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Issue Home April 11, 2007 Site Home

HEADLINES:
Local Sports Scene
NASCAR Racing

’07 In-season Trout Stocking Schedule
Saber Booster Club Meeting Scheduled
Mountain View's Stoud Named Athlete Of Month


Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Loses Another Baseball Opener

Moosic - The Norfolk Tides stole the show from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees Thursday night.

Leadoff hitter Ruddy Yan reached base four times and stole second on each occasion to help the Tides to a 7-5 victory over the Yankees in an International League opener.

Yan walked to lead off and had one of two stolen bases by the Tides in a five-run eighth inning that ruined the team's debut before a sellout crowd of 10,310 at PNC Field.

"We have to keep the speed guys off the bases," Yankees manager Dave Miley said. "They stole five of six on us."

Much has changed since last summer when the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons ended their 18-year run as the top affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The franchise remained in Moosic, but switched to an affiliation with the New York Yankees, leading to a change in nickname. Lackawanna County Stadium naming rights were then sold and the artificial turf was replaced with a natural grass surface that was used at the stadium for the first time since it was built in 1989.

One thing has not changed. The franchise continues to struggle in openers.

The Red Barons lost their last seven and were 5-13 in openers. The Yankees are now 0-for-1.

Pre-game ceremonies featured five "first" pitches.

The Yankees then needed far too many pitches to get through the eighth inning, which they entered with a 4-2 lead.

"It was a tough eighth inning," Miley said. "That was pretty much the game."

Playing in bitter cold – the temperature for the first pitch was 30 degrees – and occasional snow flurries, the Yankees could not bring the long night to an end.

"When you spend a month and a half in Florida for spring training, I don't know if you ever get used to this," Miley said as the team prepared for an entire opening series in similar conditions.

Norfolk, which also went through an off-season affiliation switch, hit a pair of two-run homers to supplement its impressive speed with power. The Tides, who had been affiliated with the New York Mets throughout their 38-year history, switched to the Baltimore Orioles.

Jon Knott's two-run shot in the fourth gave Norfolk an early 2-0 lead. Luis Montanez hit the shortest possible home run at the stadium, just clearing the fence down the left-field line less than a foot inside the foul pole, for the final two runs of the eighth inning and the eventual winning margin.

Knott's homer accounted for the only scoring off Yankees starter Eric Clippard, who stranded two men in the third and fifth innings.

"He pitched very well," Miley said. "He left a breaking ball up on a guy who clearly has some power.

"He kept us in the game. The last out, he had to turn it up and he did."

Clippard made it through five innings, throwing 61 of 91 pitches for strikes. He gave up four hits and two walks while striking out three.

"It didn't have too much effect," Clippard said of pitching in the cold. "Once you get the body warmed up, you're pretty much the most active guy out there.

"Obviously, I wish I could get that one pitch back. It was a full-count curve that I left up a little. It was not my best curveball, but he hadn't seen one from me. Sometimes, you've just got to tip your cap to the guy."

For some players Thursday, that would be a difficult task. Nearly half of the Tides kept ski masks on during the national anthem and several players had hoods from sweatshirts either over or under their caps.

Angel Chavez produced a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the fourth for the first hit by the Yankees against Norfolk starter Hayden Penn. Penn finished with six strikeouts.

The Yankees moved in front with two runs in the seventh. Chris Basak singled in Eric Duncan, who had doubled, then scored with some alter base running. Basak slowed going into third on a Raul Chavez single, then scored on a lazy relay throw.

The comeback, however, was wasted in the eighth.

T. J. Beam had worked two perfect innings before allowing the first three batters to reach. Colter Bean came on and got the first two outs before yielding three straight hits.

WEEK IN REVIEW

The Arizona Diamondbacks did not have a minor-league roster spot for Montrose graduate Rich Thompson when the team broke camp so they assigned Thompson to extended spring training.

Thompson, a center fielder, was with the Diamondbacks as a non-roster invitee to major-league camp before being sent to minor-league camp on March 19.

In professional hockey, two Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were honored by the American Hockey League.

Team captain Micki DuPont was selected as a first-team, all-star defenseman.

DuPont leads all AHL defensemen in goals with 16. The former AHL all-rookie selection joins defenseman John Slaney (2000-01) and goaltender Dany Sabourin (2005-06) as the only first-team all-stars in team history.

Nolan Schaefer was named Goaltender of the Month for March after going 8-3-0 with a 1.98 goals against average and .918 save percentage.

In high school softball, Montrose's Abbey Hewitt opened the season with a no-hitter in a 15-0 romp over Forest City.

Caitlin Ely, who stole four bases, and freshman Brittany Bartok, who made her debut with a home run, each scored three times.

COLLEGE CORNER

Devin Glezen and Brittany Pavelski, who helped Blue Ridge to a 2004 state softball championship, have reunited at Lock Haven University where they are playing for the defending NCAA Division II national champions and current number-one ranked team in the country.

Glezen moved down from Division I after two seasons as an American East Conference all-star catcher.

Pavelski moved up from Division III after starting every game of her freshman season at Marywood University.

