Chambersburg (Pa.) captured the PONY-13 title with a 12-10 victory.
By GREG GULAS
BOARDMAN — Andrew Plank hit a home run and double, scored three times and added two RBIs, while Mitchell Warner added two hit and picked up the win in relief, as Chambersburg (Pa.) Suburban defeated Howland Tri-T, 12-10, Sunday to capture the PONY-13 regional baseball championship at Fields of Dreams.
Chambersburg advanced to the PONY zone tournament beginning Saturday in McCandless, Pa.
Howland, which finished its season 21-12, was the surprise team of the tournament, one that many did not give much of a chance to win yet advanced to the title game.
“We were down several players and had to make quite a few adjustments throughout the tournament,” said Howland manager Mark Wilson. “We relied on two players who had not pitched all season and used a catcher today who went behind the plate for the first time this season.
“We played in a 13-14-year-old league all year and quite frankly, weren’t given much of a chance by anyone at tournament time,” he added. “This is a scrappy unit and today you witnessed just how hard they always work. They put us in a position to win right up to the end and that is all we can ever ask of them.”
Early 3-run homer
Plank’s two run homer ignited a three-run opening inning as he staked Chambersburg to a 3-0 advantage.
Kenny Pozega then doubled in the bottom half of the inning, later scoring on a wild pitch by Plank, as Howland cut the lead to 3-1.
A triple by Brady Coy in the top of the second inning scored Jeremy Musser, and Coy later scored on a passed ball to help Chambersburg increase its lead to 5-1.
Howland’s Matt Hayes, who walked with one out, later scored on a wild pitch, cutting the margin to 5-2 heading to the third inning.
Five consecutive batters reached base for Howland in its half of the third, the key hit a two-run single by Hayes, as Howland scored four times to take a 6-5 advantage.
Chambersburg rallied with three runs in the fourth, keyed by Warner’s single, to regain the lead, 8-6.
With two outs, a single by Pozega, triple by Zac Wilson and a single by Kyle Hickman scored two runs for Howland as they forged an 8-8 tie.
Jeremy Musser’s ground rule double drove in Skyler Roman to give Chambersburg a 9-8 advantage in the top of the fifth, but Howland’s Dominic Termine singled home Brian Papalas, who had doubled, in the bottom of the inning to once again knot the score again.
Pulled away for keeps
Chambersburg took the lead for good in the top of the sixth when A.J. Maun drew a bases-loaded walk and Roman added a sacrifice fly. In the seventh, Coy’s double scored Jason Lombardozzi to make it 12-9.
Howland loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh, scoring once on a single by Dan Ebert, but Mitchell struck out the last two batters.
“Howland gave us all that we could handle this afternoon. They are a very scrappy group and put us to the test,” Chambersburg manager Aaron Burke said.
“[Andrew] Plank is an excellent hitter and this is a big field, but the way that he hit today sure seems like he shortened the park’s dimensions. [Mitchell] Warner is our No. 1 pitcher and we used a different strategy in this tournament. We saved him for this type of situation and while he wasn’t as sharp as he has been in the past, he still got the job done.”