FREDERICKSBURG – After playing downhill all summer, Myerstown spent most of its regional opener playing uphill. And although the Lebanon County representative did an admirable job of climbing, and eventually reaching the summit, it just couldn’t get over it.
On Saturday evening, Myerstown dropped a wild and wooly 12-9 decision to highly-respected Hummelstown in the opening round of the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four American Legion baseball tournament, being conducted at Fredericksburg’s Earl Wenger Memorial Field After falling behind by as many as five runs, and then seven, early, Myerstown fought back to tie the score at nine, before falling victim to Hummelstown’s decisive three-run rally in the top of the ninth.
The loss relegated Myerstown to 19-3 and to the loser’s bracket of the tourney. Myerstown will embark on its journey over the long, low road on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. against Red Lion, which was nipped by defending champ Spring Grove 2-1.
With the win, Dauphin County champion Hummelstown, one of the favorites in the event, improved to 21-1
“What I take from this is positives,” said Myerstown head coach Johnny Mentzer. “That’s a good baseball team we played. You take away those three innings and we win the ball game.”
“We came here with high expectations to win,” said Myerstown centerfielder and three-hole hitter Tyler Starry. “The goal is always to win. Now we’ve just got to make our way through the loser’s bracket.”
After giving away way too many bases and falling behind 9-2 in the top of the fifth, Myerstown showed it had what it takes to play with Hummelstown.
Still down 9-6 in the bottom of the sixth, Myerstown posted a three-spot to knot the score. The big blow was Kyle Bogdonovich’s two-run single, which was followed by Cody Horst’s tying sacrifice fly to center.
M-town had loaded the bases with one out, when Conor Bawiec was hit by a pitch, Jake Stager singled and Chris Kreider walked.
Facing a seven-run deficit, Myerstown scored four times in the bottom of the fifth inning, on two hits and a pair of Hummelstown outfield errors. Ryan Wierbach came through for Myerstown with a two-out, two-run single.
“He’s been due all year,” said Mentzer of clean-up hitter Chris Kreider, who was on base three times. “But we’ve been getting production throughout the lineup. A little short and too many mistakes. It’s a game of inches.”
“Momentum’s huge,” said Starry. “I thought we had it. It just died off. They (Hummelstown) came back and did the same thing to us. But we were digging a hole the whole game.
“I was thinking, ‘let’s make this respectable,'” Starry continued. “‘Let’s not embarrass ourselves.’ I thought we did a great job of representing Lebanon County. This is almost our home field. We live 20 minutes away. We could’ve easily been on the other side of this.”
In the top of the ninth, Hummelstown loaded the bases with one out against Myerstown reliever Jake Stager. Hummelstown’s Michael Wilhite pulled a Stager offering down the third base line that scored two mates, just ahead of Cole Backenstose’s sacrifice fly to left.
“Jake was working on three days rest, and we didn’t want to start him,” said Mentzer. “I wanted to get as much out of Grant (starter, Fisher) as we possibly could.”
“We knew they were good,” said Starry of Hummelstown. “They’ve got some Division One (college) players. From what I heard, they’re 18-1. They’re a good ball team. I’d love to see them again in the finals.”
Hummelstown got to Fisher five times in the top of the first. H-town sent ten hitter to the dish, scratched out five hits and took advantage of three wild pitches, two walks and an error.
But Myerstown put up two runs of its own in the bottom of the opening inning. Starry started it with a double, while Kyle Bogdonovich and Horst delivered run-scoring hits with two outs.
“What I remember about the first inning was their cheap hits,” said Mentzer. “They had that blooper into right field that scored two runs. They didn’t hit Grant really hard. Besides the walks, he threw well. We missed their bats all day.
“That’s key for us,” continued Mentzer. “Coming back and scoring runs. We had chances in other innings too.”
Myerstown experienced fielding difficulties in the top of the fifth, while Hummelstown was tacking on four runs against Stager. Hummelstown did its damage with just one hit, as it made the most of three Myerstown errors, three walks and a hit batter.
“I think Grant was a little nervous at the beginning,” said Starry. “He hadn’t thrown an inning in the (Lebanon County) playoffs. We gave them a lot of runs early on. If we don’t, who knows what the final score is.
“From early on, I thought it was going to be a long day,” Starry continued. “But we stayed in the game, got key hits and they made errors too. They proved they are human.”
Fisher finished with two strikeouts and six walks in his four innings. Stager walked just as many and fanned four.
Region 4 Tournament
at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, Fredericksburg
SATURDAY, JULY 19
Game 1: Spring Grove 2, Red Land 1
Game 2: Ephrata 5, Shippensburg 4
Game 3: Hummelstown 12, Myerstown 9
Game 4: Glen Rock 4, Fredericksburg 1
SUNDAY, JULY 20
Game 5: Red Land vs. Myerstown, 9:30 a.m.
Game 6: Shippensburg vs. Fredericksburg, 12:30
Game 7: Spring Grove vs. Hummelstown, 4
Game 8: Ephrata vs. Glen Rock, 7:30
MONDAY, JULY 21
Game 9: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7, 1
Game 10: Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8, 4
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 7:30
TUESDAY, JULY 22
Game 12: Winner Game 9 or 10 vs. Loser Game 11, 4*
Game 13: Winner Game 9 or 10 vs. Winner Game 11, 7:30*
WEDNESDAY, JULY 23
Game 14: Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 13, 11 a.m.
Game 15 (if necessary): Winner Game 12 vs. Winner Game 8, following Game 14
Good coverage and lots of great quotes!