BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – The Express was right on time. So much so that there was really no reason to schedule The Local.
On Tuesday night at Palmyra High School, Campbelltown’s Trevor Gill used a dominant fastball to one-hit Richland, leading his side to a 6-1 Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League triumph. Gill’s heater was so effective that he threw only two breaking pitches during his entire seven innings of work.
With Gill dealing, his Post 831 teammates got him five runs of support in the bottom of the fourth inning. But instead of providing the sturdy right-hander with some breathing room, the offensive explosion seemed to intensify his focus.
The result lifted Campbelltown to 2-0 in the local summer baseball circuit. The loss evened Richland’s mark at 1-1.
“That’s what it is with him,” said Campbelltown head coach Tim Morgan of Gill. “If they’re not hitting it, stay with it. He was hitting corners nice. These guys (umpires) are tin cups. I think it should be a little bigger strike zone. He’s (Gill) just going right at them and getting them out.
“He got behind a little bit (in the count), but then came back,” continued Morgan. “You knew in the first inning, and tonight he had it. He was 1-0, 2-0 and just kept battling and pitching out of it. But striking out batters with runners on base is key.”
“He was a solid pitcher,” said Richland head coach Travis Thome of Gill. “He threw pretty hard. He threw a fastball and we couldn’t catch up to it. It was us not being able to hit a fastball.”
“There’s always areas to work on,” continued Thome. “Our biggest thing is getting guys here. It seems like June is the month that all the other sports are doing things. It’s a good short season. It’s a sprint.”
In going the distance, Gill whiffed seven and issued four free passes. He didn’t walk a batter after the third inning, and retired the last 14 Richland hitters he faced.
“Pitching’s important,” said Morgan. “Every team in this league has got a good staff. That’s what it is. The seasons we’ve been good, we’ve had studs who carried us. But that (low-scoring, close games) makes it interesting.
“We’ve got some pitching,” Morgan added. “(Tyler) Julian, Bobby Dorta. (Braden) Vernet, Mitch Saulley, (Isaac) Blatty. I’ve got pitching. We should be good there.”
“Wooden bats have made it a much more fine sport,” said Thome of the overall play in the league. “When you had wooden bats you didn’t have to be a good hitter. Now, you know who the good hitters are. Wood has definitely changed the league a little bit. That’s the thing. For the most part, there’s going to be low-scoring games. Every pitch is crucial. Every out is crucial.
“We played well,” Thome added. “We had that fourth inning where Blatt (Richland starter, Cole) couldn’t seem to get it by them. That was the difference. It was a 1-1 game going in, and a 6-1 game coming out. That was the story of the game.”
With the score tied, Campbelltown sent 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning and scored five times, on six hits, a walk and an error.
The rally began with back-to-back doubles from Evan Hallowell and pinch-hitter Carl Reigle, and it concluded with a sacrifice fly by Julien and a two-out RBI-single from Dorta. In between, catcher Nick DeCarlo drove home a run with a safety, Nick Yiengst doubled and Blatt collected an RBI with a single.
“The Hallowell kid is a great player,” said Morgan. “We brought Reigle off the bench and he stepped right in and drove the ball. It’s tough with these junky little lefties. But once you go around the lineup a couple of time, you learn to wait on the pitches.
“And I thought (Isaac) Blatt played a great game at shortstop,” Morgan continued. “That’s the key, playing defense.”
“Blatt is the kind of kid who has two pitches, but nothing special,” said Thome. “He’s just going to try to keep you off-balance. The second time around, they got on to him and the ball was jumping off their bats.
“They got used to him the second time they saw him,” continued Thome. “He can get through a lineup once or twice. But he had nothing special to get through that. We were hoping that Blatt could get us out of that inning.”
C-town assumed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, after Isaac Blatt had led off with a single. An out later, Dorta drove him home with a double.
“Elco, Northern Lebanon and all the local teams battled each other during the high school season, and their players are here now,” said Morgan. “That’s why I think the league is tough. But I like it that way. It makes you better.”
Richland’s only hit off Gill came from the bat of Wes Wentling, in the top of the third inning, and it led to Post 880’s only run. A Campbelltown boot advanced Gill to second, and he scored from there on a throwing error, on a botched double-play attempt.
“They’re always competitive,” said Thome of Campbelltown. “The top of their lineup is tough. They’re always scrappy. But the whole league in general is going to be evenly matched. It should be fun. Hopefully we can keep competing.
“From last year, we have much better pitching,” Thome continued. “It helps to have pitching. But some times you’ve got to score runs and play defense. If guys are more comfortable with each other, we’re going to be more competitive.”
To purchase images in this article email firstname.lastname@example.org, or to see more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-nine/.
Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League Standings