BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – It was a daring play, to say the least. But it was one that originated from the mind, heart and gut of a champion.
Tyler Morder simply referred to it as ‘rolling the dice’.
Morder’s risky base-running move in the top of the seventh inning propelled Campbelltown to a 3-2 victory over Fredericksburg, Thursday night at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, in Game Two of a best-of-three semifinal playoff series in the Lebanon County American Legion baseball league. With the game tied at two, Morder at third base with one out and the Fredericksburg infield in, Morder took a chance and it paid off in a huge way.
Teammate Mitchell Sauley laced a sharp grounder right at the F-burg shortstop, who gloved it cleanly and looked Morder back to the third base bag. But when the Fredericksburg fielder unleashed his throw to first base, Morder broke for the plate, and scored what would prove to the decisive run on a nifty slide around the F-burg catcher, using his left hand to touch the plate.
Close, but safe!
With the win, reigning regular-season and defending league champion Campbelltown, now 13-4, forced a third and decisive game in the semifinal set. That contest will take place Friday at 5:45 p.m. at Palmyra High School, as C-town will send Trey Baker to the mound.
Fredericksburg, 8-8-1 and the number four seed, is undecided as to who will handle its pitching chores.
“Morder played guts on that play, going home,” said Campbelltown head coach Tim Morgan. “It was a great hand slide. Tyler was on his own. We talked about a few things before, but that was all on him. I thought the first baseman fell asleep. He hesitated and that was the difference.
“Tyler gets on base and makes things happen,” continued Morgan. “You’ve got to go for it, and it worked. Coach Morgan would’ve been drinking beer and fishing if he hadn’t done that.”
“He was overly aggressive, and he scored,” said Fredericksburg head coach Jim McKinney of Morder. “We didn’t make the play. We held him, but we didn’t make the throw (home). He won the game for them.
“Obviously it was a risky play, but he won the game,” McKinney continued. “If you’re fast enough and the other team can’t make the play, you go for it. But you’ve got to have players with that attitude.”
Up 2-0 in the fifth inning, Fredericksburg was still riding the momentum it had created during a 9-1 win over C-town in Game One a night earlier.
But Morder got things going for his club with a single, and then scored Campbelltown’s first run on a double off the bat of Sauley. With two outs, Trent Filter plated Saulley with a single to right that tied the score at two.
“That’s Campellbtown-Fredericksburg,” said Morgan. “(F-burg starter Zach) Smith didn’t have his great stuff, but he did well. It’s going to be a little touchy tomorrow.”
“Oh yeah, heck yeah. It definitely had a playoff game feel,” said McKinney. “They’re (Campbelltown) a rivalry team. They’re the team to beat, so obviously that makes it a rivalry.
“They’re (C-town) a good team,” McKinney continued. “They’re not going to finish first (in the regular season) for no reason. Hopefully our kids learned a lesson. You can’t sit back and hope a couple of runs are going to win a ball game.”
Fredericksburg assumed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning against C-town starter Saulley.
Fredericksburg did its damage with two outs and nobody on, as Brad Kreiser walked and scored on Jon McKinney’s RBI-triple. McKinney came home on a wild pitch.
“The way we started tonight, I had my doubts,” said Morgan. “They (F-burg) continued their aggressiveness and we continued our sloppy play. We had two guys picked off on bunts, two innings in-a-row. You can’t do that. Smith didn’t have his best stuff, but we didn’t take advantage of it.
“They continued to play like they did last night,” added Morgan, “and we were shooting ourselves in the foot.”
“In the first two innings, yes we played like we did last night, but after that, no,” said McKinney. “Because we stopped moving runners. It seemed like everybody was on auto-control. We didn’t keep up the intensity and some dumb base-running stuff hurt us. We were watching too many strikes again. That’s how we lost tonight.”
Neither Fredericksburg’s Smith or Campbelltown’s Sauley, both of whom went all seven innings, deserved a loss.
Sauley surrendered four hits, whiffed five and issued two free passes. Smith scattered seven hits, struck out four and didn’t walk a batter.
“Mitchell threw a great game tonight,” said Morgan. “And his pitch count wasn’t bad. He kept us in it. He was mixing it up and had his curveball working late. And he spots his fastball. He works in and out, and up and down.
“The kids had an urgency to win,” Morgan continued. “We could’ve folded up with the early mistakes.”
“Zach pitched a great game,” said McKinney of Smith. “He pitched the game we should’ve won. We didn’t back him up as a team.
“Saully threw a good game,” McKinney added. “He threw a lot of strikes. At times, he was all over the place, but then he would settle in and throw strikes. We definitely weren’t aggressive.
“That’s going to be our key tomorrow night, aggressive base-running and moving runners. Typically, that’s how we win ball games. That’s the kind of stuff we’ve done when we’ve won this year.”