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Rich Thompson's resurgence at the plate was rewarded Friday when he was named to play in the Triple-A All-Star Game.
The Montrose graduate will play for the International League all-stars against the Pacific Coast League all-stars Wednesday at Fifth Third Field in Toledo. The game can be seen on ESPN2, beginning at 7 p.m.
Thompson was added to the roster to replace teammate Tom Gorzelanny, a left-handed pitcher who was promoted to the parent Pittsburgh Pirates June 30.
After being dropped back to Class AA last season and for the start of this season, Thompson is back among the best at the Class AAA level. The outfielder went into the weekend hitting .286 with 39 runs scored. He is tied for second in the IL with six triples.
Thompson stole bases in back-to-back games last week, raising his IL total to 13 this season. He stole a base in the ninth inning July 4 and went on to score the winning run in a 5-3 victory over the Columbus Clippers.
Thompson went from Montrose to James Madison University in Virginia. From there, he was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. Thompson made it to the Major Leagues for six games with the Kansas City Royals at the start of the 2004 season.
B.C. OPEN MOVED
The recent flooding that caused so much damage in the area, also wreaked havoc across the border. As a result, the B.C. Open, the PGA Tour's closest stop to Susquehanna County, has been moved out of En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y.
The B.C. Open, scheduled for July 20-23, will be played at the Atunyote Golf Club at Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, N.Y.
The event will be called the "B.C. Open presented by Turning Stone Resort," and all proceeds will still go to Broome County charities.
"In order to provide the tournament organizers the best opportunity to stage the tournament at the highest level, we worked with Broome County Community Charities, the County of Broome and Turning Stone Resort to find a site that would ensure that this year's tournament would continue as scheduled," PGA Tour Chief of Operations Henry Hughes said in a press release. "It was unanimous among all the groups involved that this was the best option."
Ray Halbritter, a spokesman for the Oneida Nation which operates Turning Stone, said the resort was happy to assist.
"The PGA Tour approached us and asked for our help," Halbritter said. "The Oneida people have a legacy of helping others, and so we are pleased to do our part and to ensure the charities in Broome County continue to benefit from this event they worked so hard to build."
Turning Stone has a combination of golf courses that ranks among the finest to be found at any location so far north. Verona is located along the New York State Thruway between Syracuse and Utica.
Atunyote is a Tom Fazio-designed course that opened in 2004. The 7,315-yard layout already played host to one PGA event this summer. It hosted the PGA of America Professional National Championship.
Water is a factor on the course, which includes a 13-acre lake, running along three fairways, including the 18th.
The B.C. Open began in 1971. It became an official PGA Tour stop in 1972. After holding a September spot on the schedule for decades, the tournament was moved into a July position where it has gone head-to-head with the British Open in recent years.
Prior to the flooding problem, this was already expected to be the last year for the B.C. Open as part of the PGA Tour schedule.
With the move of the B.C. Open, the closest professional tournament to Susquehanna County will be the Northeast Pennsylvania Classic, a $475,000 stop on the Nationwide Tour at Glenmaura Country Club in Moosic August 17-20.
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
JEFF GORDON Cruises, Kenseth Stews, Joliet, IL – Jeff Gordon had one eye on the race track and the other on the fuel gauge as he headed for the checkered flag to win Sunday’s USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Jeff Gordon, winner of Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Chicago.
While Gordon went on to victory lane, Matt Kenseth from nearby Cambridge, WI was the victim of a triple whammy.
First, Kenseth received a tap from Gordon that took him out of the lead. Then he ran out of gas, and finally, he and David Stremme got together just a few feet from the finish line, wrecking both cars.
The action began four laps to go in the scheduled 267-lap race, when Gordon, who was running second nudged the rear bumper of leader, Kenseth’s No. 17, Ford.
Kenseth spun down into the infield, but was able to continue.
