BY JEFF FALK
It was a lousy way to qualify for a championship series. It was an even crappier way to defend a title.
On Thursday night at Palmyra High School, Campbelltown forfeited Game Two of its best-of-three Lebanon County American Legion baseball semifinal series to Myerstown, when it couldn’t field a full team. With the result, Myerstown won the set 2-0 and advanced to the local summer baseball league’s championship series, against the winner of the Annville and Fredericksburg series.
On Wednesday evening, Myerstown had defeated Campbelltown 2-1.
The umpires, coaches and players waited the required 20 minutes past the scheduled start of the game, but Campbelltown’s ninth player never showed up. Campbelltown won the 2013 Lebanon County legion baseball championship by defeating Myerstown in the final series.
“It’s not a good way to end the season,” said Campbelltown head coach Tim Morgan. “I don’t think this franchise ever forfeited, ever. I thought we could win this game tonight. We played them tough down there (in Myerstown). To lose without giving yourself a chance it’s disappointing.”
“It’s not what I wanted,” said Myerstown head coach Johnny Mentzer. “This is never how you want to advance. Does it help us? Sure it does because it saves pitching.”
Myerstown, which officially beat Campbelltown five times this summer, improved to 16-1 on the season. M-town will send veteran left-hander Chris Kreider to the hill for Game One of the championship series, when Annville and Fredericksburg settle their differences.
Campbelltown concluded its year 5-12.
“It’s been our goal from the beginning of the season,” said Mentzer of reaching the finals. “On paper, we were the team to beat at the beginning of the year. It was: ‘Were we going to do it between the lines?’ We had to do it in the playoffs. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to play, but a win is a win.”
“I had three boys who were here this week,” said Morgan, who had to contend with vacations, concerts and employment obligations. “At work, their bosses told them if they leave they’re fired. We were playing good now. There’s no question. I thought we had a good chance.”
Wednesday represented the second forfeit that Myerstown had received in the last four days. Myerstown also advanced to last season’s Lebanon County American Legion baseball championship series with a forfeit.
“I only had ten players tonight,” said Mentzer. “I almost faced the same situation. Tomorrow the guys want to go to work. There has been a culture shift. That’s why my dad gave it (coaching) up, because of a lack of commitment from the players.”
“It’s everybody,” said Morgan. “If the kids don’t see the field, they don’t show up. There’s only nine spots out there. With the newer generation, if they don’t play, they don’t show up.
“We’re finally getting the kids together in the summer, instead of playing this travel ball,” added Morgan. “It makes you better.”