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To represent their community and themselves well.

To extend their summer season.

To perhaps win it.

Those are Myerstown’s stated, formal goals for the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four American Legion baseball tournament currently being contested in Mechanicsburg. But part of Myerstown just wants to see how it stacks up to teams outside of Lebanon County.

On a humid Friday night at Rickenbach/Shirley Field at Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Park, M-town opened play in the Region Four tournament with a dramatic, but familiar 3-2 triumph over host Mechanicsburg. After being shut down early by Mechanicsburg’s Cam Nebel, Myerstown located its game in the late innings in support of another solid pitching outing by Dakota Smith.

Myerstown’s formula for success was similar to its two victories in the Lebanon County American Legion League playoffs, when it rallied twice to cop the championship. This time, Myerstown’s come-from-behind win pushed it to 14-1 overall and into a Saturday meeting with Paxton, at 5:30 p.m., back at Sailors and Soldiers park.

With the outcome, Mechanicsburg slipped to 9-7 on the summer and into the loser’s bracket of the event.

“That was part of our conversation before we left home,” said Myerstown head coach Johnny Mentzer. “This is our opportunity to prove ourselves outside of Lebanon County. This is our opportunity to show people we can compete with good teams outside of our county.

“I don’t know how good of a team Mechanicsburg is,” Mentzer continued. “They played well today. In the county, we had a better idea of how good teams were because we played them multiple times. Their (Mechanicsburg) pitcher (Nebel) really kept them in the game. They’re a good baseball team. Overall, I thought it was a good game.”

Trailing 2-1, Myerstown plated the tying and eventual winning run in the top of the sixth inning.

Amani Jones scored the tying run on some aggressive base-running from third, when Mechanicsburg was forced to record a dropped third strike at first base. Then, Luke Hostetter smacked a two-out single to knock in Lance Hains, who had doubled.

Myerstown had entered the frame with no hits against Nebel, but strung together three in the inning.

“That’s how we’ve been all season,” said Mentzer, of his team’s late-game heroics. “That guy (Nebel) threw a lot of strikes on breaking balls early in the game. He was kind of pitching backwards. But we did a little better our third time through the lineup. Our approach had to be better.

“Our lineup is very deep, one through nine,” Mentzer added. “We struggled tonight. But when we get baserunners on, we can put pressure on the other team’s defense. We’ve been starting slow for the last week and a half.”

Down 2-0, Myerstown scored its first run of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, without the benefit of a hit. Jeremy Eck coaxed a lead-off walk, stole second, moved to third on a ground-out and scored on a wild pitch.

“Their pitcher gets a ton of credit,” said Mentzer. “He was throwing almost every breaking ball for a strike, and mixing it up with a change. He really kept us off-balance. But that’s hard to do for seven innings.”

Smith was his usual steady self. The right-hander went the distance on a six-hitter, whiffed 13 and issued a single free pass.

“His game plan is to attack with the fastball, and then just go from there,” said Mentzer of Smith. “His fastball was a little more elevated today, and they got three hits off him in the first inning.

“But he did a great job,” continued Mentzer. “We got out of him the same thing we’ve been getting out of him since high school. He got in his groove and he pitched well.”

Mechanisburg’s first three batters in the bottom of the first inning – Andy Manges, Isaiah Zercher and Max Cavada – all singled. Mechanisburg emerged from the frame with two runs and a 2-0 lead, but it could’ve been more.

After that, Smith did not allow a Mechanisburg runner to advance past second base.

“The double play was huge,” said Mentzer, of M-town’s first-inning ‘twist’. “In that situation, they’re (Mechanicsburg) one hit away from breaking it open a little more. But we played extremely well defensively.

“Winning the first game and staying in the winner’s bracket, that’s huge,” Mentzer added. “We got a complete game out of Dakota, and that helps save on pitching. It gives us a chance to play longer. This gets us to Sunday, which was our goal.”

To purchase images in this article please email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

Lebanon County American Legion League Past Champions

2021 – Myerstown

2020 – COVID-19

2019- Campbelltown

2018 – Richland

2017 – Fredericksburg

2016 – Annville

2015 – Myerstown

2014 – Myerstown

2013 – Campbelltown

2012 – Campbelltown

2011 – Annville

2010 – 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
1993 — Fredericksburg*
1992 — Palmyra
1991 — Palmyra
1990 — Fredericksburg
1989 — Fredericksburg
1988 — Palmyra
1987 — Fredericksburg
1986 — Fredericksburg*
1985 — Myerstown
1984 — Richland
1983 — Lebanon
1982 — Lebanon
1981 — 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
1967 — 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
1945 — 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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