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Baseball: Northern Lebanon Beats Rock In Little League State Opener

On Wednesday afternoon, the Northern Lebanon Little League All-Stars played their first game in the Pennsylvania State Championship Tournament. The Section 4 champions were matched up against Council Rock Newtown, the Section 6 winners, in the opener of the double-elimination tournament that features the winners from Pennsylvania’s eight sections.

Getting the start for Northern Lebanon was Landon Gilley.  Council Rock came out as hot as the ninety-degree playing conditions and quickly went up 1-0.  Gilley was able to record two outs, but the decision was made to go to the bullpen when Rock loaded the bases, threatening to put the game out of reach early.

The sign of a great team is when teammates can pick each other up when there are difficult situations.  In this case, it was Braden Demler who took over on the mound. Before Council Rock could get any more runs, Demler forced a ground ball and the defense converted the put out to keep the game at a one run deficit.

The score remained 1-0 into the bottom of the 4th when Northern Lebanon would come to the plate. With one out, Tyler Hornberger drew a walk.  He then advanced to second on a passed ball.  Chase Norris then hit what seemed to be a game-tying double, with Hornberger racing home before the players realized that the umpire had called it foul.  With Norris returning to the batter’s box to continue his at-bat, he would hit a single on the eighth pitch he saw.  The hit moved Hornberger to third and Norris used his baserunning skills to move up to second base.

Following a strikeout, the runners stood on second and third with two outs with Jonathan Zimmerman coming up to bat.  Making contact with the first pitch he saw, Zimmerman blasted a line drive single to right-center field.  The hit scored Hornberger and Norris, giving Northern Lebanon a 2-1 lead.

Demler continued to confuse the Council Rock batters, but faced a difficult situation late in the game when they were able to get the tying run on second base with the go-ahead run on first.  With two outs and a 3-2 count, Demler threw a curve ball and struck out Rock’s #3 hitter Adrian Vassey to end the game. He finished the game pitching 5.1 innings, allowing one hit, four strikeouts, and issuing four bases on balls.

After witnessing Demler’s performance, Northern Lebanon Head Coach Rick Hornberger said, “He was in control the entire time and controlled a very tough Newtown line up. He kept them off balance all day with a mix of the curve ball and very lively fastball.” Hornberger continued, “There were some rough situations where Braden wasn’t getting the calls he wanted, but he stayed mentally tough and lead us to victory.”

Speaking the efforts of the entire team, Hornberger said, “This is another great team win from a true team. These boys always root for each other and when someone gets out the next guy is looking to pick them up. You don’t get this far and be this successful if you don’t have that mentality.”

On Thursday, Northern Lebanon will play against East Side, the Section 7 champions out of West Chester.  East Side won 3-1 over DuBois on Wednesday.  The game is slated to begin at 4:00 pm. This event is taking place in Newtown Square, Delaware County, while Council Rock hails from Newtown, Bucks County.

Here is a quick look at the Little League structure from this point forward. The winner of the State Tournament will advance to play in the Mid-Atlantic Championship Tournament, which features the winners from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.  The winner of that tournament then moves onto Williamsport.

For more on how Northern Lebanon got to this point, check out our recent article: Northern Lebanon Wins, Advances to Little League State Tournament

A special thanks to the members of Northern Lebanon Little League Baseball community for providing the details necessary to write this article.

Northern Lebanon Little League All-Star Roster

Braden Demler

Tyler Hornberger

Chase Norris

Ben Kleinfelter

Jonathan Zimmerman

Griffin Lorenzo

Nolan Anspach

Rory Smyth

Jacob Boltz

Landon Gilley

Jacob Anspach

Julius Martinez

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