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 Saturday, August 17, 1996




Woody's staves off elimination in Tri-Co

Mariners are 5-0 in must-win situations after defeating Limeport.

Of The Morning Call

One almost gets the feeling that trailing 2-0 in the best-of-5 Tri-County League Championship Series, Woody's Sports Bar had Limeport's Bulls exactly where it wanted them.

The Mariners continued to thrive with their backs firmly planted against the wall last night, staving off elimination with a 10-3 victory at Limeport Stadium.

Woody's will try to tie up the series at 5 p.m. today at Scherersville. If a fifth and deciding game is needed, it would be played 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Limeport.

"It seems to be that we play our best when we're up against it," said player-manager Dave Lutte after his team won for the fifth time while facing elimination during the Tri-County postseason. "We're just happy to survive and we'll come out and fight tooth-and-nail in the next game. We'd like to be back here Sunday night."

Woody's (28-13) broke a 2-2 tie with five runs in the fourth last night. They sent 10 men to the plate and collected six hits. The big blows were a two-run single by Greg Wotring and a two-run double by Jay Raines. Keith Brader, who singled in a pair in the third inning, added an RBI hit in Woody's "fabulous fourth."

"We got the bats going tonight," Lutte said. "We had 10 hits Wednesday (in Game 2) against (Limeport ace) Dennis Kinney. We just didn't push across enough runs. We lacked the key hit. But tonight, we got some real big hits.

"We're tough. We bounced back in the last two series after getting down. This time it's a little tougher after getting down 2-0, but if we go down, we'll go down swinging."

Josh Gunkle, Woody's "Mr. August" on the mound, delivered 4-2/3 innings of quality relief after Limeport had three hits and scored twice in the third inning. After Josh Williams' RBI triple tied it at 2, Gunkle kept him at third by getting Andy Robison and Billy Fatzinger to end the inning.

The lanky righthander gave up just two hits the rest of the way. The only run he allowed came in the sixth when a walk, an error and a couple of wild pitches helped the Bulls.

"In some way, or some form, you will see Josh Gunkle on the mound again (tonight)," Lutte said. "He's a proven pressure pitcher. Actually, we've got a couple of fresh arms we can use. Pitching-wise, we're not in bad shape. Of course, they have rubber-armed Dennis Kinney over there. So, it's going to be interesting to see how it unfolds."

One guy who is happy to be a part of it all again is Woody's right fielder Steve Wippel. After an eight-year absence due to working middle shift, Wippel is thrilled to be involved in his first Tri-Co Championship Series.

"If feels good to be back and in the playoffs for the first time," said Wippel, a 1983 Allen High grad who led Woody's 13-hit attack with three hits and three runs.

"I'm having a lot of fun with these guys. I used to play with the Delaware Valley and old Angels' teams in this league before I stopped in 1987. Those teams didn't make the playoffs. So, I'm very glad to be here and glad I decided to come back."

Meanwhile, Limeport player-manager Billy Fatzinger is hoping the comebacks stop here.

"We didn't expect to sweep them; there's a lot of talent over there," said Fatzinger, whose club fell to 28-10. "It was just a bad day for us and we all had a bad one. Hopefully, we got it out of our system. To win, you gotta hit and we didn't hit."

Limeport, which won Game 2 Wednesday despite having just five hits, managed just six last night. Two of them were by Kevin Kershner.

"We've had trouble scoring runs and it seems like every time we do score, we turn around and give runs right back," Fatzinger said. "That's what happened tonight. We got two to tie and then gave up five.

"We wanted to end it tonight and everybody was saying `Let's do it.' But nobody did anything to make it happen. We've got another chance (tonight) and hopefully we can finish it off."


From The Morning Call -- August 17, 1996

Copyright 1996, The Morning Call