Blogs > The Best of Don Seeley's Columns

Former Mercury sports editor Don Seeley passed away in June 2013 from a heart attack. For more than a decade Seeley wrote about local sports. Featured here are his columns that were previously printed in The Mercury.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Laws of Motion

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. — Moments after returning from an early Saturday morning practice, Boyertown manager Rick Moatz and assistants Craig Eddinger, Pete Hiryak, Matt Matlack and Jeff Pinder feasted on some watermelons outside their hotel. In between bites, they were discussing what they knew about South Richmond, a team their Bears would be facing later Saturday night in the winners bracket final of the Mid-Atlantic Regional.

There wasn’t much to talk about, at least not about South Richmond, that is.

The staff was more concerned about, and more open about, the alarming number of times their own players were striking out.

They had every reason to be concerned, too.

In Thursday’s opening-round thriller against Gaithersburg, Md., the Bears went down a season-high 14 times. In Friday night’s blowout of the host Buccaneers, they fanned another 12 times.

“That’s way, way too many times,” Moatz mumbled.

Indeed it is.

But it is also a statistic that most everyone else is overlooking, which is easy to do when watching a team swing the bats like the

Bears have been doing (here, as they have all year, too).

There were those 14 strikeouts against Gaithersburg, but there were also those 13 hits - including three doubles, a triple and four home runs - that helped produce 11 runs ... or one more than the Maryland state champions. And there were those 12 strikeouts against Colonial Heights, but there were also another 13 hits - including three doubles and three more home runs - that helped produce the 14 runs that invoked the 10-run rule after eight innings.

Ol’ Yogi couldn’t even make sense out of the disparaging numbers.

No, they don’t add up.

There aren’t many teams at any level that whack as well as whiff like Boyertown has of late.

One more time here - two games, 26 basehits and 25 runs to go along with 26 strikeouts.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Moatz said.

Nor does anyone else really.

Before heading south here, the Bears averaged just over four strikeouts a game - 258 in their 54 previous games. And how that number has more than tripled in the two games here is anyone’s guess because the pitching, despite what anyone has seen, heard of or cares to talk about, isn’t anywhere near two or three times better than the pitching Boyertown went up against in the Berks County League or in either of the Region Two of state tournaments.

There simply isn’t any explanation. Even a few of the players, when asked about the going-down-on-strikes dilemma, had the puzzled look while shrugging their shoulders.

If there is something Moatz and his staff can live with, though, it’s that the Bears are still pushing the runs across and not stranding an unusual amount of baserunners in scoring position when they do strikeout. They have left 12 runners on in their two games, and half were on the bases when someone in the lineup went down on strikes.

“We have to be concerned, especially when we’re supposed to be going up against (South Richmond’s) ace tonight,” Eddinger said.

Stay tuned.


Defending national champion Columbia, Tenn., as well as runner-up Eden Prairie, Minn., were both eliminated from their respective regionals on Saturday.

In the Southeast Regional at Shelby, N.C. - the site of next week’s World Series - Columbia, which recovered from an embarrassing opening-round 10-0 loss to Sumter, S.C., bounced back the next day with a 5-1 win over Leesburg, Ga. However, Saturday afternoon it was Tuscaloosa, Ala., that ended Columbia’s season with an 11-10 win. Columbia (34-19) trailed 5-0 and 11-5 before scoring seven times in the last three innings to create a 12-12 tie. Tuscaloosa (32-14) came back in the bottom of the ninth, though, when Corben Green (5-for-5) singled and scored on Jay Davis’ RBI basehit.

In the Great Lakes Regional at Chillicothe, Ohio, Eden Prairie debuted with an 8-6 setback to Midland, Mich., then recovered in time to crush Chillicothe, 14-1. But Saturday afternoon, after scoring in the ninth to tie it at 2-2 and force extra innings, Eden Prairie (45-13) saw its postseason run end in the 11th inning when a hit-batsman, sacrifice bunt and Cody Koch double lifted Sandusky, Ohio (35-10) to the victory.

* * *

Leesburg, Ga., which went into the Southeast Regional with the fewest wins and games played of any team in the nation - a quite mediocre 8-4 mark - finished its season at 8-4. The Georgia state champions lost to Randolph County, N.C. by an 8-4 spread before the 5-1 loss to Columbia.


Two host teams were in winners bracket finals Saturday night. Up in the Northeast Regional, host Bristol, Ct. (33-8) was taking on Portland-Nova, Me. (28-3); while in the Southeast Regional, host Shelby, N.C. (36-14) was taking on state-rival Randolph County (42-12).

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