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 Monday, May 18, 1992

SPORTS

 C-3 


 

Stahley's, Gilbertsville cream of Tri-Co again?




Of The Morning Call


 

They say the only thing tougher than winning a championship is defending it the next year.

After winning both the seasonal and playoff titles in the Tri- County League last season, Stahley's Bar manager Ray Ganser is gearing up for one long struggle to hold on to the crown this summer.

As the 1992 season enters its second full week, Stahley's -- which has dropped its nickname of Angels -- remains the favorite to win the league's North Division. But Ganser cautions that nothing will come easy.

"Many teams are improved," he said. "And, you know that everyone is gunning for us. It's going to be tough to repeat. I'd be happy to have another winning season."

With virtually everyone back from last year's team, Ganser's club shouldn't have to worry too much about posting a winning season.

But once into the playoffs, Stahley's might have a tougher time dealing with Gilbertsville -- its foe in the seasonal finals last year. The Rangers vastly improved themselves with the addition of pitchers Tom Hartman and Bob Drumbore from Quakertown and are overwhelming favorites to repeat in the South Division.

A Stahley's-Gilbertsville final would be nothing new in the Tri-Co, but the league does have a few new looks.

Most noticeable is that several clubs have changed names. The Angels are now simply Stahley's Bar; Coplay will be known as the South Whitehall Serpents; the Limeport franchise has picked up the nickname of Bulls; Emmaus has added the nickname of Braves; Silver Creek has added the nickname of Raiders; Scherersville will now be known as the Haviland Grille Mudcats; and Bethlehem Township will be known as the ICC Pirates.

Also, the league will only give out one championship this summer. Over the last several years, the Tri-Co crowned a seasonal champ (a series was played between the division winners) and a post-season titleist. The seasonal series has been eliminated.

Instead, the two division winners will receive first-round byes in the playoffs, which will feature six teams (the top three finishers in each division).

Each team in the North will play 29 regular-season games; the South clubs play 30 games.

Here's a look at the Tri-Co's 13 clubs:

NORTH DIVISION

East Texas -- The Longhorns were 9-20 a year ago, but should score runs with player-manager George Horn (.316) leading the offense. Other major threats in the East Texas attack are Mike Hoffman (.305) and Chris Peischl (.302). The pitching staff, which didn't have anyone with more than three wins last season, remains suspect.

Haviland Grille -- The Mudcats are looking to improve on last season's 10-19 mark. Manager Dave Snyder can count on Fabian Acevedo (.333), Chip DeLorenzo (.429) and Sid McKenzie (.391) to put runs on the board. On the mound, Tom Golden (6-6 last season) will deliver quality innings.

ICC Pirates -- The Bucs brought up the bottom in the North last season with a 7-22 mark. Player-manager Jim Marouchoc (.419) brings a potent bat and Chris Hobbs (.391) is another force in the lineup. But if the team is going to improve, it will need to find someone who can get the other team out.

Limeport -- These Bulls don't feature Michael Jordan, but they do have enough quality players to make another run at the championship. Chris Arnold (7-2, 1.72) anchors the pitching staff, while Bill Fatzinger (.313), Joe Fatzinger (.396) and Tony Sneska (.390) should have the Bulls charging for home plate often.

South Whitehall -- The Serpents were an uncharacteristic 14-15 last year, but look to rebound under manager Chuck Mondschein. Mark Bolesky (.301), Eric Csencsits (.369) and Randy Remaly (.301) should spark the offense along with Lou Falco, who is bound to bounce back from a rare down-season that saw him hit just .261. Jim Emerick, one of the Tri-Co's top hurlers for some time, will also look to come back from a 1-4 campaign.

Stahley's -- The defending champs (21-9 last year) lost pitcher Tim Brader, but figure to have enough strong arms in Ganser (9-1), Ed Jones (5-3) and Mike Witkowski to stay among the league's elite. Offensively, Tony Galucy (.313) is coming off a torrid spring at Mansfield University, while Rick Wittman (.338), "Mookie" Smith (.361), Dale Weiss (.298) and Dave Lutte (9 HR, 23 RBI) have been tough outs for some time.

SOUTH DIVISION

Cetronia -- The Blue Jays were only 1-29 last season and can only go in one direction --up. Player-manager Joe Sedler led his team with a .379 batting average last year. Jeff Kressley (.379) and Mike Marcucci (.338) are the other big bats in the Cetronia attack. But the Blue Jays had no one with an ERA under 4.20 last year and will need to improve on the hill to climb in the standings.

Emmaus -- The Braves were a solid 17-13 last year and just might get better if Rob Hanawalt has another year like he had in '91 when he went .349 at the plate and 5-4 on the mound. Player-manager Dave Ernst (.340, 32 RBI) is another big bat in the Emmaus attack.

Gilbertsville -- The Rangers went 25-5 last season, but what's scary is that they are a better team this year. They're the clearcut favorites in the South with Drumbore and Hartman adding 18 wins to an already deep staff that was led by "Most Valuable Pitcher" Chris Ludy, a perfect 10-0 last summer. On offense, Gilbertsville features "Most Valuable Player" Jeff Evans, who hit .471 and drove in 40 runs last year and Greg Gilbert (.451, 38 runs scored).

Milford -- The Pioneers were 9-21 in their first season last summer and will need more big performances from Dave Kern (.330) and Andy Pengelli (.357) to improve on that win total. Manager Don Rosenberger will be looking for arms to carry his team further up the ladder. Last season's ace Greg Dickerson (4-1) is no longer with the club.

Quakertown -- The Orioles were hurt by the losses of Drumbore and Hartman to Gilbertsville. Besides winning nine games, Drumbore was also the team's top hitter in '91. New manager Rob Ornoski has his work cut out. He will hope for steady offensive production from Rod Rush (.344) and veterans Keith Leamer and Kevin Kerschner, both trying to bounce back from disappointing years.

Silver Creek -- The Raiders' rise to a 21-9 record was not exactly a mystery when one considers that Joe Smull's club had the three top hitters in the Tri-Co in Chris Rios (.514), Steve Smull (.500) and Matt Smull (.482). The Raiders also featured one of the league's top hurlers in Jason Young, who went 7-1 with a 2.44 ERA.

Upper Perk -- The Chiefs' 20-10 record last year was par for the course for this proud franchise. Player-manager Bob Graber has virtually the same cast back. Graber, himself, is a key cog coming off a season in which he hit .364. Rich Kressly (.349) is another big bat, while Rich Rossiter (5-4) and Graber (2-1) are two members of a solid pitching staff.



keith.groller@mcall.com

  

From The Morning Call -- May 18, 1992

Copyright 1992, The Morning Call