BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – Fredericksburg has been the hottest team in the league. Campbelltown has been the most consistent team in the circuit.
So as the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball league postseason approaches, the question that begs to be answered is: ‘Is it better to be hot or consistent?’
On a balmy Tuesday night at Palmyra High School, Campbelltown cooled off torrid Fredericksburg with a 14-2, six-inning, mercy-rule statement victory. Feeding off the power of the single, Campbelltown scored runs in five of its six at-bats, including the bottom of the sixth when it brought the 12-run rule into play.
Pinch hitter Thomas Ziegler was responsible for Campbelltown walking off. His one-out double in the bottom of the sixth drove home Christian Kreiser, and when the ball was bobbled in right field, it allowed Austin Baal to scamper home with the winning run.
The outcome was notable on a couple of fronts.
Now 8-5 in the circuit, Campbelltown can still win the regular-season championship in the County Legion League and capture the top-seed for next week’s playoffs in the process. But Fredericksburg, 7-7, now can’t.
The outcome snapped the defending champions’ eight-game winning streak, six of which had come in the Lebanon County American Legion League. The result also meant that Campbelltown swept the regular-season series with Fredericksburg, 3-0.
The league’s six-team, double-elimination playoff tournament is scheduled to begin on Monday, with the top two finishers receiving byes.
“I’d love to have my whole team every game,” said Campbelltown head coach Tim Morgan. “You know how the playoffs are, whoever shows up to play. You’ve got to be consistent. I think anybody has a chance.
“All the trouble we’ve been going through, you’ve got to be kidding me,” continued Morgan. “It’s baseball season. But I can’t ever remember sweeping Fredericksburg, for as long as I’ve been doing this.”
“I’m not worried about it,” said Fredericksburg head coach Tim Schaeffer. “You know what happens when we play in tournaments. We were hot coming in. We were only a game back. They’ve (Campbelltown) got two critical games with Fifth Ward on Friday.
“It’s (the playoffs) going to be interesting,” added Schaeffer. “It’s going to be all set up with pitching.”
With the score knotted at two, Campbelltown gained control of the result with a four-run rally in the bottom of the second.
Sam Ziegler’s two-out, two-run single made it 6-2 C-town, after teammate Brian Coburn had knocked in an earlier run with a sacrifice fly. Trevor Binner and Jake Wagner lit the fire with base-knocks, two of 13 singles Campbelltown registered on the evening.
In the bottom of the third, C-town stretched its advantage to 10-2 with four more. Coburn drove home two runs, while Kreiser plated another with a fielder’s choice.
“I’m feeling better today,” said Morgan. “It’s like a disease. When they (his players) all show up, one starts hitting and they all start hitting. It was the first time I had my lineup. You never know what’s going on.
“We’ve been leaving 14-16 guys on base,” Morgan continued. “They started hitting tonight and they all hit tonight.”
“We crapped the bed tonight,” said Schaeffer. “It was not a good night. I knew when it we got here. I saw it in warm-ups. But they (Campbelltown) played a better game tonight.
“They’re good,” Schaeffer added. “When they have all their players, they’re a good team.”
S. Ziegler went the distance to earn the pitching victory. In his six innings of work, the hard-throwing righthander struck out eight, walked three and yielded two hits.
Both of those hits came in the top of the second inning, when Post 915 touched him for its pair of runs, to tie the game at two. Seth Daubert’s triple and Hayden Johnson’s double both drove home Fredericksburg runs.
But from the second inning on, S. Ziegler faced the minimum number of hitters, thanks in part to a fourth-inning double play.
“We were one pitch away from pulling Sam,” said Morgan. “He’s either on or he’s off. We stuck with him. We got him some runs and that was the end of that.
“He needs to get ahead in the count,” Morgan added. “When he gets ahead, he’s in control. It seemed like when we got him a couple of runs, he began to settle in.”
“He threw well tonight,” said Schaeffer of S. Ziegler. “That’s the best I’ve seen him throw. He was on top of his game. His change-up was really good.”
Campbelltown grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. One-out singles from Shughart and Kreiser set the stage for Ben Slusser’s two-run safety.
“Sometimes he comes out throwing BBs,” said Schaeffer of Fredericksburg starter Seth Daubert. “Tonight he was just a little off his game. You can’t get behind in counts. We were getting behind 2-0 and 3-1. If you miss your spots, they’ll make you pay for it.
“My pitching has been fantastic,” added Schaeffer. “We had four complete games pitched in the last five. And we had five well-pitched games in-a-row.”
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Lebanon County American Legion
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