MYERSTOWN – Can Myerstown defend its Lebanon County American Legion baseball league championship? That remains to be seen.
But at the very least, Myerstown has put itself in a realistic position to defend its title. M-town will not abdicate its reign, it must be overthrown.
On Thursday evening at old post 55 field, Myerstown brushed aside Richland 7-4 in both teams’ regular-season finales. After spotting Richland a 4-0 advantage two innings in, Myerstown stormed back with seven unanswered runs over the final five frames.
With last night’s result, Myerstown, which has won three straight after opening the regular season with seven consecutive setbacks, is locked in as the fifth seed and will meet either Campbelltown or Fifth Ward in the opening game of the six-team, double-elimination tournament. Richland, which has dropped six of its last seven, is locked in as the sixth seed and will take on either Annville or Campbelltown in the wide-open event.
Myerstown won the regular-season series with Richland 2-1.
“Yes, there is a little bit of pride,” said Myerstown first-year head coach Ken Bogdanovich. “With the experience, there’s a comfort level But we’re playing for this year.
“We’re like everybody else,” continued Bogdanaovich. “We want to be league champions. Don’t discount anyone in this league. It’s a tough league. Fredericksburg might be a little more stacked with players. You never know what you’re going to get in a two-loss tournament. You can steal a game. Last year, we got hot, got overlooked a little bit and ended up as league champs.”
“You’d have to ask them (his players) that question,” said Richland head coach Travis Thome, when asked if his club is ready for its season to be over.
“You’d have to ask them (his players) that question,” said Thome, when asked if his club is capable of winning the league championship. “They put the bat on the ball. We have the talent. If we show up. It’s a matter of will.”
Down those four early runs, Myerstown tied the game in the bottom of the third inning.
The highlight of the outburst was Vinnie Vitelli’s three-run homer to right field. The rally began with Caleb Fisher’s hit, a Richland error, Austin Douple’s bunt single and Cole Miller’s sacrifice fly.
“Vinnie Vitelli is lighting it on fire,” said Bogdanovich. “And Austin Douple is really bringing up the leadership. I think it’s coming together.
“We were down 4-0, and the game wasn’t over,” added Bogdanovich. “They (his players) didn’t get excited. They didn’t panic. And they dug it out in the end.”
“We haven’t been playing that great of baseball,” said Thome. “We gave one away. We jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and lost 7-4.
Myerstown took the lead for good in the home half of the fourth inning. Caleb Fisher, Joe Gates and Douple opened the at-bat with consecutive singles, ahead of Cole Miller’s two-run single that made it 6-4.
Vitelli collected his fourth RBI in the bottom of the sixth. His two-out double knocked in Douple, who had ripped a double.
“This is what I was hoping for,” said Bogdanovich. “The guys are coming, the guys are starting to see pitches and the guys are getting better at-bats. The bottom of the lineup came alive tonight. It allowed our two, three and four guys (in the lineup) to get RBIs. We had a couple of errors we need to clean up.
“In that long inning, he (Richland starter Aaron Dietz) looked a little sluggish,” said Thome of Myerstown’s half of the third. “He started out well. But when your team doesn’t play good defense behind you, it’s mentally draining. We couldn’t let it go any farther.
“He (Myerstown starter Tyler Price) threw well,” Thome continued. “We jumped on him early. I don’t know if we became complacent or if his stuff got better.”
Thanks to three errors, Richland got to Price for an unearned run in the top half of the opening frame. Joe Carpenter made it 1-0 with an RBI-grounder.
Richland plated three runs in the visitors’ portion of the second inning, after loading the bases loaded with nobody out. After successfully executing a suicide squeeze bunt, Travis Zimmerman smashed a two-run single.
“He’s starting to be consistent,” said Bogdanovich of Price. “We’ve got him in a rotation. He seems to settle in. Our defense was a little suspect at the beginning. Once he gets into a groove, he’s tough to beat. But our defense is important.
“Tonight was important, not to place last in the regular season,” added Bogdanovich. “We had that rough start. But since then we’ve played better.”
“This was a matter of being at the bottom of the league, or finishing fifth,” said Thome. “It’s important not to be at the bottom of the league. We’re trying to work our way up through the rankings.
“But I don’t care where we finished,” added Thome. “Let’s play!”
Price picked up the victory by going the distance, striking out three and walking one. Myerstown out hit Richland 10-6.
Baseball League Standings
|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|
|6/29/2016||L||Annville 6 Richland 2|
|6/28/2016||L||5th Ward 8 Richland 4|
|6/26/2016||W||Richland 5 Campbelltown 4|
|6/23/2016||L||Fredericksburg 7 Richland 0|
|6/21/2016||L||Campbelltown 9 Richland 0|
|6/20/2016||L||Myerstown 2 Richland 1|
|6/19/2016||W||Richland 3 Annville 2|
|6/14/2016||L||Campbelltown 4 Richland 1|
|6/12/2016||L||Fredericksburg 8 Richland 0|
|6/9/2016||W||Richland 5 Myerstown 1|
|6/8/2016||W||Richland 10 5th Ward 3|
|6/6/2016||L||Annville 3 Richland 2|
|6/5/2016||L||5th Ward 5 Richland 3|
|5/31/2016||L||Fredericksburg 7 Richland 0|