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IMG_7257BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – Apparently the players riding the pines during Myerstown’s championship summer of 2014 were not only paying attention, they’re also quick studies.

Leaders Cody Horst, Austin Douple, Kyle Bogdanovich and currently injured Conor Bawiec, the so-called leftovers? Well, their experience is more first-hand.

On Monday night at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, its past and future came together to paint a pretty present, as Myerstown Baseball Inc. shocked Fredericksburg 5-2, in the losers’ bracket final of the Lebanon County American Baseball League playoffs. Myerstown needed just one hit to plate four unearned runs in the top of the seventh inning to break a one-all tie.

IMG_7348The rally made a winner out of Myerstown catcher-turned-starting pitcher Cody Horst, who gutted out six-and-two-thirds innings before giving way to Douple, who picked up the save.

Myerstown, the third seed which improved to 4-1 in the postseason and 11-9 overall, will take on second-seeded Campbelltown on Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. at Palmyra High School, in the championship game of the summer circuit’s double-elimination postseason tournament. A Myerstown win would force an ‘if necessary game’ for all the marbles.

For Fredericksburg, the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League regular-season champion, the summer reached a disappointing 14-4 conclusion. In three playoff games, Fredericksburg scored a total of five runs.

IMG_7261“It’s awesome,” said Myerstown head coach Johnny Mentzer, whose club had dropped three regular-season meetings with Fredericksburg. “We basically had four guys returning from last year. That’s it. All of our second-year players and first-year players stepped in, and they’re hitting their stride.

“No, we weren’t the favorite,” continued Mentzer. “But I knew we were in games with these guys all year. The key is clutch hits. If you let us hang around, we have a chance.”

“It truly was a team effort in defeat,” said Fredericksburg head coach Jim McKinney. “There was no one to blame. We left them (Myerstown) in too long. We didn’t take care of business, and we ended up with a loss.”

IMG_7330Vinnie Vitelli opened Myerstown’s half of the seventh inning with a single against Fredericksburg starter Isaac Wengert, but it was two big F-burg errors and walks drawn by pinch-hitter Noah Marinkov and Kyle Knight that really ignited the rally. After Knight’s bases-loaded walk drove in the run that made it 2-1, Douple followed with a sacrifice fly to center.

Myerstown’s final two runs scored on a Post 915 throwing error, on a ball hit by Horst.

IMG_7272In the bottom of the seventh inning, Fredericksburg did get the potential tying run to first base in the person of Brett Minnich, who had drawn his own bases-loaded free pass. But that’s when Douple came on to end the game with a strikeout.

“Wengert threw well,” said Mentzer. “He got a little amped up and started to get a little erratic. When he was rattled, we got inside his head. Yeah, we got a little help, but that’s what happens when you put the ball in play.

“That’s why I put Noah in there,” added Mentzer. “He has a good eye. That’s his role. Kyle (Knight) did the same thing. He got down (in the count) and still drew a walk.”

IMG_7298“That particular inning was just about execution,” said McKinney. “We threw away a ball. We should’ve made plays. We were walking guys we shouldn’t have. It was a combination of everything. We couldn’t get hits when we needed them. We had sort of a little meltdown there. It broke down there.

“He (Wengert) was throwing pretty decent,” continued McKinney. “We were a little low on pitching at that point. I thought we had enough to get through. That was my call.”

IMG_7316Behind a run, Myerstown knotted the score in the top of the fourth inning. Bash brothers K. Bogdanovich and Brett Bawiec collaborated for the score, with two hard-hit doubles.

But that was the only serious threat Myerstown could muster against Wengert, who struck out six and walked two. That is until the seventh.

“I knew all season we could do this because we were in every game,” said Mentzer. “I knew if we played good we had a chance. Am I surprised? Of course I’m surprised.”

“He’s a good pitcher,” said McKinney of Wengert. “He’s got good velocity. I thought we got away from his strengths at the end. He has the strength to go the distance, and the muscle for it. I don’t think he ran out of gas. He got a little wild there. Down three or four runs, we don’t have the firepower to come back from that.

IMG_7229“They (Myerstown) kept the ball over the plate enough,” McKinney added. “We swung at bad pitches. We didn’t capitalize.”

Fredericksburg touched Horst for a run in the top of the first inning, but it could’ve been worse.

Noah Gingrich led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Darrin Shirk, moved to third on Chase Dubendorf’s single and scored on Jordan Nichols’ sacrifice fly. But Horst stranded a pair of F-burg runners on the base baths.

