PALMYRA – One inning does not a ball game make. But a single inning can change the complexion of a contest, set the tone for the rest of the way and heavily influence the outcome.
For Fredericksburg and Campbelltown yesterday, that inning was the second.
On Monday evening at Palmyra High School, Campbelltown parlayed a six-run, second-inning outburst into a surprisingly easy 11-1 Lebanon County American Legion baseball triumph over Fredericksburg. Feasting on three Fredericksburg errors, C-town sent 11 batters to the dish during its fateful rally.
The early season battle featured the defending league champions – Campbelltown – against the franchise which has won more Lebanon County American Legion titles than anyone – Fredericksburg. But thanks to the second inning, the anticipated struggle never materialized.
The win moved Campbelltown, which has actually won four of the last five league championships, to 2-0 overall. The setback evened the Chix’s record to 2-2.
“You get three runs with Sollenberger pitching and you’re usually in good shape,” said Campbelltown manager Tim Morgan of starting pitcher Josh. “Getting six in the second inning with him on the mound, I was real comfortable there on in. We held them at bay the rest of the way.”
“For them, it was real important,” said Fredericksburg head coach Jim McKinney of the C-town second. “For us, we needed to get through it. But our sticks got cold. It definitely was the turning point. At that point, we were playing good baseball.”
Sollenberger, C-town’s four-year starter, set the stage for his team’s rally in the second by working his way around Brett Minnich’s two-out double in Fredericksburg’s half of the frame. And Campbelltown’s bottom of the second began the way many six-run rallies do, with the bases loaded and nobody out.
An error, a walk and Griffin Mitchell’s single got it going, and Mike Rothermel kept it going with an RBI hit-by-pitch. Zach Miller made it 3-1 Campbelltown with a two-run single, before Trent Filter smashed a two-run triple to right and Trey Baker smacked an RBI-single.
Sollenberger made the rally even more meaningful by coming out in the top of the third and retiring Fredericksburg in order.
“After we got up, I still tried to play small ball,” said Morgan. “With Fredericksburg, it’s never over until it’s over. When you’re up 6-1, I still want more. We had no errors tonight, which helps out tremendously.
“We played good defense tonight,” Morgan continued. “Josh didn’t have his real good stuff. But he threw strikes and put the ball in play.”
“I remember errors,” said McKinney of the Campbelltown second. “And most of them were mental errors. Missing cut-offs, things like that.
“My game plan doesn’t change,” McKinney continued. “I didn’t change anything. What it did was take a little bit of our small ball away.”
Sollenberger yielded a one-out triple to Dylan Shirk and Dauton Ritter’s RBI-single in the first, but not much more the rest of the way. In completing what he started, Sollenberger, a slick southpaw, struck out four, walked one and allowed seven hits.
“He needs to get up,” said Morgan of Sollenberger. “He needs to get ahead in the count. He was our main man in high school last year and he’s played four years of legion ball. He likes to play. But he wants to do more than pitch. Having a guy like that around helps tremendously.”
“We’ve seen him before,” said McKinney of Sollenberger. “He threw solid tonight. He was throwing strikes and keeping guys off balance.
“Nah, I didn’t like our approach at the plate,” added McKinney. “That’s some of the stuff we’ve got to work on. We weren’t swinging at strikes and looking at too many pitches. We were getting hits in the first and second innings. When we watch too many pitches, that’s when we get into trouble.”
The score remained 6-1 until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Campbelltown once again batted around and scored five times. The big blow, a two-run single up the middle, was struck by Griffin Mitchell, while Baker, Rothermel and pinch hitter Anthony Faiola also contributed RBIs.
All five of those runs were unearned, as were two of Campbelltown’s in the second.
“I know what they’ve got ,” said Morgan of the Chix. “They’ve got three college players. Their three, four, five hitters, they rake. They have good pitching. They have multiple. The way this ends up, everybody plays four times a week. You’ve got to have pitching to survive.”
“They’ve got a lot of good baseball players,” said McKinney of Campbelltown. “They’re a solid team. They are playing at the level they should be playing at.
“I’m surprised with the way our defense was tonight,” McKinney added. “Our defense was shoddy, and we had mental break downs. You can’t do that against a good team.”
Zach Miller laced three of C-town’s 11 hits, while Mitchell, Baker and Trent Filter collected a pair apiece.
“This team knows,” said Morgan. “The bulls-eye is on our back. Everybody wants us. When you’re the defending champs, everyone wants to beat you.
“I think all the teams this year are going to be good,” continued Morgan. “It’s going to be good this year. It’s going to be competitive.”
“Our record is not good enough for me,” said McKinney. “I’ve got a good talented team. We’re here to have fun, and we’re here to play good solid baseball too.
“We’ve got a lot to work on,” concluded McKinney. “The talent level is here. It’s whether they achieve, under-achieve or over-achieve. It’s up to them (his players).”