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 Thursday, August 10, 2006




Woodlawn wins on bloop

Fleetwings aided by blurry baseline, to face Limeport or Coplay.

Of The Morning Call


One of the most commonly heard expressions in the Tri-County League for many years has been: ''The road to the title goes through Gabelsville.''

Of course, that doesn't mean it's a straight line through Gabelsville, or any line at all.

The defending champion Owls were eliminated from the Tri-Co playoffs Wednesday night when Jeremy Arner's controversial double down the right-field ''line'' in the bottom of the seventh inning at Scherersville gave the Woodlawn Fleetwings a 2-1 win in the game and a 3-1 semifinal series victory.

The Fleetwings (29-14) earned a trip to the finals for the third time in their eight-year history and will go for their first title against Limeport or Coplay in a best-of-five series starting Saturday.

Gabelsville, meanwhile, had the league's best regular-season record at 31-4-1 but dropped three straight to Woodlawn after taking the series opener.

The Owls' season ended on two pitches in the last of the seventh.

Longtime slugger Dave Toth led off by ripping a first-pitch double past first base.

''I want the opportunity to be in that spot,'' said Toth, a 42-year-old amateur baseball veteran. ''I took a couple of off-speed pitches for strikes earlier in the game, and this time I was just looking for something in the zone.''

Toth will probably be able to hit line drives when he's 75, but can't run all that well now.

That's why Marcks replaced him on the bases.

Marcks then scored when Arner, Woodlawn's player-manager, blooped a ball toward the right-field fence.

Matt Danner, Gabelsville's manager and right fielder, gave chase and thought the ball landed foul.

''By maybe a foot,'' he said.

But while he didn't agree with home plate umpire Mike Fox's call, he was more upset that the right-field line wasn't a line at all, leaving Fox with no gauge to make his decision.

''It's a shame that [Lehigh County] couldn't provide a lined field for a playoff series,'' Danner said. ''I'm not going to say the series was decided on that call. But to have it end with the umpire having to make a pure guesstimate like that, it's just unfortunate.''

Danner, though, tipped his cap to Woodlawn's pitching. The Fleetwings allowed just five runs and 21 total hits in the four games.

Ryan Palos closed it out with an impressive four-hitter.

The Bethlehem Catholic grad allowed just one hit over the last four scoreless innings, but had a scary moment in the top of the seventh when a hit batter and a walk put runners on the corners with two out.

Gabelsville went into the old schoolyard playbook and tried a delayed steal of home. It nearly worked, but Palos got the ball to his catcher, Arner, just in time to tag Shawn Betz.

''I didn't make a good throw. …It was to the other side of the plate,'' Palos said. ''But Arner got it and reached over for the tag. He made a good play, but it was close.''

Arner was then involved on another close play as his bloop hit to right ended the game, and the series.

''I'm not real proud of how I hit it,'' Arner said. ''I knew he'd come in high with a fastball because he thought I'd be bunting. I was thinking bunt, too, but then [third base coach] Ray Ganser said we had three shots at a hit, so why not go for it.''

And now, the Fleetwings are going back to the finals.

Gabelsville Owls             001 000 0 —  1 4 0

Woodlawn Fleetwings    100 000 1  — 2 6 0

Betz and Loeb; Palos and Arner.



From The Morning Call -- August 10, 2006

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