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The New York Yankees top minor-leaguers took the place of the top prospects from the Philadelphia Phillies at the former Lackawanna County Stadium – now PNC Field – in Moosic between the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
The old Red Barons left behind a dubious streak for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
As it turned out, the Phillies minor-leaguers played a role in breaking what had been the longest active Opening Day losing streak in minor-league baseball.
The Yankees posted the first Scranton/Wilkes-Barre winning opener since 1999 when they ruined the debut of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs Wednesday night in Moosic.
After shipping their Class AAA players to Ottawa for a season, the Phillies have settled closer to home with the new franchise in Allentown.
The IronPigs had a tough time starting out as they were victims of one of two outstanding pitching performances that made winners of the closest two professional baseball teams to Susquehanna County in the 2008 openers.
Kei Igawa threw six perfect innings before stepping aside for the bullpen to finish a one-hitter in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 4-0 victory over Lehigh Valley.
In the Eastern League opener in Binghamton, Jonathan Niese threw five innings of one-hit ball to help the host Mets to a 2-0 win over the Trenton Thunder.
Unlike, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Binghamton has thrived in openers, going 11-6 in franchise history with three shutout wins in the last six years.
Igawa needed just 60 pitches while striking out seven IronPigs.
Scott Patterson, Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras each threw a scoreless inning to complete the shutout. Patterson allowed a leadoff single to center field by Brandon Watson, who set an International League record with a 43-game hitting streak last season, to end the perfect game immediately after Igawa's exit.
Jason Lane homered for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees went on to a four-game sweep of the opening series to position themselves as the last unbeaten team in the IL.
Mike Carp homered for the Binghamton Mets in their opener.
Niese walked one and struck out five.
Salvador Aguilar, Eddie Camacho and Eddie Kunz finished off the combined two-hitter. Kunz picked up the save.
Binghamton was 2-2 through Sunday.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Lawrence Nycholat of the Binghamton Senators was selected as a first-team American Hockey League all-star defenseman.
Nycholat is third among AHL defensemen in scoring.
Two members of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were named to the AHL All-Rookie Team.
Goalie John Curry, who is third in the league in goals against average, and defenseman Alex Goligoski, who is second on the team in plus/minus, were listed among the league's top rookies.
In high school sports, Blue Ridge is off to what has become a typical strong start in spring sports.
Blue Ridge teams are a combined 7-1. The boys' volleyball and girls' track teams are 2-0, the baseball and softball teams are 1-0 and the boys' track team is 1-1.
Mountain View has matched Blue Ridge in 2-0 in volleyball while Elk Lake was tied at 2-0 in girls' track going into its meet with Blue Ridge that was scheduled to be run Tuesday.
21 Hoops, an AAU basketball team operating primarily out of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties, opened its season March 29-30 in the Backcourt Hoops Preaseason Festival in Scranton.
The 17-under team went 5-0 on the opening weekend.
Jeff Madrak of Elk Lake led the team to a 49-27 win over Pocono Heat in the season debut. Alex Paschuk of Mountain View added 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Madrak also had 21 points in a 75-65 win over the Northern Lehigh Rebels and 26 in a 65-57 win over Backcourt Hoops.
Paschuk scored in double figures in two more games, David Corbin of Mountain View had 12 points and 13 rebounds against Backcourt Hoops and Andy Burgh of Montrose handled a key defensive assignment to get the team through its toughest challenge.
The 21 Hoops 16-U team went 2-1.
Jordan Green of Blue Ridge was the leading scorer with 13 points in a 65-26 win over the Midstate (N.Y.) Wolfpack. Jared Conklin (Blue Ridge) and Ravi Figgles each had 12 rebounds.
Brandon Stone scored 13 points, including the go-ahead basket off a rebound with three minutes left, to key a 47-43 win over the Pocono Heat.
The 13-Under team went 1-2 and the 14-Under team was 0-4.
Caleb Scepaniak of Susquehanna had 13 points for the 13-U team, its only win, 49-44 over the NEPA Warriors, while playing against 14-Under competition.
Three of the 21 Hoops teams continued their seasons at last weekend's Backcourt Hoops Spring Kickoff in Scranton.
The 16-Under team finished second, dropping a 63-60 overtime game to the Pocono Heat in the final.
Stone had 13 points, Luke Jenkins of Mountain View had 12 points, Conklin had 11 rebounds and Figgles had 10 rebounds in the championship game.
The team reached the finals by beating Northeast Elite of Wilkes-Barre, 50-27; the Southern Tier Rage of Binghamton, 54-52; and Backcourt Hoops, 58-35.
Jordan Green of Blue Ridge had 13 points to lead the first win. Peter Hartman of Mountain View had the winning basket in the second. Stone had a team-high 13 points in the third.
The 14-Under team went 1-2 while the 13-Under team went 1-3.
