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Montrose graduate Rich Thompson returned to the area to play at Lackawanna County Stadium against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons for four days last week.
Thompson had a big night Thursday when he went 2-for-4 with a double, drew two walks and drove in three runs in a 12-3 International League victory by the Indianapolis Indians.
"My family and some friends from high school came to the game," Thompson said. "I don't come back much, but it's nice to play well when I'm here."
Thompson reached base three times in the first four innings.
After drawing a walk in the first inning, Thompson doubled to the right-field fence on the first pitch he faced in the second inning to drive in two runs. He singled to center in the fourth to drive in another.
For the series, Thompson went 3-for-9.
Thompson went 1-for-3 May 23 in the series opener to help the Indians to a 2-0 win.
When the teams met again the next morning, Thompson came off the bench as a pinch hitter then moved into center field. He went 0-for-1 in the 2-1 loss.
Thompson came off the bench again Friday, going 0-for-1 in a 5-3 loss to the Red Barons.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Amber Gaffey captured a state medal for the third straight season, but her bid to repeat as Class AA pole vault champion was washed out in the rain at Shippensburg University Friday morning during the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association track and field championships.
The Susquehanna junior settled for a tie for seventh place after clearing 10 feet as most of the competitors in the field had difficulty coming near their normal height.
Jackie Meissner, a senior from Saucon Valley, won the title by clearing 11 feet after making it to 11-9 at the District 11 championships a week earlier.
Kimberly Preston of Reynolds, who was third last year as a freshman, took second by clearing 10-9.
Bethlehem Catholic's Keri McDermott, who went into the event tied for the second seed with Gaffey, also cleared 10-9, but settled for third.
Two Class AA pole vaulters made it over at 10-6.
Gaffey was in a pack of eight, who cleared 10-0, but could not make 10-6. One had fewer misses that Gaffey in the competition and one had the same, meaning a tie for seventh. Gaffey had less misses than the other five vaulters who cleared 10 feet.
There were a total of 30 pole vaulters in the competition, including five who did not make it over any height.
The Elk Lake girls' 3200-meter relay team ran in the first heat of the weekend on the track and used it to advance to Saturday morning's finals where it finished 10th.
The Lady Warriors' team of Ellen Squier, Kimberly Caines, Bridgette Teed and Rachel Owens finished sixth out of 12 teams in its heat in 9:51.04. The top four teams in each of two heats advanced, along with the next four teams based on times. Elk Lake qualified 11th among the 12 survivors out of 25 teams in the competition.
Elk Lake improved to 9:47.36 in the finals and moved up one more spot.
Montrose senior shot putter Robert O'Malley finished 20th out of 24 with a toss of 45-8 1/2.
Two Montrose juniors struggled in their first shot at the state meet.
Steffany Jahnke finished 27th out of 28 in the long jump at 14-5 1/2.
Tom Blachek was last out of 25 javelin throwers with 139-8.
In softball, Elk Lake had its season end in a heartbreaking, extra-inning loss for the second straight year.
After playing 12 scoreless innings in the District 2 Class AA quarterfinals, the Lady Warriors were beaten, 3-2, by Dallas in 13 innings.
A year ago, Elk Lake took an unbeaten record into the district final where it lost, 2-1, in 10 innings against Lakeland.
Sara Swepton struck out 23 for Dallas. After Elk Lake scored twice in the top of the 13th, Swepton beat out an infield hit while the tying and winning runs scored.
Katherine Lucenti struck out 11 as Elk Lake handled Wilkes-Barre GAR, 13-1, in five innings in its first playoff game.
Montrose and Mountain View were each eliminated by unbeaten teams in the first round. Carbondale topped Montrose, 5-1, and Lakeland shut out Mountain View, 9-0.
Unbeaten Blue Ridge eliminated Susquehanna, 10-1, in the Class A quarterfinals.
Megan Gilleran pitched the shutout as Susquehanna went on the road to defeat Bishop O'Reilly, 11-0, in the first round while Blue Ridge had a bye.
Forest City took a lead into the bottom of the sixth inning in its quarterfinal but Northwest scored four times on the way to a 9-6 victory.
In baseball, Jordan Smith threw a two-hitter as Blue Ridge avenged two earlier losses to knock off top-seeded Old Forge, 9-2, and advance to the District 2 Class A championship game.
Blue Ridge received a first-round bye then handled Bishop O'Reilly, 15-5, in five innings in the quarterfinals.
Pittston Seton Catholic defeated Forest City, 11-7, and Bishop Hannan edged Susquehanna, 12-11, in first-round Class A games.
Nanticoke eliminated defending champion Montrose, 12-0, in five innings in a preliminary round game in Class AA. The Meteors gave up seven runs in the first inning and managed just three hits.
Mountain View and Elk Lake were also eliminated with losses in their first games.
Wilkes-Barre GAR fought off a Mountain View rally to win, 8-4.
