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Issue Home June 23, 2010 Site Home

Local Sports Scene

Thompson’s Hitting Helps IronPigs Put Wins Together
By Tom Robinson

ALLENTOWN - Montrose graduate Rich Thompson helped Pennsylvania’s two Class AAA professional baseball franchises switch roles for at least one weekend.

Thompson combined for five hits, two runs, a stolen base and an RBI Saturday and Sunday to help Lehigh Valley to consecutive wins over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, giving the IronPigs their first series victory of the season.

After getting two hits in Saturday’s 5-4 win, Thompson was 3-for-5 with a stolen base and beat out an infield single to drive in the game’s first run in Sunday’s 4-1 victory.

The IronPigs, still in search of their first winning season, are a combined 49 games under .500 in their three years in the league. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has won four straight North Division championships since the New York Yankees replaced the Philadelphia Phillies, now affiliated with the IronPigs, as the parent club.

“This was nice, especially because of the way the Scranton team has had our number over the last few years,” Thompson said. “It’s good to play a good game against them.”

Thompson, who had a 12-game hitting streak earlier in the season, used the big weekend to raise his batting average to .291. He is 15-for-17 stealing bases this season.


Montrose’s Julia Koloski finished 12th in the triple jump in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals Track and Field Championships Friday in North Carolina.

Koloski, the Pennsylvania Class AA state champion in the event, jumped 38-5. A’Lexus Brannon of Port Arthur, Tex. won the national title with a jump of 42-3 1/2.

Sarah Kimsey, also of Montrose, finished first in the Emerging Elite Division high jump. The Emerging Elite Division is for athletes who fall just short of the qualifying standard for the national championship.

Koloski joined 400 relay teammates Jacey Blom, Alex Lewis and Angela Short to place seventh in the Emerging Elite Division.

In high school softball, District 2 champion Nanticoke won its second state Class AA championship with a 3-1, 11-inning victory over Philipsburg-Osceola.

Nanticoke shut out defending champion Elk Lake, 3-0 in the district final.

In high school football, two all-star teams that included graduating players from the Lackawanna Football Conference split games.

The East defeated the West, 33-7, Friday night in Altoona.

Ohio edged Pennsylvania, in the Big 33 Football Classic Saturday in Hershey.

Dunmore’s Brian Copeland and Wallenpaupack’s Joe DeFebo and Bryan Cosgrove were part of the East team. Nick Donato of Scranton Prep was one of the assistant coaches.

Lineman Sal Conaboy and coach Joe Repshis, who served as an assistant, represented Abington Heights in the Big 33.


The eighth annual UNICO Scranton Soccer Cup is scheduled for Friday at the University of Scranton’s Fitzpatrick Field.

The girls’ game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. with the boys’ game set for 8 p.m.

Rosters are made up of the top seniors from Lackawanna League schools plus the spring girls' programs from schools that traditionally participate in the Lackawanna League in other sports.

The North girls’ team features three players from District 2 Class AA champion Montrose and five from Lackawanna League North champion Lakeland.

Midfielder/defender Raina Upright, midfielder/forward Koloski and midfielder Megan Henry were the Montrose selections.

The team also includes players from Forest City, Mountain View, Western Wayne and North Pocono and will be coached by Mountain View's Errol Mannick.

Sarah Carey and Taylor Gerchman are the Forest City players. Kelsey Whitaker, Diane Congdon and Sara Germain were picked form Mountain View.

Six players from Abington Heights, which just completed a District 2 Class AAA spring championship season, and two players from Valley View, which won the Lackawanna League South Division and District 2 Class AAA fall titles, have been selected for the South girls' team.

The South girls also have players from Dunmore, Scranton, West Scranton, Holy Cross, Carbondale and Scranton Prep. They will be coached by Joe Krukovitz from Holy Cross.

Lackawanna League Division 3 champion Forest City has John Sibio and Mike Chiovarri on the North roster.

Blue Ridge, Montrose, Elk Lake, Mountain View, Delaware Valley, Honesdale, Wallenpaupack and Western Wayne also have players on the North boys’ team that will be coached by Western Wayne’s Matt Fitzsimmons.

