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 Saturday, July 31, 2010




Yankees rally from 4-0 to force a fourth game

Joe Abeln's hit in the eighth prevents Limeport from clinching Tri-Co semifinal series.

Of The Morning Call


Maybe the Northern Yankees won't go on to take their Tri-County League semifinal series with Volpe's Limeport Bulls, but a 5-4, 8-inning win Friday night at Limeport may have at least alleviated an entire offseason of thinking "what the heck happened to us" for the proud franchise.

Down 4-0 on the scoreboard after three innings and down 2-0 in games in the best-of-three series, the Yankees were staring at the distinct possibility of a disappointing three-game sweep.

But recent Parkland grad Casey Cooperman shut the door with 61/3 scoreless innings and the Yankees finally got some of the clutch hits that eluded them in the first two games of the series.

The biggest was a two-out single to center by Joe Abeln in the eighth that scored Darrin Lenhart with the winning run as Northern forced a Game 4 at 5 p.m. Saturday at Scherersville No. 5.


"One thing we do have is a lot of character," said Yankees skipper Brian Polaha, who had expressed frustration over his team's lack of clutch hitting in 7-5 and 4-2 losses earlier this week.

"Over the first four innings it looked like more of the same. … poor at-bats, lazy fly ball outs, not enough patience at the plate and our starting pitcher [Andrew Kulp] really struggled. There was no tomorrow for us, so when he started walking people I had to get him out of there."

Enter Cooperman, the Bloomsburg-bound youngster who spent a large chunk of his summer with the South Parkland legion team.

Cooperman had escaped a no-out, bases-loaded jam in Wednesday's loss and retired six in a row in the process. He picked up where he left off in this one by getting the last out of a four-run second for Limeport and then worked six scoreless innings in which he allowed just three hits — one that left the infield.

"Casey's specialty is that he can throw three pitches for strikes," Polaha said. "I knew he'd make them earn it. He held them down and that gave us time."

The Bulls' Ryan Palos retired the first nine batters he faced, but the Yankees began to nibble at the 4-0 deficit in the fourth when Mike Fignar doubled and scored on Lenhart's sacrifice fly.

Three straight singles and a double-play ball produced a second run in the fifth and the Yanks tied it with two in the sixth when Lenhart followed Randy Seltzer's single with a triple and scored on Jeremy Faust's grounder.

Northern had a runner thrown out at the plate for the final out of the top of the seventh, but they kept charging in the eighth.

Lenhart was hit by a pitch and stole second. Faust walked to set the stage with two out for Abeln, another recent Parkland grad who is headed to Lehigh University.

"It was a curveball and I saw it coming," Abeln said. "He left it up a little bit and I was hacking away at 0-2. I got a good piece and I was hoping it would drop.

"It just took some timely hits. We have been leaving a lot of runners on base and hopefully this will give us some confidence for [Saturday]. We feel like we have too much talent not to win at least one game. The pitching has been doing the job. We just needed to come through offensively."

Caleb Calarco will get the ball for the Yankees in Game 4 and he would be wise to emulate what Cooperman has done in the past two contests.

"I just had to come in and throw strikes and let them get themselves out," Cooperman said. "I'm getting more comfortable in a relief role. I'm usually a starter, but we have a lot of good ones here. I just try to pound the strike zone."

Now it's up to Limeport to pound its way back after letting a 4-0 lead get away.

For two games and three innings, the Bulls seemed to be beating Northern in every facet.

Mike Cudwadie's perfectly-executed squeeze bunt with the bases loaded produced Limeport's first run in the bottom of the second. Dan Hemberger followed with a sac fly and Brian Ernst hit a two-run double..

But Cooperman came on from there and turned the game — and possibly — the series around.

Scott Garger doubled to left with one out in the eighth, but was left stranded as Cooperman got a strikeout and routine grounder to second to end it.

"We wanted this one bad and wanted to get the series over with at our home field," Limeport manager Pat Lane said. "But we're not concerned. We've still got two games left and we're still up 2-1."

Northern Yankees  000 112 01 — 5 9 0

Limeport Bulls        040 000 00 — 4 7 1

Kulp, Cooperman (2) and Faust; Palos, Geisel (8) and Swatsky. W: Cooperman. L: Geisel.



From The Morning Call -- July 31, 2010

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