'The summer without ballgames': Region 4 tourney underway two years after it was last played
MECHANICSBURG – A silent summer.
That's what Legion baseball had in 2020. No crack of the bat, no horsehide hitting leather. It was bleak, but Region 4 director Bruce Daveler could sense that 2021 would be different.
“I was pessimistic last year,” Daveler said. “I was on of the more vocal opponents of playing last summer. … By New Year's, I was optimistic because after I retired (from postal work) I got a job at the largest Lancaster County hospital. I had access to opinions of a lot of doctors, and they were optimistic for spring and summer.”
That optimism has been rewarded, as not only did local leagues play a full season, the Region 4 tournament started at Soldiers and Sailors Park in Mechanicsburg on Friday.
Bringing eight of the top teams in the region together for the five-day, double-elimination tourney was vital to the organization, Daveler said.
“With kids today having so many options and so many sports to choose from not having Legion baseball for two straight years could have been devastating,” Daveler said. “And to everyone, we were stuck inside our houses for a year. It was important for everyone to get out.”
But despite a full two years since the last Region 4 tourney, Daveler felt little difference this season from tournaments past, as if everyone were getting back into their favorite comfortable slippers.
“To me, it's like we're picking up where we left off,” Daveler said.
So, there are no new, revolutionary goals for the tournament this year. No one will forget the summer without local ballgames, but the sport shows that it will go on.
“We want to have good ball games, that are competitive,” Daveler said. “We want to have teams showing up with players on the bench, not skating by nine or 10.”
That underlined one of Legions great concerns, pre- and post-shutdown. The draw of other baseball events reducing rosters.
“We continue to compete with these showcases on weekends that can take our players,” Daveler said. “We will keep trying different ideas to keep players interested in the Legion program.”
The Region 4 champion will advance to the state tournament, another five-day, double-elimination event, at Ephrata's War Memorial Field. States will begin on July 24.
Friday's Region 4 Legion roundup
New Oxford 5, New Cumberland 4: Luke Rickrode's RBI single in the top of the seventh scored the deciding run in the opening game. Kolton Haifey, Cade Baker, Arron Smith and Coy Baker each added RBIs in the win. Cae Baker pitched six innings for the win, striking out three. Smith recorded the save.
Myerstown 3, Mechanicsburg 2: Dakota Smith struck out 12 batters in a six-hit complete game win. Though he gave up two runs in the first and threw 107 pitches, Smith ended the game with a three-pitch strikeout with the potential tying run on first. Luke Hostetter's RBI single scored Lance Hains with the go-ahead run with two outs in the top of the sixth.
Paxton 6, Red Lion 0: The 2019 regional champ blanked Red Lion. Chase Morris had three hits in defeat.
Upper Dauphin 8, Waynesboro 5: Despite having the first four batters of the game score for an early lead, Waynesboro fell in the first round. Aaron King and Josh Clapsaddle started the first-inning rally with back-to-back triples. Bryce Shaffer scored two runs.
New Cumberland vs. Waynesboro, 9:30 a.m.
Red Lion vs. Mechanicsburg, noon
Upper Dauphin vs. New Oxford, 3 p.m.
Paxton vs. Myerstown, 5:30 p.m.