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YORK – Elk Lake’s Holden Lunger batted .556, had hits in all four games he started, and earned a win on the mound to help the Pocono team to the Junior Division baseball championship at the Keystone State Games.
The Junior Division of the Keystone Games is for players heading into their freshman and sophomore years in school. Lunger, who will be a sophomore in the fall, earned a spot on the Pocono Region roster in a tryout, then became one of key players as the team finished third out of 10 regions.
Lunger started in center field and batted third in each of the first three games. Pocono dropped two of those three games, but Lunger pitched three scoreless innings to get the win in the other.
In the two losses, Lunger sacrificed two runners into scoring position in the first inning of each game and they all scored.
Lunger was 1-for-2 with a double in the opening 5-3 loss to Lehigh Valley.
Against Blue Mountain, Lunger was 1-for-3 with a walk. He helped Pocono hold on for a 5-0 win by allowing just three singles, including two infield hits, in three innings. He walked one and struck out one while picking up the win.
Lunger followed his sacrifice with a single and a walk during a 5-2 loss to Capital.
With Pocono needing a win to preserve any medal hopes, Lunger came off the bench in the fifth inning of an 8-2 win over Great Lakes and reached base both times on a walk and a hit by pitch. He scored a run.
Pocono finished in a three-way tie for second in its pool with Capital and Blue Mountain. The first tiebreaker – runs allowed – eliminated Capital. Pocono then won the second tiebreaker because of its head-to-head win over Blue Mountain.
Lunger got Pocono off to a fast start in the bronze medal game. He singled in the team’s first run and finished 2-for-3 with a walk.
For the tournament, Lunger was 5-for-9 with a .714 on-base percentage.
Keystone State Games track-and-field officials were unable to produce any results for the public, so Susquehanna County results in those events could not be determined.
WEEK IN REVIEW
The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees moved into a tie for the International League North Division lead Saturday, before falling back to a game behind the Pawtucket Red Sox when they lost, 10-5, to the Rochester Red Wings Sunday.
The Yankees will have to pursue the playoffs without some of their pitching depth after the parent New York Yankees made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday.
Pittsburgh sent outfielder Xavier Nady and left-handed reliever Damaso Marte to New York for minor-league pitchers Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf and Dan McCutchen and outfield prospect Jose Tabata.
Karstens was 6-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 12 games for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. McCutchen was the only pitcher with two shutouts for the Triple-A team. Ohlendorf was making the transition from reliever to starter for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The 74th annual Dream Game, sponsored by the Scranton Lions Club, is scheduled for Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Scranton Memorial Stadium.
Susquehanna lineman Josh Jenkins and Montrose running back/linebacker Jared Fowler are on the City team that will take on the County in the all-star football game for graduated high school football players.
The City is coached by Mark Watson of Wallenpaupack. The County is coached by George Howanitz of Valley View.
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
Johnson Holds Off Edwards At Brickyard, Indianapolis, IN – Jimmie Johnson beat Carl Edwards in an eight-lap shootout to win Sunday’s Brickyard 400. Johnson became only the second driver to win the pole and race.
Jimmie Johnson, winner of Sunday's Brickyard 400.
Even though Johnson and his No. 48 team were fast all weekend, they worked through a tire issue that hampered other teams.
NASCAR gave the teams an extra set of Goodyear tires to use in the race, in response to extreme tire wear during Saturday’s practice.
Teams used them all as right side tires wore down to the cord within 12 laps.
NASCAR put out eight competition yellows during the race, so teams could come in and put on fresh tires. The last yellow came on lap 149 of the 160-lap race.
Johnson went into the pits second, took two right side tires, and came out first. Carl Edwards was second. When the green flag was given, there were eight laps of racing left.
Edwards tried but was never able to get close enough to attempt a pass on Johnson as the laps ran out.
“I knew what we were setting up for,” said Johnson. “We had a great stop there at the end, and a great car.”
The win was Johnson’s second Brickyard 400 victory. His other one came in 2006.
Carl Edwards was both frustrated and exhausted after the race.
“I just want to say to the fans that everyone was doing their best to make this a race,” said Edwards. “At least we got to run there at the end. I knew it was going to be Jimmie and I.
“On the restart I was watching Denny Hamlin, who was hanging back a little bit. I knew he was pretty fast, but I thought I was faster than Jimmie, so I didn’t really focus on ruining Jimmie’s restart by getting up there under him.
“Then we got strung out and Jimmie was fast. We were about the same.
“I just didn’t come here to run second. It’s not very cool.”
Drivers that had blown right side tires included, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Juan Montoya, Kurt Busch, and Matt Kenseth.
