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 Wednesday, May 10, 1995

SPORTS

 C-3 


 

Expanded Tri-County League begins play tonight




Of The Morning Call



Publicity director Todd Greb isn't sure how far the Tri-County Baseball League goes back. Best estimates are that it began in 1942.

But Greb is sure that the Tri-Co has never had 15 teams as it will have in the 1995 season which begins with a game at Quakertown tonight.

"This is our largest field ever, guaranteed," Greb said.

The addition of two teams -- the Allentown Senators and the Yankees, who will both play in Scherersville -- forced a creation of a third division.

This year, there will be three, five-team divisions with the division winners and four wild-card clubs rewarded with playoff spots. Once the playoffs begin, the division winner with the best record gets a first-round bye, while the No. 2 seed plays No. 7, No. 3 plays No. 6 and so on.

Also, a 32-game regular season for all teams has been adopted with teams playing its four division rivals three times each and each of the other 10 clubs twice.

Two more changes are that Gilbertsville, a seven-time league champ over the past 11 years, is now playing in Gabelsville, and the Emmaus Braves have moved to Allentown College in Center Valley.

Here's a team-by-team look at what to expect this summer:

CENTRAL DIVISION

Allentown Senators -- Former Cetronia player-manager Joe Sedler formed this new team. Sedler was the 1994 home run champ with nine. He also drove in 31 runs. He will be joined by his brother Pat (.342, three homers and 21 RBIs). Other key players include catcher Jack Goddess and shortstop Julio Lebron (.333, 15 RBIs). Anchoring the pitching staff is Kutztown University product Brett Fristick (4-3, 41 strikeouts).

Center Valley Braves -- Player-manager Dave Ernst saw his club decline to 11-19 last year after being a playoff entry in '92 and '93. Ernst has revamped the roster with Northampton High products Brian Spadt and Jason Keppel as well as Parkland grad Tom Sparks coming aboard. Catcher Kyle Fisher (.402, 37 hits) will spark the Braves' offense as will Ernst (.393, 22 RBIs).

ICC Pirates -- A long-time Tri-Co doormat, ICC shocked the circuit last year by going 18-11 in the regular season. The Pirates would like to advance past the first round of the playoffs this year and manager Jim Marouchoc hopes to build on the strong nucleus in place. Co-MVP Rich Guman (.453, 5 HRs, 43 hits) paces the offense, while hurlers Eric Barron (6-2, 2.75 ERA) and Mike Brosious (5-2, 3.07 ERA) are the top arms.

Limeport Bulls -- Bill Fatzinger has replaced his father, long-time Tri-Co player-manager Ishky Fatzinger, as the Bull boss. Limeport went 16-13 last year, but failed to reach the playoffs. Veteran Joe Fatzinger (.447, 38 hits) and newcomers -- shortstop Kevin Kershner and third baseman Steve Pearlstein-- should lead the offense. Bruce Alpaugh (5-1, 0.69 ERA) will head the pitching staff with Jack Undercuffler and Dave Jones playing key roles.

Silver Creek -- The Raiders are becoming the Buffalo Bills of the Tri-Co, having come up short in the league finals the last two years. Two-time pitcher of the year, Jason Young, was 11-0 last year, and heads a pitching staff that includes Dylan Dando and Greg Crouthamel.

The Silver and Black returns a potent offense that features batting champ Mike Drumbore (.500) and other standout returnees like Northampton grad Chris Gordon (.443), Easton's Dave Hartranft (.369), Darren "Boo" Sutton (.361) and Joe Cuvo (.327).

SOUTH DIVISION

East Texas Longhorns -- The defending Tri-Co champs look to repeat with a lineup that copies their '94 title recipe. Manager of the year, George Horn, counts on shortstop Mike Merkel (.302, 7 HRs), Scott Godshalk (.359) and second baseman Matt Moore to spark the offense. Josh Gunkel (9-3, 1.66 ERA) and Dan Hayes (6-3, 1.99 ERA) head the pitching staff.

Gilbertsville Rangers -- A change in venue to Gabelsville, on the other side of Boyertown, will not change the team's name or formula for success. The always stingy pitching of Bob Drumbore (6-2) and Tom Hartman (5-2) will taunt foes as will the offensive punch of Drumbore (.438, 39 hits) and slugger Jeff Evans (.438, 4 HRs, 33 RBIs).

Milford Pioneers -- After suffering through a winless 1994 season, not to mention bad campaigns in '93 and '92, the Pioneers can only improve this summer. Long-time manager Don Rosenberger was devastated by the migration of most of his players. He has the near impossible task of rebuilding a team that had a worse '94 than the Democrats in Congress. Shortstop Chris Dauerbach, catcher Eric Medei and first baseman/pitcher Jeremy Gunkel will try to keep this sinking ship afloat.

Quakertown Orioles -- Manager Bob Ornosky figures his club could be competitive this summer. Although the loss of all-star shortstop Kevin Kershner to Limeport hurts, Quakertown (11-19 last season) has plenty of experience on the roster in vets Jon Ference, Mark McGraw and Ken Hollingsworth.

Upper Perk Chiefs -- Upper Perk finds itself in an awkward spot this season, having to battle defending champ East Texas and perennial power Gilbertsville in the South. Second-year skipper Mike Swanson looks to the leadership of veterans Bob Graber (.398, 6 HRs, 26 RBIs) and Joe Ricapito (.421, 6 HRs, 22 RBIs). Graber also led the team on the mound in wins (7) and strikeouts (78).

NORTH DIVISION

Castle Hill Ballroom -- The Ballroom was far from the top of the hill last year with a mark of 11-19. The team, which plays its home games at Scherersville, will try to turn around a pitching staff that had just one hurler with a winning mark in '94 -- Phil Torcivia 5-4, 3.82 ERA. Rich Krieg (.313) and Brent Miller (.303) spark the "Ballroom Brawl" attack.

Cetronia White Sox -- Shawn Andrews will serve as the player-coach for Cetronia, which plays its games at Cedarbrook Park and finished 11-19 last year. Andrews would like to duplicate the .400 he hit last year. Rob Seyfried (.348), Ed Davidheiser (.310) and Tom Laury (3.61 ERA) will need to deliver. Cetronia has never made the playoffs, but Andrews thinks the drought could end.

South Whitehall Serpents -- Under first-year manager Kevin Hutter, South Whitehall is looking to turn around a 9-20 season in '94. He's confident his Serpents can return to playoff form. Key returnees include Andy Kies (.380) and Jeff Erie (.330, 7 HRs). Other offensive mainstays include Lou Falco and Eric Csencsits. Randy Baer heads an experienced pitching staff.

Stahley's Bar -- Ray Ganser returns as player-manager for one more go at the glory he and Stahley's attained in 1991 when they were league champs. The Bar boys always are respectable as evidenced by a 17-12 mark last year. Veterans Mookie Smith (4 HRs) and Jeff Snyder (.363, 4 HRs) should ignite the offense as will iron-man shortstop Dale Weiss (.316).

Yankees -- One of the two new clubs in 1995, the Yankees look to manager Lee Higgins for direction. It's a young club which will bring new stars to the Tri-Co. Among the new faces to watch for are Randy Metzger, Jason Zimmerman, Bob Simock, Dan Mantz, Geoff Leibensperger, Casey Higgins and Pete Remaly.



keith.groller@mcall.com

  

From The Morning Call -- May 10, 1995

Copyright 1995, The Morning Call