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 Sunday, May 15, 2011




Owls' bid for another Tri-Co title should be a hoot

Of The Morning Call


The fact that the Gilbertsville/Gabelsville franchise has had three separate three-peats in the Tri-County League is not a shock.

The team from the Boyertown suburbs has been dominant in the amateur baseball league for much of the past 30 years.

The surprise is that they've never won four consecutive championships before.

They will get their chance to take that feat off their bucket list this summer.

The Gabelsville Owls are the favorites again to win the Tri-Co, which began Sunday with eight teams. If they win the crown in August they would become the first four-time champions in the history of the league which began in 1954.

Their current three-peat is the fourth in league history.

Limeport won three straight from 1976-78 under the legendary Ishky Fatzinger. The Gilbertsville Rangers won three in a row from 1984-86 with Phil Slonaker and Brian Gilbert as managers and the Owls won it from 1999-2001 under Mike "Doc" Moyer.

Matt Danner has been the skipper for the current run of success.

While the Owls being a favorite is nothing new, there are a few new things in the league this year — namely a new team.

The Lehigh Valley Marlins will give the Tri-Co a presence at Bryfogle Park in Berlinsville. The team is being co-managed by Ken Hantz and Bill Krupa.

There is also a new sponsor as the team formerly known as the Mezza Luna Black Sox is now called the Roosevelt's 21st Black Sox.

The top four teams advance to the playoffs, which begin on July 30 and will feature best-of-five semis and finals.

With an assist from league official Steve Smull, here's a team-by-team look:




Manager: George Horn (30th year, 421-452).

2006: 14-20-2, seventh.

Home: Cedarbrook Park.

Offensive keys: Randy Redman (.302), Ryan Schmidt (.303).

Pitchers: Jake Feist (4-3), Schmidt (3-2, 3.29 ERA).

Outlook: Veteran Teague Fatzinger joins a young team that just missed playoffs in 2006. With a year of seasoning, the Longhorns could reach .500 and make playoffs.


•Manager: Mike Speilman (third year, 28-34).

•Home: Boyertown H.S.

•2010: 15-15 (fourth); lost to Gabelsville 3-1 in playoff semis.

•Key hitters: Ethan Moser (.337), Todd Speilman (.329), Chris Lloyd (.321) and Dan Wolfgang (.318).

•Pitching: Kevin Thompson (5-2, 1.88 ERA), Todd Speilman (2-2, 2.41, 34 Ks), Dan Niehls (1.50 ERA), Adam Hartzell (30 Ks in four games), Anthony Clemens (2-1, 2.76 ERA with Limeport).

•Outlook: The Metz have a pitching staff that will keep them in every game and a third straight postseason appearance is likely.


•Manager: George Horn (34th year, 454-513).

•Home: Cedarbrook complex.

•2010: 11-19 (fifth).

•Key hitters: Andy Hammer, Pete Spisszak.

•Pitching: Jarrod Ringer (4-3, 2.78 ERA), Stefano Curto (3.18 ERA).

•Outlook: Losing perennial all-star Ryan Schmidt will be tough for the Longhorns to overcome.


•Manager: Matt Danner (seventh year, 155-36).

•Home: Lee Mecherly Field (Gabelsville A.A).

•2010: 24-6 (first); beat Boyertown 3-1 in the semis and beat Limeport 3-2 in finals.

•Key hitters: Shawn Betz (.441, 20 RBIs), Matt Cotellese (.467, 21 RBIs), league MVP Jon Kalejta (.376, 22 RBIs, 33 runs scored), rookie of the year Brandon Sullivan (.370, 25 runs), Ryan Zakszeski (.423).

•Pitchers: Betz (4-2, 1.91 ERA), Justin Konnick (4-1, 3.76), Gary Hessler (4-1, 2.02), Brock Laubenstine (4-1, 1.81) Todd Stapleton (2-1, 2 saves, 2.41), Tim Mayza.

•Outlook: Until someone beats the Owls, it's hard to predict anyone will. "Our goal every year is to win a league title," Danner said.


•Manager: Fabian Acevedo (seventh year, 54-136).

•Home: Scherersville No. 1.

•2010: 10-20 (sixth).

•Key hitters: Brandon Mazzie, Ron Wentz (.329).

•Pitchers: Julio Lebron (2.91 ERA), Donnie Hartzell (3.64 ERA).

•Outlook: The Gators have added some new faces as they hope to toward the league's upper echelon and a playoff berth. "We're looking to play .500 baseball and hoping to get into the playoffs," said Acevedo.


•Managers: Ken Hantz and Bill Krupa (first year).

•Home: Bryfogle Park, Berlinsville.

•Key hitters: Ernie Ruch, Tyler Rothdeutsch (rookies).

•Pitchers: Chris Martrich (2 wins, 2 saves with Jordan Creek).

•Outlook: The Marlins have a young team and will need to make the adjustment to a wooden-bat league, which usually takes a season or two. But the coaching staff is looking eager to get started this summer. "We're a young and energetic team very excited and enthusiastic about our first year in the league," Krupa said.


•Manager: Pat Lane (second year, 20-10).

•Home: Limeport Stadium.

•2010: 20-10 (third); beat the Northern Yankees 3-2 in semis, lost to Owls 3-2 in finals.

•Key hitters: Ben Swatsky (.344, 6 2B, 4 HRs, 29 RBIs, 28 runs), Mike Cudwadie (.288), Cary Zimmerman (.321), Devon Ziegenfuss (.308), Tyler Lehman (.289).

•Pitchers: Scott Bolasky (5-2, 2.14 ERA), Matt Wiltrout (4-2, 3.21 ERA), Steve Geisel (2-1, 2.58 ERA), Dan Hemberger (2-1, 2.84 ERA), Ryan Palos (3-3, 1.84 ERA) and Ryan Walter.

•Outlook: Jeremy Arner returns to the league in a Bulls' uniform for 2011 and Lane hopes he is the missing ingredient to get Limeport its first title since 1997.


•Manager: Brian Polaha (sixth year, 106-52).

•Home: Scherersville No. 5.

•2010: 20-10 (second); lost to Bulls 3-2 in semis.

•Key hitters: Darrin Lenhart (4 HRs, 20 RBIs, 16 runs), Rick Seltzer (.360, 17 RBIs, 18 runs), Jeremy Faust (.338, 23 RBIs), Adam Sandt, Mike Venarchick.

•Pitchers: Most Valuable Pitcher Caleb Calarco (4-1, 1.70 ERA), Jake Argue (3-0, 1.35 ERA), Andrew Kulp (2-1, 2.19 ERA), Adam Hayes (3-3, 2.38 ERA) and Casey Cooperman.

•Outlook: The Yankees have been knocking at the championship door for three consecutive seasons and will do it again this summer. They just need to find a way to get past the Owls and Bulls in the postseason. "With basically the same team as last year, we expect to be competing for a championship," Polaha said.


•Manager: Scott McGowan (fourth year, 15-79).

•Home: Scherersville No. 5.

•2010: 5-25 (seventh).

•Key hitters: Robert Hoyle (.378), Will Flores (.368), Tony D'Ambrosio (3.06) and Greg Hoyle.

•Pitchers: Greg Hoyle (4.28 ERA, 44 Ks).

•Outlook: The Black Sox have added a few college players in hoping to make a vast improvement from their 5-win season in 2010.



From The Morning Call -- May 15, 2011

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