Westminster seeks to upset Taneytown

August 05, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

The South Penn League baseball playoffs are set to start tonight, and as has been the case the past three years, the Taneytown Cardinals come in as the team to beat.

One of the teams with the best chance to catch the three-time defending champs is the Westminster Elks, who enjoyed their finest season ever, finishing tied for second with a 23-13 mark.

Brushtown (13-23), which gained the eighth and final playoff seed with a win over Thurmont Monday, will get the first crack at the first-place Cardinals (28-8) when they travel to Taneytown tonight for the first game of a best-of-three series. During the regular season, the two teams split their four games.

Third-seeded Westminster (23-13) will play host to Gettysburg (17-19), a team it beat all four times in the regular season. The Elks closed out the regular season with a six-game winning streak and enjoyed a better-than-.500 season for the first time in their five-year history.

The other quarterfinal games have Hanover (14-22) at New Oxford (23-13) and Cashtown (22-14) playing host to Littlestown (19-17).

Despite their 28-8 record, the Cardinals haven't been the dominating team they were a year ago when they closed the season on a 23-game win streak. They again rely on strong pitching, led by starters Trevor Buckley, Ron Sell and Bryan Harman, along with a balanced attack offensively centered around Scott Thomson (league-leading 17 homers), David Crouse and Steve Insley.

"We're still not hitting the ball like we're accustomed to, but it's been tough because we haven't had too much to shoot for the past four or five games. It's playoff time and we should be all right," said Harman, also an assistant coach.

"Last year we just steamrolled by everyone. This year's team kind of reminds me a little of the one two years ago when we bumbled around a little before winning it all. We got a wake-up call against Mummasburg in the first series when we lost the second game, but then came back to win the third and swept everyone

from there."

The Elks are looking like last year's Taneytown team, closing out the regular season with a convincing 9-3, 9-0 sweep of fifth-place Littlestown on Saturday.

Catcher Jeff Bruchey (five homers, 30 runs batted in) is one of three hitters batting over .400 in the lineup, and manager Walt VonBussenius Sr. said the Elks are hitting in the neighborhood of .350 as a team.

Pitchers Brad Beck and Chris Long, both nine-game winners, make the Elks a strong contender to upset Taneytown.

"I think the biggest thing this season has been the camaraderie the team has," VonBussenius said.

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