Accusations flew over the radio and in the pits between the two drivers and their crew chiefs. Kenseth accused Gordon of deliberately wrecking him, while Gordon replied that Kenseth had slowed up and was blocking him.
“We just got spun out,” said Robbie Reiser, crew chief on the No. 17.
But Steve Letarte, Gordon’s crew chief didn’t see it that way.
“It is what it is,” he said. “We’re not going to worry about what others say or think, we’re going to take care of our stuff.”
NASCAR had to add two additional laps to the scheduled 267-lap race. It was a green/white/checkered finish with Gordon out front. Kenseth had been shuffled back to ninth, but before the green flag was given he and Tony Stewart were out of gas. They had to coast into their pits and get fuel to finish the race.
“There is no doubt on the long runs we had the best car,” said Gordon. “Matt ran a great race and I hate to win it like that. I got in there real hard a couple times and he blocked me a couple times.
“He blocked me on the restart, and I could have spun him then. We just had a great race car and we could have won it anyway, but I just hate that it had to happen that way. I got a great run on him and I wasn’t going to back out.”
It was the first Chicago win for Jeff Gordon and owner Rick Hendrick. Gordon has now moved back into the top-10.
“Yes, it was intentional on his part,” said Kenseth. “Jeff’s a smart guy. I know for sure that he did it on purpose. I knew I was tight and slow in the middle and that he was going to catch me, but the thing is, he could have passed me clean.”
Polesitter, Jeff Burton finished second.
“We just got a little bit off,” said Burton. “I started us off too tight, and that was on my shoulders. The guys in the pits did a great job and they are the ones that need to be thanked.”
Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Reed Sorenson, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, and J.J. Yeley rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Top-10 Chase For the Nextel Cup Contenders: 1. Johnson-2651, 2. Kenseth-2603, 3. Earnhardt Jr.-2394, 4. Burton-2327, 5. Kahne-2303, 6. Martin-2291, 7. Stewart-2274, 8. Kyle Busch-2265, 9. Harvick-2253, Gordon-2219.
MEARS Takes Chicago Busch Race – Top-10 Busch Series drivers: 1. Harvick-2922, 2. Edwards-2599, 3. Bowyer-2540, 4. Hanmlin-2502, 5. Yeley-2494, 6. Biffle-2264, 7. Menard-2213, 8. Kyle Busch-2191, 9. Sauter-2070, 10. K. Wallace-2058.
HORNADAY Is Kentucky Truck Winner – Top-10 Craftsman Trucks Series points leaders: 1. Bodine-2043, 2. Benson-1931, 3. Reutimann-1898, 4. Musgrave-1807, 5. Crawford-1806, 6. Hornaday-1745, 7. Starr-1742, 8. Cook-1717, 9. Sprague-1708, 10. Setzer-1696.
HARRY GANT Is Still A Champion – Even though he has been retired from Winston Cup racing for over a decade, Harry Gant still has the heart of a champion.
Just ask Ron Isaac of Fort Myers, Florida.
“My father-in-law is one of Harry’s biggest fans,” said Isaac. “My father-in-law was not a wealthy person. He worked hard and honestly for everything he got. Sometimes his children might only have had two changes of clothes, but he did a heck of a job in raising them up right.
“And they turned out good. All of them.”
Recently, Isaac’s father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer and confined to an Indiana hospital. During a visit, Ron overheard him talking about how much he admired Harry.
Ron thought what a wonderful going away present it would be if he could get Harry to call or visit the sick man.
“I contacted Donny Pennell with the Taylorsville Times, in Taylorsville, NC and asked if he could get a message to Harry,” continued Isaac.
“A couple days later, the phone rang and it was Harry. What a shock!
“Back when my father-in-law originally met Harry, Harry was doing publicity work for Don Scaggs, who invented the rechargeable fire bottle for race cars, now called Safety Systems.