Goodyear issued a statement saying the tire problem was the heavy race car (3,450 pounds) with a lot of horsepower that didn't handle real well going around a 2.5-mile track like Indy that has flat corners and an abrasive surface.
The remaining top 10 finishers: Denny Hamlin, Elliott Sadler, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, and A. J. Allmendinger.
How The Chase Is Shaping Up – There are 12 drivers that will be vying for a place in this year’s Chase for the Nextel Cup championship at the end of 26 weeks of racing at Richmond. Who will make it and who won’t?
Clearly Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will be in that number.
Junior got off to a near-perfect start, winning the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona and following it up with a victory in the Gatorade Duel Qualifying Race. He failed to heed a call by his crew chief to pit for fresh tires and stayed on track to finish ninth in the Daytona 500.
So far, he has one win (Michigan) and 12 top-10 finishes in nineteen starts. This is much better than all of last season, when he was driving the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet. He is the best-performing Hendrick driver in the point standings, taking a team that didn’t make last year’s Chase with Casey Mears into second spot in the standings.
Junior will be in the top 12. Will he win his first Nextel championship, which was the motive behind his move to Hendricks? Don’t know. We’ll have to wait until the last race of the season at Homestead.
This Week’s Top 10 Chase Contenders: 1. Kyle Busch-3004, 2. Earnhardt-2751, 3. Burton-2733, 4. Johnson-2689, 5. Edwards-2684, 6. J. Gordon-2539, 7. Biffle-2460, 8. Hamlin-2453, 9. Kahne-2441, 10. Stewart-2399.
The nine tracks represented in the Race to the Chase are some of the most unique and respected tracks on the circuit. The Schedule: August 3 – Pocono (2.5 miles); August 10 – Watkins Glen (2.45 miles); August 17 – Michigan (2 miles); August 23 – Bristol (.533 mile); August 31 – Auto Club Speedway (2 miles); September 6 – Richmond (.75 mile).
The two tracks that could really shake things up are Watkins Glen and Bristol. There are a lot of unknowns at those tracks. The Glen could spell disaster, because not every driver loves this winding road course.
Bristol might not be so bad, because of the new track surface. Last year, everybody played it very safe there, and it was a pretty calm race. But it could be a whole lot different this time around.
Next Week: Kyle Busch.
NASCAR Reduces Nationwide Horsepower – NASCAR issued a technical bulletin last week requiring engine changes in an effort to reduce the horsepower advantage that Toyota has had this year in the Nationwide Series.
The new rule requires engines with a cylinder bore spacing of 4.470 inches or more to run a tapered spacer with four holes measuring 1.100 inches each in diameter, compared with the 1.125-inch holes previously required. Toyota engines currently are the only ones in use in the Nationwide Series that feature a cylinder bore spacing of 4.470 inches or more.
The change will reduce the horsepower by limiting the air flow to the engine. The spacer acts like a restrictor plate by narrowing the diameters of holes in the tapered spacer NASCAR began requiring this year.
The remaining 13 races in the Nationwide Series will answer questions for us. Do Toyota drivers have an advantage because of the configuration of the engine, or are Toyota drivers doing so well because of the skill of the drivers, pit crews and engine builders?
The rule change had no immediate effect, because Kyle Busch led 197 out of 200 laps in Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race in a Toyota.
Top 10 Nationwide Series leaders after 22 of 35: 1. Bowyer-3216, 2. Keselowski-3043, 3. Edwards-3036, 4. Reutimann-2926, 5. Ragan-2885, 6. Bliss-2838, 7. Kyle Busch-2828, 8. M. Wallace-2618, 9. Stremme-2587, 10. Keller-2534.
Top 10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders after 14 of 25: 1. Benson-2071, 2. Hornaday-2056, 3. Crafton-2040, 4. Crawford-1916, 5. Skinner-1914, 6. Bodine-1867, 7. Darnell-1846, 8. Cook-1825, 9. Sprague-1787, 10. Starr-1749.
The Nextel Cup teams will be at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, while the Nationwide teams will be in Montreal, Canada. The Craftsman Trucks have the week off.
Saturday, August 2: Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200, 3 p.m. TV: ESPN2.
Sunday, August 3: Nextel Cup Sunoco Red Cross 500, 1 p.m. TV: ESPN.
Racing Trivia Question: Will Tony Stewart’s crew chief Greg Zippadelli go with Stewart next season, or stay at Joe Gibbs Racing?
Last Week’s Question: Which team owner has won the most Indianapolis 400 Cup races? Answer: Hendrick Motor sports, with five victories.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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