First Posted: 4/11/2013
On a field named for a Hall of Famer and spiced with a trophy named for a Major Leaguer who pitched in a World Series, the first pitch of the 15th Anniversary Andy Ashby Trophy Game gets thrown at 4:15 Tuesday.
After the game, Andy Ashby will selected the 16th winner of the Andy Ashby MVP Trophy.
Ashby inaugurated the trophy in 1998 after then WA coach Ron Musto suggested the WA _ PA baseball; game should have an MVP thropy akin to the annual Carmella Falcone football game MVP trophy.
Within a couple years, the “Ashby Game” became the marquee event of local spring sports calendar as the game was embraced by the schools, the athletic directors, the coaches, the parents, the fans, Ashby and his family and, especially, the players.
The game took on such significance that in the three seasons where Pittston Area and Wyoming Area were not scheduled to play each due to conference realignments, the schools and the programs agreed to play a specially-scheduled non-league game on a Saturday during the season. Pennant race or not, the coaches threw their best available pitchers and went all out to win.
Adding to the game’s luster, three times it was played on the very field where Ashby had won 11 games for the Red Barons in 1991 as sponsors came forward to rent PNC Field.
The series began in 1998 with a sub plot. The game was at Wyoming Area and it was the Warriors’ first home game since the previous May when a massive fire that destroyed the Diversified Records building also destroyed the left field fence and tore up the left field turf. WA had played 23 consecutive away games.
Wyoming Area won its homecoming game, 8-2, and left fielder Shane Beatty won the MVP with three hits, including a pair with two outs to spark Warrior rallies. Ashby’s father-in-law, then State Rep. Tom Tigue, and Ashby’s wife, Tracy, presented the trophy.
The second game in 1999 at Pittston Area was a non-league game and one of the most exciting in the series. PA won, 2-1, as the teams combined for only four hits, one a long game-winning home run by Ashby winner George LoPresto. Jim Salitis, of PA, and Mike Gerney, of WA, both pitched 2-hitters.
Game three in 2000 was also a non-league contest at West Pittston. Mike Gerney was back, this time as a batter. He won the MVP, going 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs in a 12-7 WA win. After the game Gerney said, “It’s been a goal of mine to win this since I said good bye to Andy when he left for spring training.”
In 2001, Blake Barbini won the Ashby, pitching a complete game in a 9-4 PA win. “Andy is a nice guy,” Barbini said at the time. “We threw together in the gym last winter. He helped me with my mechanics, but even more mentally. My downside was getting emotional when things went wrong. Andy said if I walk a couple guys, forget it and focus on the batter. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
In 2002, WA’s Rich Overman won the Ashby in a 4-2 WA win. Overman entered in relief, got out of a jam and pitched 2 1/3 innings, giving up no runs with one strikeout and got the save.
In 2003, a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning forced in the winning run in a 4-3 WA win. Winning pitcher Rob Licata went the distance in 40-degree weather, allowing two earned runs while striking out eight to win the Ashby.
In 2004, Ashby personally presented the award for the first time and saw a brother act as pitcher Ryan Overman won the MVP two years after his brother Rich in an 8-4 WA win - probably the biggest upset of the series. PA was on an 8-game winning streak.
2005, PA pitcher Joe Hines pitched a complete game with four strikeouts in a 6-2 win and carried home the MVP.
In 2006, WA short stop Kyle Shymanski won the Ashby with game-tying and game-winning RBI hits, both with two outs in a 6-5 win.
In 2007, PA won a Mercy rule route, 15-0. George Dructor, who went 3-for-4 with four RBI, beamed as Ashby handed him the trophy. “It’s an honor for him to be here and everything,” Dructor said.
In 2008, PA outfielder Kevin Daley picked up the trophy with a game-winning RBI single in the top of the seventh in a 6-5 win at PNC Park
Back at PNC again in 2009, Pittston Area senior right handed pitcher Joe Dorbad won the 12th Ashby Trophy hurling a 4-0 shutout.
In 2010, Wyoming Area won 11-0 in five innings in West Pittston. Ashby was out of town and wanted to present the trophy, so the winner wasn’t named until he got back a few days later. It went to WA’s Anthony Bellino.
In 2011, Ron Musto, no relation to the former WA coach, hit a bases-loaded double in the fourth inning to break open a 7-2 PA win back at PNC Field. Musto finished 2-for-3 with three RBI to win the Ashby.
Last season WA’s Dylan Maloney got the Ashby for striking out nine in a 15-5 WA win.
Ashby pitched for four different major league teams in 16 seasons. His best seasons were 1998, the year he started the Ashby Trophy, and 1999, when he was the Padres’ opening day starter and went 14-10. He made the NL All-Star team both seasons.
Ashby was a workhorse for the Padres, starting more than 30 games in four of five seasons and leading the NL in starts in 1995.
In 1998 he was 17-9 with a 3.33 ERA. He walked 58 and struck out 157 in 226 innings. He started two games in the LCS and pitched well, allowing just three runs in 13 innings, through he didn’t get decisions in either game. He was the starter and loser in one game against the Yankees in the World Series that season. He last pitched in the majors in 2004.
Ashby loves being associated with the rivalry game. “It’s a great opportunity for the kids, myself and my family,” he said. “I feel honored to do it. I missed some of the early games when I was still playing. Thank God my wife and my father-in-law were there to take care of things.”
Previous Ashby Twinners
1998 WA Shane Beatty
1999 PA George LoPresto
2000 WA Mike Gerney
2001 PA Blake Barbini
2002 WA Rich Overman
2004 WA Ryan Overman
2005 PA Joe Hines
2006 WA Kyle Shymanski
2007 PA George Dructor
2008 PA Kevin Daley
2009 PA Joe Dorbad
2010WA Anthony Bellino
2011 PA Ron Musto
2012 WA Dylan Maloney