Glezen has started every game during Lock Haven's 26-1 start. She is third on the team with a .345 batting average, second with seven doubles and tied for first with three triples.

Pavelski has appeared in seven games, making one start. She is 1-for-6 (.167).

THE WEEK AHEAD

The Binghamton Mets are scheduled to play their Eastern League home opener Thursday against the Portland Sea Dogs.

TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.

 

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NASCAR Racing
By Gerald Hodges

The Racing Reporter

EDWARDS Gets Nashville Busch Win – Two weeks after winning at the high-banked concrete surface of Bristol, Carl Edwards dominated once again on the concrete surface of Nashville Speedway. It was his sixth top-five of the season.

The victory was Edwards’ first career back-to-back Busch Series win, and he accomplished the feat with relative ease.

Carl Edwards celebrates his Saturday Busch win at Nashville.

His margin of victory, 4.673 seconds, was the largest of the season and his 74 laps led were the most of any driver during the race. With the win, he remains the NASCAR Busch Series points leader.

Top-10 Busch Series leaders: 1. Edwards-1200, 2. Blaney-879, 3. Harvick-808, 4. Reutimann-757, 5. Kyle Busch-757, 6. Ambrose-754, 7. Hamilton Jr.-738, 8. Huffman-703, 9. M. Wallace-696, 10. Smith-691.

HENDRICK Teams Are On Top – Few can deny that only a handful of teams have any hope of winning a Nextel Cup championship.

Hendrick Motorsports is at the top of the list.

Normally a prediction like I’m making is only worth about a $1.25 cup of coffee at McDonalds.

Here it is!

I envision a Hendrick Motorsports driver sitting at the head table this December.

I’m going out on a limb and saying that Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, or Kyle Busch will win the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship.

This might rile some Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, or Matt Kenseth fans, but trust me on this one. I’m not speculating on this because I believe the Hendrick teams have better drivers.

No, what has placed the Hendrick teams above others this season is the new “Car of Today.”

The Hendrick teams are way ahead of everyone else in developing and getting the handle on how this new car performs.

Look at the first two races for this new car.

In its maiden race at Bristol, Kyle Busch came home the winner. Jeff Gordon sat on the pole and finished third. Jimmie Johnson qualified sixth and finished 16th.

One week later, these three Hendrick drivers finished first, second, and fourth.

Practically all the teams tested the COT this past week at Richmond. Jeff Gordon had the fifth-fastest time and Kyle Busch was eighth-fastest.

“We are very pleased,” said Johnson. “We started out of the gate slow at Daytona, but I think you have seen the strength of this race team at the other tracks. Our goal right now is to race as well as we can and enter the “Chase” with a lot of momentum.”

All three drivers were very satisfied with their cars. Gordon had nothing but praise for it.

“NASCAR is still dealing with some issues, but I think it’s great,” said Gordon. “I like it, and I think once all the teams get used to it, they will change their minds.”

The reason that Hendrick drivers are doing so well is that the Hendrick engineers and development teams did their homework. They tested and tested, and tested some more. They even tested the COT at tracks that do not run a NASCAR race.

As Darrell Waltrip would say, “Boys, they’re ready to go racing.”

There will be 16 COT races in 2007. Hendrick has already won the first two.

It’s a no-brainer. Everyone else will be chasing Hendrick Motorsports drivers for the remainder of this season.

The other teams can only look forward to 2008.

Jimmie Johnson and the entire Nextel Cup Series enjoyed an off weekend before traveling to Texas Motor Speedway for the April 15 race, with the conventional-style car.

“We haven't made the transition back yet so I am not sure what it is going to be like going back to the old car,” continued Johnson. “Every time I get in this car, I have a question mark because I am learning about the car and I am not sure what to expect. When we go back to the old car, there might be a lap or two where you question which car you are in and what it is going to do.”

Johnson is the only driver in the modern era to win at least three races in each of his first six full-time seasons. Johnson is in third place, 75 points behind leader Jeff Gordon in the season points race. Gordon, in 1996, was the last driver to win three of the first six races. At Texas, Johnson will pilot the No. 48 Lowe’s Monte Carlo after racing the Impala SS (Car of Tomorrow) at the Bristol and Martinsville short tracks.

In seven starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Johnson has completed all 2,343 laps. He owns an average starting spot of 10.7 and average finish of 7.3. He has led 3 laps at Texas.

Top-12 points leaders after 6 of 36: 1. J. Gordon-966, 2. J. Burton-938, 3. Johnson-906, 4. Kenseth-836, 5. Kyle Busch-804, 6. Hamlin-776, 7. Bowyer-751, 8. Stewart-726, 9. Edwards-710, 10. Harvick-687, 11. Earnhardt-677, 12. McMurray-650.

PETTY Would Franchise NASCAR Teams – Richard Petty is pushing NASCAR to franchise teams like football, baseball, basketball, and hockey.

Petty is one of several car owners that are struggling. Petty Enterprises has not had a win since 1999. His two teams have been unable to keep up with the larger teams with mega-bucks.

“I think the only thing in my mind that keeps NASCAR from becoming a legitimate, major league with football or baseball or whatever is being franchised,” said Petty.

