BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – All everyone around the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League wants to talk about is Campbelltown’s future. But the members of Post 831 don’t want to hear how good they’re going to be.
On a warm Monday evening at Palmyra High School, the local summer baseball circuit experienced an unofficial changing of the guard, as Campbelltown blanked Annville 4-0, in the third and decisive game of their best-of-three semifinal playoff series. With right-hander Sam Zeigler stifling the defending champions on four hits, C-town supported him with a pair of two-run rallies and some very good defense.
The outcome lifted the regular-season runner-up to 13-7, 4-1 against Annville and into the league’s best-of-three Warren ‘Lefty’ Grumbine championship series against top-seeded Fredericksburg. Contrary to previous reports, Campbelltown will not forfeit the league crown to Fredericksburg and will not relinquish the spot in Saturday’s Region Four tournament.
Game One of the Lebanon County American Legion League championship series between Campbelltown and Fredericksburg was scheduled to be played at Earl Wenger Memorial Field on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. The second game of the set is scheduled for Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. at Palmyra High School.
Third-seeded Annville concluded its campaign a somewhat disappointing 11-9.
‘We have 12 15-year-olds,” said Campbelltown head coach Tim Morgan. “To do this, and beat Annville four out of five times, it’s amazing. We’re so young.
“They (Fredericksburg) beat us 3-0 twice,” added Morgan. “The first time they had three hits and we had three hits. The second time they had seven hits and we had six hits. Conrad Weiser had them 2-1 (in Game Three of the other semifinal series), they booted a ball and Fredericksburg came back. Anybody can win this year. We’re going out there. We’re going to have fun. And whatever happens, happens.”
“They’re good,” said Annville head coach Ken Sauley of Campbelltown. “They’re young. They’re going to have to take their lumps at regionals. But after that they’re going to be a formidable team for years to come. They’re going to get a lot of experience at that tournament.
“No, this was not a successful season for us. Not at all,” Sauley continued. “I’m very disappointed. I’m not a happy camper. I understand we were Lebanon County champs. On paper, we were the best team. Anything other than that was a disappointment.”
Riding the momentum it created in its Game Two triumph a night earlier, Campbelltown touched Annville starter Alec Barr for a two-spot in the bottom of the third inning.
Jake Wagner and Christian Kreiser drove home the runs for C-town, with a single and a sacrifice fly to center. But the ground work for the runs were laid by Brian Coburn’s lead-off double and Kasey Shugart’s sacrifice.
“Last night, they agreed on that,” said Morgan of the decision not to forfeit the championship to Fredericksburg. “We figured we didn’t have the pitching for that. Then the regional director got wind of it. Every year we go to regionals, we have no pitching. I’m not throwing anyone out there. I’m just glad we’re in it.
“We were going to forfeit,” added Morgan. “But we got an email from the league, and it wouldn’t look good for the league.”
“It was because of yesterday (Sunday),” said Sauley of his team’s performance. “It was a carry-over. That kid (Zeigler) was good. But we probably mailed it in before.
“Yesterday, we had six errors,” Sauley added. “You’re not going to win when you make six errors. He (Morgan) didn’t have all of his players in Game One. But we didn’t come ready to play.”
With a variety of pitches, Zeigler had Annville guessing all evening long. He entered the contest with a 1.29 ERA, then proceeded to lower it.
Of the four hits he yielded, three came after two outs had been recorded. Zeigler did not allow a hit after the fourth inning, and Annville got a runner as far as third base only once.
Zeigler went the distance, struck out five and walked three.
“Going in, Sammy had pitching three unbelievable games,” said Morgan. “With that lineup, it takes a lot of guts. There’s multiple good hitters on that team. I told our guys, ‘You’ve got to get a couple of key hits and play good defense.’
“His ball moves,” continued Morgan. “He gets in 3-0 holes and then comes back. When he falls behind, he throws three or four different pitches. And it’s good stuff. Those guys are good hitters.”
“He threw real well,” said Sauley of Zeigler. “He kept us off balance. We had solid contact, but they made the plays behind him.
“Those are hits and they produce runs,” added Sauley. “Today they were better than us. They were better than us all year. We didn’t live up to our capabilities. This was a better team than last year’s.”
With the outcome still very much in doubt, C-town tacked on a couple of insurance tallies in the bottom of the sixth.
It started with a walk to Blatt and continued with a single from Kreiser. It concluded with a Trevor Binner sacrifice fly and an Annville throwing error.
“Blatty’s ball down the rightfield line (in the third) opened things up,” said Morgan. “It was just key hits when we needed them. And good base running.”
“He battled,” said Sauley of his starter, Alec Barr. “We didn’t make the plays behind him. If we would’ve put a green (Fredericksburg) uniform on them (Campbelltown) he would’ve shut them out. They just barreled some balls up and took advantage of it. I hate to lose more than anyone on this earth.
“‘On paper’ doesn’t win games,” Sauley added. “We didn’t hit well all year. You can’t just turn the switch on.”
Fredericksburg 3, Campbelltown 1
Later the same night at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, Fredericksburg assumed a 1-0 lead in the Warren ‘Lefty’ Grumbine Championship Series behind ace Isaac Wengert’s three-hit gem. Wengert finished what he started, fanned eight and walked three.
Fredericksburg, now 20-6 overall and 17-5 in the league. improved to 4-0 against Campbelltown this summer.
The regular season champs jumped out to a 3-0 first-inning lead, after its first three batters – Noah Gingrich, Hayden Johnson, and Wengert walked. Seth Walmer delivered a two-run single, while Bailey Keefer plated another with an RBI grounder.
Walmer’s hit would prove to be F-burg’s only hit of the evening.
Campbelltown tallied its lone run in the fourth, thanks in part to two F-burg fielding miscues. Wengert stranded seven Campbelltown runners on base.
Fredericksburg will host the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four tournament at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, beginning Saturday.
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