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 Friday, August 8, 1986




Coplay's 4-3 win sets up rematch

Of The Morning Call

When members of the Upper Perk Chiefs get cold this coming winter, they can always think of the bottom of the seventh inning last night at Coplay's Balliet Stadium. Chances are, they'll get hot in a hurry.

A controversial 'ball' call on a 3-2 pitch gave Bill Erie a walk to force in the winning run as Coplay nipped Upper Perk 4-3 in the deciding game of their Tri-County League semifinal playoff series at Balliet Stadium.

The Coplay victory sends it into a rematch with Gilbertsville for the Tri-Co's playoff championship. Gilbertsville swept Coplay 2-0 in the regular season championship series last week.

The best-of-three series gets under way at 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon at Gilbertsville with the second game scheduled for 8:15 Sunday night at Coplay. Upper Perk will undoubtedly be thinking about Coplay often until next season. After plate umpire Larry Horn's 'ball' call, the Chiefs went on the warpath and a heated argument ensued for several minutes. But the call stood and Upper Perk's season was over.

"Since I was playing centerfield, I can't say much," said Chief player-manager Bob Graber, whose team finished up with a 20-11 record. "I have to go by how the catcher reacts to the pitch and our catcher didn't even move his glove after the ball. The pitch hit his target. All I know is, we've had lots of problems with him (Horn) before and at the end, we had to get it all off our chest.

"If it had happened during the season, we could have bounced back from it. But now, we've got to think about that call all winter."

Upper Perk will also have to think about a couple of costly fielding miscues which didn't help its cause either. In fact one of the fielding errors set up the seventh-inning scenario.

Bill Pugh led off the last of the seventh with a single. Lou Falco tired to sacrifice Pugh up to second, but his bunt popped up into the air and was caught by Chief third baseman Tom Cichocki. Cichocki then fired the ball to third in an attempt to double up Pugh for the double play. But Cichocki's throw went into the right-field bleachers, allowing Pugh to advance all the way around to third.

Upper Perk then did the only thing it could do as both Steve Snyder and Chuck Mondschein were intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force at any bag. Coplay then sent up Erie as a pinch-hitter and Chief right-hander Todd Swenk got ahead of Erie 0-2. Then came a foul ball and four straight balls to end it.

"To me, it looked like a strike," admitted Coplay manager Bob Bartholomew, who was standing in the third-base coaching box when the controversial pitch was thrown. "But it could have gone either way and that's baseball, that's the breaks."

Upper Perk had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first when a walk, a hit batsman and a bunt single loaded the bases before Mike Svanson hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. Matt Duka's fielder's choice grounder scored the other run.

Coplay answered back with a run in the bottom of the first on a double by Jeff Erie and a run-scoring single by Pugh.

In the second, three straight walks loaded the bases for Upper Perk with one out and Bartholomew removed starter Dan Baranek from the game and replaced him with Jim Emerick. Emerick worked out of that jam and allowed just one run in his 5 2/3 innings of work.

Coplay, meanwhile, got two unearned runs off of Swenk in the second. With two out, Jeff Sodl singled and advanced all the way to third when Steve Weidner's hard grounder went through the legs of Chief first baseman Keith Leamer. The error put two runners in scoring position and Randy Remaly brought them in with a single to left to put Coplay up 3-2.

Upper Perk tied the game in the fourth on Pete Hoff's RBI-single. But Emerick worked out of a first and third jam without further damage that inning and wasn't touched the rest of the way.

"Jim's our ace and I was going to leave him in there even if his arm fell off because our pitching staff is in bad shape," said Bartholomew. "This was a very tough series, all the games were close. Now, we're looking forward to another crack at Gilbertsville."


From The Morning Call -- August 8, 1986

Copyright 1986, The Morning Call