'Not much left in the tank': Myerstown falls in Region 4 Legion title game
MECHANICSBURG – Season-ending losses are, by their nature, disappointing.
Still, some are a little easier to swallow. Not every finale is a top-ranked team getting bounced in the first round or an error-filled performance leaving a talented team on the outside looking in.
For Myerstown, a 10-3 loss to Paxton in the Region 4 Legion baseball finals on Tuesday was neither of those things. It was a case of a very good team that had put all it had into getting to that point, and found it had little more to give.
“There's not much left in the tank by now,” Myerstown head coach John Mentzer Jr. said.
Myerstown was without the services of five pitchers for the championship game due to pitch-count limitations.
“We got the most we could out of what we could put out there,” Mentzer said.
Myerstown's starter was Amani Jones, who had not pitched in organized baseball in seven years. He blanked Paxton in the first inning but after allowing two runs in the second, Myerstown never evened the score.
“From the other games, there was always a that hope we would score late, and we never did,” said Jones, who struck out five batters and walked only one.
Myerstown had come from behind twice early in the tournament. In Friday's opening round, they beat Mechanicsburg 3-2 after trailing 2-0 after five innings. In a game that lasted over Saturday into Sunday, Myerstown turned a 4-0, fifth-inning deficit against Paxton into a 5-4, 10-inning victory.
But on Tuesday, the gap became increasingly larger. It was 5-3 after the fourth, 7-3 after the fifth and 9-3 after the sixth.
“We threw strikes, and they hit the ball,” Mentzer said. “[Jones and Jack Beasley] just threw fastballs, and [Paxton] was ready. It's a product of the tournament.”
Luke Hostetter did provide a big highlight for Myerstown, hitting the tournament's only home run over the right field fence in the second inning. Myerstown's other runs came in the fourth on RBI doubles by Wyatt Menzel and Evan Krall.
“I didn't think we hit bad,” Mentzer said. “I thought we hit better than last night [a 1-0 loss to New Oxford]. But we left a couple runners on base, and we left the bases loaded once.”
Dropping their last two games of the tournament and the season was a letdown, but winning the Lebanon County regular and postseason titles, along with three games at regionals, compensated for the late defeats.
“The season was a success,” Mentzer said. “The last two games are no reflection of this team or how this season went. We were a tired team toward the end, and it showed.”
Paxton will play in the Pennsylvania State Tournament, which starts in Ephrata on Saturday.
Paxton 7, New Oxford 6: In Tuesday's early game, Paxton came back from a 6-2 deficit to eliminate New Oxford. The difference was five two-out runs in the bottom of the fifth for the Dauphin County champ. Mason Weaver, Charles Clark, Adam Pascoe, Josh Bethas and Aaron Smith all drove in runs for New Oxford.