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Outs were hard to come by Wednesday during the District 2 Class A baseball championship game at Lackawanna County Stadium.
Runs were in short supply Friday when the District 2 Class A softball title was being decided at Marywood University.
In both cases, Blue Ridge teams had the answers to get through tense games and emerge with one-run victories to walk away as district champions.
Jon Carpenter's strikeout with the tying and winning runs on base stopped a Bishop Hafey comeback and allowed Blue Ridge to hold on for the baseball championship, 10-9.
The Lady Raiders repeated as softball champions when Kate Donovan raced home from second base on Jocelyn Dearborn's single in the bottom of the 10th inning of a 2-1 victory over Old Forge.
Moosic – Freshman catcher Sam Longacre drove in four runs and senior first baseman Dave Ostrowski had four hits against Bishop Hafey. They were just part of the offense from a relentless Blue Ridge lineup.
Bishop Hafey kept trying to come up with answers, but Blue Ridge kept pounding the ball on the way to 16 hits. That offense was too much for the Vikings who erased one three-run deficit and cut into a pair of four-run deficits, but were never able to take the lead.
Carpenter, who needed 62 pitches to get the last eight outs, came up with a three-pitch strikeout to end the game.
Down to its last out, Bishop Hafey used three straight hits to close to within a run and put the winning run on base.
The Vikings had four of their nine hits, including triples by T.J. Breslin and Martin, in the bottom of the seventh inning while scoring three times.
"We'd get up a couple and they'd come back," Blue Ridge coach Mike Ostrowski said. "It was getting kind of repetitive.
"Carpenter showed a lot of guts. He called the last batter on his own."
Carpenter found the right combination of pitches to end a game that lasted two hours and 39 minutes.
Blue Ridge led, 3-0, going into the bottom of the fourth when Bishop Hafey rallied to tie and knock out starting pitcher Jordan Smith, who struck out seven.
The Raiders answered with four in the top of the fifth, putting in motion a wild closing stretch in which Blue Ridge scored in its last three at-bats while Bishop Hafey scored in its last four.
"Our pitchers were hitting their spots, but that's a good hitting club," Bishop Hafey coach Tom Yale said.
Every player in the Blue Ridge lineup either scored or drove in a run and six of the nine did both. Joe Bennett, the only player without a hit, drew two walks and scored twice.
Longacre's two-run double capped the four-run fifth that gave Blue Ridge a 7-3 lead. He had a two-run single in the following inning to restore the four-run advantage.
Dunmore – Brittany Welch got in trouble in the top of the sixth inning when she could not handle a hard groundball back to the mound, then hurried a wild throw to the plate to allow Old Forge's only run.
Welch went back out with a perfect seventh inning and showed she was not going to allow the Lady Devils another chance.
The Blue Ridge pitcher struck out the side on nine straight strikes, including eight swings and misses by the overwhelmed Old Forge batters. She did not allow a runner to reach second base over the final four innings while finishing up a four-hitter that included 15 strikeouts and just one walk.
Welch had three innings in which she did not throw a single ball. She opened the game with 12 straight strikes in the first inning. She finished it by throwing seven straight strikes in a quick top of the 10th inning.
That effort gave the Blue Ridge offense yet another chance to win the game.
Donovan reached on a two-out error off a hard groundball to third. She moved to second when Welch was hit by a pitch.
Dearborn then singled just beyond the shortstop's reach and Donovan kept running. The throw, which probably would not have been on time anyway, was a few feet up the first baseline as Donovan crossed the plate.
The Old Forge outfield ran down nine flyballs and started a double play to keep the game tight despite an 8-4 edge in hits by Blue Ridge, which stranded at least one runner in each of the first seven innings.
"The opportunities were there," Blue Ridge coach Bob Pavelski said. "That's why I never eat before a game."
Erin Keene went 3-for-4 for the unbeaten Lady Raiders and provided the first-inning sacrifice that set up her sister, Dayna Keene, to score on a Welch single.
Welch and Dearborn each had two hits.
While the Lady Raiders were putting something together in every inning of regulation, Old Forge went 12 straight batters without a baserunner from the second to the sixth inning. Welch, who threw 89 strikes and just 24 balls in the game, had six strikeouts during that stretch.
"Brittany did a great job keeping them off-balance," Pavelski said. "She kept them guessing. The worst thing a batter can do is guess."
