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 Wednesday, August 18, 2004

SPORTS

 C-2 


 

Lehigh Township knots Tri-Co series with ICC

The Brewers' Leslie shines on the mound, at the plate and on defense.



Of The Morning Call


 

Everyone knew that defending Tri-County League champion Lehigh Township was a powder keg of talent just waiting to go off. It turns out the Brewers just needed the reigning league MVP to light the fuse.

With their season on the line for the second straight night, the Brewers came out of their shell Tuesday, riding the right arm and powerful bat of 2003 MVP Brandon Leslie to a 9-4 win over the ICC Pirates in Game 4 of the Tri-County championship series at
Bryfogle Park in Berlinsville.

The Brewers now have a chance not only to defend their title, but to come back from a two-games-to-none hole in Thursday's fifth and deciding game at
Bethlehem Township Park.

Not only did Leslie pitch a complete game in the win, he pounded a two-run triple off ICC starter Scott Stewart that bounced off the right-field fence in the third inning to start a four-run outburst that buried the Pirates for good.

''I thought when I hit it that it might have just been a popup to right,'' Leslie said. ''But it just kept carrying. I've been trying to just take the approach to go the other way, just because I really like fastballs away. He's a fastball pitcher, and I knew he'd just come at me with a fastball.''

After struggling for most of the series at the plate, Leslie finally got a pitch he liked in the third when Stewart grooved a 2-1 fastball. The ball carried over the head of right fielder Luke Pile, bounced off the fence and rolled back toward the infield, allowing Nick Bowen and John Stezenko to score and give the Brewers a 2-0 lead that they would never relinquish.

Lehigh Township added two more in the third, one in the fourth and four in the sixth on its way to the win.

''This is the team I've been used to seeing all year long,'' said
Lehigh Township manager Shawn Andrews. ''Good teams make you play like they have been; they shut your bats down. You've just got to keep plugging away and coming with a better approach, and I really think we're doing that now.''

The Brewers had numerous players doing that on Tuesday night, including Stezenko (three doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored), Steve Unger (a two-run homer, an RBI single and two runs scored) and Jeremy Bartha (an RBI double and a run scored).

But there was no doubt that Leslie was the brightest star in Berlinsville on Tuesday. After a 2003 campaign that saw him go 5-1 on the mound with an absurd 1.66 ERA, Leslie pitched five innings of three-hit, shutout ball before giving up a pair of homers in the sixth and a run in the seventh.

Leslie, the 2003 batting champ (.493 average) also shined at the plate, topping off his third-inning triple with an RBI single in the sixth and two runs scored.

Oh, yeah, he can play defense too starting two double plays, including a
1-2-3 twin-killing in the fourth to get out of a bases-loaded jam.

Unlike after Monday night's third game, at least the Pirates won't have to dwell on defensive miscues and mental lapses when they think about this one. ICC center fielder A.J. Peracchia's first-inning robbery of a potential Stezenko home run was the defensive highlight of a flawless night in the field for both teams.

''If we're going to lose, it's better to lose against some good bats,'' said ICC manager Mike Brosious. ''There weren't any errors tonight, so that's a positive sign.''


ICC Pirates          000 003 0 4  8  0

Lehigh Township 004 104 x 9 12 0


Scott Stewart and Kyle Ruff; Brandon Leslie and Shawn Andrews. WP: Leslie. LP: Stewart. HR: ICC: Luke Pile (6th, 1 on), Bryan Martin (6th, 0 on). LT: Steve Unger (6th, 1 on).




steve.moore@mcall.com

  

From The Morning Call -- August 18, 2004

Copyright 2004, The Morning Call