“One day after Harry's phone call, Don Scaggs shows up to pay his respects. What a boost my father-in-law had to brag to Don that Harry was just on the phone. This whole crazy mess is connected somehow; the players and the fans, but I'm not smart enough to figure it out yet. I guess that's why there's faith.
“My father-in-law cried after their conversation.
“My wife said she had never seen him cry before, even at funerals.
“The phone call was not only a blessing to him, but to us as well, to know that Harry Gant is still such a caring fella.
“To show how much I appreciated Harry’s call, I donated $400 to the Victory Junction Gang in Donny Pennell and the Taylorsville Times’ behalf.”
Harry Gant was born January 10, 1940. He earned the name "Mr. September" in 1991 after winning four consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup races that month at Darlington, Richmond, Dover Downs and Martinsville tying the modern era (1972-present) record. He also recorded two Busch Series races during that time frame. Gant's best season was 1991, when he finished fourth in the points standing; winning five races, one pole, fifteen top-5 finishes and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led in most laps led with 1,684.
Gant finished his career in 1994 with 18 Winston Cup victories and 17 Bud Poles. He ran a total of 444 races in the Winston Series and earned $7,882,084.00.
For additional information on Gant’s racing career, go to www.harrygant.com.
The Cup and Busch teams are in Loudon, NH, while the Craftsman Trucks travel south to Memphis, Tenn.
Saturday, July 15, Busch Series New England 200, race 20 of 35, 200 laps, 3 p.m. TV: TNT.
Craftsman Trucks O’Reilly 200, race 14 of 25, 200 laps, 9 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Sundat, July 16, New England 300, race 19 of 36, 300 laps, 1:30 p.m. TV: TNT.
Racing Trivia Question: Who is Ryan Newman’s teammate in the Nextel Cup Series?
Last Week’s Racing Trivia Question: Who is the crew chief on Matt Kenseth’s No. 17 DeWalt Ford? Answer. It is Robbie Reiser.
You may read additional racing stories at www.race500.com.
Brittany Welch did not even know if she would be Blue Ridge's pitcher when the season opened.
Bob Pavelski, the Blue Ridge softball coach, was also unsure. He had Welch split the position for the early part of the season.
In the end, however, it was Welch who expertly handled the most important position in the sport for the Lady Raiders.
Welch finished her high school career on the mound, leading Blue Ridge to a 1-0 state championship game victory over Iroquois with a no-hitter in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class A final at Shippensburg University.
For Welch, it was the second major contribution to a state championship. She drove in the winning run and scored the second run in 2004 during a 2-0 victory over Sto-Rox in the championship game.
Welch was still a factor at the plate. This time, she went 2-for-2 with a walk. Her first-inning hit combined with an error to produce the game's only run.
Welch's biggest contributions this time, however, came on the mound. She did not allow a run in the last 16 innings of the season to complete Blue Ridge's championship run. The only run she allowed in four state tournament games came when she pitched in a downpour against Upper Dauphin in the quarterfinals, immediately before the game was suspended because of rain.
For her efforts, Welch is the latest Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
"My team made a lot of good plays behind me," Welch said. "We really work on our defense and hitting.
"Some days we work strictly on defense, other days we work strictly on hitting."
Welch provided the pitching. She was not sure that would be her role when the season started.
"I was not really sure I'd be pitching," Welch said. "Everything was up in the air."
Pavelski knew he had options.
"Erin Keene pitched very well early in the season," he said. "We tried both and as we came through the season, we tried three or four defensive combinations.
"This is what we wound up most comfortable with."
Welch looked comfortable for the beginning and the end of the state final in which she struck out 11 and allowed only two baserunners, on walks during a brief struggle with control in the fourth and fifth inning.
"This is a real good feeling, especially for my senior year," said Welch, who threw 71 of 97 pitches for strikes in the final. "It's a great way to close it out."
Brittany, the daughter of Tim and Jina Welch of New Milford, was also the Athlete of the Month following the state championship game in 2004.
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