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Mario's makes finals

| Saturday, Aug. 9, 2003

LECKRONE -- On Thursday, Mario's failed to hold onto the early lead in a loss against Bud Murphy's in the County League semifinal series. On Friday, the Cokers were the ones who squandered their advantage, building a two-run lead before falling 4-3 in Game 4 of the best-of-five series. The loss eliminates Bud's from the playoffs. Mario's will meet either Rostraver or Carmichaels in the finals.

"We gave them all four runs. (Pitcher Jason) Halfhill pitched a great game," Bud Murphy's manager Tom Sankovich said, adding that the one of the keys to the game was the Cokers' failure to drive in runners in scoring position. "We couldn't get one little hit. We were totally anemic at the bottom of our order."

The top of the order came through to put Bud Murphy's up early. Ryan Miscik singled in the first inning and scored on Brian Shipley's base hit.

Mario's came back in the second inning, with Ron Dellarose hitting a leadoff single and heading to second on an overthrow. Jim Kubina singled in Dellarose.

Joe Bonadio handed the lead back to Bud's when he walked and scored on Greg Beucher's third-inning single, and Brian Sankovich got aboard on an error in the fifth and plated on a second error for a 3-1 Bud's lead.

"We had a couple of lapses," Mario's manager Lou Pasquale said. " But all series, both teams played solid. One mistake is going to cost you, and that's what happened today."

The mistake happened in the bottom of the sixth, when John Harvey led off with a single for Mario's. Jim Cole lined one into left and made first easily, but a two-base error in the outfield allowed Harvey to score. Cole ran all the way to third on the play, eventually scoring on Scott VanSickle's fielder's choice.

With the score tied 3-3, Tom Sankovich sent Matt Basinger to the mound to close the game. Basinger struck out his first batter, but Len Pasquale walked and scored when Josh McMillen laced a base hit through short to give Mario's the edge.

In the seventh, Lou Pasquale opted to send Todd Dunham to the hill to relieve starter Brent Baker.

"Todd was key coming in there in the end," he said. "I had to bring him in for the simple fact that they saw a leftie all game."

Lou Pasquale wanted Bud Murphy's to face a hard-throwing right-hander in the final inning, and Dunham came through for his team. He lured the Cokers into three straight groundouts to seal the win.

Lou Pasquale said Dunham's last-inning effort was icing on the cake after a strong performance from Baker.

"Brent did the job and stayed focused. He didn't get excited or flustered when we didn't field the ball," he said. "I can't say enough about what he did today."

The win puts Mario's into the finals for the first time with Lou Pasquale as manager. It also marks the first time in four seasons Bud Murphy's has not reached the final round.

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