BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – If the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league has taught us anything it’s that its regular season doesn’t matter.
What matters is getting all of your players to show up for the playoffs, playing your best when the games are of the utmost importance and flipping the switch.
On a steamy Tuesday evening at Palmyra High School, in a battle of clubs seemingly headed in different directions, Campbelltown opened the local summer circuit’s postseason by whitewashing Myerstown 4-0. Behind veteran right-hander Zach Yingst’s four-hit shutout, Campbelltown employed some timely hitting to jump out to an early lead and supported him throughout with steady defense.
For the most part, fourth-seeded Campbelltown struggled during the regular season and limped home down the stretch, losers of four straight heading into the playoffs. After beginning the summer 4-0, Campbelltown finished it 6-8. But last night, Campbelltown’s lineup resembled and played like a Palmyra high school squad that made it to the PIAA Class AAA tournament in the spring.
Myerstown, the reigning champ, was riding a three-game win streak into the postseason. Now 5-11 overall, fifth-seeded Myerstown is 0-4 against Campbelltown this summer.
Game Two of the best-of-three opening round series will be contested on Wednesday at 6 p.m., at old post 55 field in Myerstown. Campbelltown will send right-hander Isaac Blatt to the hill, where he will be opposed by M-town’s Austin Douple.
“It wasn’t so much about turning on a switch,” said Campbelltown manager Tim Morgan. “It was about us having the whole varsity lineup from the spring, except for the catcher. That team played well together.
“One thing that helped tonight is that the junior (legion) kids are done,” continued Morgan. “Take them out of the lineup and we’ve only got 10 or 11 kids. When you have a lineup, it’s a world of difference. That’s the first time we had them together in two weeks.”
“It matters because it gives you an opportunity to put together a team,” said Myerstown head coach Ken Bogdanovich of the regular season. “Especially in our situation, not having the same high school players. No one wants to lose. It’s an opportunity to play. But this (the postseason) was our focus.
“That’s what the regular season is for,” Bogdanovich continued. “That’s (Myerstown getting hot for the playoffs) what happened last year. I think it’s occurring for us again this year. That’s the nature of baseball.”
After Yingst worked out of a two-on, nobody-out jam in the top of the opening inning, Campbelltown struck for two runs in the home half of the frame. It was back-to-back, two-out doubles by clean-up man Evan Hallowell and Yingst that turned the trick, after Dylan Spagnolo had drawn a lead-off walk and Chris Good had sacrificed him to second.
“It’s huge to win,” said Morgan. “To win this first one at home, with the way we’ve been playing, it’s got to give this team confidence. To get that first win was extremely important.
“It’s called ‘hits’,” added Morgan. “You’ve gotta hit. Nine or ten hits tonight, that’s what you’ve got to do. But when you can’t throw strikes, you’re in trouble.”
“When you have two good pitchers, the first game is important, big time,” said Bogdanovich. “We had to get this game. But we’re not discounting anything. We’re always focused. If you get too hyped up, you get nervous and don’t play well. That’s not our style of play. And they (Campbelltown) hit the ball hard. They had tough kids.
“We’ve got guys coming and going tomorrow,” Bogdanovich added. “It’s really do or die. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We were in this game. Anybody can beat anyone on any given day.”
Yingst, who’s headed to Lebanon Valley College’s Division Three program, surrendered more walks – six – than he did hits. He struck out three and effectively worked in and out of trouble all evening.
Yingst did not experience a single one-two-three frame. He worked out of bases-loaded jams in both of the fourth and fifth innings.
“Zach pitched well when he had to,” said Morgan of his starter. “He pitched out of some tough jams. He reached down deep and got it done. That’s what you’ve got to do. And we actually hit the ball well.
“That kid is so quiet,” Morgan continued. “I tell him he’s got to start talking a little bit. We had Blatty warming up (at the end). We had to win this game. Zach all year, he seems to tire late. That’s the coach’s big decision. When he gets ahead (in the count), he finishes off. When he gets behind, he struggles.”
“Their pitcher was very good,” said Bogdanovich of Yingst. “We took a pretty good approach. We hit balls hard. We left guys on base, and that killed us.
“He throws pretty well,” continued Bogdanovich. “Our hitters did not hit him very well. His ball must have movement. He’s tough. We had our opportunities, just missed them.”
Campbelltown provided Yingst with some breathing room and made it 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Yingst himself got it going with a lead-off single, and then two outs later catcher Jacob Roe brought him in with a hit.
Campbelltown also worked a little two-out magic for its fourth run in the bottom of the sixth. Roe singled ahead of Jacob Wagner’s run-scoring hit.
“It’s simple arithmetic,” said Morgan. “When we had our guys (during the regular season), we did well. I have three good ones (pitchers) who throw strikes.
“I’ll take it,” he added.
“He seems to struggle in the first inning, and then he settles in,” said Bogdanovich of starter Tyler Price. “Holding this team to four runs, that’s legit. He did a nice job.
“They’re (Campbelltown) a well-schooled team,” added Bogdanovich. “The bottom of their lineup hits the ball.”
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2016 Campbelltown Results
|7/1/2016||L||Fredericksburg 10 Campbelltown 0|
|6/30/2016||L||Annville 3 Campbelltown 0|
|6/28/2016||PPD||Annville 0 Campbelltown 0|
|6/27/2016||L||5th Ward 6 Campbelltown 1|
|6/26/2016||L||Richland 5 Campbelltown 4|
|6/24/2016||FFV||Campbelltown 0 Myerstown 0|
|6/22/2016||L||Annville 10 Campbelltown 0|
|6/21/2016||W||Campbelltown 9 Richland 0|
|6/20/2016||L||5th Ward 3 Campbelltown 2|
|6/19/2016||L||Fredericksburg 4 Campbelltown 3|
|6/15/2016||L||Fredericksburg 1 Campbelltown 0|
|6/14/2016||W||Campbelltown 4 Richland 1|
|6/13/2016||W||Campbelltown 6 Myerstown 1|
|6/12/2016||W||Campbelltown 10 Myerstown 7|
|6/9/2016||W||Campbelltown 8 5th Ward 4|
2016 Myerstown Results
|6/30/2016||W||Myerstown 7 Richland 4|
|6/29/2016||W||Myerstown 8 5th Ward 2|
|6/27/2016||W||Myerstown 3 Fredericksburg 2|
|6/26/2016||L||Annville 10 Myerstown 3|
|6/24/2016||FFV||Campbelltown 0 Myerstown 0|
|6/22/2016||L||Fredericksburg 5 Myerstown 4|
|6/20/2016||W||Myerstown 2 Richland 1|
|6/19/2016||FFV||Myerstown 0 5th Ward 0|
|6/14/2016||L||Annville 17 Myerstown 6|
|6/13/2016||L||Campbelltown 6 Myerstown 1|
|6/12/2016||L||Campbelltown 10 Myerstown 7|
|6/9/2016||L||Richland 5 Myerstown 1|
|6/8/2016||L||Fredericksburg 9 Myerstown 1|
|6/6/2016||L||5th Ward 1 Myerstown 0|
|6/1/2016||L||Annville 4 Myerstown 3|
Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League
Final Regular Season Standings