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Trojans boys will confront potent lineup

June 17, 2004|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

The Peters Township Indians have averaged more than nine runs per game this baseball season, slugging their way to Friday's PIAA Class AAA state final against the Chambersburg Trojans.

The Indians (17-7) have scored 27 runs in three state playoff games. They beat Kiski Area 10-2 in the semifinals.

But they have yet to face senior right-hander Irvin Sleighter, who will take his 11-0 record, 0.48 ERA and single-season, school-record 107 strikeouts to the hill for Chambersburg (24-4).

Something's going to have to give when the teams meet Friday at 4 p.m. at Commerce Bank Park on City Island in Harrisburg, Pa.

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Sleighter, who pitched all seven innings of the Trojans' 4-1 win over Hempfield in Monday's semifinal, likes his chances.

"I'm feeling pretty good. Hopefully, Friday I'll be back to 100 percent," he said. "This is what I've been working up to, and hopefully I'll come out on top."

Peters Township's lineup, which features four batters hitting over .400, including two - Nos. 3 and 4 hitters Jim Gallagher and Aaron Janusey - over .500, doesn't seem to overly concern Sleighter.

"Not really," Sleighter said. "A lot of teams we've played have been good-hitting teams. I just have to come out and pitch my game, and my defense has been helping me out all year."

The Trojans also can swing the sticks. And no one on the team has been swinging a hotter bat than Sleighter, the No. 3 hitter.

"Sleighter's the hottest guy so far. He has 10 RBI in the last three games," said Bob Thomas, in his 40th season as Chambersburg's coach. "Other than that, we've been pretty well spaced out the whole way through.

"Jared Olson (the No. 2 hitter) has been getting on quite a bit and scoring a bunch of runs. He's basically been the one setting the table for Sleighter."

Thomas said the Trojans' batting lineup will be: catcher Andy Carter (.369), third baseman Olson (.363, 32 runs, 3 HR), Sleighter (.333, 24 RBI, 3 HR), right fielder Drew McGwin (.363, 28 RBI, 3 HR), left fielder Tyler Brown (.369), shortstop Cody Stinger (21 RBI, 3 HR), second baseman Kyle Davis (.400, 26 RBI), designated hitter Andrew Burke and first baseman Josh Frey.

"All of us can hit," Sleighter said. "We don't have to rely on certain people. All of us can produce."

Peters Township, reportedly, has yet to name its starter for Friday. While the Indians have scored in bunches all season, they've also given up nearly seven runs per game.

Thomas, who guided Chambersburg to state titles in 1984 and 1999 and a runner-up finish in 1979, knows getting on the board quickly will be a key against the Indians, who are making their first trip to the final.

"The biggest key in any of these playoff games is to get some runs early and just go from there and hope your pitcher is doing a good job for you," Thomas said.

"If you score a couple runs early, you have to keep firing away," Sleighter said. "We keep fighting, the first inning to the seventh inning. We don't give up. It was our mind-set in the beginning of the year to get to this point."

One more win and they finally can let loose.

"This has been a goal for them for years, but they're just not the 'rah-rah' type," Thomas said. "But I'm sure they'll roll around the grass a little bit if they win."

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