LEBANON – If you’ve been around long enough, you’ve seen some things. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, the game reminds you just how unpredictable it can really be.
On a seasonable Friday Night at Fifth Ward Athletic Club Field, Campbelltown registered a Lebanon County American Legion baseball come-from-behind triumph for the ages, shocking home-standing Lebanon 10-8 in eight innings. After trailing 7-1 and 8-2, C-Town tied it with a two-out, six-run rally in the top of the seventh inning, then won it with two more in the eighth.
In the eighth, Campbelltown posted the eventual game-winning run on a balk, before adding an insurance tally on Dan Slusser’s run-producing single.
An inning earlier – down to its final out – Post 831 tied the score at eight on Brock Braugher’s RBI-single, after Caleb Fisher had poked a two-run double and Nick Grumbine had singled in a run. Campbelltown’s tying rally was fueled by four walks and two Fifth Ward errors.
“We scored two runs all game, and we didn’t really hit the ball,” said Campbelltown coach Travis Eckert. “We just tried to put the ball in play, because good things happen when you do that. We got a couple of throws that went our way, and the the bottom of the order really came through. Everybody had a hand in it.
“I told them (his players) in the top of the seventh inning that stranger things have happened,” Eckert continued. “It was a snow ball and hitting is contagious. Everything was a dribbler and a bleeder. The bounces went our way.”
“They never gave up,” said Lebanon head coach Greg Kreiser of Campbelltown. “They didn’t quit.
“But that loss was on us, as coaches,” continued Kreiser. “We still only gave up four earned runs, so we made some mistakes.”
The victory was Campbelltown’s third straight and moved it to 7-5 in the Lebanon County American Legion League. Prior to last night, Fifth Ward had won six of its previous seven outings, but the result left it 6-5 in the circuit.
“We’ve been up and down this season,” said Eckert. “But we’ve been playing much better than we had. We struggled early, but we’ve been in every game, except against Myerstown. When we’ve lost, we haven’t been able to throw strikes.
“They’re (Lebanon) a good team,” Eckert added. “They’re probably a better team than we are. The ball bounced our way.”
“We were hot,” said Kreiser. “But tonight we were cooled off. We’ve got two more games next week. We’re going to have to let this one stew for a while, and move on. Then try and win some more ball games.”
Lost in Campbelltown’s wild and dramatic comeback was the work of pitcher Grumbine in relief. Grumbine hurled the final four innings to pick up the victory, striking out eight and walking three.
The only run Fifth Ward managed off him came in the bottom of sixth inning, on Derek Perez’s two-out RBI-triple that made it 8-2.
“His curveball wasn’t even working,” said Eckert of Grumbine, “and he still held them down. He got us there and it was his game to lose.
“It was a great comeback win,” added Eckert. “I like these young bucks. It was one of the better teams wins I’ve ever been a part of, and we were missing three starters.”
“We hit the ball early,” said Kreiser. “But we struck out too much. What did we have, 15 strikeouts?”
Behind starting pitcher Braden Allwein, Fifth Ward scored in each of its first four at-bats to open a 7-1 lead. Allwein also produced RBIs in three different innings.
“Their pitcher (Allwein) had us down, plain and simple,” said Eckert. “We didn’t have a good approach at the plate. We were swinging and missing, left and right. I’m always preaching to put the ball in play.”
“We’re going to have to be resilient,” said Kreiser. “We have two more (regular-season) games left to get ready for the playoffs. Hopefully, we can make some noise in the playoffs.”
Campbelltown made it a 7-2 game in the top of the fifth inning. Tanner Wolfgang was hit by a pitch leading off, then after walks to Jake Deimling and Alex Fuhrman, scored on a throwing error.
“If we stay together, we have a chance to win this thing like anybody else,” said Eckert. “Myerstown is going to be tough to beat. And this team (Fifth Ward) is going to be tough to beat.”
“We had three of our players go back to the Dominican Republic,” said Kreiser. “Losing them hurts. We’ve been trying to patch together pitching to get us through this year. It is what it is. I still think we can beat Myerstown, but that’s me. I’ll probably tell you that all the time.”