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 Wednesday, August 16, 2006




Leslie leads Coplay to cusp of crown

He fires five-hitter, gets two hits in Reds' 8-2 win over Fleetwings.

Of The Morning Call


When they were together at Lehigh Township in 2003 and 2004, star player Brandon Leslie and his manager Shawn Andrews experienced the thrill of Game 5 victories in the Tri-County League Championship Series.

Now with the Coplay Reds, Leslie and Andrews would like to tweak the script.

Oh, they still want to celebrate a Tri-Co title. They'd just rather do it after Game 4.

Leslie placed the Reds a win away from the league crown Tuesday night, tossing a five-hitter on the mound and adding two runs and two hits on offense in an 8-2 win over the Woodlawn Fleetwings before a few hundred fans in Limeport.

Coplay (32-13-1) now leads the best-of-five series 2-1 and can end the Tri-Co season with a victory at 7 p.m. tonight in Limeport, while Woodlawn wants to force a fifth game on Friday.

''We would definitely like to end it as soon as possible,'' said Leslie, a Northern Lehigh and Rider grad who walked two and fanned three. ''That's a tough team over there. They hit the ball hard tonight and it didn't fall for them, but [Wednesday] is a new day.''

Leslie has had more than his share of good days in the Tri-Co. It's not a coincidence that he is playing in his fourth league final in five years.

The Fleetwings (30-16) hit some shots off him in the first two innings all six outs were caught in the outfield but only Dave Toth's double found turf.

Leslie then allowed an unearned run in the fourth and Matt Marcks' two-out RBI single in the fifth. He began to feel some arm tightness in the sixth inning, but never let the game get tight with a 1-2-3 sixth. The Reds' second turned double play averted trouble in the seventh.

''This is the best I've seen Brandon with his control,'' Coplay catcher Caleb Calarco said. ''Wherever I put the glove, he hit it. They hit him hard early on, but the second and third time around the lineup, he was ahead of them.''

The Reds went ahead with five runs in the third. They sent 10 to the plate against Adam Maini and collected six hits to go with one error.

Kevin Thompson, hitting .400 in the playoffs with 10 RBIs coming in, added to that total with a two-run double. Calarco and J.R. Graver added run-scoring singles and Calarco picked up an additional RBI with a hit in the fifth.

Jesse Borden's two-run single in the sixth capped Coplay's 11-hit attack. Leslie, Thompson and Calarco, the Reds' 3-4-5 hitters, totaled six hits, five runs and four RBIs.

''Our offense has really been producing,'' said Leslie, who reached base four times and is now hitting .562 with 11 RBIs in the postseason. ''We're getting people on and we're getting clutch hits.''

The Fleetwings will go with one of their best, Scott Bolasky (4-2, 2.45 ERA), tonight in an effort to red-light the Reds offense and extend the series.

''Bolasky has been our No. 1 the last two years and I'm confident we'll bounce back,'' said Fleetwings' player-manager Jeremy Arner. ''We hit the ball hard tonight, but Leslie made some good pitches and we didn't get any breaks.

''We've been here before. We know what it takes. We win [Wednesday] and then we'll have the momentum.''

Andrews, who hopes Kevin Reese is available to pitch for his side tonight, cautioned his club about letting up.

''We haven't won anything yet,'' he said. ''The Fleetwings are a very hungry team and will fight all the way. They'll be tough for us to put away.''

Woodlawn  000 110 0 2  5  2

Coplay        005 102 x 8 11 1

Maini and Arner; Leslie and Calarco.



From The Morning Call -- August 16, 2006

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