Jessica Sekely, a freshman from Elk Lake, is a thrower on the East Stroudsburg University women's track and field team.
Sekely scored points for the team by finishing fourth in the discus as East Stroudsburg finished second in a home quad-meet with Lafayette, Moravian and Rider, March 29.
During the indoor season, East Stroudsburg finished fifth out of 12 teams in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. PSAC schools compete on the Division II level in National Collegiate Athletic Association track.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The American Hockey League races could come right down to the last day of the regular season.
The Binghamton Senators finish up Sunday at Hershey, the team they are trying to catch for the East Division's last playoff berth.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who tied for first in the East with the Philadelphia Phantoms, finish up at home Saturday against Norfolk.
In boys' volleyball, Blue Ridge is at Mountain View with at least a share, if not sole possession, of first place in the Lackawanna League on the line Thursday.
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
Edwards Is Top Gun At Texas, Ft. Worth, TX – Carl Edwards powered his way to victory in Sunday’s Samsung 500 at Texas for his third win of the season. The driver of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford thoroughly dominated the 335-lap race.
Carl Edwards, winner of Sunday's Samsung 500 at Texas.
“The reason we won it was because of all the good, hard work the team has done,” said Edwards. “This was fun. That’s what it’s about. Hopefully we can come back here in November and sweep this thing.”
Edwards’ two other victories this season came at California and Las Vegas.
All the Roush Fords have struggled at short tracks, but Edwards’ performance Sunday showed they are the cars to beat on the intermediate tracks. Before the last caution came out on lap 329, which sent the race into extra laps, Edwards had a 2-second lead over the second place car driven by Jimmie Johnson.
“He was better than me at the end,” said Johnson. “I’m just glad of the gap that we were able to close.”
Johnson moved from 10th to 6th in the points.
Kyle Busch, winner of Saturday’s Nationwide race finished third.
“It was on edge all day long,” said Busch. “It’s hard to make one drive right. We had a razor blade. We’d fall on one side or the other. We just couldn’t get it right.”
Ryan Newman, the Daytona 500 winner came home fourth.
“It was hot,” said Newman. “We might need to go back to driving convertibles so we can get some more air to the drivers. It was tough out there. It’s definitely back in the drivers’ hands.”
Jeff Gordon is still seeking his first Texas win. He slid backwards quickly from his 18th-place starting spot while battling an ill-handling car. He spun alone off Turn 4 before going to the garage area for adjustments. Gordon finished 43rd and dropped outside the all-important top-12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings after entering the day in ninth.
“I can’t remember the last time we struggled this bad,” said Gordon. “I wish I had an answer for you. I don’t.”
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led the opening 13 laps from the pole but faded midway through the race as the handling on his No. 88 Chevrolet began to deteriorate. He lost a lap on lap 266, and struggled the rest of the way en route to a 12th-place finish.
Richard Childress Racing’s Jeff Burton, who entered the race with a 39-point cushion over RCR teammate Kevin Harvick, remains the points leader.
Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Top-10 Chase Contenders after 7 of 36: 1. Burton-1065, 2. Harvick-1006, 3. Kyle Busch-1001, 4. Earnhardt-978, 5. Stewart-957, 6. Johnson-921, 7. Hamlin-913, 8. Newman-901, 9. Biffle-901, 10. Edwards-881.
Top-10 Nationwide Series leaders after 7 of 35: 1. Bowyer-1047, 2. Edwards-990, 3. Reutimann-927, 4. Ragan-913, 5. Kyle Busch-888, 6. Keselowski-879, 7. Bliss-848, 8. Leffler-841, 9. Bires-820, 10. Harvick-817.
Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders after 4 of 25: 1. Kyle Busch-645, 2. Bodine-610, 3. Hornaday-580, 4. Setzer-578, 5. Crawford-576, 6. Crafton-539, 7. Starr-534, 8. Darnell-527, 9. Benson-501, 10. Cook-499.
Career Highlights Of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. – “We raced hard,” said Bill Elliott. “More than once he bumped me off the track. And I probably got into him several times. We respected each other, and in my opinion, that is what it’s all about.
“He was a man of his word. His word was as good as gold to me, and he did whatever he could for you, when you needed something. That said an awful lot about his character.”
Dale Earnhardt was born April 29, 1951 in Kannapolis, North Carolina, a small town just north of Charlotte. He was the third child of Ralph and Martha Earnhardt.
His father, Ralph was also a racer, and usually drove car No. 8. He built his own engines, transmissions, and chassis, and raced up to five nights a week. He earned his living from working on other people’s cars and racing.
Ralph was mostly a local hero, but he was the 1956 NASCAR Sportsman champion, and was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Dale had an early love for cars. He could usually be found working in his father’s garage, right next to their home. By the time he was 10, he traveled to local races with his father.
