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.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bears find solace off season-ending loss

There was no joy in Boyertown on Monday.

Even an exhilarating, ninth-inning rally – a six-run rush that revived both the Bears and their usually voluble hometown crowd after nearly two hours of absolute gloom and doom – couldn’t mask the frustration or conceal the agony of a season-ending loss.

Digging out of a 9-3 hole is one thing, doing it all in one inning – the ninth and last inning, no less – is an excavation miracle.

Very few teams over the last thirty-some years have pulled off anywhere near as many of them as Boyertown has. And no Boyertown team ever came from so far back so late like the Bears did in Monday afternoon’s Mid-Atlantic Regional game against Brooklawn N.J.

Unfortunately, the game – and the season – would cave in on the Bears in the bottom of the ninth.

And even though this was a team that didn’t win a state title a week ago, or a team that didn’t win a national regional tournament and advance to the World Series, it may well be remembered as a team that, against all odds, played with as much energy, resolve and grit as any of the more-celebrated Boyertown teams before it.

“We didn’t roll over and we didn’t quit … we were like that all year,” said Boyertown left fielder Cameron Ferreri.

The Bears sure could have surrendered after Brooklawn scored five times in the fourth inning to create the 9-3 deficit. And considering there was little if any life in their bats – only five baserunners and 10 strikeouts from the fifth through the eighth – few would’ve blamed them if they opted not to even step to the plate in the ninth inning.

But they did, and after RBI singles by Josh Schnell and Cameron Ferreri bookended around two-run basehits by Chris Werner and Andrew Gehringer, they were back to even.

At least until the bottom of that ninth, when a one-out walk, stolen base, infield grounder and wild pitch ended it.

And when the postgame ceremony that was awfully difficult for the Bears to sit through finally ended, no one found any consolation in the comeback that came oh so to forcing a Game 15 … and, who knows, a possible trip south to the World Series in North Carolina.

“Losing 9-3 or 10-9, either way hurts,” Ferreri said. “But I prefer the 10-9 because if shows how hard we fought. No one gave up.”

Boyertown manager Rick Moatz, who in his 24 seasons with the Bears has seen his share of comebacks among those 1,101 career wins, seemed to digest the loss considerably better than most of the Bears.

“(The comeback) epitomizes what this team is all about,” he explained. “Win or lose, they never quit, and they never quit the entire season. I certainly didn’t expect them to go down easy in the ninth inning. But, honestly, I didn’t expect them to score six runs, either.

“These guys had every reason to roll over and quit. (Brooklawn) hit a lot of chinkers, a lot of ground balls just through the holes. Things just weren’t going our way. But they just never quit.”

Not quitting was indeed the Bears’ modus operandi all summer. They could have given up against West Lawn during the Berks County League playoffs; could have given up against Pennridge in the Pennsylvania Region Two Tournament; could have given up after their first loss to Bristol in the state tournament knowing a spot was already reserved for them as hosts of the Mid-Atlantic Regional; and, of course, they could have given up after the first loss to Brooklawn last Friday night.

Instead, they played through …earned their way to the national regionals, finished with 45 wins, and was just one of 16 teams in the country still playing American Legion baseball on Monday.

Not bad at all.

“We’re definitely proud of them for what they accomplished,” Moatz said. “There were times this season they could have given up, but they didn’t. Their goal was to get to the World Series.”

They came so close, too.

“What makes this (loss) a little easier to accept is that this team played better and better every week,” Moatz said. “I thought they played as well this week as they had all season, and played as well as they could’ve played.”

Boyertown, with nine regional championships, has now finished second in the Mid-Atlantic Regional six times. … The last meeting between the Bears and Brooklawn in a regional final at Bear Stadium was 11 years ago, and the New Jersey rivals put that one out of reach early on in a 14-0 romp. … Brooklawn, which won its 12th Mid-Atlantic title and 13th national regional overall for ageless manager Joe Barth – in his 60th season guiding the program – opens World Series play Friday afternoon against Northwest Regional champion Waipahu, Hawaii.

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