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IMG_7061BY JEFF FALK

FREDERICKSBURG – They said, ‘Go to Regionals!’ ‘You’ll have fun there,’ they said.

‘It’ll be different this time.’ ‘This team has a real chance.’

Instead of rewriting history on Sunday morning, Myerstown fell into Lebanon County’s long tradition of disappointment at the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four American Legion baseball tournament, being contested at Fredericksburg’s Earl Wenger Memorial Field. The local representative surrendered two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and lost to Red Land 2-0, in a losers’ bracket game.

It was Myerstown’s second tough loss in as many days, but its second nonetheless – one that ended its campaign at 19-4. After winning its first Lebanon County championship in 30 years, Myerstown became the 21st straight – and 26th out of the last 27th – local club to fail to advance through regionals.

IMG_6958The shutout was Myerstown’s first of the season. M-town had opened the event with a 12-9 loss to Hummelstown on Saturday evening.

Red Land, the champions of Cumberland County, improved to 20-5.

“I don’t read too much into it,” said Myerstown head coach Johnny Mentzer. “I don’t think our playoffs put anyone in position to compete. If we have Conor (Bawiec) against Hummelstown yesterday, it’s a different game. Until we figure that out, as a league, we’re not going to be competitive.

“There’s not too many people who go 19-4,” continued Mentzer. “We probably got the toughest draw of anyone in the tournament. They’re (Red Land) a good baseball team. I can’t take anything away from our guys. I think it shows that if you take us out of little Lebanon County, we’re going to be competitive.”

IMG_6970“I really thought we could play better than we did,” said Bawiec, who was tagged with the tough-luck loss. “Honestly, I thought we could hit the ball better than we did. We have a solid team. But when you come here you’re going to see guys who throw in the low 80s and mid 80s, and they come at you.

“I thought we’d make it further than two games,” added Bawiec. “Our (Lebanon County) playoffs went farther than we hoped.”

With Bawiec’s pitch count mounting, Red Land loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Bawiec got a temporary reprieve in the form of a ground ball to shortstop, but Red Land’s next batter, Josh Snyder singled to plate two mates.

Bawiec went unscathed over the rest of the inning, but the damage had been done.

IMG_6967“It was a tale of two different games,” said Mentzer. “Yesterday (against Hummelstown) we got the hitting effort and didn’t get the pitching. Today we got the pitching effort and we didn’t get the hitting. It’s baseball. We lost the game yesterday in the ninth inning and today we lost the game in the eighth inning. I’m proud of them (his players).

“It’s a good baseball game,” Mentzer continued. “They (Red Land) got one key hit, in the eighth inning. It was that one key hit that we just didn’t get. We played small ball. We tried everything.’

“It’s pretty much momentum,” said Bawiec. “They (Red Land) had a lot of momentum going their way. They just kept putting the ball in play. I wish we could’ve put the ball in play more.”

IMG_7019A workhorse who’s headed to Division Three Elmira University, Bawiec’s pitch count surpassed the 150 plateau. He whiffed nine, issued seven free passes and yielded seven hits.

At one point, from the fifth inning through the seventh, Bawiec retired seven Red Land batters in-a-row. He stranded ten runners on the base paths.

“It’s almost the same thing that happened with Jake (Stager) against Annville in the (Lebanon County) playoffs,” said Mentzer of Bawiec. “He deserved a better result. He shut those guys down. Nobody else touched him. He threw very, very well. When I give him the ball, I know I’m going to get that effort.

IMG_6982“He’s a number-one pitcher,” Mentzer continued. “He took the ball. He wanted the ball. On top of being a great baseball player, he’s a heck of a kid. And the same is true of all of my kids. I wish him all the best in his college baseball career.”

“It’s not normal for me,” said Bawiec of his pitch count. “That was probably the first nine-inning game I pitched in. I had to battle. I actually felt really good, especially after pitching a lot in the (Lebanon County) playoffs. I just wanted to get out there and get things done.”

