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 Friday, August 13, 1999




Gabelsville goes 1-up in Tri-Co

Owls' Rodney Miller supplies key hits in 7-2 decision over Limeport.

Of The Morning Call


When initially placed into the ninth slot in the Gabelsville batting order, Rodney Miller balked.

"Coming from college where I was used to hitting second, I wasn't too happy to be put ninth," Miller said. "But hey, it's better than sitting. I look at it like it's the second leadoff spot."

Miller may have been No. 9 in the order, but he was No. 1 in the pain-in-the-butt department for Limeport Thursday night.

Miller had two of his team's six hits and drove in three runs as the host Owls posted a 7-2 win in the replay of Game 1 of the Tri- County League Championship Series.

Game 2 in the best-of-five series will be played 7:30 tonight at Limeport with the third game scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Sunday back at Gabelsville.

Building off the momentum generated Wednesday when a four-run rally with two out in the bottom of the fifth inning forged a 9-9 tie, Gabelsville scored a pair of runs in three consecutive innings off long-time nemesis Glenn Kushma.

And Miller was in the middle of two of those innings from his spot at the bottom of the order.

He tripled to right-center to score Ryan Fox with his team's first run in the bottom of the third and then scored the go-ahead run on a groundout.

In the fourth, he took a Kushma pitch in the arm with the bases loaded to force in a run. He then drove in his team's final run of the night with a sixth-inning single.

"A pitcher can have a tendency to think I'm going to be an easy out hitting ninth," said Miller, a 1996 Boyertown High School graduate who is entering his last full year at Bloomsburg University.

"He's not that bad of a hitter," said Gabelsville player-manager Mike "Doc" Moyer. "He's got some wheels and can do some things on the bases. Tonight he was able to come through in big situations. If you make a mistake, he'll hit it."

Until now, Kushma had made few mistakes against Gabelsville.

"He beat us at least three times and we have never beaten him, so I was glad to get off the schneid against `Kush'," Moyer said. "I don't know what it was with us against him. He's not a pitcher by trade and yet, we couldn't beat him until now."

Gabelsville (31-5) didn't exactly tear the cover off against Kushma, but three of the five hits the Owls had off him were for extra bases. The last big blow was Jeff Evans' two-run home run in the fifth.

Limeport, meanwhile, struggled with another Bloomsburg product, pitcher Shawn Betz.

Kushma drove in both runs with a sacrifice fly in the third and a double off the fence in left in the fifth. Kevin Kershner also solved Betz with three hits.

But the Bulls, losing for the first time on the road in the postseason after four straight wins, couldn't mount a charge.

"We lacked the timely hit," said player-manager Billy Fatzinger. "This was the first time our bats have been shackled for awhile. (Betz) made the pitch he needed to make when we had baserunners."

Moyer said Betz changes speeds and hits spots well. And he found it fitting that both Miller and Betz were keys to the Game 1 win.

"Those two guys graduated from Boyertown together and are now up playing at Bloomsburg together," Moyer said. "They're two of the younger guys we have on this team and they're good kids. I guess if you look at us and all the different ages, it's really an interesting mix of players."

It's a mix that Moyer hopes will produce two more wins and the franchise's first title since 1995.

But Limeport, bidding for its third crown in four years, isn't ready to concede.

"We knew we were weren't going to sweep them," Fatzinger said. "They're too good not to win a game or two. They've never been swept in a series and neither have we. I expect us to come back tough in Game 2 and it's still going to be a long series."


From The Morning Call -- August 13, 1999

Copyright 1999, The Morning Call