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HomeSports ( June 12, 2019 )

Blue Ridge Baseball Team Eliminated; Skyla Wilson Runs Relay At Nationals

By Tom Robinson

South Williamsport made Blue Ridge's visit to historic Bowman Field in Williamsport a short one June 3, bringing a quick end to the state baseball tournament for the Raiders.

The Mounties scored six runs in the third inning and limited the Raiders to two hits while producing the first Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association baseball tournament win in school history with an 11-0, five-inning romp in the Class 2A first-round game.

Tripp Breen did not allow a hit while striking out eight in three innings, then Logan Burkett finished off the combined two-hitter for South Williamsport.

Fifth-inning singles by Tyler Hillard and Tommy Gudykunst were the only hits for Blue Ridge, which reached the state tournament by winning the District 2 title.

Luke Winner, who scored twice and drove in a run, and Nate Persun, who scored three times, each went 2-for-3 to lead the South Williamsport offense.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Blue Ridge's baseball loss ended the 2018-19 high school sports year for Susquehanna County teams.

District 2 still had other representatives.

The Hazleton Area, in Class 6A, and Honesdale, in Class 4A, softball teams won twice to reach the semifinals, which were scheduled to be played Monday. Lake-Lehman won twice and reached the semifinals in Class 3A baseball.

District 2 teams were 4-6 in baseball and 7-5 in softball in the first two rounds of the state tournament.

Pittston Area (5A) and Wyoming Seminary (3A) each won one baseball game before being eliminated.

Nick Finarelli and Alex Magdalinski each drove in four runs for Lake-Lehman Thursday in a 11-0, six-inning win over Science & Leadership Academy from Philadelphia to get to the 3A semifinals.

Pittston Area (6A), Holy Cross (2A) and Old Forge (A) each won one softball game before elimination.

Alexa McHugh from Pittston Area opened the state tournament with a no-hitter and just one walk, on a close 3-2 pitch with two outs in the sixth, of a 4-0 win over Upper Perkiomen at the University of Scranton's Magis Field.

Hazleton Area and Honesdale each won during a Thursday quarterfinal quadrupleheader at Patriots Park in Allentown in which Holy Cross and Pittston Area were eliminated.

Hazleton Area reached the semifinals with its second straight one-run victory, 2-1, over Downingtown West. Honesdale defeated District 1 champion Nazareth Academy, 5-2.

Crestwood, in boys lacrosse, and Holy Redeemer, in boys volleyball, each reached the state semifinals in Class 2A before having their seasons come to an end the day after Blue Ridge baseball.

In professional baseball, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders remained on top of the International League North Division, sweeping a doubleheader Sunday from the team that entered the day in second place to finish a series in which it won three of four games from the visiting Syracuse Mets.

The RailRiders won 7-5 and 14-3 Sunday. Syracuse had opened the series with a win and the teams split 3-1 games the first two days.

Tim Tebow, a former Heisman Trophy winner and National Football League quarterback, continues his professional baseball career with Syracuse after playing last season for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in the Eastern League.

Tebow, an outfielder, played Saturday and in Sunday's opening game of the doubleheader, going a combined 0-for-6 with four strikeouts.

On the season, Tebow is hitting just .149 with 65 strikeouts in 48 games.

COLLEGE CORNER

Skyla Wilson was part of a record-setting University of Pennsylvania 4x400-meter relay team that qualified to compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Track and Field Championships.

The Susquehanna graduate was on a team that placed 18th Thursday in Austin, Tex. when it ran among 24 teams trying to qualify for eight berths in the final.

Wilson was the only freshman on the team, which posted a time of 3:36.84.

Penn qualified for nationals in the relay for the first time with a school-record performance of 3:32.12 at the NCAA East Regionals in Jacksonville, Fla.

THE WEEK AHEAD

The PIAA brings the high school sports year to an end with baseball and softball state championships at Penn State University in State College.

The baseball title games will be at Lubriano Park with tripleheaders Thursday and Friday.

Thursday's schedule calls for A, 3A and 5A games to be played at 1, 4 and 7 p.m.

