BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – There is a distinct difference between high school ball and American Legion baseball. The intensity. The level of talent. Where, when and how the game is played.
For C-town, the transition has been a smooth one. For M-town, the go has been a little more difficult.
On Monday evening at Palmyra High School, a couple of early season trends in the Lebanon County American Legion League continued, during Campbelltown’s 6-2 triumph over Myerstown. Behind a pitching-by-committee approach, Campbelltown banged out nine hits, scored in five of its six at-bats and received RBIs from four different sources.
The outcome kept Campbelltown, which is comprised mainly of a Palmyra high school club which recently came off a run to the PIAA postseason, unbeaten at 3-0. For two-time defending league champion Myerstown, it was the sixth straight loss to open the season.
But it should probably be noted here that all six teams in the Lebanon County American Legion League qualify for the circuit’s July postseason.
“It’s called patchwork,” said Campbelltown head coach Tim Morgan. “It’s the same old. We’ve got key players missing. But the kids who are here are playing good. We’ve got three-quarters of our lineup.
“We have everybody from the high school team, but getting them all here is the problem,” continued Morgan. “For the playoffs, we’re hoping to have everyone together. It was nice to get Trevor (Gill) back (from college). But let’s face it, Fredericksburg is loaded.”
“Yeah, it’s there, the pride of it,” said Myerstown rookie head coach Ken Bogdanovich of his club’s will to defend its title. “But it’s a loose bunch of guys, and they’re going to play for today. Tonight I think Campbelltown got by with secondary pitching. But I have faith in these guys. When they come together, look out. We’re just a couple of plays away, here and there.
“Basically, being 0-6 is a tough thing,” Bogdanovich continued. “What I’m trying to tell them is to hang in there. We’re in games. Small things happen and they turn into big runs for the other teams. I’m just trying to keep our spirits light. I think it’s a heck of a team once we get them all together.”
Campbelltown parlayed three Myerstown errors into an unearned run and a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the opening frame. Then Post 831 tacked on in the bottom of the second, thanks to Gill’s single and stolen base, and another throwing error by the champs.
“The main objective is to win,” said Morgan. “It’s all about winning here. We do have a bunch of well-mannered kids. They do what you want them to do. But it’s not about being a nice guy. I want to win.
“In the spring (during the high school season), it wasn’t pretty,” Morgan added. “But then they (his players) played when they needed to. They got hot. They did damage in the playoffs.”
“Tonight we had nine guys, and we had guys missing,” said Bogdanovich. “Injuries, work, and I’m not getting all my players. We’re looking forward to next week and making our run. But you’ve got to give credit where credit is due. There’s good teams in this league. It’s going to be a struggle, but we’re not giving up.
“Of course you’re concerned,” added Bogdanovich. “You don’t want to be 0-6. But a couple of plays here and there and we’re 3-3. That’s the difference.”
Down 2-0, Myerstown got one of those runs back in the top of the third. Brett Bawiec’s infield single plated Cole Miller, who had led off the frame with a walk.
But that would prove to be the last run Myerstown would get against Campbelltown’s three-headed pitching monster of starter Sam Zeigler, middle man Brandon Charochak and closer Bradey Powell, until the top of the seventh inning.
“We’ve got pitching, and that’s what you need,” said Morgan, who was stashing Gill and Isaac Blatt for pitching assignments later in the week. “Tonight we pitched a JV pitcher (Zeigler). The last guy we brought in (Powell), hasn’t pitched in five months. But he came in and threw strikes. But the key for us is defense.
“Yes, I am happy with the way it turned out,” Morgan continued. “I’m overwhelmed. To see these boys under pressure, and see what they did, I’ll take it.”
“They’re good pitchers,” said Bogdanovich of C-town’s stable of arms. “I’m not quite sure they’re the best, but they’re right up there. This is a good quality league. Everyone seems to be deep, and that may be our weakness.
“At the beginning of the year, we were overly aggressive at the plate,” continued Bogdanovich. “But we have a bunch of guys who didn’t play high school ball, and they haven’t seen a lot of pitches. The last couple of games, they’re seeing better pitches. They’re getting a feel for the game. This team is building.”
Campbelltown assumed control of the outcome in the bottom of the fourth, when the crooked number it posted made it a 4-1 game.
C-town loaded the bases with nobody out, on a hit-by-pitch from Powell, a Gill knock and a well-placed Chris Good infield single. Dylan Spagnolo and Blatt followed with back-to-back sacrifice flies.
“We were swinging at strikes,” said Morgan. “We got bunts down. We did the little things right. Overall, they (his players) waited for good pitches, and they hit them.
“As far as this team goes, we’re deep,” Morgan added. “It’s going to be hard to satisfy everyone. It’s hard to take kids out when they’re doing a good job.”
“I think they’re good quality hitters, from top to bottom,” said Bogdanovich of Campbelltown. “They hit the ball. These guys play high school ball together. You get an idea of what they can do.
“I think the league is balanced, and we haven’t broken through,” added Bogdanovich. “We may have the toughest time coming together because we don’t play together during the high school season. We’re scrambling and looking for ideas. We have a plan. We just have to keep playing.”
Single tallies by Campbelltown in the bottoms of the fifth and sixth innings up its advantage to 6-1. First Gill’s two-out single brought home Jojo Fisher, then Charochak’s two-out safety scored Blatt, who had walked, advanced to second on a passed ball and reached third on a fly out.
Myerstown’s second run came in he seventh, courtesy of Vinnie Vitelli’s sacrifice fly.
“The schedule only goes to June 26 and the playoffs only start July 5th,” said Morgan of his side’s back log of games. “That’s nine days, and I’d rather play those make-up game then. That’s my strategy. I don’t want to sit and not play.”
“I’m happy with it (a playoff format that includes everyone), especially in our situation,” said Bogdanovich. “Last year proved that any team is capable of making a run and surprising people. I think we could do it again. There’s a good quality team here.
“I don’t think we’re adjusting,” continued Bogdanovich. “Most of these guys I coached through midgets and through teeners. I have a good relationship with them. I know what they’re capable of doing. I know it’s coming.”
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Lebanon County American Legion
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