The other Susquehanna County players on the roster are: Blue Ridge's Gafston Stone, Dan Welch and Matt Empett; Montrose's Joe Hamernick and Grant Shelp; Elk Lake's Christopher Ives and Hermelo Ramos-Lopez; and Mountain View's Rob Cross.

Players from Abington Heights, Valley View and Holy Cross highlight the South boys' roster. Abington Heights won the Lackawanna League Division 1 and District 2 Class AA titles, Valley View won the Lackawanna Division 2 title and Holy cross won the District 2 Class A championship.

Lakeland’s Joe DePasquale will coach the team that also includes players from Carbondale, Old Forge, Mid Valley, Dunmore, North Pocono and Lakeland.

Tickets are $5 for adults.

In professional golf, the $1.7 million Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, a Champions Tour event, will be at En Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y. Friday through Sunday.

The tournament is professional golf’s closest stop to Susquehanna County for any of its three main tours.

Lonnie Nielsen is the defending champion.

The Champions Tour was formerly known as the PGA Seniors Tour.

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

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By Gerald Hodges

Johnson Wins At Infineon

SONOMA, Calif. - Jimmie Johnson has four NASCAR Sprint Cup championships, but until Sunday, he had been winless on road courses. That’s all history now, as he won the Toyota/Savemart 350 ahead of Robby Gordon.

Marcos Ambrose was leading the race when the caution came out with eight laps remaining. Ambrose, trying to save fuel, cut off his engine under caution and accidentally stopped on the course. He ended up rejoining the field in seventh. Johnson inherited the lead.

Jimmie Johnson picked up his first career road course win at Infineon Raceway.

“I thought Marcos (Ambrose) was really going to give us a hard time,” said Johnson. “I don’t know what happened to him, I just saw him pulling off.

“We had the fastest car at the end, but it was because Chad (crew chief Chad Knaus) kept on me to save my tires. It really paid off.

“It really feels good to finally win on a road course. I’ve worked hard to be a better road course driver and it finally paid off.”

The win was Johnson’s 51st, and it moved him from sixth to second in Chase points.

Robby Gordon’s runner-up finish was his best since 2005 at Watkins Glen.

“We came up about 10-laps short on tires,” said Gordon. “The team did a great job, and if we could have had a few more caution laps, it might have been a different race for us. The tires were the difference in winning the race and finishing second.”

There were lots of incidents between different drivers. One of them involved Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. Gordon got into Truex and knocked him off the track.

Truex was furious.

“There he (Gordon) is, out there still racing and I’m wrecked,” said Truex.

Gordon, who finished fifth, said afterwards that he did some things on the track that he wasn’t proud of.

“We had an awesome race car on the long runs,” said Gordon. “But it was wild out there. On the restarts there were guys making it three wide. I’m as guilty as they are. When they started doing it to me, I started doing it to them.

“I completely messed up Martin, and I’m going to try and patch that up with him.”

Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Boris Said, Tony Stewart, and Juan Montoya were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 16 of 36: 1. Harvick-2334, 2. Johnson-2194, 3. Kyle Busch-2193, 4. Hamlin-2183, 5. J. Gordon-2142, 6. Kurt Busch-2118, 7. Kenseth-2092, 8. Burton-2027, 9. Biffle-2011, 10. Stewart-1983, 11. Martin-1947, 12. Edwards-1932


Carl Edwards ended Ford's winless streak, as he won the Nationwide Series race at Road America for the manufacturer's first victory of 2010 in any of NASCAR's top three series.

The remaining top-10 finishers were Ron Fellows, Brendan Gaughan, Brad Keselowski, Owen Kelly, Brad Coleman, J. R. Fitzpatrick, Jason Leffler, Steve Wallace, and Trevor Bayne.

Top-10 points leaders after 15 of 35: 1. Brad Keselwoski-2466, 2. Edwards-2229, 3. Allgaier-2051, 4. Kyle Busch-1945, 5. Menard-1860, 6. Harvick-1852, 7. Gaughan-1685, 8. S. Wallace-1674, 9. Leffler-1597, 10. Logano-1593


Raymond Parks, the godfather of stock car racing passed away Saturday night at his home near Atlanta, Georgia.