Friday's schedule has 2A, 4A and 6A games with starting times of 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Nittany Lion Softball Park also hosts tripleheaders Thursday and Friday.

The 2A, 4A and 6A finals are Thursday at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The A, 3A and 5A finals are Friday on the same schedule.

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

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NASCAR Racing

Hodges News Service

REDDICK GETS THIRD XFINITY WIN

BROOKLYN, Mich.--Tyler Reddick won his third Xfinity Series by saving fuel over the closing 44-lap green-flag run to win for the third time this season, matching fellow Big Three members Christopher Bell and Cole Custer for most so far this year.

"I just didn't want to burn a lot of fuel there," Reddick said. "Our Chevrolet was really good, but I made some mistakes on pit road, and we didn't get the track position until the end there.

"A great team effort. I didn't do the thing I needed to do on the race track but, man, that was a great car and we put ourselves in position to win.

"All the guys at Richard Childress Racing just make an outstanding effort throughout the week. Their efforts back at the shop and their hours spent from morning to afternoon every single day is what's paying off in getting us back to Victory Lane so often this year."

Reddick overcame a Lap 33 mishap of the 125-lap race on pit road when he slid through his pit stall and dropped to 10th for a restart on Lap 38.

Custer and Bell shared the lead and ran 1-2 for most of the 250-mile race's final stage. But a mix-up kept them on the track during the race's sixth and final caution and forced them to stop for fuel during green-flag conditions late in the race. Bell pitted on Lap 114, and Custer, the faster of the two over the final stretch, pitted on the next lap.

That handed the lead to Reddick, who led from Laps 115-125.

"We had a really fast Mustang," Custer said. "I really wanted to win here for Ford in their back yard and everything. We got the track position and got up front, and I think we had the best car here. I don't know how much the 2 (Reddick) was saving there, but the strategy just didn't work out for us. That one kind of stings, but I definitely feel like we had a fast car."

Bell later explained that this was the first week that his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 team used code words to discuss pit-stop strategy. Miscommunication with veteran crew chief Jason Ratcliff led to Bell staying out, and Custer was told by his crew to mimic Bell's strategy.

"Yeah, that was our first time using code words and we got the code words mixed up," Bell said. "My definition was a little bit different than what Jason had planned. Ultimately that was a big hiccup in our day, but the 00 blew our doors off, man. So we just have to get faster. That's our biggest thing. For whatever reason on the bigger tracks right now, I just don't have the speed that the 00 has, so we've just got to keep working hard and get our car to be a little bit faster and it'll be easy to clean up the miscommunication there."

Noah Gragson was runner-up, followed by Michael Annett, Paul Menard, Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Chase Briscoe, John Nemechek, Jeb Burton, and Justin Haley.

Top-10 leaders after 13 of 33: 1. Reddick-627, 2. Bell-538, 3. Custer-510, 4. Cindric-486, 5. Allgaier-479, 6. Briscoe-440, 7. Nemechek-429, 8. Gragson-423, 9. Annett-406, 10. Haley-395.

BIFFLE RETURNS TO NASCAR RACING

Greg Biffle, the 2000 Truck Series Champion returned to racing last Friday at Texas. He drove the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports to a lucrative win, which included a $50,000 payday in his comeback race Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. He missed a series of crashes to win the first-ever race in the Triple Truck Challenge bonus program.

"Just excited to be here, man," Biffle said. "I don't even know what to say. Just so thankful for all the opportunities I've had to drive great trucks. This thing was really fast."

Biffle last competed in NASCAR in the 2016 NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Although he never officially retired, the veteran driver often said he was waiting for the right opportunity to get back into the seat.

"I always said it was the right opportunity to come back into NASCAR," Biffle explained. "I've been talking to Kyle since I got out of the Cup car about maybe running some races, and he had a need for this particular Truck (Series) race and the 51 didn't have a driver and we talked over a sand dune trip and decided that I'd come run this one race for him."

Earlier this season, at Texas Motor Speedway, Biffle climbed behind the wheel of Busch's Toyota Tundra for 12 practice laps in preparation for the race.

