BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – Yesterday was the longest day of the year.
For Richland, it seemed even longer. But Fifth Ward enjoyed every minute of it.
On a moderate Friday night at Fifth Ward Athletic Club, the home team was both aggressive and opportunistic during a 9-2 Lebanon County American Legion Baseball beat down of Richland. Fifth Ward jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, then rode the pitching of right-hander Raymond Colon-Rodriguez to the finish line.
The result lifted Fifth Ward to 3-5 in the local summer circuit. Meanwhile, Richland slipped to 2-4.
Back on June 14th, Richland had scored an 8-2 victory over Fifth Ward at Elco High School’s Lyle Krall Field.
“I don’t go into any game thinking we can’t win,” said Lebanon head coach Greg Kreiser. “But you’ve got to get the games you really think you can win. The playoffs are always my goal. Right now, we’re sitting there with three wins. We’re all bunched there together.
“We lost 2-1. We lost 3-0,” added Kreiser. “Campbelltown’s the only game where we really got blown out. Hopefully we can carry this over.”
“I talked to our guys at the beginning of the season, and we’ve got to take care of our business,” said Richland head coach Travis Thome. “Lebanon, Myerstown, Annville, I’m not saying they’re bad teams, but they’re teams we think we should beat.
“If you look at the history of our league, if we take care of those teams – and we’re in the same boat as well – you find yourself at the top of the league,” Thome added. “We have to take care of those teams to take care of ourselves.”
The start of the contest played a pivotal role in its outcome.
Fifth Ward registered four runs in the bottom of the first inning, on four hits, three stolen bases and RBIs from Luis Pinales and Antonio Collazo. But Lebanon also benefited from two Richland errors and a balk.