HOW THEY GOT THERE
Both Blue Ridge teams rolled over playoff opponents on their way to the championship games.
The Raiders outscored three baseball opponents, 34-16, in the tournament as Longacre went 7-for-12 with 11 RBIs.
"Hit about .275 in the regular season, but he really stepped up during districts," coach Ostrowski said.
Mike Bloomer was 4-for-4 with a double and four RBIs in a 15-5 quarterfinal win over Bishop O'Reilly. Carpenter added three hits, three runs and two RBIs while Longacre and Anthony Dorunda each had two hits and drove in three runs.
Longacre was 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBIs in a 9-2 win over top-seeded Old Forge in which Jordan Smith threw a two-hitter with nine strikeouts.
"Smith threw a lot of pitches against Old Forge," Ostrowski said. "We went as far as we could with him (in the final)."
The Lady Raiders outscored their softball opponents, 19-3.
Dearborn was 4-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs while Dayna Keene, Kas Ralston and Caryn Zurn all added three hits in a 10-1 quarterfinal win over Susquehanna.
Welch hit a two-run homer in the first inning of a 7-1 victory over Bishop O'Hara in the semifinals. By that time, she had already started a streak of 18 straight batters that she retired, including eight on strikeouts, before giving up a hit with two out in the bottom of the seventh.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Mountain View boys' volleyball season came to an end in the first round of round-robin play during the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament.
Mountain View dropped all three matches in Pool B, but did manage to win one game in its final match.
District 10 champion Maplewood, the pool winner, handled Mountain View, 25-16, 25-9, 25-16, in the opener.
District 1 champion Pennsbury topped the Eagles, 25-20, 25-11, 25-10.
Mountain View beat Masterman of Philadelphia, 25-20, in the first game, before falling 25-21 in each of the last two games.
In professional baseball, Rich Thompson had one of his team's four hits each day as the Indianapolis Indians lost, 3-1, to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons both Saturday and Sunday.
Thompson, a Montrose graduate, went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice and a walk Saturday. He was 1-for-3 and was hit by a pitch Sunday.
Thompson came off the bench in the first two games of the series, both wins by the Indians. He had a hit in his only at-bat in those games. He went 3-for-6 for the series to raise his average with the Indians to .313.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Both Blue Ridge teams were scheduled to open state tournament play Monday. If they won the Monday openers, they would play in the state quarterfinals Thursday with a chance to reach the June 12 semifinals.
In softball, Blue Ridge was facing District 11 champion Williams Valley for the chance to meet the winner of the game between District 3 champion Upper Dauphin and District 1 champion Plumstead Christian.
In baseball, Blue Ridge was facing District 3 champion Mt. Calvary Monday. The winner will meet the winner of the game between District 11 champion Tri-Valley and District 4 champion Muncy.
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
KENSETH’S Tire Gamble Pays Off At Dover, Dover, DE – Matt Kenseth overtook his teammate Jamie McMurray with three laps remaining to win Sunday’s Nextel Cup Neighborhood Excellence 400.
While about half the teams elected to pit during the race’s final pit stop, Kenseth’s No. 17 DeWalt Ford team decided not to stop for fresh tires.
Matt Kenseth celebrates his Sunday win at Dover.
“The call not to get tires was made by the driver,” said Kenseth. “It was his call. I just felt like we were faster than the four cars that were in front of me, and felt like it was worth the shot.”
When green flag racing resumed on lap 370, Kenseth immediately moved past Jeff Burton for the third spot. With 12-laps remaining, Kenseth began battling Kevin Harvick in the No. 29 for the second spot.
He was able to get by Harvick on lap 394, and set his sights on his teammate.
Three laps later, it appeared McMurray slipped a little and slid up the track. It opened the bottom up and Kenseth shot by underneath for the lead.
“It was great racing,” continued Kenseth, “Because there were three guys racing there at the end and no one wanted to give an inch. The little opening I got when Jamie went high helped, because it’s so hard to pass here when you’re racing side-by-side.”
It was Kenseth’s second win of the 2006 season. His other victory came in the second race of the season at Fontana, CA.
The second-place finish was McMurray’s best finish of the season.
“I thought we had it,” said McMurray, “We’ve struggled most of the year, but we’ve run better the last two weeks, and so this week was a good one for us.”
Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five.
Points leader, Jimmie Johnson started from the back of the field, had two spinouts, and was two laps down at one point, but came back to finish sixth.
“This is as good as a win,” said Johnson. “We just fought and fought all day long. The car wasn’t right from the beginning, it was loose and hard to drive.”
Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. completed the top-10.
Ryan Newman, the polesitter finished 14th.
Tony Stewart, who injured his shoulder last week, relinquished his seat to Ricky Rudd after the first caution. Stewart ran 39 laps with his broken right shoulder blade before giving way to Rudd, who finished the day two laps down in 25th position.
Top-10 Chase for the Championship contenders: 1. Johnson-2011, 2. Kenseth-1937, 3. Martin-1795, 4. Earnhardt Jr.-1729, 5. Stewart-1718, 6. Kahne-1715, 7. Burton-1615, 8. Harvick-1591, 9. J. Gordon-1583, 10. Kyle Busch-1572.
Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Harvick-2221, 2. Edwards-1924, 3. Bowyer-1818, 4. Hamlin-1793, 5. Kyle Busch-1744, 6. J.J. Yeley-1740, 7. Greg Biffle-1738, 8. Menard-1632, 9. Sauter-1532, 10. Leffler-1497.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders: 1. Bodine-1305, 2. Musgrave-1229, 3. Reuitamm-1194, 4. Benson-1098, 5. Starr-1078, 6. Sprague-1073, 7. Bliss-1053, 8. Martin-1034, 9. Crofton-1028, 10. Setzer-1025.
BODINE Planning Move To Cup – Todd Bodine, driver of the No. 30 Germain Racing Toyota in the Craftsman Truck Series is planning to drive a Toyota in the Nextel Cup Series.
Despite the uncertainty of sponsorship, Bodine, who is the current Truck points leader, says he believes he will run as many as 16 races next season.
“The only way I plan on leaving Germain Racing is if they put me in the ground, or I’m kicked out of NASCAR,” said Bodine. “That means I’m here to stay.”
According to Bob Germain, Bodine may actually run a couple Cup races this year.
“We actually have a sponsor that we’re talking do, and we may wind up running some Cup races for them this year,” said Bob Germain. “We can’t really give out everything, but at this point, Todd will be driving a Cup car for us some time in the future.”
Bodine, a native of Chemung, NY, the youngest of three racing brothers, is a chassis specialist who got his start in racing in Modifieds in Connecticut.
As a child, he began working at the family-owned Chemung Speedrome. At different times in his career he worked for the Buck Baker Driving School and as a fabricator for various race teams.
Bodine ran full-time in the Cup Series in 1994 and 1995 for owner Butch Mock. The 1994 season remains Bodine's best Cup campaign. He finished 20th in the series standings with seven top-10 finishes in 30 starts.
Over the next several seasons, Bodine was shuffled around the Cup Series, running for several different owners in several part-time rides. Bodine made his return to a full-time seat in the Cup Series in 2001 and, despite some promising runs, battled bad luck and mechanical trouble on his way to an unfulfilling 29th in the point standings.
His best racing success has come in the Busch Series, where he finished second in 1997 after an intense battle with good friend Randy LaJoie. He finished third to LaJoie in 1996. He has 14 career Busch Series victories.
In addition to Germain Racing, Toyota will also offer support to Bill Davis Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, and Team Red Bull.
The three major NASCAR series will be at three different racing sites this weekend. The Cup teams are at Pocono, PA, while the Busch Series is at Nashville, TN, and the Craftsman Trucks go west to Ft. Worth, TX.
Friday, June 9, Craftsman Trucks Sam’s Town 400, race 9 of 25, 167 laps, 9 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Saturday, June 10, Busch Series Federated Auto Parts 300, race 15 of 35, 225 laps 7:30 p.m. TV: FX Channel.
Sunday, June 11, Pocono 500, race 14 of 36, Starting time: 1:30 p.m. : 200 laps TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Which Cup team does Scott Riggs drive for?
Last Week’s Racing Trivia Question: Jody Ridley of Chatsworth, GA has one career NASCAR Winston Cup victory. Where did he get the win? Answer. Jody Ridley’s only Winston Cup victory came in the 1981 Mason Dixon 400 at Dover.
You may read additional racing stories at www.race500.com.
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