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 Saturday, August 3, 1991




Lutte unloads monkey, homer on Gilbertsville

Of The Morning Call

About two-thirds of the way around the bases on his two-run home run in the fifth inning last night in the opening game of the Tri- County League Championship Series, Stahley's Dave Lutte began to look like he was carrying a giant monkey on his back.

Lutte finally arrived at the plate and when he did, not only was the monkey off his back, but it was off the back of all the Angels who used the two-run shot for a 5-3 win over Gilbertsville.

The victory not only gave Stahley's the upper hand in the best-of-three series that will resume today at      5 p.m. in Scherersville, but it also snapped a six-game losing streak to Gilbertsville that began in the regular season and playoff championship series last year.

The Rangers swept the Angels for both the seasonal and playoff crowns a year ago, but this time it'll be Stahley's looking for the broom after they rallied from a 3-0 deficit last night.

"It's a great feeling to win, but it's an even better feeling because we came back against a team we never have any luck against," Lutte said. "They usually make incredible defensive plays against us and they had a few tonight. But we finally got a couple of breaks."

Lutte thought for a moment that another Gilbertsville defensive gem would spoil his shot into the right-center gap in the fifth. The deep rip came after the Angels tied the game on Joe Aleszczyk's two- run single and a throwing error.

"The guys have been telling me all year, especially Rick Wittman, that I should try to go with the pitch to right-center because when I extend my arms I have a lot of power that way," said Lutte, who hit 11 home runs -- all over the fence so he could trot -- during the regular season.

"I backed off the plate and hit it hard, but their right fielder nearly caught it. Thank God he missed it and it rolled away. From there on, it was like `The Little Train That Could' with me on those bases."

Lutte, though huffing and puffing by the time he was mobbed at the plate, completed his journey. So did Angels pitcher Matt Hlay ... but like Lutte, it wasn't easy.

The lanky righthander had just one 1-2-3 inning and seemed to be in constant trouble. However, Hlay was able to slip away from most of the jams relatively unscathed.

Hlay yielded a first-inning, two-run home run by Greg Gilbert to left that took a few limbs off trees at the Boyertown Junior High East complex. But after that, the hard-hitting Rangers could only reach him for an unearned tally in the fourth.

"With these guys, there's not an easy out," said Hlay, who wound up scattering 10 hits. "They beat me last year 12-1 in the playoffs and that was my only loss in the league. I came into that game with a 1.0 ERA and they scored seven runs off me in the first two innings. So, I looked at this as sort of my revenge game. They embarrassed me and I wasn't going to let it happen again.

"I just tried to mix it up with the changeup and slider and do what I could to get out of those jams. At our field, it probably would have been a different story since they hit a lot of long drives here that were caught. We hit some long ones that were caught, too. I'm just glad this place was big enough to hold that last one."

Indeed, with two on and two out in the bottom of the seventh, Gilbertsville's John Yergey belted a high and deep fly to center. Wittman, a fleet-footed fielder, raced back and hauled it in.

Hlay threw up his arms in jubilation, but he and the rest of the Angels know the series is far from over.

"Our guys came back and showed what they're made of," said Stahley's manager Ray Ganser. "We're happy we won, but we're not celebrating too much. We know they'll come back with their ace (Chris Ludy) and we'll have our work cut out for us (today)."

Gilbertsville, league champs five of the last seven years, doesn't appear ready to give up its crown without a fight.

"We'll be back," said Ranger manager Ryan Fox, whose team posted the Tri-Co's best regular season mark at 25-5 in winning the South Division crown.


From The Morning Call -- August 3, 1991

Copyright 1991, The Morning Call