BY JEFF FALK
Never underestimate the heart of a champion.
On Wedneseday evening at Annville-Cleona High School, with its back against the wall, defending champion Annville rose up and edged the most immediate threat to its throne, Campbelltown, 5-4. The triumph evened the best-of-three Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League semifinal series at a game apiece and forced a winner-take-all match-up on Thursday at 5:45 p.m. at Palmyra High School.
The reigning champions won despite totalling a mere two hits. They scored all five of their runs in the bottom of the third inning to take a 5-1 lead, then held on thanks to a solid relief outing from Tyler Napierala.
Of the two teams’ five overall meetings this summer, Campbelltown has won three times and averaged nine runs a game. Annville, the fourth seed, improved to 10-7 overall, Cambelltown, the regular-season champion, fell to 13-4.
Annville scored in every way imaginable in the bottom of the third. Adam Conner had an RBI double to tie the game at one, Justin Ulrich’s bases-loaded walk made it 3-1 Annville and a Tanner Fitting sacrifice fly capped the rally.
Campbelltown fueled the fire with walks and errors.
Fitting, who worked five-and-a-third inning, surrendered six hits and three walks and struck out four, registered the victory. Napierala did not allow a run in recording the final five outs of the game.
Campbelltown made the outcome interesting by piecing together a three-run top of the sixth. But in the final analysis, C-town stranded too many runners on the base paths.
Carberry chucked three innings and absorbed the loss. He allowed both Annville hits, struck out one and walked two.