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Trojans, Sleighter end season in Pa. title role

June 19, 2004|By ANDREW MASON

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Trojans have had their share of stars on the baseball diamond over the years.

Irvin Sleighter certainly will be remembered as one of the brightest.

Sleighter ended his high school career Friday with school records in career pitching wins (32), wins in a season (12) and single-season strikeouts (116). Most importanly, though, he finished as a state champion.

Sleighter (12-0) pitched a complete-game five-hitter with nine strikeouts and went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI as Chambersburg beat Peters Township 12-5 in the PIAA Class AAA state championship game at Commerce Bank Park. It's the Trojans' third state baseball title and first since 1999.

"He's been a great pitcher for four years and also a good hitter," Chambersburg coach Bob Thomas said. "He finally found his hitting stroke in the playoffs."

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Sleighter drove in 13 runs and recorded three of Chambersburg's four wins in the state tournament. He put the Trojans in front to stay Friday with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.

"A lot of people dream about this," said Sleighter, who will continue his career at Old Dominion University in the fall. "This will always be in the back of my mind. It's a great achievement."

Of course, he didn't do it alone.

The Trojans (25-4) erupted for 13 hits against Peters Township (18-8), including eight in a nine-run, fourth-inning rally for an 11-1 lead.

Apparently, they weren't happy about giving up an unearned run in the top of the fourth.

"That got us fired up," said first baseman Josh Frey, who committed the second of two Chambersburg errors in the inning. "We got back in the dugout and said we were at least going to get that one back, and we ended up getting a couple more."

Andrew Burke ignited the rally by hitting a solo home run over the left-field wall against Indians starter Jason Conley (6-2) to make it 3-1 with one out. Eight batters later, Burke greeted reliever Anthony Rossi with a one-out RBI single to center to make it 9-1. In between, the Trojans roughed up Jim Gallagher, who gave up four hits and a walk, hit a batter and fell victim to a pair of infield errors.

Frey made it 10-1 on an RBI single - his second hit of the inning and third of the game - and Andy Carter, who had an RBI triple earlier in the inning, capped it with an RBI single to right as the Peters Township pitchers completely lost their command.

"If you can't get the curveball over the plate," Thomas said, "you may as well forget it against us."

The Trojans were now just three outs away from ending the game by the 10-run mercy rule.

However, Peters Township, which averaged more than nine runs per game this season, wasn't quite ready to call it a day.

"I guess we got a little overconfident out there," Thomas said. "We thought we were going to go eat early."

Sleighter, who had only given up six earned runs all season, allowed four in the fifth on three hits and two walks. The big blow was Aaron Janusey's two-out, three-run double, which made it 11-5.

"I didn't feel comfortable on the mound that inning," Sleighter said. "I tried overpowering them too much with my fastball and they're a good fastball-hitting team. My adrenaline was just going."

"We very easily could have gone down 1-2-3 and just gone home, but we battled and got back in the game," Indians coach Joseph Maize said. "But (Sleighter) just shut us down after that."

Sleighter didn't allow another hit, and the Trojans completed the scoring on Tyler Brown's RBI single in the fifth. Brown finished 3-for-4 with two RBI.

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