Josh Madas had three hits for the Eagles, who scored three times in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut into a 5-0 deficit.
Dunmore defeated Elk Lake, 16-8.
In boys' volleyball, Bishop Hoban swept Mountain View, 25-12, 25-14, 25-23, in the District 2 championship match.
Mountain View used wins in the first two rounds to claim a berth in the state tournament.
Berwick was on a 15-match winning streak, had already eliminated defending champion North Pocono and took the first two games of its semifinal match against Mountain View.
None of that mattered to the Eagles, who rallied for a 19-25, 20-25, 25-14, 25-22, 25-9 victory.
Mountain View also started slow in the quarterfinals when it needed four games to get past Blue Ridge.
Fifth-seeded Forest City swept fourth-seeded Lake-Lehman, 25-6, 25-12, 25-11, in the quarterfinals. The Foresters were then eliminated by unbeaten Bishop Hoban, 25-16, 25-12, 25-15, in the semifinals.
Last week's column incorrectly stated that Montrose declined to defend its title in the District 2 Class AA baseball tournament. The Meteors were in a preliminary round game to try to make it into the round-of-16 for the district tournament.
Susquehanna graduate Nadine Taylor completed her college softball career at Wilkes University with her third straight first-team selection to the Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom Conference all-star team.
Taylor, the conference Player of the Year and a second-team All-American as a junior, started 40 games this season for Wilkes (28-15).
One of the team's co-captains, Taylor hit .306 with eight doubles, four triples and two home runs. She scored 21 runs and drove in 15 while stealing seven bases.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Blue Ridge will play Bishop Hafey Wednesday at Lackawanna County Stadium for the District 2 Class A baseball championship.
Bishop Hafey reached the final by defeating Northwest, 5-2, Saturday on three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
In high school softball, Blue Ridge was scheduled to host Bishop O'Hara in Tuesday's semifinals for a chance to meet the Old Forge-Northwest winner in Thursday's District 2 Class A championship game.
In boys' volleyball, Mountain View is in the state tournament Friday and Saturday at Penn State.
In high school soccer, the UNICO All-Star Game for graduating seniors from Lackawanna League schools is scheduled as a doubleheader Saturday night at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
The Racing Reporter
KASEY KAHNE Wins Coca-Cola 600, Concord, NC – Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, the longest race of the season was a test of endurance and speed. As the laps wound down, it was Ray Evernham’s driver Kasey Kahne, in the No. 9 Dodge that had the best of both.
Kasey Kahne, winner of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600.
Kahne took the lead from Ford driver Carl Edwards after the last round of pit stops on lap 371 of the 400-lap race, and then held off Jimmie Johnson, for this third Nextel Cup win of the season.
“When they put a little more tape on the nose of the car, it just brought it back to life,” said Kahne. “It was great all night, but that really got us going there at the end. That’s what did it.”
Kahne’s win marked the first time a Dodge has won a Coca-Cola 600, since Richard Petty’s 1977 win. Kahne, who started ninth, led 158 laps, the most of any driver. The win moved him from eighth to sixth in the points.
Kahne ended Johnson's three-year reign at Lowe's Motor Speedway as Coca-Cola 600 champion.
It was also the first time in ten years a Rick Hendrick or Jack Roush driver did not win.
Jimmie Johnson took second away from Carl Edwards during lap 371, but he was not able to close the gap on the leader.
“We were close,” said Johnson. “On average they were a little faster than us, but at times we had the fastest car. We had a great pit stop, and I thought that would do it, but we just didn’t have the speed there at the end.”
Carl Edwards had a poor handling race car all night, but he bounced back from an early spin to finish third.
“Aww, we just kept freeing it up and freeing it up,” he said. “I know it might sound like a broken record, but we really did overcome some terrible adversity. We were so bad, and to come back and run our best at the end of the race is great.”
Tony Stewart was treated and released for a fracture of his right scapula from a local Charlotte hospital Sunday night for the second time in two days. He had a right front tire go down during lap 34 of Sunday’s Nextel Cup race, causing him to hit the outside wall. During Saturday night’s Busch race, he also crashed into the wall.
Stewart’s condition will be evaluated next week by team doctors.
Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, and Reed Sorenson rounded out the top-10.
Top-10 Chase Contenders: 1. Johnson-1861, 2. Kenseth-1752, 3. Martin-1652, 4. Stewart-1630, 5. Earnhardt-1590, 6. Kahne-1569, 7. J. Gordon-1451, 8. Burton-1450, 9. Kyle Busch-1437, 10. Harvick-1426.
EDWARDS Grabs Charlotte Busch Win – Carl Edwards grabbed the lead from Casey Mears on a restart with six laps to go, after Mears ran out of fuel, and went on to win the Busch Series race Saturday at Lowe’s.
Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Harvick-2092, 2. Edwards-1744, 3. Bowyer-1653, 4. Hamlin-1642, 5. J.J. Yeley-1602, 6. Biffle-1596, 7. Kyle Busch-1589, 8. Menard-1574, 9. Leffler-1436, Sauter-1432.
