Crosstown rivals Camp Hill and Trinity squared off in the Class 3A District 3 baseball championships on a stellar day for baseball at Reading’s FirstEnergy Field on May 30. Dubbed America’s Classic Ballpark, the stadium dates back to 1951 and baseball history oozes out of every nook and cranny this great venue offers. No less than a dozen players enshrined in Cooperstown’s Hall of Fame have dug their cleats into the dirt at home plate there. Roger Maris, a Yankee slugger who belted 61 homes in 1961, once hit three homers in a row in 1955 when he played AA baseball for the Cleveland Indians’ organization. Phillies great Michael Schmidt, whose 500-plus homers are the most by any former Reading player, played there in 1971 with other Philly greats Bob Boone, Greg Luzinski and Larry Bowa. Next month, former Phillies’ third sacker Scott Rolen, who played for the Reading Phillies in the 1990s, will also be inducted in the hallowed shrine that honors baseball’s all-time great players.
This meeting of the Lions and the Shamrocks marked the third time the teams met this season, with Camp Hill beating the ’Rocks twice in the regular season. But this game had the added pressure of playing for a gold medal, and though Camp Hill has played in five straight district championships (Class 2A) and Trinity three, both teams played tight early on. Without hitting a ball out of the infield, Trinity plated two runs in the third inning after taking advantage of three Lion fielding errors.
But, as great ball clubs seem to do, the Lions bounced back with three runs in the bottom half as Trinity’s starting pitcher, righty Landon Kuntzelman, hit a batter and walked two others to load the bases for second baseman Kobe Moore, who jumped on an inside pitch and roped it into the left field corner that cleared the bases. It was a clutch hit by a player who had made a costly fielding error just minutes earlier. “I saw a pitch that I could drive, so I took it and ran with it,” Moore said afterwards.
Trinity’s Mark Balaban drilled a major-league type one-hopper off the left center fence in the top of the fifth to score Mark Cap from first to knot the score at 3-3 heading into the game’s last two innings. But, after Kuntzelman tired, Balaban was called on in relief and Camp Hill pounced for three runs in the bottom of the sixth when Trinity got sloppy in the field.
The final score was 6-3, though the ’Rocks did bring the tying run to the plate in the top of the 7th before the fire was put out by Camp Hill’s bullpen. Both teams move into the PIAA state playoffs as June heats up.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness