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BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – You could say that Myerstown underachieved and that Campbelltown overachieved.

You could say that all of the pressure was on Myerstown and that none of the pressure was on Campbelltown.

You could say that Myerstown was the favorite and that Campbelltown was the underdog.

But ultimately, in the end, all of the things that made Myerstown the favorite – maturity, experience, development – made all the difference in the world.

On a hazy Wednesday night at Myerstown Legion Field, the home team seemingly flipped the proverbial switch when it had to, and edged Campbelltown 6-5, in the eighth inning of the undefeated game of the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League’s seven-team, double elimination playoff tournament. Trailing 5-4 and down to its last out, Myerstown scratched out the trying run in the bottom of the seventh inning, then pieced together the decisive run in the eighth.

With darkness descending, Braden Boyd’s grounder to second base allowed Wyatt Manzel to easily score the winning run, with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Manzel had opened the frame with his fourth hit of the game, stole second and moved to third on Evan Krall’s sacrifice.

With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the seventh inning, Myerstown’s Amani Jones walked and stole second. Jones scored the run that made it 5-5 on Luke Hostetter’s run-scoring single.

“”There’s pressure on us to perform in these situations,” said Myerstown head coach Johnny Mentzer. “Just because of how we played in the regular season. There’s pressure not to make physical mistakes and there’s pressure to execute in certain situations. With these older guys, they know what they have to do.

“I wouldn’t say that they (Campbelltown) haven’t reached our level yet, physically,” added Mentzer. “It’s the mental side of it. Our maturity showed tonight. They’ve (his players) been in tight games before. They know how to step up.”

“It was a tough loss,” said Campbelltown head coach John Binner. “But we proved we can beat that team. We came within one out of doing it. I thought we played great. There were a couple of fundamentals here and there that could’ve been better, but that was it.

“We definitely want to win,” Binner added. “But this makes it a lot tougher. We’ve got to scratch and claw, and hopefully make it to Sunday.”

With the outcome, Myerstown, the regular-season champion which improved to 12-1, became the only undefeated team remaining in the double-elimination event. M-town will host the tournament’s initial championship game on Saturday, at a time to be determined.

Should a second championship game be required, it will be played Sunday, presumably at Myerstown.

The loss snapped Campbelltown’s six-game winning streak and dropped it to 10-6 and into Friday’s loser’s bracket final, which it will host at 7 p.m. at Palmyra High School’s OAL Sports Complex, against an opponent yet to be determined.

The winner of the local summer baseball circuit will represent Lebanon County at the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four tournament at Mechanicsburg, beginning July 16.

“We didn’t deserve to win the baseball game,” said Mentzer. “We didn’t execute early. We made mistakes. We didn’t deserve to win, but we did because we finally executed. We had a good at-bat (in the seventh), stole a base and got a hit. In the eighth inning, we just executed. When we execute, we don’t leave teams in games.”

“I think it was just bad luck on our part,” said Binner. “A bloop single tied the game, and then at the end, a seeing-eye single scored the winning run.”

Campbelltown had assumed a 5-4 edge with two outs in the top of the sixth inning when Nick Grumbine stole home on the back-end of a double steal. Two batters prior, Aiden Davis came through with the RBI-single that tied the score.

Trailing 4-2, Campbelltown pulled to within a run of the lead on Caleb Fisher’s third RBI of the contest, in the top of the fifth inning.

“We got out of Lance (Hains) what we’ve been getting all year,” said Mentzer, of his starting pitcher, who worked the first six innings. “He is not a strikeout guy. He’s a contact guy. When he got up a little in the zone, they (Campbelltown) made good contact on him. He definitely threw a good game. We just didn’t give him enough run support.”

“He (Hains) threw strikes,” said Binner. “He didn’t give us extra base runners and he kept his pitch count down. But we figured out what he was throwing. We became more patient at the plate. We saw more pitches.”

Down 2-1, Myerstown scored twice in the bottom of the third inning to retake the lead. Dakota Smith’s two-run single with two outs completed the rally.

Then, in the bottom of the fourth, Myerstown used Manzel’s booming triple to left field and Krall’s sacrifice fly to push its advantage to 4-2.

“I don’t think our approach at the plate was bad,” said Mentzer. “We hit a bunch of hard balls at guys. Their pitching (Austin Gussler, Alex Fuhrman) threw strikes most of the game. They did enough to win the baseball game.”

“You can see that they’ve (Myerstown) played a lot more baseball,” said Binner. “They’re more advanced in their knowledge of the game. We have players who are still learning the game. They have seasoned players.”

Myerstown scored first, in the bottom of the second inning, on a Manzel RBI-double to take a 1-0 lead. But Campbelltown responded with a pair of runs in the top of the third, thanks to Fisher’s two-out, two-run single.

“They’re an older team, but I don’t think the pressure is on them,” said Binner of Myerstown. “They know they’re good. But you’ve got to come to play.”

Myerstown defeated Campbelltown twice during the regular season, 6-0 at home on June 16 and 6-1 at In The Net Sports Complex in Palmyra on June 17.

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

Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League Past Champions

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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