Myerstown’s potent attack didn’t generate much offense against Red Land righthander Zach Newmyer.

Its best chance may have come in the bottom of the fourth, when it parlayed singles by Stager and Chris Kreider and a steal into a first-and-third-with-one-out situation. But Newmyer settled down and retired the next two Myerstown batters.

IMG_6988Myerstown got runners to second with one out in both the eighth and ninth innings, but simply couldn’t come up with a key hit. Newmyer, who’s headed to Division Two Bloomsburg, scattered five hits, struck out 11 and walked two.

“He’s got good stuff,” said Mentzer of Newmyer. “He’s a Division Two pitcher. Erratic. Effectively wild. I wanted them (his hitters) to take pitches to make him work. But we took too many pitches and put ourselves in 0-2 holes.

“Being patient is good to an extent,” continued Mentzer. “Being patient to one strike is one thing, but being patient to two strikes is another. I thought we hit the ball decently. Even  the best big league teams get shut out. I don’t read too much into that. We had guys on base. We did good things.”

“I really enjoyed playing with Myerstown,” said Bawiec, a recent graduate of Cedar Crest High School. “I’m good friends with the Elco kids. I couldn’t ask for anything more. We have to keep our heads up high. I’m proud of this season. It was a great season we played for Myerstown.”

Lebanon County American Legion League

Past Champions
2014 – Myerstown
2013 – Campbelltown
2012 – Campbelltown
2011 – Annville
IMG_69982010 – Campbelltown
2009 — Fredericksburg
2008 — Fredericksburg
2007 — Richland
2006 — Richland
2005 — Richland
2004 — Annville
2003 — Fredericksburg
2002 — Richland
2001 — Fredericksburg
2000 — Fredericksburg
1999 — Fredericksburg
1998 — Palmyra
1997 — Fredericksburg
1996 — Fredericksburg
1995 — Fredericksburg
1994 — Fredericksburg
IMG_70451993 — Fredericksburg*
1992 — Palmyra
1991 — Palmyra
1990 — Fredericksburg
1989 — Fredericksburg
1988 — Palmyra
1987 — Fredericksburg
1986 — Fredericksburg*
1985 — Myerstown
1984 — Richland
1983 — Lebanon
1982 — Lebanon
IMG_70361981 — Fredericksburg*
1980 — Richland
1979 — Fredericksburg
1978 — Myerstown
1977 — Fredericksburg
1976 — Fredericksburg
1975 — Myerstown
1974 — Lebanon
1973 — Fredericksburg
1972 — Myerstown*
1971 — Myerstown*
1970 — Annville*
1969 — Annville*
1968 — Myerstown
IMG_70031967 — Myerstown
1966 — Myerstown
1965 — Myerstown
1964 — Richland
1963 — Lebanon
1962 — Richland
1961 — Richland*
1960 — Not Contested
1959 — Fredericksburg
1958 — Fredericksburg
1957 — Fredericksburg
1956 — Lebanon
1955 — Myerstown
1954 — Jonestown*
1953 — Myerstown
1952 — Palmyra*
1951 — Palmyra
1950 — Palmyra
1949 — Annville
1948 — Myerstown*
1947 — Lebanon
1946 — Myerstown
IMG_70281945 — Not Contested (World War II)
1944 — Not Contested (World War II)
1943 — Not Contested (World War II)
1942 — Not Contested (World War II)
1941 — Lebanon*
1940 — Myerstown
1939 — Myerstown
1938 — Myerstown*
1937 — Lebanon*
1936 — Lebanon
1935 — Annville
1934 — Annville
1933 — Myerstown
1932 — Lebanon*
1931 — Orioles*
1930 — Fifth Ward
1929 — Progressive
* Denotes regional champions
Note — The 1937 Lebanon squad was the only team from the county to win a state title. The 1981 Fredericksburg, the
1948 Myerstown and the 1938 Myerstown clubs were all state runners-up.

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