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 Saturday, August 1, 2009




Gabelsville rallies for Game 1 victory

Cody Kulp goes 2-for-3, knocking in 3, including the go-ahead run as Owls win 7-4.


 By Steve Smull              



    SCHERERSVILLE -- Despite missing starters Shawn Betz, Jon Kalejta and Jared Trout, the Owls rallied for four runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth for a come-from-behind 7-4 win over Volpe's Fleetwings in Game 1 of the best-of-5 semifinals series.


    "We were a little short manpower-wise today," stated Owls' player/manager Matt Danner. "This is why we play a lot of people in the regular season."


    And with 21 players eligible for the postseason and no Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League games on Saturday, Gabelsville still had a quality lineup on Saturday, even without three regulars. Shane Houck (the ACBL's 5th leading hitter) did not make the trip to Allentown for the Owls, but Cody Kulp did, and he was right in the middle of all three Owls' rallies.


    After A.J. Bohn and Matt Cotellese got one-out singles in the top of the first, Kulp singled in Bohn to give the Owls an early 1-0 lead. Brett Umstead was a whisker away from making it 3-0 as he drove a fly-ball into the left-center field gap, but Mike Cudwadie (the speedy center-fielder for Volpe's) made a great diving catch to keep the score at 1-0.


    But that lead would be short-lived.


    With one out in the bottom of the first, Cudwadie got an infield hit and Jake Griesemer reached on an error. Up stepped 2009 Tri-County League MVP Ben Swatsky, who promptly crushed a slider well over the left-field fence for a three-run homer to give the Fleetwings a 3-1 lead.


    Both starters would settle down after a shaky first-inning, scattering a few hits along the way, but each would post goose-eggs the next three innings. But as Owls' starter Chuck Nicholas really seemed to be settling in, Fleetwings' ace Scott Bolasky would start to unravel in the fifth.


    Steve Bealer singled to lead off the Owls' fifth. Tom DeAngelis then got a bunt single and up stepped Bohn, who was sacrificing all the way with runners on first and second with no outs. He did that successfully and got a bonus when the throw got away at first base, advancing everybody an additional 90 feet, scoring Bealer to cut the lead to 3-2. Cotellese laced a 2-0 pitch to deep right for a sac fly, scoring DeAngelis and advancing Bohn to third and the game was now tied at 3-3 with one out.


    Volpe's brought their infield in, but that was to no avail as Culp ripped his second RBI single of the game to give the Owls a 4-3 lead. Gabelsville was not done in the fifth as Umstead laced the next pitch for an RBI double and the score was now 5-3. The Owls did eventually bat around in the frame, but Bolasky would escape the tough inning without further damage.


    And things would not get any easier for Bolasky in the sixth.


    After getting a pop-up to start the sixth, Bolasky walked DeAngelis and Bohn before Cotellese laced a single to right to load the bases. Kulp drew a bases-loaded walk after being down 0-2 in the count and the Owls led 6-3. And after Umstead singled to score Bohn to make it 7-3 Owls, Bolasky's day was done after throwing 122 pitches on just one day's rest after a relief stint on Thursday, when the Fleetwings eliminated Cetronia 6-5 in Game 2 of the first round.


    That relief appearance may have taken a toll and affected Bolasky's start in Game 1.


    "He didn't seem to be on today", Danner said.


    Pat Lane came in for Bolasky and worked out of further trouble in the sixth with a strikeout and groundout. Lane ended up retiring all 5 batters he faced.


    Meanwhile, Nicholas settled down quite nicely for the Owls after the first inning as he scattered four Volpe's hits over the next 5 2/3 innings before hitting a little blip on the radar screen with two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the seventh.


    Griesemer singled, Swatsky followed with a single and player/manager Jeremy Arner got a RBI single to make it 7-4 Owls, prompting a meeting at the mound as Danner contemplated bring in reliever Todd Stapleton, but he left Nicholas in and he induced a groundout to end the game.


    "Nicholas threw well," said Danner. " He didn't get his slider over early in the game and when he did get it over, they were hitting it hard. So he went to his fastball and that worked until that rally in the seventh inning."


    The win puts the Owls in great shape with the next two games slated to be at Gabelsville Sunday and Tuesday.


    "This win sets us up nice", said Danner. "Even if we split these next two games, we'll still be up 2-1 in the series."


    Danner said he would throw Betz in Game 2 and odds are Nick Nigito will throw Game 2 for the Fleetwings.


    Bohn finished 2-for-2 with three runs scored, while Kulp was 2-for-3 with 3 RBI, Cotellese was 2-for-3 and Umstead was 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI for Gabelsville (27-5-1). Swatsky was 3-for-4 with a home run and 3 RBI and Cudwadie was 3-for-4 for the Fleetwings (25-8-3).