BY JEFF FALK
FREDERICKSBURG – Actually it wouldn’t have all that far to go. But right now, Fredericksburg is playing like it just doesn’t want to go home.
On Tuesday afternoon at Earl Wenger Memorial Field, Post 915 once again came through in the clutch, to edge Dallastown 6-5 and remain alive in the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four baseball tournament it’s hosting. After resuming an elimination contest that was suspended by a storm in the top of the sixth inning on Monday, Fredericksburg tallied tying and winning runs during a crucial rally in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Seldom-used but talented right-hander Michigan Daub was called upon to close the door and log the save in the top of the ninth. For Daub, who injured his shoulder in football season last fall, it was just his second inning of work all summer long.
The victory has Fredericksburg 22-7 overall and in Wednesday’s loser’s bracket final, against the loser of the Campbelltown-Pleasureville undefeated game, at 4 p.m. back at Earl Wenger Field. Dallastown, the runner-up from York County, ended its campaign at 10-6-1.
Lebanon County representatives Fredericksburg and Campbelltown are two of the four teams still standing in the tournament.
“We produced as a team,” said Fredericksburg head coach Tim Schaeffer. “We battled back.
“It’s awesome,” continued Schaeffer. “It’s a pretty cool thing for the league (Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League). Instead of 0-2 and everybody out, both teams (F-burg, C-town) will be going on the fourth day of the tournament. That hasn’t happened in a long time.”
“It’s nice to host a tournament and go pretty far,” said Daub. “I’m glad to see both Lebanon County teams doing well. We’ve been showing how much fight we have. We’re scratching for everything. I feel like it’s anybody’s tournament.”
Trailing 5-4, but with the top of the order up in the home half of the eighth inning, Fredericksburg’s first four hitters reached base.
Noah Gingrich singled and Isaac Wengert reached on a controversial error. Daub singled home Gingrich to make it 5-5, while Seth Walmer plated Wengert with the go-ahead tally.
“We finally got a break or two,” said Schaeffer. “A key hit and things happened. If we hit the ball the way we can, we’ll be fine. For them (his players), when they get a hit, their confidence goes through the roof.”
“I’m seeing the ball really well,” said Daub. “I’m hitting the ball where it’s pitched. Luckily it’s not going into the other team’s gloves.”
Another key for Fredericksburg has been its depth of pitching. After Austin Baal gave F-burg five-plus solid innings on Monday before the suspension, Cole Felty and Daub became the fifth and sixth pitchers used by the hosts in the tournament.
With Fredericksburg protecting the 4-2 lead it had forged a day prior, Dallastown touched Felty for three runs in the top of the seventh. They came after Dallastown’s first three batters in the frame coaxed walks.
In the ninth, Daub displayed a bit of rust, as Dallastown’s first two hitters singled and walked. But he settled in and looked more confident in retiring the next three D-town batters, two on strikes.
“I’m fine today,” said Schaeffer of his club’s pitching depth. “I have plenty left. If we make it to Thursday, I get my ace (Wengert) back. But from the minute they (D-town) got the lead on us, if we got it back, he (Daub) was going in.
“We’ve been really cautious with him,” added Schaeffer. “It’s been a long road for him. He’s so important to us in the field. But we would never want to do anything to hurt his arm.”
“It feels good,” said Daub of his arm. “Being the one that they wanted on the hill in the ninth inning is special. I’m glad they picked me. My mindset was: ‘Throw strikes and go win.'”
It was Daub who had given Fredericksburg the two-run lead it carried into Tuesday.
Before the rains came, Daub’s two-run single in the bottom of the fourth provided Post 915 with a 4-2 lead The frame began with Zach Seltzer’s hit and also included a single from Gingrich, Wengert being hit-by-a-pitch and Austin Barry’s sacrifice.
“I really wish yesterday, I wanted to keep playing the game,” said Schaeffer. “We had all the momentum in the world. Once you’re going, you want to finish.”
Dallastown broke out on top with a two-out run in the top of the second. But Fredericksburg responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning, as Bailey Keefer and Seltzer walked ahead of Austin Baal’s RBI-single and Wengert’s bases-loaded free pass.
Baal fanned five and walked two in his five-plus innings of work on Monday. But he could not continue because of pitching limits.
On Monday afternoon, first lightning and then a couple inches of rain suspended the contest in the top of the sixth inning.
“It’s really special to play with these guys,” said Daub. “We’re trying to win as many games as possible, go as far as possible and go as long as possible.
“That’s why we’re winning,” Daub added. “We’re playing well as a team. Go Fredericksburg!”
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