In a fax to the Associated Press, NASCAR’s vice-president of racing operations, Steve O’Donnell, said the subject of franchising has been discussed with owners many times in the past.

“We are different from the stick and ball sports,” he said. “Competition, not contracts, dictates whether teams compete week in and week out.

“So far, no model has been developed to insure that the need to perform would remain a team’s priority. True, side-by-side competition is at the root of NASCAR, and it’s important to be maintained.”

Cup TV Ratings Down 14 Per Cent – John Saunders, spokesman for International Speedway Corp. that operates 12 tracks where Nextel Cup races are held said TV ratings for Cup races are down about 14 per cent from this time last year. He said Busch TV ratings are down about 9 per cent and truck ratings are up about 3 per cent.

Saunders said most of the drop in Cup ratings came with the Daytona 500. Last year's Daytona ratings were artificially boosted, Saunders said, by the Winter Olympics, which preceded the race. Ratings also were down for the California and Bristol races. Despite these examples, Saunders said he thinks the industry outlook is bright.

WEEKEND RACING

The Nextel Cup and Busch teams will be at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, TX. The Craftsman Trucks do not race again until April 28.

Saturday, April 14, Busch Series O’Reilly 300, race 8 of 35, 200 laps, 3 p.m. TV: ESPN2.

Sunday, April 15, Nextel Cup Samsung 500, race 7 of 36, 334 laps, 1:30 p.m. TV: Fox.

Racing Trivia Question: Who is the defending Busch Series champion?

Last Week’s Question: Who is Ward Burton driving for this year? Answer. He drives the No. 4 Larry McClure Racing Chevrolet.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at hodgesnews@earthlink.net.

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’07 In-season Trout Stocking Schedule

Opening Day 4 / 14 at 8:00 a.m., creel limit of 5 trout.

Date/Time         Water Area         Meeting Place         Species Trout

4/18, 1:30         Wyalusing Creek East Branch Basil Leaf Rest./ Montrose         Brown Rainbow

         Wyalusing Creek North Branch                  Brown Rainbow

4/24, 2:00         Quaker Lake         Quaker Lake PFBC Access         Rainbow

         Fall Brook                  Brown Rainbow

         Silver Creek                  Brown Rainbow

4/26, 1:30         Snake Creek         Basil Leaf Rest. / Montrose         Brook Brown

         Gaylord Creek                  Brook Brown

4/27, 12:00         Wysox Creek         Wysox Int. Rts. 6 & 187         Brown Rainbow

         Tuscarora Creek                  Brown

5/14, 1:30         Salt Lick Creek         Trail Diner / Rt. 11 / New Milford         Brown Rainbow

         Silver Creek                  Rainbow

5/24, 2:00         Starrucca Creek         Lanesboro Post Office         Brook Brown

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Saber Booster Club Meeting Scheduled

The Susquehanna Basketball Booster Club will host an organizational meeting on Sunday, April 15, in the Susquehanna High School cafeteria.

The booster clubs are joining together and need involved parents and supporters who will take an active role in this venture.

Anyone with questions can call (570) 947–8982.

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Mountain View's Stoud Named Athlete Of Month
By Tom Robinson

Give Nick Stoud a shot and chances were, he would hit it.

Three-point attempts with the defense rushing at him, shots while floating through traffic in the lane, pressure free throws with every eye in the gym trained on him or 3-pointers while racing the clock in an exhibition contest all were part of Stoud's impressive performance in the final month of his high school basketball career.

Stoud led Mountain View in scoring during the state Class AA tournament and won the 3-point shooting contest at the Lackawanna League all-star game. For his efforts, the Mountain View senior has been selected as the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for March.

Mountain View advanced a step further than in its other recent successful seasons when the Eagles reached the second round of the state tournament by beating Loyalsock, 95-92, in double overtime.

"The last couple years, we haven't gotten very far," Stoud said. "Getting past the first round of the state tournament made this a better year for us."

The Eagles also won their second straight Lackawanna League Division III title this season, going unbeaten as Stoud was a first-team division all-star and the team's second-leading scorer.

In the state tournament, Stoud led in both games. He had 30 points against Loyalsock, including a 7-for-7 effort from the line in the fourth quarter and overtime of a game in which his teammates made just six of 19 free throws.

Stoud also had a team-high 25 points, including 5-for-8 from 3-point range, in the 66-60, season-ending loss to York Catholic.

"I guess I just didn't want to lose," Stoud said of the state tournament where he shot 18-for-32 (56.3 percent) from the floor, 8-for-18 (44.4 percent) on 3-pointers and 11-for-11 from the line. "It was about not wanting to go home. A lot of it was about all of us getting up for the game."

Stoud shot last in the final of the all-star game and listened to boos from Old Forge fans, who were hoping Jim DeStefano's total would hold up for the win. He didn't let the boos bother him while defeating the third-team, all-state selection.

Stoud has also been part of championship teams in the fall and spring. He was the second-leading scorer in soccer where he spent three-plus seasons as a starter and was part of a state semifinalist team as a senior. In volleyball, he was a second-team, all-star last spring on Mountain View's league championship team.

Nick is the son of Robert and Susan Stoud of Gibson.

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