"That was my biggest question when we decided to do it," Biffle admitted. "I asked if there was any chance I could get a few laps in at the spring [March] Texas race, just to see what these things feel like, get an idea of the new configuration of the race track.

"I was able to make about 12 laps, just get a rough idea of what the truck drove like, what it felt like. That will help me going out for practice one, just to have an idea of what the track and the truck will feel like."

Biffle explained the difference between how the trucks drive now compared to the last time he competed in the series.

"The difference between when I drove the truck and when I drove in (March), quite a bit of difference, obviously. But what it reminded me of, it reminded me more of what I've been doing over the last 10 years in the Cup car.

"The truck felt really similar to that, obviously I was by myself, I wasn't around other trucks, but it kind of gave me that impression of bump-stops and similar to what the Cup car is. Granted, the aero is a lot different and around traffic it will be a tremendous amount different, but I felt pretty good."

In 81 Truck Series starts, Biffle has 16 victories, 42 top-five and 54 top-10 finishes. The 49-year-old also has 12 pole positions in the series.

Biffle refused to say if he might return to a Cup Series car.

Matt Crafton was second, followed by Tyler Ankrum, Grant Enfinger, Harrison Burton, Sheldon Creed, Brennan Poole, Austin Hill, Cory Roper, and Ross Chastain.

Top-10 leaders after 9 of 23: 1. Enfinger-379, 2. Friesen-342, 3. Crafton-338, 4. Moffitt-324, 5. Rhodes-323, 6. Sauter-307, 7.Hill-302, 8. H. Burton-293, 9. Gilliland-267, 10. Creed-254.

Racing Joke: "Brad walks into the Emergency Room at 4:00am.

"What is your problem?" asks the receptionist.

"I really have no problem at the present," Brad tells her.

"Then why are you here?" the receptionist asks again.

"I have been having chest pain for two months but I am not having any now. The reason I'm here is because I heard that four am is the best time to come, cause there are not that many people."

The upcoming weekend is Father's Day. The Xfinity and Truck teams will be at the seven-eighths mile Iowa Speedway. The Cup Series has an off weekend.

Sat, June 15; Truck Series race 10 of 23; Starting time: 7:00pm ET; TV: FoxSports1.

Sun, June 16; Xfinity Series race 14 of 33; Starting time: 5:00pm ET; TV: FoxSports1.

Racing Trivia Question: Who did Greg Biffle drive for before he left the Cup Series in 2016?

Last Week's Question: Which Cup team does Kyle Larson drive for? Answer. He drives the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Chevrolet.

Gerald Hodges is a syndicated NASCAR photojournalist and author. You may contact him by e-mail at: hodges@race500.com.

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Alan Barker Gets First Can Victory

By Ryan Lepre

SUSQUEHANNA, PA – Alan Barker of Norwich, NY grabbed the Jeff Boughton Memorial presented by MXM Motorsports win at the Penn Can Speedway on Friday night. Barker went to the lead just after the halfway mark and rolled to the victory. Trailing Barker at the finish were Brian Malcolm of Lake Ariel, PA; Nick Petrilak of Greenfield Township, PA; Paul Rooney of Thompson, PA and Butch Getz of Kunkletown, PA.

"The team did a heck of a job putting this Hig-Fab car together for me over the winter. It's good to be in victory lane at Penn Can," stated Barker. "It's good to rebound after breaking the driveline last week. The car was good low and high and we were able to get the pass for the lead done on the outside. I'm just lucky to be put in this seat and hopefully we can keep it rolling."

The Boughton Memorial saw three first time winners as Randy Brokaw (602 Sportsman) and Tyler Yeagle (Street Stocks) joined Barker on the win list. Brokaw and Yeagle broke the winning streaks of Mike Schane (602 Sportsman) and Shane Wolf (Street Stocks). Other winners at the track were Jared Green (600cc Modifieds), Tommy Groover (Factory Stocks), Nick Kennedy (Four Cylinders) and Steve Simpson (Wingless Sprints).

