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On This Date (April 29, 1983): Bombers win CL first half

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since May of 1999, the Times News Sports Department has featured an On This Date practically every day, highlighting an event that happened in the past. With the coronavirus putting a halt to sports locally and nationally, the On This Dates have been expanded to the stories that actually ran in the next day’s newspaper. Today’s On This Date story is from April 29, 1983).

By Craig Potter

Associate Sports Editor

It’s been a long time coming, after having been in the chase numerous times over the last few years, but Palmerton is finally the first half baseball champion in the Centennial League.

The Blue Bombers overcame East Stroudsburg 5-3 at Pleasant Valley Friday to capture their first title since 1978.

“I guess we’re in it ‘til the end,” stated a happy Blue Bomber coach Ted Plessl. “But boy, it’s been a long time coming.”

Four years to be exact. The Bombers last won a league half title in 1978 when Palmerton captured both halves to win the overall league crown. Palmerton was involved in playoffs then as the Bombers were this time.

Then, Palmerton had to defeat Northwestern for the first half title and Pocono Mountain for the second half crown. This time it was East Stroudsburg.

“Every year since (1978) we’ve either been in a playoff or just got knocked out of a playoff,” Plessl added. “We’ve always been around it, we just finally nailed one down.”

Defense Key

The defense has been a strong point for the Bombers, as well as some solid pitching.

“That’s their strong point,” said East Stroudsburg coach Frank Johnson. “Palmerton is a fantastic defensive ballclub. They get the pitching, they throw strikes, they didn’t put anyone on base. We had to earn everything we got. The first inning we started off good, but their defense saved them again.”

Having a good defense is a plus especially since the Palmerton pitching staff was getting a little tired with three games in three days.

Scott Hillegass provided a big relief.

“I can’t say enough about Scott Hillegass,” Plessl said. “What a job he did in the clutch for us. The guy hasn’t pitched for me at all since he’s been in high school. About a week and a half ago he says, ‘Hey coach, we’re running thin, I’m willing to give it a shot.’

“What a shot at this time. I’m pretty happy the way the kid came through for us.”

Plessl was looking to get three or four innings from Hillegass with anything beyond, gravy. Hillegass gave him 5 2/3 and helped put the Bombers ahead, too.

Mike Sander came on in the sixth and struck out three of the four batters he faced.

“Sander pitched Wednesday against Pleasant Valley and it was just a matter of how do we go to get to him,” Plessl explained. “I was hoping Scott could go four and Mike three, anything else was gravy.”

Cavs Take Lead

East Stroudsburg scored twice in the first as Ed Facyson led off with a walk, was sacrificed to second and scored on Joe Kizer’s double down the right field line. Kizer took third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out.

Palmerton grabbed the lead in the home half. Gary Guldner walked and was forced at second on Greg Serfass’ grounder. Randy Engle laid a bunt single down the third base line and Hillegass doubled to left to tie the game. Rob Mlkvy followed with a triple to right center to put the Bombers ahead.

Eastburg knotted the contest in the third after two outs. Starting pitcher Craig Lowe and Keith Albert each walked before Facyson slapped an RBI hit to right to tie the game. Hillegass retired the next batter on a liner to third baseman Engle.

The Bombers regained the advantage in the bottom of the frame. Engle walked and after two out, Scott Levandusky beat out a high chopper to short. The first baseman couldn’t handle the ball and Engle raced home with the go-ahead run. Levandusky stole second and took third on the overthrow. He crossed the plate when Sander bounced one through the right side.

Plessl commented prior to the start of the fourth inning, “This is the key.” Hillegass retired the side in order. The Cavs did not advance a runner to third until the sixth. Steve Schouppe led off with a single, took second on a ground out with one away, then stole third.

Sander came in and shut the door, preserving the win for Hillegass.

With Hillegass on the mound, Plessl had to find another first baseman. He turned to Dave Sayuk, who had not started a varsity game.

“He looked like he played there all his life,” Plessl said. “He did one heck of a job.”

E. Stroudsburg 210 000 0 - 3 6 1

Palmerton 302 000 x - 5 5 1

Lowe, Eschenbach (6) and Schouppe; Hillegass, Sander (6) and Serfass. W - Hillegass. L - Lowe. S - Sander.