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 Sunday, August 11, 2002




Pirates get a Ruff win to open Tri-County finals

K-Kid brothers, Erik and Kyle, hit home runs to fuel a big inning.

Of The Morning Call


The Tri-County League Championship Series may have a home-field disadvantage.

In three regular season meetings, neither the Lehigh Township Brewers nor the ICC Pirates could win on their home diamond.

The trend continued Saturday in Berlinsville when ICC exploded for five runs in the second inning -- all scoring on home runs by Erik and Kyle Ruff -- and coasted to an 11-2 win over the host Brewers in Game 1 the best-of-five set.

The Pirates (29-15) will try to buck the trend and go up 2-0 at 5 p.m. today at Bethlehem Township Park.

Certainly, Lehigh Township (30-13) had a Ruff time keeping the Brewers inside their park in the third inning.

After triples by Chad Stecker and Dave Stauffer highlighted a three-run first for ICC, Lehigh Township bounced back in its half on RBI doubles by Bill Fatzinger and Jeremy Bartha to get within 3-2.

But in the top of the third, Erik Ruff (2-for-2, 2 walks, 3 RBIs, 4 runs) followed a single by Josh Mohlmann and an error with a three- run blast.

"They were pitching me away, but this one got too close," Ruff said of his shot over the right-field fence.

Kyle Ruff watched his kid brother and fellow Northampton High grad go deep and said, "I can do that."

Three batters later, he did.

His two-run shot hugged the right-field line as it cleared the fence. It scored Chad Waelchli, who had reached on Lehigh Township's second error of the inning.

"Everybody said Kyle called his own shot after watching mine," Erik Ruff said. "I didn't hear him say it, but I guess he did."

ICC pitcher Ryan Lindley took away all of the guesswork about the outcome with six shutout innings after allowing two runs in the first.

"This was my third time pitching here and I usually pitch well, but only after the first inning," said Lindley, a Palisades High and DeSales University grad. "Maybe I don't get loose enough, but the defense played great and made all of the plays."

Only Steve Unger, who singled twice, had hits off Lindley after the first inning.

"They're a good fastball hitting team, so I threw a lot of overhand and sidearm curveballs," Lindley said. "Most of my strikeouts were on sidearm curveballs. I think I confused them a little bit."

Lehigh Township manager Shawn Andrews was not confused about what his team needs to do to bounce back.

"We've just got to play better baseball; that's all there is to it," he said. "If you don't play defense and support your pitcher, you're in trouble. When you let [pitchers] out there for 15 or 16 pitches an inning, guys get tired and are bound to make mistakes."

That's what happened to Brewer starter Geoff Kelowicz, who rushed back from a wedding rehearsal to make the game. Jedi Gonzalez gave up three runs in 42/3 relief innings, including a controversial two- run home run by Waelchli in the seventh.

ICC Pirates                  305 010 2 -- 11 11 0

Lehigh Twp. Brewers  200 000 0 --   2   5  3

Lindley and K.Ruff; Kelowicz, Gonzalez (3) and Schmitt. L: Kelowicz. HR: ICC, E. Ruff (3rd, 2 on); K. Ruff (3rd, 1 on); Waelchli (7th, 1 on).



From The Morning Call -- August 11, 2002

Copyright 2002, The Morning Call