HORNADAY Gets 28th Truck Win – Ron Hornaday, Jr. won Saturday’s City of Mansfield Craftsman Truck Series race for his 28th career win.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck leaders: 1. Bodine-1140, 2. Musgrave-1120, 3. Reutimann-1034, 4. Starr-948, 5. Benson-948, 6. Sprague-935, 7. Setzer-922, 8. Crafton-910, 9. Cook-905, 10. Bliss-888.
YATES RACING Undergoing Major Changes, Mooresville, NC – The racing strategy at Robert Yates Racing is changing. Two weeks ago, Dale Jarrett, announced he would be leaving at the end of this season in favor of a Toyota team owned by Michael Waltrip.
Last week, Robert Yates announced that general manager, Eddie D’Hondt had been fired.
For several years, RYR teams have been on a decline.
Since its opening in 1989, the organization has 57 wins, 267 top-five’s and 419 top-10 finishes in 919 starts.
They won the 1999 NASCAR championship with driver Dale Jarrett and have placed at least one driver in the top-10 in the point standings, in 10 out of the 17 years they’ve been competing in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.
From 1996 until 2001, one of their drivers has been in the top five of the final point standings. Since that time, however, they have placed drivers in the top-10 only twice with Jarrett finishing ninth in 2002 and Elliott Sadler finishing ninth in 2004.
That’s why change is needed.
Maybe Yates needs to talk with Richard Childress, who found himself in a similar situation nearly a decade ago.
During the 1980s and early ‘90s, Dale Earnhardt had some of his best years. But midway through the decade, Earnhardt’s success began to wane. Many racing fans thought he was over the hill.
“Not so,” said car owner Richard Childress in 1997. “Dale has still got it. If you were to match Dale against any other driver, Dale would win. That’s how much confidence I have in him.”
Childress was right. Earnhardt never won a race in 1997, but he came back to win six more races in the next three years before his death.
According to Childress, the team had been relying more on Earnhardt’s driving skills than on new technology.
“We got behind the learning curve in NASCAR,” continued Childress. “In the past we had been able to give Dale an average-handling car and he would win races for us.
“Instead of keeping up with technology that other teams were using, we relied too heavily on Dale. We tried to put too much on Dale’s shoulders, and as a result, we dropped the ball.”
Based on Dale Jarrett and Elliott Sadler performance records over the past two years, Yates needs to listen to Childress.
The No. 88 UPS Team and the No. 38 M&M’S Team, are currently 12th and 15th in the point standings, respectively.
Doug Yates, head engine builder for RYR and son of Robert Yates, attributes the fact that the teams are in the top-15 in the point standings to the diligence of current RYR team members.
“Right now we are a victim of our own success,” Yates said. “For so many years we were successful with the formula we used to run this team. We stayed small and didn’t grow as fast as the technology in the sport has grown. What worked five years ago doesn’t work now. We know we’ve fallen behind in that respect.
“Our goal is to figure out a technical direction and find the right people to lead that direction. This isn’t a quick fix and it is going to be a process for us. This decision is a first step in the evaluation process.”
Robert and son, Doug are good people. They are a credit to NASCAR. It’s certainly not going to happen overnight, but because the organization is so strong, their teams will return to victory lane.
All three of NASCAR’s major touring series will be at Dover, DE, home of “The Monster Mile.”
Friday, June 2, Craftsman Trucks AAA Insurance 200, race 8 of 25, 200 laps, 8 p.m. (taped delay). TV: Speed Channel.
Saturday, June 3, Busch Series Dover 200, race 14 of 35, 200 laps, 3 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, June 4, Nextel Cup Neighborhood Excellence 400, race 13 of 36, 400 laps, 1:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Racing Trivia Question: Jody Ridley of Chatsworth, GA has one career NASCAR Winston Cup victory. Where did he get the win?
Last Week’s Question: Who is this driver? He won the 1963 and ’65 World 600. He was also referred to as “Chicago Bum,” and “NASCAR’s Golden Boy.” Answer. His name is Fred Lorenzen, from Elmhurst, IL. He won 33 poles and 26 races dating from 1956 through 1972.
You may read additional racing stories at www.race500.com.
Registrations are being taken for the ninth annual NEPA 3V3 Summer Soccer Clash June 24 at Abington Heights High School in Clarks Summit. The rain date is set for June 25.
For information, visit www.nepa3v3soccer.com or call 1-800-22WELCOME.
The NEPSAY-sanctioned event is open to players of all skill levels, ranging from U-7 to 7-18. There are also divisions for college-aged and adult teams. Teams are guaranteed a minimum of three games.
Medals will be presented to the top two teams in each division. Each division also qualifies teams for the Challenge Sports National Tournament at Disney World in July and the 3v3 Live National Tournament in San Antonio in February, 2007.
A Keeper Klash is also held in conjunction with the event.
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