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Middletown American Legion team reaches playoffs after struggle to get players all season

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 7/25/18

Middletown American Legion baseball coach Mark Chimel surely wanted better results from the recently concluded season.

Chimel, who just completed his third year as the head of the team that is …

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Middletown American Legion team reaches playoffs after struggle to get players all season

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Middletown American Legion baseball coach Mark Chimel surely wanted better results from the recently concluded season.

Chimel, who just completed his third year as the head of the team that is sponsored by Middletown Legion Post 594, was disappointed by his team’s 5-13 finish. But there are a number of reasons why the team did not do better, he said.

Getting enough players to compete was a struggle all year, proving to be a major factor in the team’s difficulties. But Chimel’s team was not alone in that category. Other teams involved in the Dauphin County league had to deal with a limited number of players as well.

“Some of the smaller teams, like ourselves, had that problem, unlike the bigger associations like Hummelstown and Upper Dauphin,” he said.

While a few players from Middletown Area High School’s varsity team were part of Post 594’s squad, several others either chose not to play or could not play this summer.

“A couple of players had suffered injuries during the high school season and could not play. We were counting on them to help us this year, but they were not available,” Chimel noted.

That, plus the fact that some others were only available at certain times had Chimel and his assistant coaches scratching to put together starting lineups for games. More than once during the season there were just nine players who reported to the games.

Some younger players elected to play on Teener A teams and others were playing on travel teams or working, which cut into their available times for the legion team.

“Harrisburg had many problems finding enough players and Susquehanna did not even field a team this year,” Chimel said.

He went on to say that Lancaster County fielded just four teams and that Cumberland County struggled as well.

“Carlisle did not have a team this year,” he said.

During the season, Post 594 beat Harrisburg and Lawton twice while its other victory came against Dauphin. One of the Harrisburg wins was a forfeit due to a shortage of players.

The Middletown team finished in a tie for sixth place with Lawton but qualified for the post-season playoffs because of those wins over Lawton. There were nine teams in the Dauphin County league and the top six were picked for the playoffs.

In the playoffs, Post 594 lost 5-1 to Paxton and 10-0 to Hummelstown, ending its season. “Upper Dauphin and Hummelstown were the top teams in the league and played a one-game playoff for the league title. Upper Dauphin won it,” Chimel said.

But all was not negative news about the Middletown team. The team competed as best it could while using a number of younger players in place of seasoned veterans.

“As a result of our low numbers and troubles getting players for our games, a handful of dedicated sophomores who played on the JV team this year got to play on a regular basis and really showed improvement over the course of the season,” Chimel said. “I believe that some of those players, with the experience they received, are now ready to start on the high school varsity team next year.

“If we had more players, those sophomores possibly would not have gotten much playing time and experience this year,” he added.