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The facility once known as the Lackawanna County Multipurpose Stadium has seen a reduction in its versatility since the playing surface was changed in anticipation of the arrival of the New York Yankees top farm team for the start of the 2007 season.
Artificial turf was removed and replaced with natural grass as part of the agreement that helped woo the Yankees to be the exciting choice to replace the Philadelphia Phillies in supplying talent for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise in the Class AAA International League.
Problems with the grass field have disrupted the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees schedule, but they are not the only price being paid for the switch at the stadium now known as PNC Field.
Lackawanna County Stadium was once a prime facility for local teams to aspire to play in for big games in baseball and other sports on the high school and other levels.
The use of the stadium by teams from Lackawanna and neighboring counties has been greatly reduced since the stadium switched to natural grass and those outside the Yankees organization have become so much less welcome.
The arrival of the Yankees in 2007 brought many exciting moments in the team’s first year and the on-the-field product has continued to be impressive since. The loss of access to a community treasure, however, has been an expensive price to pay.
Now, even the Yankees are having trouble using the field. They moved four home games, switching Thursday and Friday’s games against Lehigh Valley to the Iron Pigs’ home park in Allentown, then moving Saturday and Sunday’s games against Buffalo to Syracuse.
The four switches came after the latest in a series of postponements, for wet conditions on two rain-free days on a holiday weekend. Losing money-making home dates on Saturday and Sunday, July 4-5, along with disrupting the International League schedule made it necessary to come up with a new plan.
According to a team press release, the Yankees took several steps to alleviate drainage problems including aeration, installing additional drainage and replacing sod. None of it made the field ready.
“We share the concern of our fans and will make every effort to alleviate them,” team president Kristen Rose said. “Our number-one goal is to provide unsurpassed customer service.”
While the team moved out of town, field work continued.
“We are going to continue our efforts and utilize all available options at our disposal to make short-term solutions to the current issues affecting the field,” Rose said. “We are taking this very seriously and ask that are fans remain patient during this difficult time.”
After batting between .214 and .263 in each of the first three months of the season, Montrose graduate Rich Thompson was over .300 for the first third of July.
Even a hitless effort against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Yankees Friday left Thompson at .303 for the month. Before going without a hit in the 5-4 loss, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs outfielder was on a six-game hitting streak in which he went 9-for-22 (.409) with two doubles, a triple, four runs scored and four runs batted in.
Thompson went 3-for-4 against Syracuse July 5, was 2-for-3 against Pawtucket July 7 and drove in three runs in the first of the two games of the Yankees-IronPigs series that was moved from Moosic to Allentown.
Through July 10, Thompson was hitting .250 on the season in 72 games. He had 16 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 34 runs, 25 RBIs and was 18-for-20 stealing bases.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
Martin Gets Fourth Win Of Season
JOLIET, Ill. - Mark Martin is disproving the theory that older drivers can’t win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His win Saturday night in the Lifelock.com 400 at Chicago was his fourth victory of the 2009 season, more than any other driver.
And all four wins have come after he turned 50.
Mark Martin and team owner Rick Hendrick celebrate Martin's Chicago win.
Photo courtesy of NASCAR
“That was fun,” Martin said. “That's what life's all about right there. These guys (Martin's No. 5 Chevrolet crew) deserved to win. We could have parked the car (Friday) with an hour left in practice. I knew it was awesome.
“But the best car doesn't usually win. The double-file restarts are to mess the best car up so he doesn't win, to make it good for the fans - and it did - but luckily we pulled it off anyway.”
Martin pulled away after a double-file restart with two laps left in the race. He gained two positions to 11th in the standings and will have at least 40 bonus points for the Chase, if he can hold a position in the top-12.
His four wins are the most of any one season since 1998, when he was driving for Jack Roush.
Martin took the checkered flag .415 seconds ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Kasey Kahne ran third, followed by series points leader Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin.
Jeff Gordon did not lead a lap in the race, but rallied late after taking four tires on a pit stop on lap 248 of the 267-lap race.
“Our performance overall was so-so,” Gordon said. “We definitely had a challenging night. We started off, our car was really good the first few laps, but then it got really tight. So we had to make some adjustments. Had a close call there with Carl (Edwards). We lost a bunch of positions. It was basically just fighting back from that point on.
“We got ourselves inside the top-10, which is still a great effort. Then, you know, the caution came out at the right time for (crew chief) Steve Letarte to make an excellent call to come and get four tires. The pit crew did its job getting us off basically first. At that point it was just trying to maneuver through the traffic.”
Kasey Kahne battled Gordon during the closing laps but had to settle for third.
“Well it’s still good, said Kahne. “We’ve been on a roll I would say for a while now. I’d say this is eight or nine weeks straight where we’ve been capable of running in the top-five or top-10 and we finished it off tonight solid. We just have to keep it up.”
Tony Stewart dodged one accident and rallied back from a pit miscue and a flat tire to finish fourth.
“You always need strong nights like we had tonight,” said Stewart. “When you’re trying to put yourself in a position to win a championship, consistency is the biggest thing. To be able to knock off top-fives like we did tonight, that’s what it’s going to take to win a championship. That’s what makes nights like tonight so crucial, being able to battle back from some adversity.”
Ryan Newman, pole sitter Brian Vickers, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Juan Montoya completed the top-10.
Note: Martin is within one victory of Harry Gant's 1991 record of five wins in a season by a driver 50 or older. By picking Martin and Jeff Gordon to finish first and second in the LifeLock 400 at Michigan in June and seeing them finish in the same order at Chicagoland, sweepstakes winners Donna and Richard Musgrave of Newcastle, Colo., won a $1-million prize.
