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 Saturday, July 23, 1994




Silver Creek prevails in Tri-Co contenders' battle 3-2

Of The Morning Call

It was "Allentown College Night" in Springtown last night as two Centaur hurlers -- Eric Baran and Eric Steckel -- turned the ICC-Silver Creek Tri-County game into a crisp pitcher's duel.

Fittingly, another Allentown College product decided the "Eric Epic" as Chris Gordon homered and helped produce two runs to give Steckel and the Creek a 3-2 win in the battle of Tri-Co contenders.

Steckel, an Easton High grad who will be a senior at Allentown College in the fall, wound up with a five-hitter as Silver Creek improved to 25-4 with one game left in the Tri-Co regular season.

ICC, the turnaround team in the league this year, dipped to 17-10, but is still assured of the first playoff berth in team history.

Baran, a Freedom High grad who will also be a senior at Allentown College, has been one of the main players responsible for the Pirates' rise from powder puff to playoff power.

Last night, the diminutive righthander yielded just four hits over five hits, but two of them were to his friend Gordon.

Gordon, a catcher who knows both Baran and Steckel about as well as anyone, cracked a bases-empty home run to left in the second inning. Then with the game tied at one in the bottom of the fifth, Gordon got things started with a single to right. He was sacrificed to second and left for pinch-runner Dylan Dando.

Dando scored on Jason Erschen's bloop, two-out hit to right to make it 2-1. The Raiders then tacked on what proved to be the game-winning run against Creek reliever Marty Rowan in the sixth when Dave Hartranft, Mike Drumbore and Chris Rios all singled.

Gordon wasn't surprised the game belonged to the pitchers.

"The thing with Eric Baran is that you've got to be patient with him," said Gordon, a Northampton grad who will be yet another senior at Allentown College in the fall. "He's got three different curveballs that are all great. I got lucky with a low curveball for the home run. I just got a good piece of it.

"The three of us -- Steckel, Baran and I -- all know each other well. We played against one another in the East Penn Conference and we've been together at Allentown College for a couple of years. Both of those guys have great stuff."

Steckel's stuff was just slightly better than Baran's as he walked just one, struck out eight and didn't give up more than one hit in any inning. ICC got to him for a run on Dave Medei's double in the third and closed the gap with a tally in the seventh when Ron Reybitz hit a sacrifice fly.

But the Pirates couldn't stick Steckel.

"Everything was working except the split-finger," Steckel said. "So, I relied on sliders mostly and my fastball was better than usual. I've been battling tendinitis because I pitched so much for Allentown (College). I pitched 76 innings, mostly on three days' rest. But my record in this league is 7-0 and I'm pleased.

"I'm used to getting a little more offensive support, but Baran pitched well. Fortunately, our defense played well and we got enough big hits to win it."

Steckel says the Raiders are looking forward to the playoffs again and a possible rematch with Gilbertsville in the finals. Silver Creek squandered a 2-0 series lead last year and Gilbertsville won the crown in five games.

"It may come down to us and Gilbertsville again," Steckel said. "We beat them twice during the regular season, so we feel we can play with anybody."

ICC feels the same way, although the Pirates will be newcomers to the postseason dance.

"We've had the core of the team together for the last few years and we've gradually improved," said ICC manager Jim Marouchoc. "We've just added pieces to the puzzle each year. It's a good group of guys. We're always there. We never quit. We'll be going into the playoffs with a lot of confidence and won't back down against anybody."


From The Morning Call -- July 23, 1994

Copyright 1994, The Morning Call