The 20 car Modified field was brought to the green flag by Paul Rooney and Mike Loney for the 30 lap main event. Rooney took the lead at the start over Loney with Malcolm, Petrilak and Barker close behind. On a lap three restart Rooney still led but Loney fell back several spots and on the next restart it was a three car battle for second between Petrilak, Malcolm and Barker. Rooney held a solid lead, as second was still up for grabs until Barker powered ahead leaving Petrilak and Malcolm to keep swapping spots between third and fourth. With a dozen laps in, Barker in his Steve Klinger owned No. 77 started to chip away at the lead Rooney had in a hurry. By the next lap Barker was on Rooney's back bumper searching for a way to get the lead. Over the next few circuits Barker tried the inside then the outside but Rooney kept him behind. At the halfway mark Rooney was the leader over Barker, Petrilak, Malcolm, Getz, Nick Rochinski, Nick Nye, Kevin Jordan, Dan Pompey and Loney. Barker charged to the outside of turns one and two and got to the outside of Rooney and they ran side by side around the 3/8 mile. Barker nosed ahead at the line and cleared Rooney going into turn one to take the lead for good on lap 18. With Barker the leader, Rooney was getting tracked down by the never ending back and forth race between Petrilak and Malcolm. Track point leader Malcolm got the better of Petrilak and then zipped by Rooney as he set his sights ahead on Barker. Petrilak drove by Rooney in the final laps to take over the third position. Barker, in the Jensen powered McCain Gas and Electric ride crossed the finish line a straightaway ahead of Malcolm in his Sharkey Fuels No. 119 Troyer.

"The car was good again maybe a caution would have helped but he (Barker) was fast all night," said Malcolm. "We battled back and forth with Petrilak it was a good race, he just wouldn't go away."

Petrilak placed third in his Speed Sport Showcase No. 72.

"We need a couple little adjustments. Overall the car is good, but here you need to be perfect because there's so many good cars," said Petrilak. "We had a good race with Malcolm back and forth, giving each other plenty of room, the way racing should be."

Rooney settled for fourth after a strong run while Getz rounded out the top five.

In the 602 Sportsman event Randy Brokaw led at the end of lap one over Mike Schane and Randy Fox.  The battle for the lead was tight as Schane followed in Brokaw's tire tracks around the speedway. Meanwhile Mike Nagel Jr. was up to third, but was a long distance behind the lead duo. Brokaw had gotten a few car length advantage before the caution flew twice in the final laps. The last caution set up a one lap shootout. Brokaw never made a mistake on the final lap, to take the win ending Schane's win streak and getting his first Penn Can win. Schane was second ahead of Nagel, Fox and Ryan Stone.

Promoter Chad Towner offered a bonus to drivers Mike Schane and Shane Wolf, who hadn't lost in 2019 that if they started at the back and won the race they'd get a $500 bonus. Schane turned the challenge down but Wolf took the chance at the extra payday.

Tyler Yeagle led the Street Stock event while Wolf was driving hard to move up to challenge the leader.  Wolf brought out the yellow on lap six, forcing him to start at the back again. Wolf was into third just a few laps later and into second before the halfway mark. Yeagle had a solid lead when Wolf got to second and increased it as the laps clicked off. The yellow flew with two to go, giving Wolf another shot. Yeagle was too strong as he held off Wolf for his first Can victory. The rest of the top five were Eric Bonham, Jim Sykes and Travis Brockner.

Jared Green jumped to the lead at the start of the 600cc Modified event and cruised to his first win of the season. Green, in his No. 35 crossed the finish line a straightaway ahead of Bailey Boyd who was followed by Josh Mudge, Tyler Smith and Chace Scutt.

The Factory Stocks kicked off the feature events for the night and saw some early race action. Nate Hill took the lead but bobbled allowing Josh Towner to slip by as the first lap went in the books. Hill battled back and briefly took the lead again, but pushed big time allowing Towner to slip back by but Tommy Groover took full advantage and bypassed them both to take the lead. Groover led the rest of the distance to take the $500 top prize over Towner, Dusty Decker, Hill and Charlie Towner.

Nick Kennedy bested Andy Bolles in the Four Cylinder main event with Jason Colwell Jr. finishing third.  Steve Simpson grabbed win two on the season in the Wingless Sprints. Rounding out the action on Friday night was the Factory Stock Powder Puff event which was won by Kaylee Burns.

