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 Sunday, May 20, 1990




Gilbertsville looks to defend Tri-County titles

Of The Morning Call

The Tri-County Baseball League is full of colorful characters who just love to play the game for the reason it was originally intended - - to have fun. Take Coplay's Lou Falco, for example.

Falco, the Tri-Co's two-time batting champ, is all pumped up about the 1990 Tri-County League season that begins its second full week of action today. The biggest reason for Falco's excitement is that he feels his Serpents should be in the hunt to get back the league championship it earned back in 1988.

But Falco also knows that the road to the title goes through Gilbertsville -- last year's regular season and playoff champ -- and that route again figures to be bumpy.

"Gilbertsville's definitely the team to beat," Falco said. "They had an unbelievable year last year and they keep getting different guys. Their lineup may change from game to game, but their players can all crack the ball pretty good."

However, Falco, who is one of the league's veterans at the age of 33, knows that several other clubs are capable of taking away Gilbertsville's crown.

"A lot of players have moved around and some of the teams that were weak might suddenly be pretty strong," he said. "Even last year, some of the weaker teams were beating the better teams. Anything can happen on a given night in our league."

Falco feels his Coplay team can make good things happen with one of the league's strongest pitching staffs. Coplay's four hurlers -- newcomer Dave Chandler, Bob Bleiler, Jim Emerick and Randy Bear -- "are probably four of the best pitchers in the league," according to Falco.

And Falco says that his offensive lineup is again loaded with himself, Bill Pugh, Eric and Mark Csencsits being just a few of the players with potent sticks. But the only thing he promises is that his team will play hard and enjoy every minute of it.

"We've been together for four or five years now and the one thing we all have is a love for the game," he said. "We're out there to have fun, doing something we really enjoy. Of course, we want to win, but the most important thing is that we can get together and get away from the rigors of everyday life for awhile and just play some ball."

Here's a look at the rest of the league:

Gilbertsville, which went 28-4 in the regular season last summer, figures to rule the South Division once again. The Rangers' premier players include pitcher Pete Kurtz (12-0 a year ago), slugger Jeff Evans (.424) and the Gilbert boys -- Brian and Greg. Greg, formerly a member of the Atlanta Braves' organization, hit .442 last season.

Gilbertsville's most severe challenge may come from Upper Perk. The Chiefs went 21-13 a year ago and will again be led by player- manager Bob Graber, who posted a 5-3 record on the mound last season. Joining Graber on the hill will be Chris Fluck (7-2 last season), while the offense will feature Matt Duka and Ray Steinman, who led the team with a .388 average last season.

Quakertown should improve from its 15-15 mark of last summer with the addition of the league's all-time home run king, Mike Kotkoski. He joins player/co-manager Bob Drumbore (.408, 9 HRs) and Brian Hoehn (.394, 7 HRs) in a potentially explosive attack.

The rest of the South pack doesn't figure to challenge Gilbertsville. Silver Creek is looking to bounce back from an 8-23 mark with new manager Joe Smull running the show. The Creekers picked up several players from the defunct Alpha squad who should help out. Steve and Matt Smull, Bill Krchnavy, Tom Boice and Bruce Alpaugh join veteran team members Jon Ference and Bob Carr.

Former Alpha skipper Chuck Ciganick has also joined another club - - the Cetronia Bluejays. The Bluejays were 12-20 as Old Zionsville last year. Player-manager Joe Sedler (.390, 6 HRs) will be counting on pitcher Don Rosenberger (8-5 last year) and Todd Greb (.364) among others.

Emmaus is the new kid on the block and Dave Ernst's team figures to be like most expansion clubs and take its lumps in its initial go- around. In its opener Friday night, Emmaus was thumped by Quakertown 16-3.

The North was the place for a tight race in '89 as division champ Coplay (20-12) finished only one game ahead of both Limeport and the Allentown Angels. Limeport and the Angels should be at or near the top of the pack again.

The Angels are led on the mound by player-manager Ray Ganser, who went 8-3. Allentown also features the league's MVP in Joe Aleszczyk, who batted .397 with eight home runs a year ago and veteran sluggers Dale Weiss (.394) and Dave Lutte (.376, 11 HRs and team-high 33 RBI).

Ishky Fatzinger's Limeport team should again be a force. The '88 playoff champs feature the bats of Eric Dieter (.363), Bill Fatzinger (.346, 35 RBI) and catcher Jack Goddess (.368, 38 RBI, 6 HRs) in their arsenal. Jim Simonds, 7-6 a year ago, heads the mound corps.

East Texas is looking to push above the .500 mark it ended at last season. Player-manager George Horn, who batted .340 and led the team with 26 RBI and four HRs, will be looking for another strong season from pitcher Stu Link (5-1). Wayne Simock, who batted .356, is another player looking to duplicate an outstanding '89 campaign.

Salisbury doesn't want to duplicate much from its 14-18 season of a year ago. Manager Dave Snyder will be looking for pitcher Tom Golden (6-4) and top hitter Mark Kelly (.382, five HRs) to help the team turn things around.

One team in need of a drastic turnaround is the Bethlehem Pirates. The Bucs dropped 24 of their 32 games last season and manager Jim Marouchoc has a lot of new names determined to turn the team in the right direction. Glenn Snyder, who batted .333 last summer, is expected to be an offensive key.

The league will once again crown a regular season and playoff champ. The two division winners will meet to decide the seasonal crown, while the top three teams from each division enter the playoff tournament.


From The Morning Call -- May 20, 1990

Copyright 1990, The Morning Call