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 Thursday, August 18, 2005

SPORTS

 C-6 


 

Gabelsville beats Fleetwings to capture 13th title

The team's 3-game sweep produces its first crown since '01.



Of The Morning Call


 

Although Gabelsville has dominated the Tri-County League since the early 1980s, the Owls hadn't been able to call themselves champions since winning their 12th title in 2001.

When you play in the shadow cast by that 800-pound gorilla known as the Boyertown Bears, that's a long time to go without popping champagne corks.

That drought ended Wednesday night, although as the Owls celebrated the Fleetwings reflected on yet another frustrating conclusion to their own title chase.

Justin Konnick slammed the door on a Fleetwings rally and Gabelsville made the most of its six hits to produce a 6-4 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the Tri-Co title series.

''Around this town you're expected to win championships, and when you don't, people ask, 'What happened?''' said Konnick, who came out of the Owls' bullpen to record a pair of fifth-inning strikeouts that stranded the potential tying and go-ahead runs at second and third. ''So it'll be nice not to have to answer that question.''

''This never gets old,'' added Owls coach Doc Moyer, who has been with the team since 1989 and has been a part of nine title teams. ''You can have a successful season if you don't win a championship, but it's disappointing if you don't.''

Which means the loss ended another successful, but disappointing, season for the Fleetwings (30-14), who have been in the playoffs for all seven years of their existence but have never won the title.

''Guys are getting older, guys are getting jobs, and that core group is getting smaller,'' said player-manager Jeremy Arner, whose team has reached the finals twice only to find Gabelsville waiting. ''A guy like Matt Hlay wants to win one before he goes out and every year he's got to decide if he wants to come back for another year.''

''I can't explain it,'' Moyer said of the Fleetwings' playoff disappointments. ''They've been knocking on the door every year but they just seem to run into a hot team.''

The 25-year-old Konnick, who serves as the pitching coach for Moyer's older brother Todd at Boyertown High School, came on for Ryan Bown with the Fleetwings seemingly poised to force a fourth game in the series.

Trailing 4-1, the Fleetwings chased Bown with four hits, including Justin Godusky's RBI single and Ben Swatsky's run-scoring double that cut the deficit to a run.

But Matt Godusky and Scott Matejicka went down swinging against Konnick, and Kyle Hoffman's RBI double sparked a two-run fifth that gave the Owls (32-8) breathing room.

''They can hit with the best of them,'' Konnick said of the Fleetwings, who outhit the Owls 25-20 in the series. ''We did what we needed to do to get people out.''

''I think honestly we're the best team in the league but I never expected to win in three [games],'' Moyer said.

Although Konnick joined Gabelsville in time for its 1999-2000-2001 title reign, Hoffman who scored twice and knocked in two runs is one of six newcomers whom Moyer has worked into the lineup since 2001.

''It's very satisfying to come back and win it with a different group, a younger group,'' Moyer said.

''I've been winning championships with some of these guys since I was eight years old,'' Konnick said. ''It's nice to get another one.''


Fleetwings   100 021 0 4 10 1

Gabelsville    201 120 x 6  6  0


Brian Frazier, Scott Bolasky (7) and Jeremy Arner; Ryan Bown, Justin Kinnick (5) and Bill Kropp, Matt Danner (3). W-Kinnick. L-Frazier. HR-F: Tom Williams (6th, 0 on).



jeff.schuler@mcall.com

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From The Morning Call -- August 18, 2005

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