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 Sunday, August 12, 2001




Toth helps lead Tri-City past Gabelsville in playoff opener

He redeems a flub on the base paths with a strong slide in 10th inning.

Special to The Morning Call


Dave Toth committed a rookie mistake. But his experience sparked Tri-City to a 2-1 win over host Gablesville in the Tri-County League's championship round Saturday.

Toth tossed three shutout innings in relief at Lee Mecherly Field, then his hard slide in the 10th inning on a fielder's choice allowed the decisive run to score to give the Fleetwings (33-6) a 1-0 series lead.

Their best-of-five series with the Owls (31-5) will continue today at 4:30 p.m. Scherersville Field No. 1.

For a while, though, Tri-City manager Bob Fatzinger figured the teams would play to a tie for the second straight game. They played to a 3-3, eight-inning tie Thursday.

"These games against Gabelsville are always interesting," Toth said. "One mistake usually determines the outcome."

The Fleetwings put runners on second and third in the eighth with no outs. But Toth got picked off second to quell the rally.

"I wanted to crawl underneath the base," he said. "It was a rookie mistake. I should have seen it coming."

Toth didn't dwell on the mistake. After 12 years of experience in adult leagues, he has learned to move on.

"I know how to let the bad things go," he said.

Toth didn't have time to pout. He pitched out of trouble in the eighth after Matt Hlay allowed a leadoff double.

Toth, who started the game at designated hitter, redeemed himself on the bases in the 10th. His slide on a fielder's choice ground ball permitted Justin Godusky to score the winning run.

In his first pitching appearance of the season, Toth allowed just three hits to record the win. He played in just 10 games for the Fleetwings this season, all as Tri-City's DH.

"Dave did a great job," Fatzinger said. "We really needed him."

Tri-City was forced to juggle its pitching plans. Hlay learned he would be starting just 30 minutes before the game started.

Suffering from tightness in his shoulder, Hlay didn't know how long he could go. But the 6-4 right-hander worked into the eighth. Using a sidearm delivery, he didn't allow an earned run.

Hlay took a no-hitter into the sixth, striking out two and walking three. Branden Witkowski's home run on the game's first pitch gave the Fleetwings a 1-0 lead.

"I'd like to think I'm a pretty smart pitcher," Hlay said. "I couldn't just let it go, but I got a lot of easy outs. It seems like the harder you throw against Gabelsville, the better they hit."

The Owls scored their only run in the seventh on a throwing error by Tri- City catcher Jeremy Arner.

Godusky finished with two hits and walked twice to spark the Tri- City offense.

Tri-City        100 000 000 1 - 2 6 1


Gabelsville   000 000 100 0 - 1 7 1

WP: Dave Toth. LP: Justin Konnick. HR -- TC: Brendan Witkowski (1st, none on).

Bradley Schlegel is a freelance writer.


From The Morning Call -- August 12, 2001

Copyright 2001, The Morning Call