Notes: The fans turned out for the Boughton Memorial to honor long time track supporter Jeff Boughton. Making his return to the track after many years was Kirk Horton who was sponsored by Boughton Salvage. Several new drivers joined the action at Penn Can including top ten Modified finishers Nick Rochinski and Kevin Jordan.

Penn Can Speedway will be back in action Friday night June 14th as the Dirt Modified Nostalgia Tour will be in action along with the Modifieds, 602 Sportsman, Street Stocks, Factory Stocks, 600cc Modifieds, Four Cylinders and Juniors. Hot laps will start at 7 PM and racing beginning at 7:30 for all the latest updates find us on Facebook. Penn Can Speedway is located on Route 171 in Susquehanna, PA.

Jeff Boughton Memorial Presented by MXM Motorsports

Sunoco Racing Fuels Modified Feature Top Five Finish: Alan Barker, Brian Malcolm, Nick Petrilak, Paul Rooney, Butch Getz.

Stone Bros. Automotive 602 Sportsman Feature Top Five Finish: Randy Brokaw, Mike Schane, Mike Nagel Jr., Randy Fox, Ryan Stone.

Insinger Performance Street Stock Feature Top Five Finish: Tyler Yeagle, Shane Wolf, Eric Bonham, Jim Sykes, Travis Brockner.

Leeward Construction 600cc Modified Feature Top Five Finish: Jared Green, Bailey Boyd, Josh Mudge, Tyler Smith, Chace Scutt.

Eric Hines Trucking Factory Stocks Feature Top Five Finish: Tommy Groover, Josh Towner, Dusty Decker, Nate Hill, Charlie Towner.

4 Cylinder Feature Top Five Finish: Nick Kennedy, Andy Bolles, Jason Colwell Jr., Rich Wagner, Josh Wilder.

Wingless Sprints Feature Top Four Finish: Steve Simpson, Brandon Clapperton, Bruce Evans Jr. DNS: Don Smith.

(Photos courtesy of Fran Durso)

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Collin Chidester Is May's Athlete Of The Month

By Tom Robinson

Even while slowed by injury a year ago, Collin Chidester contributed to another championship season for the Montrose boys track and field team.

Back at full strength for his senior season, Chidester found both individual and team success.

After winning three gold medals at the District 2 Class 2A championships, earning a state medal in the 1600-meter relay and helping Montrose to a share of the Class 2A boys team title at the Jordan Relays, Chidester has been selected as the Susquehanna County Transcript Athlete of the Month for May.

Chidester, who was selected as the Track Performer of the Year in Divisions 3 and 4 by Lackawanna Track Conference coaches, had already led Montrose to a seventh straight LTC Division 4 title before putting together a month full of postseason accomplishments.

"I was really proud of my teammates," Chidester said. "We all really ran well this year and all competed to the best of our ability.

"It all came together. It's nice to have such great teammates."

Chidester was part of two relay wins at the Jordan Relays. He then finished second in both hurdles races to help the Meteors place fourth in Class 2A at the Robert Spagna LTC Championship Meet.

Along with winning both hurdles event at the district championships, Chidester combined with Chuck Rohan, Brennan Gilhool and Henry Rogers for the 1600 relay gold medal.

Nazir Dunell from Meyers was a state Class 2A champion in the 110-meter high hurdles in 2018, but the Mohawks moved up to Class 3A this season and Chidester was ready to take advantage.

"When Meyers moved up in classification, I knew I'd have a shot at it this year," said Chidester, who joined the junior high track and field as a seventh grader and also competed in indoor track in winters while in high school. "I worked toward it and it worked out."

After reaching the semifinals of the high hurdles in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Track and Field Championships at Shippensburg University, Chidester settled for 11th in the state in the 300 hurdles and 14th in the 110. The relay team qualified for the finals and earned an eighth-place state medal.

Chidester, who was homeschooled through his high school years, is headed to Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY where he will study chemical engineering.

Collin, the son of Lorraine and Charles Chidester from Montrose, also played soccer as a freshman, then ran cross country in his sophomore through senior years.

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