BY JEFF FALK
There was a time when determining the finest teener baseball team in Lebanon County was a matter of speculation and conjecture. But there is no better way to figure that out than on the field of play.
Recently, Ebenezer laid claim to the title of the locale’s top teener team when it captured the championship of the Lebanon County Umpires’ Invitational tournament by edging Annville 2-1, at Fifth Ward Athletic Field. Ebenezer had won the championship of the Lebanon City-County Teener League, while Annville had captured the crown in the Lebanon Valley Teener League.
In its ninth year of existence, the Lebanon County Umpires’ Invitational tournament also included clubs from Hebron, Iona, Bellegrove and VFW. Before claiming its title, Ebenezer had finished second in the event three times.
The title tilt came down to pitcher’s duel and a defensive struggle. The pitching win went to Ebenezer hurler Hunter Torres, who fired a complete-game four-hitter, struck out 14 and walked two.
Torres did hit three batters in-a-row in the first inning, when Annville plated its only run on a sacrifice fly. Ebenezer’s answer was a Nick Gonzalez double, an Austin Palm single, Francisco Sanchez’s RBI-grounder and two runs.
“The thing that stood out to be was the kids’ attitudes on both teams,” said Ebenezer head coach Gary Heisey. “They were all positive. There was no negativity and the kids fought to the end. It was the most inspirational game I’ve ever been at. You wanted to be there coaching it.”
Ebenezer went 4-0 in the week-long event.
“My goal going into the season, with the guys I had and the talent I had, I wanted to go undefeated,” said Heisey. “We beat the two teams that beat us during the regular season to win the championship.”
Ebenezer finished its season with an overall mark of 16-2.
“It’s awesome,” said Heisey of the season-ending tournament. “It’s good baseball. You’ve got to bring your A-game. It’s six days of intense baseball, with a day off in-between. And there’s a lot of strategy in it.”