BEARS TAKE UNUSUAL CO-TITLE
The Boyertown Bears began their participation in this week’s 2009 Pennsylvania State Tournament having completed their second successful postseason tournament. Following on the heels of a Berks County Playoffs that was littered with on-field oddities, the Bears were able to successfully complete their participation in the Region 2 Tournament at Nor-Gwyn’s Hostelley Field with relatively few on-field peculiarities.
But that didn’t mean that there were no out-of-the-ordinary aspects about the tournament. Mother Nature was the main culprit in this regard, as the tournament schedule needed to be adjusted several times due to inclement weather. When all tournament action was declared to be completed, the Bears had played four games starting at or before 10 AM, one entire day’s worth of action was cancelled . . . and indeed, there was, in one sense, no actual completion. In an unprecedented move for a Region 2 tournament, tourney officials declared a pair of co-champions, rain canceling the fifteenth and final game of the tournament on Thursday with the Bears and host Nor-Gwyn tied at 2 after 6 full innings. (Nor-Gwyn actually scored a run in the top of the seventh inning, but when the rains forced the game to be canceled, the score reverted back to the last fully completed inning.)
Some fans criticized the decision, feeling that a champion still should have been crowned. Both head coaches, Boyertown’s Rick Moatz and Nor-Gwyn’s Kevin Manero, were given the opportunity to do so by either a coin toss or by attempting to “wait out” the weather, possibly into Friday. Nevertheless, the third option – co-champions – was agreed to by the coaches. Moatz, in particular, felt that the decision was a good one. “It was a very unusual situation with circumstances that would have created great hardship and our two teams involved to be put at a disadvantage for the upcoming week” commented Moatz, alluding to this week’s State Tournament. “It was a prudent decision by the two organizations involved and was allowed by the PA State American Legion Commander so that neither team would be at risk playing under deteriorating field conditions or put at a disadvantage with pitching for the upcoming State Tournament,” he added. “I applaud the tournament committee and Legion officials for being flexible and prudent in making this unusual decision.”
The decision made even more sense with the realization that both teams would be advancing to this week’s State Tournament. And in looking forward to the State Tournament, Moatz reflected back on the Bears’ postseason so far – and liked what he saw.
“We have improved our play on a daily basis this week and our young players have begun to learn what it is going to take to win a State Title and move on to a National Regional,” he commented. “It was good experience for us to have to fight back thru the loser’s bracket this week . . . They have demonstrated great resilience and persistence throughout the league and Region 2 tournaments.”
Moatz mentioned the one unfortunate result for the Bears in the tournament: the arm injury suffered by Nate Schnell near the beginning of the Bears’ Game 12 win over their Game 1 conquerors from Hatfield. “Nate Schnell was removed from the game on Wednesday because of some discomfort in his throwing arm . . . after feeling a pop in his arm we decided to take him out of the game,” commented Moatz, who added that Schnell’s diagnosis and return are uncertain, as the results of the MRI conducted on Schnell’s arm had not yet been received.
As a result, the Bears will have to compete in the State Tournament without Schnell, their top pitcher, who, along with Brandon Sullivan and Ethan Moser, has provided the Bears with valuable experience in their final year. Indeed, Moatz, alluding to the theme of last week’s article, made a similar reflection. But as he also stated, “This group of players just battle to the last out not matter what has happened. I am very proud of the way this team has been able to shrug off mistakes and continue to compete to win ball games. They are young and inexperienced but they have learned what mental toughness is all about.”