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 Monday, August 17, 1998

SPORTS

 C-3 


 

Cetronia evens series against S. Whitehall

Cetronia gets four runs in sixth inning to break a 5-5 tie amid a sign of sportsmanship.



Of The Morning Call


 

In a local amateur baseball postseason in which the most-talked- about event was a bat-throwing incident, Jud Frank's gesture served as a reminder that sportsmanship still exists.

Frank showed he was still a winner despite being the losing pitcher for South Whitehall on Sunday night in a 9-6 loss to Cetronia that evened the best-of-5 Tri-County League Championship Series at a game apiece.

The "Series at Cedarbrook" -- narrowed to a best-of-3 -- resumes with Game 3 at 5:45 tonight and continues with Game 4 on Wednesday.

Frank, a former star athlete at Liberty High and Moravian College, gave up four runs in the bottom of the sixth to break a 5-5 tie. The third of those four runs crossed when Frank plunked Cetronia's Mike Merkle in the shoulder blade with a pitch with the bases loaded.

As Merkle walked toward first, Frank put his head down and went straight to Merkle.

Some in the crowd of over 100 people may have thought words would be exchanged, fists would fly and benches would empty.

Instead, Frank extended his hand only to pat his buddy on the back and say he was sorry.

"He said he didn't mean to do that, and I knew he didn't mean it," Merkle said. "He and I are friends. We get along real well. I knew he was getting tired. I was just glad we took advantage."

Frank left the game immediately after hitting Merkle. South Whitehall skipper Kevin Hutter admitted that he may have stayed with Frank a little too long on a muggy night.

"Jud threw a lot of pitches and was getting tired," Hutter said. "But they really didn't hit the ball that hard. A couple of bloops, a couple of high-hoppers really hurt us."

Cetronia had taken leads of 2-0 and 5-2, only to have the Serpents surge back to tie it each time.

But in the sixth, Frank gave up singles to right by Jon DiBonaventura and Chris Gordon. Andy Hammer walked to load the bases with one out. Pete Spisszak walked to force in the go-ahead run.

Jeremy Warmkessel then hit a pop-up to center that fell just in front of hard-charging outfielder Ray Schwartz for an RBI single to make it 7-5.

"That one really hurt," Hutter said.

Then Merkle was hit by a pitch, and Matt Moore hit a sacrifice fly to left to close out the scoring.

South Whitehall tried to rally in the top of the seventh with hits by Chuck Mondschein and Jim Emerick starting the inning.

DiBonaventura, who was solid in 2-1/3 innings of relief, got out of it with just one run being scored, and that run may not have crossed were it not for an errant relay throw on a double-play attempt.

"I hadn't pitched in a while and I was ready," said DiBonaventura, a 1997 Parkland High grad who is about to enter his sophomore year at Bucknell. "Mark Steckel (Cetronia's starter) and I usually wind up pitching in the same game. It's our routine. We have a deep pitching staff that will keep us in games."

South Whitehall (25-16) was limited to nine hits -- two each by Mondschein, Jeff Erie and Eric Csencsits.

Cetronia (25-17) had 12 hits and an RBI from every man in its lineup except Hammer in the No. 9 hole, and he walked and scored.

"We just want to make contact and make them make the plays," Merkle said. "This is a balanced team, one to nine. If one guy doesn't do it, somebody else will."

And that pertains to the bullpen as well.

"DiBonaventura was a big plus for us today," said Cetronia player- Manager George Horn. "In the beginning of the year, he was only playing third base for us. But he told me he wanted to pitch. So, we let him. He and Jeremy (Warmkessel) have done a real good job in relief for us in the playoffs."

Horn said he would likely start Steve Graff in Game 3. Hutter said his pitcher wouldn't be decided until just before game time.

"It has been a good series so far," Horn said. "Nothing has been a blowout. The games have been competitive, and it shows that we're pretty equal teams. We'll just have to see what happens next."



keith.groller@mcall.com

  

From The Morning Call -- August 17, 1998

Copyright 1998, The Morning Call