Owls' nest good to Cetronia
again in TCL playoffs
face South Whitehall in
‘Series at Cedarbrook’
Of The Morning Call
Tri-County League baseball finals can now officially be called "The Series
after Cetronia's come-from-behind 6-4 win over Gabelsville Thursday night
put the Longhorns into the championship series against their fellow
Cedarbrook Complex tenant, South Whitehall, the 'Horns may want to use
another home field.
the Gabelsville A.A. field on Route 73 west of Boyertown.
Cetronia won for the third time in eight days in the Owls' nest, using a
three-run rally in the top of the seventh inning to win the fifth and
deciding game of the semifinal series and earn a berth in the title series
which begins 5 p.m. Saturday at Cedarbrook.
"This field here has been very good to us," said Longhorns' player-manager
"We've played pretty well here over the years. We haven't been blown out too
many times. We used to have more trouble when Gabelsville was Gilbertsville
and played over at Boyertown Junior High East."
Cetronia's season seemed to be going nowhere but south a little more than a
month ago when it was 8-13 and several games out of a playoff berth with
just 11 games left in the regular season.
the Longhorns won nine of their last 11, beat Stahley's in a one-game
playoff and then swept Lehigh Township in the quarterfinals just to get to
Gabelsville -- the Tri-Co's top seed with a 28-4 regular-season mark.
turned it around?
knew we were going to come around," said slugger Mike Merkle. "We come
around at the end of every season. We had a rough start of the season, but
we knew we could do it. I guess the key was just a little cockiness. It was
just knowing that you can be there and you should be there."
was that confidence that didn't allow Cetronia to get down after an early
2-0 lead slipped to a 4-3 deficit entering the seventh.
'Horns left the bases loaded without scoring in the sixth, but at least they
turned the lineup over and had the top of the batting order up in the
Spisszak singled to center to start the seventh. Then came the pivotal play
of the inning, game and series.
Jeremy Warmkessel laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt. Pitcher Shawn Betz
fielded the ball and threw to second where it would have been in time for
the force-out. But normally reliable shortstop Greg Gilbert dropped the
"That error killed us," said Gabelsville manager Mike "Doc" Moyer. "You
don't see that every day. The throw kind of handcuffed him, but Greg
normally makes that play. If we get that out, I think the entire outcome is
Merkle followed with a double off the fence in left to score Spisszak with
the tying run. Moyer then intentionally walked Matt Moore to load the bases
and the ploy worked to an extent as Hassan DeJesus hit into a double play
while Warmkessel scored the go-ahead run.
Moyer then intentionally walked Chris Gordon. But the free pass backfired
this time as Jon DiBonaventura followed with an RBI single to give Cetronia
a two-run lead.
"That second run made a big difference," Moyer said. "That one hurt. Down
one, maybe I could have bunted in the bottom of the seventh. Down two, we
it was, the Owls stirred for one last threat against Warmkessel, who
relieved in the second inning and did a splendid job of keeping his team in
the bottom of the seventh, Dave Miller and Greg Miller singled. But with two
on and two out, pinch-hitter Tim Bausher grounded to third for a force-out.
"Worm (Warmkessel) deserves a lot of credit," Horn said. "In the beginning
of the year he was 0-4 and losing games for us. But he turned it around and
has come in to shut the door for us in the playoffs."
of players could wear the hero label. The first eight hitters in the
Longhorn order had at least one hit. Spisszak had a home run, while Merkle
had two doubles, scored two runs and drove in two.
have a lot of camaraderie," said Merkle, the 1997 Tri-Co MVP. "We have a lot
of fun, win or lose, and just pick each other up."
"We won the league title four years ago, but person-for-person, this is a
better team than our 1994 team," Horn said. "Now, hopefully we can match
that team and win it all. South Whitehall's a good team. We'll have to see
From The Morning Call --
August 14, 1998
The Morning Call