BY JEFF FALK
Myerstown just couldn’t close out Fredericksburg. And because it couldn’t, M-town is now the outfit in danger of being closed out.
Drew Bene’s two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning lifted Fredericksburg to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Myerstown in Tuesday night’s opening game of a best-of-three semifinal playoff series in the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league. At Earl Wenger Memorial Field, a walk to Tanner Dresch, a single by Jon McKinney and a wild pitch set the stage for Bene’s dramatics.
The win gave Fredericksburg a 1-0 advantage in a best-of-three set that resumes on Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. in Myerstown. The winner of the series will take on the Campbelltown-Annville survivor in the best-of-five Warren ‘Lefty’ Grumbine championship series, which will get underway later in the week.
The playoff champion will represent Lebanon County at the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four tournament in Fayetteville, beginning July 21.
Bene’s walk-off also spoiled a solid pitching effort by Myerstown starter Jake Stager. Stager retired the 14 of the first 15 batters he faced and took a no-hitter into the fifth.
The first hit Stager gave up was to Daulton Ritter, and it came after two outs had been recorded in the bottom of the fifth. Following a Tanner Dresch safety, Ritter came around to score on a Myerstown error that made it 2-1.
F-burg starter Jon McKinney also threw well, but didn’t figure into the decision. McKinney’s relief, Ian Whitman, chucked the final inning and a third to pick up the win.
Myerstown tallied the first run of the contest, in the top of the fourth, on Colin Miller’s RBI-triple. Tyler Starry drove home Miller for a 2-0 Myerstown advantage.