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 Friday, August 1, 2003




A revived Lehigh Township tops Cetronia in best-of-3 playoff

Of The Morning Call


After reaching the Tri-County League finals a year ago, the Lehigh Township Brewers underachieved throughout much of the 2003 Tri-Co regular season.

In fact, an eight-game losing skid earlier this month placed Lehigh Township in danger of missing the playoffs.

But they qualified, and now that the postseason has arrived, the Brewers may be as dangerous as any team in the seven-team tourney mix.

Thursday at the Cedarbrook complex, where dark, ominous clouds turned a 5:45 p.m. start into a night game, Lehigh Township stormed its way to a 4-2 win over Cetronia in Game 1 of a best-of-three first-round series.

The Brewers can end the series and advance to the Tri-Co semis with a win at 5 p.m. Saturday in Berlinsville.

Justin Hilgert scattered nine hits over 6 2/3 innings and every hitter in the Brewer order had at least one hit.

"People were gunning for us all year," said player-manager Shawn Andrews. "People went at us a little harder and we had guys knicked up and caught a lot of bad breaks. We just had to get to this part of the season."

Cetronia took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Brian Polaha's RBI single. But after collecting three hits in the first inning, the Longhorns had just three over the next five as Hilgert blanked them.

The 1997 East Stroudsburg High grad missed last season with "Tommy John surgery" on his pitching elbow.

He kept the Longhorns off balance with off speed stuff.

"I pitched against them in the regular season and they don't seem to hit the ball hard off me," Hilgert said. "I was moving the ball in and out, up and down. [Catcher] Shawn [Andrews] called a good game back there. I was nervous."

Hilgert coasted into the seventh with a 4-1 lead, but two hits and a sacrifice fly cut the gap to two in the bottom of the seventh. An error and an infield single filled the bases when Hilgert was replaced by Jedi Gonzalez.

"Sure, I wanted to finish, but it's better to bring in someone like Jedi who throws gas," Hilgert said.

Gonzalez came back from a 2-0 count to strike out Ruben Santos to end it.

"It seemed like we were flat between the first and seventh innings," said Cetronia manager George Horn. "We normally hit the ball pretty well. We don't have a weak spot really. We were just too impatient, too anxious and jumped at the first pitch we saw."

The Brewers were shut out through three innings by the Longhorns' Steve Graff, but bunched six hits in the fourth and fifth innings to score three times.

Jeremy Bartha's hustle led to a rally-starting double in the fourth. Bartha turned a routine single to center into two bases.

Omar Torres singled home Bartha for the tying run and then Charlie Torres' bad-hop double got things going in the fifth. Brandon Leslie (2-for-4, 2 runs scored) had an RBI single as did Steve Unger.

Eric Schmitt added an RBI single in the seventh off reliever Adam Hoffman.

"We're going to do everything we can to finish this off Saturday so we can give our arms some rest," Andrews said. "We've played 16 games in 23 days, so we're a little tired. Justin gave some arms a rest tonight. Now we can either go with Leslie or [Jeff] Erschen in the next game."

Andrews was also anxiously awaiting the results of Hellertown's game in the Blue Mountain League. If the Royals lost, the Brewers would get the services of Mark Nicholas, Ryan Amey and Dan Borden the rest of the playoffs.

Lehigh Township  000 120 1 -- 4 11 1

Cetronia               100 000 1 -- 2  9  0

Hilgert, Gonzalez (7) and Andrews; Graff, Hoffman (6) and Williams. W: Hilgert. L: Graff.



From The Morning Call -- August 1, 2003

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