McConnellsburg Post 561 celebrates after defeating Fayetteville 5-3 on Wednesday to capture the Franklin County American Legion baseball title. (Ryan Blackwell/Public Opinion)SCOTLAND - It's been a long time coming for McConnellsburg Post 561, which won its first-ever Franklin County American Legion baseball title Wednesday night.
In a mistake-filled championship game at Greene Township Park, McConnellsburg and Fayetteville combined for seven errors, eight walks and two hit batters, but Post 561 put the pressure on at the right time, got a timely hit from Kyle Schoen and walked away the victors, 5-3.
"This is for all the people of Fulton County, and it feels great," McConnellsburg manager Robert Koontz said. "It seems like we're always on the losing end of it, but now we can bring the trophy home to Fulton County."
With the victory, McConnellsburg (16-6) advances to the Region IV Tournament, where it'll face Red Land (18-8) on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Brushtown Athletic Field near Hanover.
Heading into the home half of the sixth inning, McConnellsburg led by just one run. Although it didn't really need it, Post 561 got some leeway from a Schoen double.
"Robert told me that he knew I was tired because this was my third day catching in a row, but he wanted me to make solid contact," Schoen said. "I just tried to put something in play. I sat pretty good on a fastball and took it to rightfield."
The ball rolled out just feet away from the centerfield fence to give Zane Baker plenty of time to score a run and set the final score.
"It is indescribable," Schoen said. "It feels like I am on Cloud 9 right now. I'm really proud of my team,
McConnellsburg's Connor Litton pitches against Fayetteville on Wednesday in the Franklin County American Legion baseball title game. McConnellsburg won 5-3. (Ryan Blackwell/Public Opinion)and I just give a huge thanks to coach Koontz and our Legion."
Fayetteville got off to nothing short of a rough start. By the end of the first two at bats, Fayetteville had committed a trio of errors, which allowed Baker to score an unearned run. McConnellsburg added to that with an RBI single from Tristan Gelvin to plate Connor Litton.
"I knew the key to this game would be pitching and defense, and certainly the first three innings, we didn't do either," Fayetteville manager Andy Brookens said. "To put yourself in a 2-0 hole after the first inning, the whole game is left, but you don't want to start out the game in that manner."
In the top of the third, Fayetteville cut the deficit in half, but McConnellsburg was right there to answer.
The wheels started to come off for Fayetteville starter Tyghe Bowers when he walked the first three batters of the stanza. Carlin Christian then took over the duties on the mound and gave up a run with a bases-loaded walk to Casey Wade.
Two batters later, Ryan Koontz hit into a fielder's choice, and was credited with an RBI for a run scored by Gelvin.
"It might've been nerves, but the ball just didn't bounce our way," Fayetteville catcher Nick Graham said. "When the first baseman and the runner collided, that allowed a run right away. We came out tight, and it just wasn't our day."
Litton earned a complete game victory for McConnellsburg. He scattered six hits, walked just three and struck out five. Although Litton struggled a bit in the fourth inning, giving up two runs on three walks and no hits, Koontz had a reason for leaving him in the game.
"I believe in that kid a lot; he's a special kid," Koontz said. "Connor keeps amazing me. He battles, and he's a bulldog type of kid who always comes out on the winning end."
Litton said he had trouble because his fastball was tailing to the right rather than the left, but he finally found his zone again to complete the win.
"The ball kept tailing outside, and I couldn't get it in," Litton said. "I just wanted to throw the ball like normal, not really aim it. My teammates had faith in me, so I came out again in the fifth and felt good, so I finished it out."
Although it ended on a low note, Fayetteville exceeded expectations by finishing 16-7 despite not having any college players and only two seniors.
"You always want to play your best in key situations, but we had a good season and we have to build on that," Graham said. "We lose only one guy, so we'll be right back here next year. We're happy with the season, but not happy with the ending."
NOTES: Fayetteville's top hitters were Christian and Graham, who each had two singles ... Baker led the way for McConnellsburg with two hits.
Lizi Arbogast can be reached at 262-4788 or email@example.com.
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Christian ss 4 1 2 1 Baker cf 3 2 2 0
Helman 2b 4 0 1 1 Swope ss 3 0 0 0
Graham c 4 0 2 0 CLitton p 3 2 1 0
Brown 3b 3 0 0 0 Schoen c 3 0 1 1
Fiegl 1b 3 1 0 0 Richards pr 0 0 0 0
Smith cf 2 1 1 0 Gelvin 2b 3 1 1 1
CBrookens rf 2 0 0 0 Wade lf 2 0 0 1
Myers lf 3 0 0 0 Everts rf 2 0 0 0
Bowers p 2 0 0 0 Beam ph 1 0 0 0
Koontz 3b 2 0 0 1
Elbin ph 0 0 0 0
Clingerman 1b 2 0 1 0
Lashley ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 27 3 6 2 Totals 25 5 6 4
Fayetteville 001 200 0 - 3
McConnellsburg 202 001 x - 5
E-Fay 4; McC 3. DP-McC 1. LOB-Fay 8; McC 9. 2B-Schoen. SAC-C.Brookens; Swope. SB-Myers, Smith; Litton. CS-Swope.
ip h r er bb so
Bowers (L,1-2) 2 3 4 2 3 2
Christian 3 1 0 0 2 1
Brown 1 2 1 1 0 0
C.Litton (W,2-2) 7 6 3 2 3 5
Bowers pitched to 3 batters in the third.
HB-by Bowers (Baker); by Litton (Brown).
PB-Fay 1; McC 1.