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 Wednesday, August 5, 1998




S. Whitehall advances in Tri-Co playoffs

It beats Sports Page on a Randy Baer 4-hitter to advance to semifinal play against Limeport.

Of The Morning Call


Randy Baer said Tuesday night was the first time he ever stepped onto legendary Pfeifle Field in center-city Bethlehem; a baseball park that has been unkind to many pitchers over the years.

This Baer wasn't scared off, however.

The veteran right-hander tossed a four-hitter, and South Whitehall chipped away for some timely hits in posting a 4-1 win over Sports Page in the third and deciding game of their opening-round series in the Tri-County League.

South Whitehall (21-14) advances to meet two-time defending champ Limeport in a best-of-five semifinal series, beginning 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Fegely Stadium. The Bulls swept South Whitehall in two games in the semis a year ago when the semis were best-of-three.

"I was little shaky early," Baer said. "I was trying to adjust to pitching in this park and maybe trying to do a little too much. But I settled down after that and kept the ball down. The defense behind me turned two double plays, and that was a big help."

Baer, a 1986 Parkland High graduate who has been with the Coplay/South Whitehall franchise for 11 years, thrives in big games.

"Experience helps," he said. "I had two days to think about this game. You just try to treat these games like any other ballgame. You try to come out and throw strikes and let the defense make plays."

Baer yielded Sports Page's lone run in the second when an error, a hit and three walks added up to trouble. But a double play allowed him to escape without too much damage.

In the fourth, the Page had runners on second and third with two out, but Baer escaped again with a called third strike off a curve to No. 9 hitter Scott Grimshaw.

"That turned it around and gave me confidence that I could throw my curve for strikes," said the right-hander.

Meanwhile, South Whitehall chipped away for its runs.

Jim Emerick's bloop single into right field scored Rob Gontkosky with the first run in the second inning, and another run crossed in the same frame when Chuck Mondschein hit into a double play.

Johnny Hymans' triple plated Eric Csencsits with a run in the fourth to make it 3-0, and the final tally came in the fifth when Chad Erie doubled and scored on Rob Gontkosky's single. Gontkosky (2- for-2 with two walks) was the lone Serpent to have more than one hit.

It was a disappointing ending to what began as a superb year for the second-year Red Sox.

"We were 14-2 in the first half of the season and 8-8 in the second half," said acting manager Ed Jones, who was the starting and losing pitcher for Sports Page. "The pitching cooled down and so did our bats. And what hurt us was that we didn't have a full lineup every night.

"Even tonight, we didn't have four guys who played in the first two games of the series. They were playing for teams in other leagues, and one of the guys had to take a class. But hey, you go with the guys you got, and Baer pitched a great game. You can't take a thing away from him."

While Sports Page had its season end at 23-12, South Whitehall hopes its year continues for another two weeks.

The veteran club knows that August is the time to be playing your best baseball.

"We have guys who have been around, and we know when to turn it up a notch," Baer said. "It should be a good series with Limeport."

"Limeport's a great team; we respect them a lot," said South Whitehall manager Kevin Hutter. "In that series last year, we were up 6-0 in the second game and lost 7-6. That was disheartening. We'd like to turn it around."


From The Morning Call -- August 5, 1998

Copyright 1998, The Morning Call