Top-20 Chase contenders after 19 of 26: 1. Stewart-2884, 2. J. Gordon-2709, 3. Johnson-2672, 4. Kurt Busch-2526, 5. Hamlin-2457, 6. Edwards-2438, 7. Newman-2385, 8. Kahne-2336, 9. Montoya-2321, 10. Kyle Busch-2298, 11. Martin-2296, 12. Kenseth-2295, 13. Biffle-2285, 14. Reutimann-2219, 15. Bowyer-2169, 16. Vickers-2149, 17. Burton-2113, 18. Ambrose-2078, 19. McMurray-1960, 20. Logano-1956.
Only the top-12 drivers will be in the Chase for the Championship, which begins with race 27.
LOGANO IS CHICAGO NATIONWIDE WINNER
Joey Logano picked up his third NASCAR Nationwide Series win of the season, and the fourth of his career, in Saturday’s race at the Chicagoland Speedway.
Top-10 leaders after 18 of 35: 1. Kyle Busch-2931, 2. Edwards-2739, 3. Keselowski-2597, 4. Leffler-2527, 5. Logano-2395, 6. Allgaier-2140, 7. Bliss-2129, 8. Gaughan-2080, 9. S. Wallace-2065, 10. Keller-2013.
TRUEX TO MICHAEL WALTRIP RACING
Michael Waltrip is going to scale back his 2010 racing scheule and concentrate more on his role as team owner. Replacing him will be Martin Truex Jr.
Waltrip will keep his No. 55, and race in at least four races - maybe as many as 12. Truex will be in the No. 56.
Truex said the future of Michael Waltrip Racing was much more solid than that of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, his current team.
“There is not a lot in question here,” said Truex. “They have all their ducks in a row. They know what they’re doing. They know where they’re headed. That’s comfortable for me. I feel like their cars on the race track are running great, and we’re just really starting to see what they’re capable of on the track.”
Truex is 24th in points, while his teammate Juan Montoya is 11th .
“I am running with Montoya, but I’m not finishing (with him),” Truex said. “It’s not necessarily that I’m not happy with the performance over there or they’re not doing the things or making good cars because we’ve had good cars and run well. …I know what I can do. People out there know what I can do.
“People in this sport know what they’re seeing. If I was running 35th every weekend or 25th every weekend they might say, ‘He ain’t got it no more, he’s washed up.’ But I don’t. When my car is fast, I lead laps, and I run up front. It’s as simple as that. I know what I can do when my stuff is right.”
“I never seen any of it coming [with Ganassi],” Truex said. “The plan when I re-signed was to go back to four cars, get some teammates in there that run well, and we could get in there and be competitive together.
“Chip has been great to work with, and what he has to work with really has helped us there. This year would have been a lot tougher without that. But that wasn’t the way we were supposed to head. I got promised a lot of things that just disappeared. A lot of things changed, and that’s just how it goes.”
The Sprint Cup teams are idle this weekend in preparation for next weekend’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Nationwide Series goes to Gateway International Speedway,a 1.25-mile facilty just across the river from St. Louis, MO. The Camping World Trucks are at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.
Sat., July 18, Camping World Trucks Built Ford Tough 225, race 12 of 25; Starting time: 6:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: Speed Channel.
Sat., July 18, Nationwide Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, race 19 of 35; Starting time: 9 p.m. (EDT); TV: ESPN2.
Racing Trivia Question: Why is Indianapolis Motor Speedway often referred to as “The Brickyard?”
Last Week’s Question: When was the first NASCAR race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Answer. Aug. 6, 1994. The winner was Jeff Gordon.
You may contact the Racing Reporter at: email@example.com.
In addition to refining her various pitches, Elk Lake’s Brooke Darling spent part of her offseason preparation working out to build her strength.
That strength came in handy throughout the season, particularly in the final game of her sophomore season.
Darling struck out 29 in 16 innings of a 5-4 loss to Pine Grove in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA softball tournament. Later in the month, Darling was honored with selection as a second-team, all-state pitcher by the Pennsylvania Softball Coaches Association.
For her effort, Darling has been selected as the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for June.
Darling, a sophomore in her second season as the starting pitcher, struck out more than 200 while leading Elk Lake to the District 2 championship and into state tournament play.
“The whole team was trying to get there this year, but we were really thinking we could get there in the future,” Darling said.
Darling threw a four-hitter in the 16-inning loss to Pine Grove.
“She showed complete composure the entire game,” Elk Lake coach Tony Blaisure said. “Even when we threw the ball away for two runs, she got out of the inning and came in telling the other girls we could get it back.”
After the Lady Warriors rallied twice to extend the game, a third comeback attempt fell short.
“It was disappointing,” Darling said, “but the whole team played well so we can’t be too upset.”
Darling retired nine in a row to start and end the seven-inning regulation part of the game then retired 12 in a row with seven strikeouts while working under the pressure of the International Rules, which put a runner on second to start every half inning from the 10th inning on.
Darling continues to work on her pitching this summer as a member of the TC Tremors Gold team from Binghamton. She just returned from competing in a tournament in Colorado.
Last summer, Darling was part of the Bagsai Thunder team that won the New York Amateur Softball Association Under-16 state title.
Brooke, the daughter of Terry and Lori Darling of Springville, also has spent two years as a member of the junior varsity volleyball team at Elk Lake.
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