When Elliot Ness looks back at the 2018 American Legion baseball season, the Pleasureville Post 799 coach will know that his team enjoyed a heck of a year.
Despite losing more than half of its starters from a 2017 roster that produced York-Adams regular-season and playoff titles, this year’s squad never really lost a beat.
Post 799 cruised to the York-Adams American Legion Eastern Division championship before rallying to capture a second league playoff crown in a row.
While those are the things that Ness will remember, the memories of his team’s short stay in the Region 4 Tournament in Hanover this past weekend will not be as pleasant. After advancing to the regional final a season ago, Pleasureville’s run came to a quick halt after dropping its first two games of the double-elimination tournament.
Post 799 lost 3-2 on a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh inning against Waynesboro Friday morning before suffering a 12-0 setback Saturday morning against Upper Dauphin.
“We told the boys to not focus too much on what happened this weekend,” Ness said. “We tried the best that we could, but we were more than a little short-handed. They have to just take what we did all year and remember that. We won back-to-back regular-season and playoff titles and I’m not sure that any other team in Pleasureville history could ever say that.”
Friday's loss: Post 799 raced out to a quick two-run lead in the top of the first against Waynesboro, a team that was only added to the draw as a replacement squad Wednesday afternoon.
Little did the Pleasureville players know that those runs would be the only ones they would score during their two days of action.
“We struggled with the bats,” Ness said. “Now we didn’t have our starting shortstop (Ryan Pepler) or our starting right fielder (Landon Ness), but we did have (Michael) Livingston on the mound and he’s one of our top guys. So even with that lineup that we had out there on Friday, I thought that we had a good shot.”
Waynesboro scratched across runs in the third and sixth innings to even the score before claiming victory with a walk-off single in the seventh to advance in the draw.
The setback sent Post 799 directly into the losers' bracket draw Saturday morning against Dauphin County champ Upper Dauphin.
Saturday's loss: The harsh reality of dropping Friday’s contest for Ness and his squad was the fact that they knew they would be out-manned for Saturday’s game. Had they won Friday, Ness knew that many of the players that would not be there Saturday would be available Sunday.
The loss to Waynesboro, however, made a bad situation even worse. Ness had just nine players available. Not even the rain that fell throughout the entire day Saturday could save Post 799 from elimination. The morning contest was the only one played on Saturday.
Upper Dauphin jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Pleasureville starter Mike Nizinski in the first inning before doubling its advantage in the third. By the time Post 799 finally recorded the first of its three hits for the game in the fourth, Upper Dauphin had already built a 9-0 advantage.
“The first game was crucial,” Ness said. “Because even if we lost (Saturday) we would have had nearly all of our guys back for Sunday. But (Saturday) we didn’t have our starting catcher, third baseman, shortstop, right fielder or left fielder. That’s more than half of our lineup and, to be honest, I didn’t even know if we were going to have nine players until late Friday night. So we had a lot of guys playing out of position.”
Hanover also ousted: York County's other representative in the regional also was eliminated in two games.
Hanover, which got its bid into the regional by virtue of being the host team, dropped a 13-3 decision to New Cumberland on Friday and a 3-0 verdict to Shippensburg on Sunday.
Hunter Laugerman and Colin Dehaas had two hits each for Hanover on Sunday. Donald Martindale pitched 6 1/3 innings for the host team, giving up three runs.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.