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 Wednesday, August 14, 2002

SPORTS

 C-4 


 

Lehigh Township stays alive with come-from-behind victory

The Brewers knock off ICC Pirates to cut the series deficit to 2-1.



Of The Morning Call


 

Having their backs pressed firmly up against the wall often brings out the best in true competitors.

With a come-from-behind, six-inning 13-4 trouncing of the ICC Pirates on Tuesday night at Bryfogle Memorial Park, the Lehigh Township Brewers showed that they are, indeed, true competitors.

Down two games to none in the best-of-five Tri-County League championship series, Lehigh Township (31-14) fell into an even deeper hole when, fueled by Chad Stecker's solo home run and Chad Waelchli's two-run shot, ICC (30-16) jumped out to a 4-1 lead. For the Brewers, the threat of elimination loomed large.

But the Brewers' "Limeport Bulls Connection" of Steve Unger and Billy Fatzinger came through with two crucial offensive wallops and winning pitcher Jeff Erschen made one huge adjustment and blanked the Pirates the rest of the way, striking out 10 in the process.

Lehigh Township answered ICC's four-run third with a four-spot of its own in the bottom of the frame.

Unger, who moved from the Bulls to the Brewers in midseason, followed up Eric Schmitt's two-run double to right-center with a booming two-run homer to dead center.

And Fatzinger, who played most of his long and illustrious TriCo career with Limeport, delivered a three-run bolt to almost the same spot in the fourth to chase Pirates' starter Dan Smith. The Brew Crew added five more in the fifth, and Erschen, who was by that time mowing down the Pirates, had more than enough to work with.

Brewers' manager Shawn Andrews will send Josh Friebolin to the mound in Game 4 at Bethlehem Township Municipal Park at 5:45 p.m. Thursday. ICC skipper Mike Brosious will counter with Ryan Lindley.

Asked if the comeback showed his team's character, Unger said, "Oh, my God, yeah! ICC has a good hitting team, and they'd been slapping us around a little bit. But we have the kind of well- rounded team to come back and win this series. We have to pull together, not argue with each other, and cut down on the errors that hurt us the first two games. If we do, we can pull it out."

Uncharacteristically, Unger hit a curveball over the fence.

"It was strictly a guess," he said with a smile. "I chased a curve in the dirt on the first pitch, and I figured he'd [Smith] try another one. He got it right up in my power alley."

With runners at second and third and none out, Fatzinger tried to hit a sacrifice fly -- but got a bonus, also off a high curve.

"I was strictly thinking fly ball," he said. "He got one a little up."

Erschen, a curveball pitcher by trade, had to rethink his approach in mid-game.

"[ICC] knew I was a breaking-ball pitcher, and it became apparent they were just sitting on the curve," Erschen said. "I called Eric [catcher Schmitt] out and told him we had to change our game plan. We started going with mostly fastballs, just mixing in an occasional curve."

Erschen's 10-strikeout five-hitter (in just six innings) stands as evidence that he made the right choice.

"Plus," he said, "whenever I pitch, these guys always support me with the sticks. Tonight was no different."


ICC                 004 000 -  4  5  5

Lehigh Twp.   014 35x - 13 11 1



Dan Smith, Marty Rowan (4), Dan Fazekas (5) and Kyle Ruff; Jeff Erschen and Eric Schmitt. W - Erschen. L - Smith. HR - I: Chad Stecker (3rd, 0 on); Chad Waelchli (3rd, 1 on); LT: Steve Unger (3rd, 1 on); Billy Fatzinger (4th, 2 on).



ted.meixell@mcall.com

610-820-6505

  

From The Morning Call -- August 14, 2002

Copyright 2002, The Morning Call