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 Monday, August 8, 1994

SPORTS

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East Texas puts an end to Gilbertsville's Tri-County reign




Of The Morning Call



Perhaps it was fitting that on one of the brightest and sun-filled days of the summer, a reign came to an end.

Gilbertsville's two-year reign as Tri-County League champions was halted as a wild pitch allowed pinch-runner Raul Feliciano to scamper home in the bottom of the seventh inning last night to give East Texas a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the Rangers in the third and deciding game of their semifinal round playoff series.

The hard-fought win, earned before a big East Texas crowd, sends the Longhorns into the Tri-Co finals for the first time in their history. East Texas (23-9) will face Silver Creek in Game 1 of the best-of-five title series tomorrow night in Springtown.

"It feels great to be finally going to the championship series," said Longhorn player-manager George Horn, who has been in the league since 1977. "This is the best team I've had in the 17 years I've been in this league. Up and down the lineup, there's not a bad player. And the pitching has been strong."

The pitching on both sides was superb last night. Both East Texas hurler Troy Phillips and Gilbertsville right-hander Derek Witman unfurled four-hitters.

But with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Witman served up a triple to deep center by the Longhorns' Scott Godshalk -- a shot that Ranger center fielder Jeff Chillot just missed nabbing with a diving attempt.

"The count was 3-1 and (Witman) was throwing me curveballs all day," said Godshalk. "I was trying to stay disciplined. He grooved a fastball and, luckily, I hit it well. I'm not the fastest runner, so I was trying to run as fast as I could. I wasn't watching the ball."

Chillot watched the series-winning run from the dugout since Horn removed him for speedy pinch-runner Feliciano. Gilbertsville lefthander Bob Drumbore came on and kept Feliciano at third with a called third strike to Ted Young. But Drumbore's first delivery to Tim Brader bounced off the plate and soared high up against the backstop.

Gilbertsville catcher Mike Moyer nearly had a play on the sliding Feliciano since the ball bounced back to the plate. But Moyer couldn't corral the bouncing ball and tag Feliciano fast enough.

"I didn't want to hang a curveball on the first pitch, so I left it a little short and it hit the plate," said Drumbore. "It was just one of those things. We almost had a shot at the runner.

"This was a good game. Both teams played well. You try to catch a break here or there and take advantage of it. They did. No one likes losing. We still have baseball to play since we go into the York Invitational Tournament over Labor Day weekend. Still, this season ended three wins sooner than we wanted it to."

Gilbertsville, which finished 25-8 after being Tri-Co champs seven times in the last 10 years, scored first in the fifth with the aid of one of Phillips' few mistakes all night.

Jake Brensinger laid down a bunt single and reached second when Phillips came off the mound to field the ball and threw it out of play down the right-field line. Brensinger moved up to third on Marty Bauer's single and scored on Brian Miller's fielder's choice.

East Texas got the equalizer in the sixth courtesy of its speedy leadoff man Matt Moore. Moore, who had half of his team's four hits, slashed a single off the Gilbertsville shortstop's glove. He stole second, hustled to third on a groundout and raced home on Mike Merkel's sacrifice fly to shallow center.

It was then up to Phillips to keep the Rangers at bay until Godshalk and fate provided the game-winner in the seventh. Phillips struck out seven and retired the final seven hitters he faced.

"That was the best I pitched all year," said the 1991 Kutztown High grad, who also pitches in the Optimist League in the Reading area. "I was just hitting the corners with my fastball.

"I like the pressure of a big game. I like it when the game is on the line. I was still strong. I wanted to stay in there and win because this is a great group of guys." And that "great group of guys" is headed to the finals.

Silver Creek 5, Stahley's Bar 0 -- The Raiders completed a two-game sweep in the best-of-three semifinal round series yesterday in Cetronia after tying Stahley's Bar the previous night over nine innings.

Silver Creek eliminated Stahley's Bar and moves on to play East Texas in a best-of-5 championship series.

Dylan Dando, the team's third starter, pitched a two-hitter while fanning three and walking three. He gave up single hits in the fourth and sixth innings only.

Big hitters for the winners were Mike Drumbore, who went 3-for-4 with a run scored; Dave Hartranft, who had three hits and scored twice, and Darren Sutton, who had two hits.



keith.groller@mcall.com

  

From The Morning Call -- August 8, 1994

Copyright 1994, The Morning Call