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 Monday, August 11, 2003




Tri-City ties series 2-2 with Lehigh Twp.

Semifinal rivalry heats up amid 4 hit batsmen -- all Fleetwings.

Special to The Morning Call


Lehigh Township and Tri-City have a history in the Tri-County League playoffs.

Last year, Lehigh Township upset the Fleetwings in the semifinals. This year, the two teams were again paired in the semis, and Tri-City set out to avenge last year's loss to the Brewers. They took turns beating each other up in the first three games, as the winning team got at least 12 runs each time.

In Sunday's fourth game at Bryfogle Memorial Park, a couple more logs were thrown on the flame of the heated rivalry.

Josh Gunkle pitched a four-hitter and Tom Williams and Matt Marcks hit home runs to lift Tri-City to a 10-2 win and tie the best-of-five semifinal series at two wins apiece.

But twice in the game, in the first and seventh innings, Lehigh Township pitcher Jedi Gonzalez hit back-to-back hitters with pitches. Those hit batsmen not only got some players trading insults and obscenities, it also got Gonzalez and Gunkle -- who hit no one -- warnings. One of those four hit was Ben Swatsky, who was hit in the third consecutive game.

Home plate umpire Lou Rodriguez initially ejected Gonzalez, but rescinded that because a conference with the other umpires determined Gonzalez was not throwing intentionally at the batters.

"There's no love lost," Tri-City manager Bob Fatzinger said.

Game 5 is set for 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Scherersville. Steve Rothermel is scheduled to pitch for Tri-City (29-7) against either Ryan Amey or Nick Bowen for the Brewers (22-16).

Neither Fatzinger nor Lehigh Township manager Shawn Andrews said they knew exactly why Gonzalez remained in the game.

"I don't know," Fatzinger said. "Both benches got warned, and he hit two after that. They said it had to be on purpose, but how do you know when it's on purpose? We've had a lot of guys hit during this series, but whether they're just trying to throw inside on us ... I don't know."

"I don't know why," said Andrews, who was the catcher for Gonzalez in the first inning. "We're trying to come inside on them. But unfortunately, sometimes you don't have it and you hit people. We're not major-league pitchers here. Unfortunately we hit some guys, and they didn't like it. We fully understand that if they come back and retaliate, we're going to accept it. We don't want to hit anybody. We're not out for that."

Swatsky scored in the first on Matt Godusky's single to give the Fleetwings a 1-0 lead. Mike Trimble tied the game for the Brewers in the bottom of the second with an RBI single, but Williams' home run to left field gave Tri-City the lead for good. Matt Hlay's two-run single highlighted a three-run rally in the seventh to push the lead to 10-1.

"This team (Tri-City) is the No. 1 seed," Andrews said. "They're not going to go away quietly. We're going to have to put together our best effort to put them away."

Tri-City                    104 011 3 -- 10  11  0

Lehigh Township     010 000 1 --  2    4   2

Gunkle and Arner. Gonzalez and Andrews, Borden (5). HR -- Williams (TC, 3rd, 2 on), Marcks (TC, 6th, 0 on), Borden (LT, 7th, 0 on).

Tim Shoemaker is a freelance writer.


From The Morning Call -- August 11, 2003

Copyright 2003, The Morning Call