance to play much, who filled in whenever and wherever we needed them were just as important as the starters. Without them, we couldn’t have had the season we did. We trusted in them to do what we asked and they did it all season.”