BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – Quick history less.
Traditionally, Lebanon County has not fared well at the Region Four American Legion baseball tournament. And the biggest reason for that disappointment over the years has been errors – some of which hve been of the uncharacteristic variety.
Last night, history again reared its ugly head.
On a warm Saturday evening at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, in the nightcap of the opening day of the annual event, host Fredericksburg was plagued by three unearned runs in a 3-1 loss to Pleasureville. The York County champion scored all three of its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, after an error with two outs and nobody on opened the gates.
No Lebanon County squad has won a Region Four championship since Fredericksburg accomplished the feat in 1993. And for F-burg to do it again it will have to be over the long road that is the loser’s bracket.
Now 20-7 overall, Fredericksburg’s journey will begin on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in an elimination game with Lancaster County champion Ephrata. Pleasureville moved to 19-1-1 and into a Sunday 7 p.m. meeting with Shippensburg.
“We’ve got to take Game One,” said Fredericksburg head coach Tim Schaeffer. “Unearned runs. We’re out of the inning if we get that out. Now we’ve got work to do.
“A couple of miscues in the field, a hit-by-pitch and it snowballed in one inning,” continued Schaeffer. “We’ll come back tomorrow. We’ll fight. It’s a tough road. But we’ve got to fight one game at a time.”
Protecting a 1-0 lead, Fredericksburg starter Isaac Wengert retired the first two batters he faced in the fifth. But a seemingly harmless error on a routine ground ball gave Pleasureville life, and a hit-batsman further complicated matters.
P-ville three-hole hitter Michael Nizinski followed with a run-scoring single that tied the score, before Landon Ness stroked what would prove to the game-winning hit – a two-run single.
“They had a couple of nice hits,” said Schaeffer of Pleasureville’s bottom-of-the-fifth. “We didn’t execute what we needed to do. It just escalates. You look up and they have three runs. We should’ve been out of the inning, but we weren’t.
“You’ve got to take this game and flush it,” added Schaeffer. “You absolutely do. You’ve got to forget what happened today, or you won’t go on.”
Fredericksburg jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. Isaac Wengert got things going with a one-out single, ahead of Michigan Daub’s booming RBI-double.
F-burg posted all three of hits in the frame. The host club stranded a total of seven runners on base.
“He threw really well,” said Schaeffer of Pleasureville starter Ness. “He was good at hitting his locations. He broke seven of our bats. We’ve got to get more lumber.
“We played well enough to win 1-0,” continued Schaeffer. “We left too many guys on base. We just didn’t execute.”
Over his eight innings of work, Ness struck out five and walked one. Ness worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the sixth.
Pleasureville reliever Mike Livingston worked a perfect ninth inning to register a save. P-ville did not commit an error in the game.
“Isaac (Wengert) pitched very well,” said Schaeffer of his starter. “But a couple of innings he struggled and got his pitch count up, higher than I would’ve liked. He gets pretty miserable when I go to take him out. But you’ve got to love that in a kid.”.
Not unlike Ness, Wengert fanned five and walked one. He threw 118 pitches.
“I get exhausted by chomping at the bit for playing the game,” said Schaeffer, who will go with Seth Walmer as his Sunday starter. “Every three years I look forward to it (hosting the regional tournament). We think it’s something very important to do, for us and the community. It’s a nice weekend. It’s just a lot of work. The burden’s on five or six people.
“But it’s worth every minute of it,” Schaeffer added. “The kids deserve this, and if we can give it to them it’s worth it. I want to see our teams do well. We had a good showing today. I’m proud of the kids. They fought.”
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