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 Saturday, July 5, 2003

SPORTS

 C-7 


 

Tri-City's success in the Tri-County League demands attention

The young Fleetwings have won 20 straight en route to a 22-1 start.




Of The Morning Call


 

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.

We were figuring on catching up with the Tri-City Fleetwings sometime in mid-July. But because they're off to a great start we figured, ''Why wait?''

Weather permitting, we'll finally catch up to the Fleetwings on Monday (
6 p.m.), when they host second-place Gabelsville at Scherersville No. 1.

By then, though, thanks to Tri-City, there isn't much of a Tri-County League race left to chronicle. Manager Bob Fatzinger's talented young club has powered its way to a 22-1 start, winning its last 20 games, to open a huge 51/2-game gap over Gabelsville (15-5). The 'Wings have 13 games to play, the Owls 16.

Lehigh Township (12-5), the Northern Yankees (12-7), the defending champion ICC Pirates (12-8), Cetronia (9-7) and Limeport (11-9) currently occupy the five remaining playoff berths and, with Limeport holding a 31/2-game edge over eighth-place South Whitehall (8-13), the seven playoff berths appear pretty well wrapped up.

A similar situation is developing in the Blue Mountain League. Unless someone finds a way to cool off Jim Schaffer's Limeport Dodgers (17-3), the 2001 champs could run away with the regular-season title. The defending champions, the Bethleon Blue Jays (13-7), are second, four games back, with just 12 to play.

Since only four teams make the BML playoffs, however, the race for postseason berths is just heating up. The MCS Bethlehem Cardinals (9-5), Hellertown (10-8), Martins Creek (11-9),
Allentown (11-9) and the Starter's Pub Orioles (9-8) are all very much in the hunt. Three won't make it. And, despite currently running third, the Cards face a really rough road since they have so many more games to make up than the others.

The two American Legion leagues will wrap up their regular seasons in the upcoming week.

NorCo runs an eight-team championship playoff, with its four division champions and four wild-cards. It will play four best-of-three series to cut the field to four, then run a double-elimination tournament among them to determine its champion and sole representative in the Region 2 Tournament (July 29-Aug. 2 at Pottsville).

Currently, The Birches (12-3) and Kemp Post (11-5) lead the way in the North;
Wilson (11-4) is running away with the East; Hellertown (7-6) and The Jeffs (7-10) pace the South and defending champion Nazareth (12-2) and Bath (10-5) lead the West. With 10 defeats, however, The Jeffs are only two losses removed from elimination, since no team can qualify for the playoffs with a sub-.500 record (unless it is a division champ).

Wind Gap (7-8) and Lehigh-West Bethlehem (7-5) are also in the wild-card hunt. Roseto (
6-12-1) and Northampton (2-13) have already been eliminated. One more loss will eliminate East Stroudsburg (5-11) and Easton (7-11).

The Lehigh Valley League will take two representatives into the regional its regular-season and playoff titlists.

Currently, the LVL's regular-season race looks like a replay of 2002. Last year, South Division champion
Lower Macungie knocked off North titlist North Parkland in the best-of-three title series. The same two have comfortable leads in their divisions this year: Lower Mac at 14-4, North Parkland at 16-2.

All 13 teams (Palmerton has dropped out) will compete in the playoffs, however.

Incidentally, kudos must go to LVL officials for insisting on teams making up postponed and tie games promptly. According to unofficial Morning Call records, the LVL faces only five makeup games in its final week.

By contrast,
NorCo will have to squeeze 22 makeup games into an already crowded last-week slate.

The Blue Mountain League must make up 20 games (nine of them involving the Cardinals), the Tri-County League 30. The adult leagues, however, have several more weeks in which to do it.

  

From The Morning Call -- July 5, 2003

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