— CUMBERLAND — The Allegany Campers, who began the season with a 16 game winning streak and won two league titles and a sectional championship, were voted unanimous Area champions, claiming the No. 1 spot in the Times-News poll for the first time in more than 20 years.
Coach Scott Bauer’s Campers finished the season with a 19-2 overall record, the only losses coming in one-run games to Mountain Ridge and eventual state champion Smithsburg, and won the Cumberland City and Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference titles in runaway fashion. The Campers went 4-0 in the City League and extended their City winning streak to 28 games. They were 11-1 in the AMAC and won the conference by three games over runner-up Mountain Ridge.
The 19 wins were two shy of the school record, set by the 2013 team that lost to Cambridge- South Dorchester in the Class 1Astate championship game. Ever since that game, a 15-0 loss, the Campers had the sights set on returning to the state tournament. They fell one game shy of doing that as the season ended in a 6-5, eight-inning loss to Smithsburg in the West Region final.
Allegany is 40-6 the last two seasons.
“Our goal was to get better each day and to win our last game of the year. I enjoyed ad appreciated this team and wanted them to win a state championship,” said Bauer. “I wanted them to have an opportunity to play Cambridge- South Dorchester because last year’s play in the state championship game was not indicative of the way they performed all season. It served as motivation for us.
“Our players work very hard and put in a tremendous amount of time year round. This group played a lot of baseball and had a high skill level. This team consisted of special players who stand out and are successful in our classrooms at Allegany.”
As is the case with most championship teams, Allegany was solid offensively and defensively, but the biggest strength was the pitching mound. The Campers had a team earned run average of 1.67, and in 138 innings gave up only 111 hits, walked 55 and struck out 167.
Bryce Nightengale led the way and was unbeaten on the hill, going 8-0 with a 1.30 ERA. He walked only 13 and struck out 72. Trenton Eirich was 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA and 10 walks and 26 strikeouts in 26 innings, and lefty Matt Oleksik 4-2 with a 2.47 ERA, 23 walks and 42 strikeouts in 34 innings.
“We had a great pitching staff and over the past two years this was our biggest strength,’’ Bauer said. “(Coaches) Jon Irons and Rodney Imes do a great job of getting our pitchers ready to compete against anyone. We thought our pitching could enable us to win every game if we could field our positions.