BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – Both sides agreed, and then each vehemently insisted.
No matter how unusual the outcome, it was just one game. An isolated incident. No statement. No lingering effects. No psychological advantage. No precursor of coming events.
On Friday night at Palmyra High School, Campbelltown ravaged Fredericksburg 21-6 in the opening game of the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League’s best-of-five Warren ‘Lefty’ Grumbine championship series. Campbelltown scored runs in each of its six at-bats, including the fourth when it posted a ten-spot to blow open a 4-3 game.
In light of 20 Campbelltown hits, five F-burg errors and five free passes, there were times when it appeared that Fredericksburg simply couldn’t get Campbelltown out. Had the game been a regular-season meeting, it would’ve been shortened to five innings by the 12-run mercy rule.
Game Two of the series is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at Fredericksburg’s Earl Wenger Memorial Field. Emerging phenom Griffin Mitchell will man the mound for Campbelltown, while Fredericksburg will counter with John McKinney.
“Our kids know better,” said Campbelltown head coach Tim Morgan. “That was today. Tomorrow is a new day. We’re not even going to start thinking this is easy. It’s not. We’ve got to show up and play hard.”
“No, I’m not worried about that at all,” said Fredericksburg head coach Jim McKinney when asked if he had doubts about his club’s ability to get C-town out. “We’ve got a good team. It bothers me they scored 21 runs. But I’m not scared of them.”
“It doesn’t affect it (the rest of the series) at all,” said Campbelltown first baseman Tyler Carberry of the result. “We know Fredericksburg’s a good team. Tomorrow’s another day. We’ve got to come out and play hard. This doesn’t happen too often.”
In the fourth, Campbelltown loaded the bases with nobody out and ended up sending a total of 14 batters to the plate. Carberry ripped not one, but two, two-run singles during the rally, while Mitchell smashed a bases-loaded triple to left-center field.
Colby Conway, Tyler Morder and John Binner also knocked in Palmyra runs during the mega-rally.
“He cleared the bases last night,” said Morgan of Mitchell. “Tonight he did the same thing. Are you kidding me?
“I don’t know a lot about (F-burg starter Ian) Whitman,” Morgan added. “Apparently he’s their reliever. Some kids can pitch on three days rest. But most good pitchers need four or five. ”
“We just came out hitting the ball tonight,” said Carberry. “That’s pretty much it. Earlier in the year we weren’t hitting well. Now we’re hitting the ball when we need to.”
“Early, he had decent stuff,” said McKinney of Whitman, who had thrown an inning-plus in relief the previous night. “If I look at the (score) book, half of our team had an error. It was probably a combination of both. They (Campbelltown) were hitting the ball, and we weren’t fielding it.
“That was a total melt-down,” McKinney continued. “We pretty much couldn’t field or hit for a while. I don’t know what to say.”
The contest was actually competitive early on.
Campbelltown jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a steal of home. It was 3-0 C-town in the second after the first of Mitchell’s six RBIs and a Josh Sollenberger run-producing double.
But Fredericksburg tied it with a three-run rally in the top of the third. McKinney laced an RBI-double, Drew Bene singled home a run and Jordan Anspach lifted a sacrifice fly to left.
An RBI-grounder from Binner made it 4-3 Campbelltown in the bottom of the third.
“In any playoff situation it’s always good to get the first game,” said Morgan, who was without the services of Mike Fuhrman. “Going in the hole puts things into a totally different perspective. It’s not just ‘go out and play’.
“I’ll tell you right now,” continued Morgan, “this series is going to be determined by which team does the little things and shows up.”
“It’s just a lot of focus,” said Carberry of his club’s hitting approach. “Without focus, you’re not going to knock runs in. I’m a five-hitter and I’ve got to keep producing RBIs. And my role is to be a leader and keep everyone in the game.
“Everyone’s struggling with pitching right now,” Carberry added, “with all the games we’re playing.”
“I just told them (his players), ‘Flush this one and move on,'” said McKinney. “Obviously I didn’t expect that. But we knew they’re a good hitting team.”
Mitchell and Morder RBIs in the fifth upped Campbelltown’s advantage to 16-3. Then in the sixth, Campbelltown batted around again and scored five times on four hits and an F-burg error.
“I don’t know when it got out of hand,” said McKinney. “Probably when we took Ian out. When did it get out of hand? Probably then.”
“I’m saving my one, two and three (pitchers), until they get their four days (rest),” said Morgan. “After tonight we’ll be in a lot better shape, and I have some relievers ready to go. John Binner’s (pitching) performance saved another arm.”
In addition to Mitchell and Carberry, Binner, Sollenberger and Morder all enjoyed multiple-RBI evenings. Nine different Campbelltown players came up with hits, and six of those guys had more than one.
For Fredericksburg, McKinney had a pair of RBIs, while Drew Bene collected a couple of hits.