IMG_7326Horst did not enjoy a 1-2-3 inning, scattered four hits, fanned three and issued nine free passes.

“I had no idea who I was going to pitch,” said Mentzer. “He (Horst) wasn’t supposed to pitch. I asked him how many innings he could give me. He said, ‘Seven’. He just wants to throw. He knows how to get guys off balance. That first inning was huge. Cody was mad at himself, but he got out of it. It kept his pitch count down.

“We can be very good in the future,” continued Mentzer. “We have the talent throughout our roster. It’s nice to be the coach of a team like this. Everybody who got a chance stepped up.”

“It’s good to get a team down and let a pitcher cruise,” said McKinney of the missed opportunities in the first inning. “It didn’t work out.

IMG_7218“He (Horst) threw fine,” McKinney added. “I don’t think he’s even close to being one of their normal starting pitchers. He did what he had to do to keep his team in the game. The first team to flinch was the team that was going to lose the game. It’s a game of mistakes. They (Myerstown) put themselves in a good position.”

After the contest, McKinney announced that this season would be his last.

“It’s been in the works for a while,” said McKinney, who’s been involved in Fredericksburg baseball in one form or another for the past 14 years. “Pretty much the whole season. This was one of the least controversial teams I’ve coached. They were a good bunch of kids. Generally, we stayed together, most of the season.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to see more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-nine/.

 

IMG_7352Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League

 Playoff Standings

Campbelltown 2 0

Myerstown 4 1

Annville 2 2

x-Fredericksburg 1 2

Richland 0 2

Fifth Ward 0 2

x – Regular-season champion

IMG_7328

Lebanon County American Legion

 Regular Season Standings

Team Won Lost Tied Pct. GB
Fredericksburg 13 2 0 .867
Campbelltown 10 5 0 .667 3.0
Myerstown 7 8 0 .467 6.0
Annville 6 9 0 .400 7.0
5th Ward 5 10 0 .333 8.0
Richland 4 11 0 .267 9.0
Lebanon County American Legion League
Past Champions
2014 – Myerstown
2013 – Campbelltown
2012 – Campbelltown
IMG_72262011 – Annville
2010 – Campbelltown
2009 — Fredericksburg
2008 — Fredericksburg
2007 — Richland
2006 — Richland
2005 — Richland
2004 — Annville
2003 — Fredericksburg
2002 — Richland
2001 — Fredericksburg
2000 — Fredericksburg
1999 — Fredericksburg
1998 — Palmyra
IMG_72311997 — Fredericksburg
1996 — Fredericksburg
1995 — Fredericksburg
1994 — Fredericksburg
1993 — Fredericksburg*
1992 — Palmyra
1991 — Palmyra
1990 — Fredericksburg
1989 — Fredericksburg
1988 — Palmyra
1987 — Fredericksburg
1986 — Fredericksburg*
1985 — Myerstown
1984 — Richland
1983 — Lebanon
1982 — Lebanon
1981 — Fredericksburg*
IMG_72351980 — Richland
1979 — Fredericksburg
1978 — Myerstown
1977 — Fredericksburg
1976 — Fredericksburg
1975 — Myerstown
1974 — Lebanon
1973 — Fredericksburg
1972 — Myerstown*
IMG_72421971 — Myerstown*
1970 — Annville*
1969 — Annville*
1968 — Myerstown
1967 — Myerstown
1966 — Myerstown
1965 — Myerstown
1964 — Richland
1963 — Lebanon
1962 — Richland
1961 — Richland*
1960 — Not Contested
1959 — Fredericksburg
1958 — Fredericksburg
1957 — Fredericksburg
1956 — Lebanon
1955 — Myerstown
IMG_72591954 — Jonestown*
1953 — Myerstown
1952 — Palmyra*
1951 — Palmyra
1950 — Palmyra
1949 — Annville
1948 — Myerstown*
1947 — Lebanon
1946 — Myerstown
1945 — Not Contested (World War II)
1944 — Not Contested (World War II)
1943 — Not Contested (World War II)
IMG_72691942 — Not Contested (World War II)
1941 — Lebanon*
1940 — Myerstown
1939 — Myerstown
1938 — Myerstown*
1937 — Lebanon*
1936 — Lebanon
1935 — Annville
1934 — Annville
1933 — Myerstown
1932 — Lebanon*
1931 — Orioles*
1930 — Fifth Ward
1929 — Progressive
* Denotes regional champions
Note — The 1937 Lebanon squad was the only team from the county to win a state title. The 1981 Fredericksburg, the
1948 Myerstown and the 1938 Myerstown clubs were all state runners-up.

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