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 Thursday, May 13, 2004

SPORTS

 C-4 


 

Lehigh Township ready to defends its Tri-County League title




Of The Morning Call


 

It's fine to do well during the regular season, but Tri-County League baseball teams have found out that some hot August nights are what it's all about.

The ICC Pirates used a late-summer surge to win the Tri-Co title two years ago. Last season, Lehigh Township clicked at just the right time and stunned several higher seeded teams in the postseason en route to its first crown.

As the amateur league began its 47th consecutive season this week, several of last year's top teams -- Lehigh Township, Tri- City, Gabelsville -- were again considered the frontrunners. But there's always the possibility a team will just sneak into the top seven spots and then become a postseason powerhouse.

The Tri-Co returns all 13 teams from last year, with one name change -- the South Whitehall Serpents are now the Coplay Reds.

With a huge assist from Tri-Co P.R. director Marty Rowan, here is a team-by-team look:

BANKO A'S

Manager: Bob Breitfeller.

Home field: Scherersville No. 5.

Last year: 10-20, 11th.

Key returnees: Brian Farrell (.378), Matt Long (.313), Mark Davis (.400), Adam Sadler (.367), Scott Bolasky (80 IP).

Key losses: Rob Gontkosky, Judd Frank, Paul Woodling, Chuck Mondschein, Jason Strunk.

Outlook: With 10 additions, the A's have a new look. But the lack of veteran leadership may keep them with the same record as a year ago.

BUSHKILL TOWNSHIP CARDINALS

Manager: Mike Cunningham.

Home field: Bushkill Township.

Last year: 11-20, ninth.

Key returnees: Mike Bracco (.374, 5 HR), Matt Butz (.435), Mason Messinger (.373), Pete Dyson (.469).

Key newcomers: Jeff Dahl, Kyle Kaufman, Gordie Kocher, Dan Repsher.

Outlook: With a deep pitching staff headed by Mike Strechay, Adam Swavely and Craig Whitten, the Cards should at least be a .500 club.

CETRONIA LONGHORNS

Manager: George Horn.

Home field: Cedarbrook Complex.

Last year: 20-12, fourth, lost to Lehigh Township in two games in first round of playoffs.

Key returnees: Bill Fatzinger (.382), Jim Healy (.376), Darren Lenhart (.483, 12 HR), Brian Poloha, (.364), Brad Sechler ( 5-3, 3.27 ERA).

Outlook: If pitching improves, the Longhorns could be a title contender.

COPLAY REDS

Manager: Steve Smull.

Home field: Scherersville No. 5.

Last year: 11-21, 10th place.

Key returnees: Steve Smull (.381), Brandon Youngkin (.347), George Gillespie (.307)

Outlook: The team formerly known as the South Whitehall Serpents also changed some personnel. Perhaps they didn't change enough to reverse last year's record.

GABELSVILLE OWLS

Manager: Mike "Doc" Moyer.

Home field: Gabelsville A.A.

Last year: 25-7, second, beat ICC in three games in first round, beat Limeport in five games in semifinals, lost to Lehigh Township in five games in the championship series.

Key returnees: Greg Gilbert (.346, 6 HR), Kyle Hoffman (.367), A.J. Bohn (.460), Nick Allen ( 7-0, 0.74 ERA), Justin Konnick ( 7- 2, 2.26 ERA).

Outlook: Veteran leadership and a strong pitching staff will have the Owls contending for yet another title.

ICC PIRATES

Manager: Mike "Skip" Brosious.

Home field: Bethlehem Township Park.

Last year: 16-16, seventh, lost to Gabelsville in three games in first round.

Key returnees: Luke Pile (.479), Brian Martin (.324), A.J. Perrachia (.333), Scott Stewart ( 5-2, 3.42 ERA).

Key newcomers: Erik Ruff, Nolan Fry, Brandon Evers, Brett Vroman.

Outlook: The return of Erik Ruff, and a deeper pitching staff gives the Pirates a chance to win its second title in three years.

JORDAN CREEK

Manager: Tony Toth.

Home field: Scherersville No. 1.

Last year: 8-24, 12th.

Key returnees: Jose Medina (.375, 25 RBIs), Julio Lebron (.360), Fabian Acevedo (.330).

Key newcomers: Jedi Gonzales (.366).

Outlook: Toth is a first-year manager and will have many ex- players from the Catasauqua Black Sox of the Blue Mountain League on the roster. Mix of veteran leadership with young blood should boost the team into playoff contention.

LEHIGH TOWNSHIP BREWERS

Manager: Shawn Andrews.

Home field: Berlinsville.

Last year: 18-14, fifth in regular season; beat Cetronia in two games in first round; Tri-City in five games in semifinals and Gabelsville in five games in the finals.

Key returnees: Eric Schmitt (.416), Jeremy Bartha (.421), Brandon Leslie (.493, 5-1, 1.66 ERA), Nick Bowen (3.05 ERA).

Outlook: The Brewers stunned many en route to the title last August. But great hitting, solid defense and a deep pitching staff have made them the team to beat this time around.

LIMEPORT BULLS

Manager: Chris Parcell.

Home field: Limeport Stadium.

Last year: 21-11, third, beat Northern Yankees in three games in first round, lost to Gabelsville in five games in semifinals.

Key returnees: Kevin Kershner (.429), Glenn Kushma (.365), Pat Lane (.438), Jeff Krauss (5-2, 2.39 ERA), Chad Arnold (4-0, 1.96 ERA).

Key losses: Tony Damico.

Outlook: The Bulls will rely on a talented pitching staff to return to the league's upper echelon.

MILFORD PIONEERS

Manager: Don Rosenberger.

Home field: Lower Milford Middle School.

Last year: 6-25, 13th place.

Key returnees: Brian Kurharik (.338), Mike Wozniak (.292) Jeremy Steigerwalt (4.75 ERA).

Outlook: Rosenberger feels he has a deeper pitching staff this year and should be able to win much more than six games.

NORTHERN YANKEES

Manager: Jeremy Smith

Home field: Scherersville No. 5.

Last year: 18-14.

Key returnees: Mike Kressley (.450), George Kressley (.390), Dave Sandt (.320), Rob Castimore (2.88 ERA).

Outlook: The Yankees return 15 solid players from a year ago and should return to the postseason.

UPPER PERKIOMEN CHIEFS

Manager: Steve Rush.

Home field: Upper Perk H.S.

Last year: 15-17

Key returnees: Scott Gehringer (.396), Dave Newicki (.314), Jeff Moyer (.366, 6-3, 3.53 ERA)

Outlook: The Chiefs just missed the playoffs in 2003. Improved pitching could make the difference.

TRI-CITY FLEETWINGS

Manager: Bob Fatzinger.

Home field: Scherersville No. 1.

Last year: 27-5, first place regular season. But lost to Lehigh Township in five games in semifinals.

Key returnees: Jeremy Arner (.439), Matt Marks (.388), Ben Swatsky (.385, 13 HRs), Matt Hlay ( 6-2, 2.98 era), Josh Gunkle ( 7- 1, 1.84 ERA)

Outlook: Maybe, finally, this is the Fleetwings' year to win it all.



keith.groller@mcall.com

610-820-6740

  

From The Morning Call -- May 13, 2004

Copyright 2004, The Morning Call