Parks teamed with driver Red Byron to win the inaugural modified championship in 1948 followed by the first "strictly stock" - the forerunner to today's Cup Series - a year later.

In addition he helped finance many races as well as the fledgling NASCAR organization in its early years.

“The NASCAR community is saddened by the passing of Raymond Parks,” NASCAR chairman Brian France said in a statement. “Raymond was instrumental in the creation of NASCAR as a participant in the historic meeting at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach. He was also our first championship owner. Raymond is a giant in the history of NASCAR and will always be remembered for his dedication to NASCAR.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.


When Kasey Kahne announced he was leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of 2010 and moving to one of Rick Hendrick’s teams, fans were told his car and deal would be finalized within 90 days.

But according to Rick Hendrick, that isn’t going to happen.

ESPN reported that Hendrick has a lot more options for Kahne in 2011 than he expected when he first signed him in April.

“A lot of it is just waiting for the right time and the right deal,” Hendrick said. “I haven't been in a hurry. We've got some good options and there are new deals coming out every day. I get unbelievable calls from people in this garage. We're just not ready to pull the trigger yet.”

Hendrick downplayed a report that said Kahne would drive the No. 09 car for James Finch and Phoenix Racing next year before replacing Mark Martin in the No. 5 at HMS in 2012. That report also said Martin could take over part ownership of Phoenix Racing in 2012. Phoenix Racing officials said no conversations with Hendrick have taken place.

“I don't know where that rumor came from,” Hendrick said.

Kahne said he and Hendrick spoke on Friday and that his 2011 situation wasn't part of the conversation.

“I didn't even ask anything about next year and he didn't bring it up, either,” Kahne said. "We were just talking about other stuff, so I would say there is no new news.”

Among the speculated possibilities for Kahne next year, in addition to Phoenix Racing, have been Stewart-Haas Racing and Red Bull Racing. Hendrick did say that Kahne would be in a Chevrolet, and Red Bull currently fields Toyotas.

“The biggest problem with us, with me and the whole situation is I want to make the right decision for him and our company,” Hendrick continued. “I'm not really procrastinating as much as I'm trying to let everything unfold.”


Denny Hamlin stood by his previous statement that NASCAR officials sometimes use caution flags for debris just to liven up a race or close up the competition.

Hamlin was leading last week at Michigan when NASCAR threw a caution for debris with 15 laps remaining. Hamlin went on to win the race, but said afterward that NASCAR threw the caution flag because “this is show business.”

“There is always debris around the track,” Hamlin said Friday at Infineon Raceway. “You can call anything debris. … You could say that anything is debris and that it is a legitimate safety hazard, but I just think it’s the timing. ‘OK, there it is, let’s pick it up and regroup.’

“For the sake of show, that’s OK, but for the sake of competition, it’s not always the right thing. But, if we weren’t talking about that last week, if NASCAR had let it go, people were going to be talking about a boring race, and that’s something we don’t want, either.”

Hamlin said he expected a caution flag when he had a big lead last week.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston refuted Hamlin’s claims, saying NASCAR throws a caution flag for debris when there is a safety hazard.

“When we identify something, or there is something on the track that can’t be identified, we are going to err on the side of safety and throw the caution,” Poston said. “Cautions exist for the safety of the competitors and our fans and we take that very seriously.

“At some point, I suspect drivers would have a different point of view if they were to hit that piece of debris, particularly leading the race and it ruined their day, or worse. Our job is to maintain as best as we can the safety on the track.”

Weekend Racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams are at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Speedway in Loudon, NH. The Truck teams do not race again until July 11.

Sat., June 26, Nationwide Series race, 16 of 35; Starting time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN.

Sun., June 27, Sprint Cup Lenox Tools 301, 17 of 36; Starting time: 1 p.m. ET; TV: TNT.

Racing Trivia Question: How many career road course wins does Denny Hamlin have?

Last Week’s Question: How many Cup teams does Hendrick Motorsports have? Answer. Four, the drivers are Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at:

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