BY JEFF FALK
FAYETTEVILLE – It wasn’t easy. But it was very routine, very business-like and very, very impressive.
On Saturday afternoon at Greene Township Park, Campbelltown opened play in the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four baseball tournament with a dominating 12-1 beat-down of host Fayetteville. C-town scored early and often, got a solid start out of righthander Trey Baker and shortened the game to seven innings through the mercy rule.
With the triumph, Cambpelltown moved to 18-5 overall and into the winner’s bracket of the event. On Sunday at 4:30 p.m. back at Greene Township Park, the Lebanon County champions will send southpaw Josh Sollenberger to the mound when they take on York champ Spring Grove, which dispatched Hampden Township 6-2.
The loss dropped Fayetteville to 10-9 on the year.
“We were very confident coming in,” said Campbelltown head coach Tim Morgan. “This team is very confident, and we will be the next two days. They realize this is the last time they’re going to play together. It’s a great experience. I really do like our chances, with our pitching and the way we hit.”
“Teams are going to see what we did,” said Campbelltown shortstop Sully Bortner. “They know what we’re capable of, and it might be a little intimidating. Plus if you lose this game it puts you in the loser’s bracket, and staying out of that is huge.”
Preston Bare, Tyler Carberry, Bortner and Zach Miller, Campbelltown’s four-, five-, six- and seven-hole hitters, combined to knock in nine runs.
It was Bare who got Post 831 on the board in the bottom of the first, with a two-out double that knocked in Colby Conway. Then in the top of the third, Campbelltown upped its advantage to 5-0, courtesy of a Bortner two-run single, a Carberry run-producing hit and a Bare sacrifice fly.
“Hitting the ball top to bottom, that set the tone early,” said Morgan. “We’ve definitely got a good hitting team. Mike Fuhrman was under the weather, but he won the award for the best hitter in our county playoffs. Colby Conway is just hitting line drive after line drive. And when Preston hits, we win. That’s what we need to do. That’s why they’re where they’re at (in the batting order). They’ve got to make guys pitch to them.”
“It was great,” said Bortner. “That’s how we do it. We put up crooked numbers and we do it in multiple innings. For me, my fielding comes first and my hitting comes second. And that’s how everyone approaches it.”
Baker picked up the win with five shutout innings on less than 80 pitches. He scattered four hits, struck out two and walked one.
Ahead 8-0, Baker gave way to reliever Daniel Jerrihian to start the bottom of the sixth.
“When I looked at this start, it was definitely his turn to throw,” said Morgan of his decision to start Baker. “Things were definitely in my favor playing the host team. Baker’s no push over and he needed work. He gave us five innings and we saved arms.
“He got the ball up a little today,” Morgan continued. “To be successful, you’ve got to keep the curveball down. That’s what I demand of my pitchers. They’ve got to get the deuce (curveball) over the plate. For the most part, he kept the ball down. He gave me a good effort.
“He (Baker) was around the plate. And I always want my pitchers to have a day’s notice that they’re going to start. He accepted the challenge. He was ready to go. I don’t think he threw one of his best games, but he threw well enough.”
“I was impressed with Trey,” said Bortner. “He did a great job. He was hitting his spots.”
Campbelltown broke open the game with a three-run fifth. Conway, Bare, Carberry and Bortner opened the frame with consecutive singles. Carberry’s and Bortner’s hits drove in runs, while Miller knocked another home with a grounder.
“We want to win this thing,” said Morgan. “Trust me, the boys know there’s not going to be another team like this (Fayetteville). But you’ve got to win today, and then worry about tomorrow.”
“We knew they were the host team,” said Bortner. “And we knew they finished third in their league. But we didn’t want to take them lightly. We were pretty focused. This is the most focused we’ve been in a while. We’ve been playing together, and we’re playing for each other. And it’s fun.”
Campbelltown brought the mercy-rule into play in the top of the seventh, thanks in part to a two-run single from Jerrihian. Miller also contributed his second RBI of the contest.
“We want to win regionals,” said Bortner. “Coach Morgan actually said that at the beginning of the season. I’m not going to guarantee anything. But we definitely have the players, the talent and the mentality to do it. Not playing the whole nine innings today was huge. It saved us pitching.”
“This tournament has always been a grind,” said Morgan. “It’s grueling. We were lucky with the weather today. If it’s sunny and 90, it really takes it out of you. If it would’ve been sunny and hot today it would’ve been a different story.”
Bare enjoyed four productive at-bats, and went three-for-three to go with his two RBIs. Carberry also lashed three hits, while Bortner had two.
Campbelltown collected a total of 12 hits.