He quit school at the age of 16.
“My daddy didn’t want me to quit,” Earnhardt said in 1998. “He didn’t have much of an education and always preached to me the need of staying in school. I was hard-headed. At 16, I thought I was old enough to decide what I wanted in life.
“Daddy was very disappointed in me.”
His father remained angry at him for several years, and did not help him break into racing. It wasn’t until he was 19 that he got the opportunity to race one of his brother-in-law’s (David Oliver) cars.
The first car Dale drove was a pink, 1956 Ford Sedan. Yes, it was pink. The story goes that the car owner wanted to mix a purple paint, but the color came out pink. “K-2” was painted on the doors, along with the word “Dale.” His first race was in 1970 at the old half-mile Concord, NC speedway.
Dale didn’t drive the pink car long. He was able to find other rides, but by this time he was married, and his oldest son, Kerry, had been born in December, 1969. Racing never brought in enough money to pay the bills and he often worked day jobs in local garages.
Racing was his priority; marriage and family life was not. In less than two years, the marriage ended in divorce.
Dale remarried a short time after his first divorce. In 1972, his daughter, Kelley was born. Two years later, Dale, Jr. was born. Like in his previous marriage, the family lived in a succession of apartments and trailers, always trying to avoid the bill collectors.
In 1973, his father died in the family kitchen at the age of 45 of a heart attack. His death was a shock to Dale.
In 1974 he was able to buy a used Winston Cup car from Harry Gant and began racing in NASCAR’s Sportsman division. The Sportsman was comparable to the Nationwide Series, but back then it was not as organized. However, it was a major step up and opened the door for his 1975 Cup debut.
Next Week: Dale Earnhardt’s Race to The Top.
The Cup and Nationwide Series teams have night races at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway. The Craftsman Trucks do not race again until April 26.
Friday, April 11: Nationwide Bashas Supermarket 300, 9:30 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Saturday, April 12: Sprint Cup Subway Fresh Fit 500, 500 laps, 8 p.m. TV: Fox.
Racing Trivia Question: Does Richard Childress plan on adding a fourth Cup team in 2009?
Last Week’s Question: How did Dale, Sr. come to be tagged with the name, “Intimidator?” Answer: In the late 1980s, an Earnhardt T-shirt with the word “Dominator” on it wasn’t selling very well. A vendor, named Hank Jones decided to change it to “Intimidator.” Earnhardt had reservations about it, but gave the OK to print some. Sales took off. The name stuck. The rest is history.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
With spring here and the warm weather not far behind, why not give the golf enthusiasts in your life something they will really appreciate. The 2008 Golf Privilege Club®, Mid-Atlantic Edition, is a great birthday, anniversary, graduation or housewarming gift – any time of the year.
The Golf Privilege Club features over 125 courses and driving ranges throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Participating courses offer either a free round, reduced green fees, or unlimited flat rate play. The 2008 Golf Privilege Club is great value, priced at only $20.00 this season.
To get in on the savings call the American Lung Association, (800) 932-0903 or visit: www.lunginfo.org. The website has a complete listing of participating golf courses. Visitors can also purchase them on the site as well.
This year give the golfing enthusiasts in your life a Golf Privilege Club - a gift that will keep them smiling all season long.
Derek Noldy compiled an impressive list of accomplishments in his high school wrestling career.
Noldy, Elk Lake's school record-holder for career wins with 126, added one more unofficial victory when he defeated Wilkes-Barre Coughlin's Craig Kittrick, 10-7, to help the Lackawanna League to a 36-15 victory over the Wyoming Valley Conference in the District 2 All-Star Wrestling Duals.
A member of Lackawanna League Division 2 wrestling championship teams in two of the past three seasons, Noldy finished up the official part of his high school career at the state championships after finishing second in District 2 and third in the Northeast Regionals.
Noldy's latest accomplishment is his selection as Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month.
"Making it to states and winning the league championship as a team in my sophomore year were probably the most special," Noldy said.
Once at the state tournament, a sinus infection hampered Noldy's warm-up routine before matches, but he said it was not much of a factor once he was on the mat. Noldy's 33-9 senior season came to an end with a pair of two-point losses in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA Championships.
Noldy had a series of tough losses, including 2-1, to Lake-Lehman's Chad Brudnicki in the district final. He also enjoyed pulling out a close match in his biggest bout of the season, beating Towanda's Jake Lamphere in the regional consolation final to clinch his state berth.
"Getting that overtime takedown was pretty sweet," Noldy said.
Those wins, like the 100th victory of his career and the win to set the school record, came on the road.
"It was good winning the league this year because it was a nice comeback after losing to Western Wayne last year and it was the first championship match we've won at home," Noldy said.
Derek is the son of Errick and Cathy Noldy of Rush.
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