BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – It was a rare meeting between two clubs which had played each other many times. And continuing its mastery over Campbelltown was very important to Fredericksburg.
But Post 915 had an even bigger prize in the front of its mind.
On Wednesday evening at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, Fredericksburg drilled Campbelltown 10-3 in a historic meeting between two Lebanon County teams in the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four baseball tournament that F-burg is hosting. Post 915 banged out 14 hits and took the lead for good with a five-run explosion in the top of the fourth inning.
The victory kept Fredericksburg very much alive for the championship of the Region Four event. Now 3-1 in the tourney and 23-7 on the summer, Fredericksburg will take on Dauphin County champion Linglestown, which handed Pleasureville its initial loss of the tournament, 9-2 in Wednesday’s nightcap, on Thursday at 4 p.m. in the final day’s first game. The winner will meet Pleasureville at 7 p.m. for all the marbles.
The winner of the tournament will advance to the eight-team, double-elimination Pennsylvania American Legion tournament at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field, beginning on Tuesday. Fredericksburg was the last Lebanon County team to win a regional championship, back in 1993.
The loss was Campbelltown’s sixth straight to Fredericksburg this season, and ended its campaign at 15-11.
“I just want to play baseball,” said Fredericksburg manager Tim Schaeffer. “Our kids are really fired up. It’s awesome to see.
“I want to go to Ephrata,” continued Schaeffer. “When you get to coach these kids and be all these places like this, it’s always a success. It’s been a long time since we’ve rode this train so far.”
“It’s time,” said Campbelltown skipper Tim Morgan. “I don’t remember two teams from Lebanon County making it this far.It’s usually two-and-out. For one of us to win a regional, it would be great.
“I think they’re (Fredericksburg) good,” added Morgan. “People might not think so, but they have a great coaching staff, and that means a ton.”
Which has sort of been its M.O. in the tournament, Campbelltown jumped on the board first, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to take a 2-0 lead. Jacob Wagner stroked an RBI-single and Isaac Blatt lofted a sacrifice fly.
But the rally seemed to wake Fredericksburg up, and Post 915 responded with a five-spot in its next at-bat.
The key hit – a two-run single – came off the bat of shortstop Noah Gingrich. Isaac Wengert contributed a run-scoring single and Austin Barry collected an RBI by walking with the bases loaded.
“It was really important,” said Schaeffer of the pivotal fourth inning. “We came back after they got some runs on us. The bottom of the lineup might not be hitting the ball real well, but they’re getting on base.
“Our guys get up for these big games,” Schaeffer continued. “They like pressure. They didn’t want this to be our last game.”
“When we have an opportunity, this team played great from ahead,” said Morgan. “But we don’t play well from behind. We’re young. We were happy to make it here.
“I never had an opportunity to throw my good stuff (pitching) against them,” Morgan added. “We didn’t have to to get in, and it worked. It’s just strategy for years.”
Fredericksburg made it a 6-2 game in the fifth. Christian Weaner knocked in the run with an infield single.
But Campbelltown got that run back in the bottom of the sixth, when Frank Errichetti plated a mate with a grounder.
“I think with the better pitching we hit better,” said Schaeffer. “You see the ball better and try not to kill it. You shorten your swing and use what the pitcher gives you.
“It shows what these kids can do,” added Schaeffer. “They’re finding ways to do what it takes.”
“We’ve got to keep our heads up,” said Morgan. “It was a great experience for these boys. We’ll be seeing their smiling faces for a few more years. But we’re going to miss (Isaac) Blatty’s bat and (Dylan) Spagnolo.”
Starter Seth Daubert and reliever Zach Seltzer became the seventh and eighth pitchers Fredericksburg has used in the tournament. Daubert worked the first five innings to get the win, while Seltzer hurled the final four.
“It was really big,” said Schaeffer of Daubert and Seltzer’s combined effort. “We have seven pitchers, and coming in we were planning on using everybody we could. And we’ve got good pitching for tomorrow.
“We’re playing on the last day of regionals,” added Schaeffer. “Oh yeah, absolutely we thought we could get there. Losing the first game didn’t help. But these kids have been tenacious. After the first game, we hit the ball pretty well.”
“It’s like good strategy,” said Morgan of Fredericksburg’s chuckers. “You throw a sloppy left-hander and we’re popping it up.”
Another Wengert RBI in the seventh pushed Fredericksburg’s advantage to 7-3. And if there was any doubt about the outcome remaining, Fredericksburg removed it with three more runs in the eighth.
“Yeah, they had a great run,” said Schaeffer of Campbelltown. “No one expected them to get this far. We’ll give them an atta-boy. Tim did a great job with those kids.”
“Fifteen and eleven. That’s like .550 baseball,” said Morgan. “We’re still moving forward. We were one of the last four teams. We have a young group of guys. Anything that could’ve gone wrong today went wrong. It’s over. We had a good run.”
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