Behind Seidler, Chesapeake-Anne Arundel tops No. 11 Reservoir for another 3A state baseball final four spot
by Pat O’Malley
There’s that guy Joe Seidler and his Chesapeake-AA Cougar mates. They’re back again.
It has become a habit – advancing to the Class 3A State Final Four. Seidler pitched the No. 13 ranked Cougars into the State semifinals for a third consecutive time posting his third consecutive victory in the 3A East Region Final, the latest by 4-1 at No. 11 Reservoir Monday afternoon.
Seidler, a long-haired right-hander with a free spirit to match, is a fierce competitor on the mound.
“We want to win that last one,” said Seidler referring to the 3A State Final that the Cougars (13-6) hope to be in as they were in 2016 and 2017 failing to finish each time. “That’s our goal to win the State Championship and we have the momentum to do it. We have turned it around in the playoffs and the last couple weeks.”
Chesapeake, which has won five in a row – three in the 3A East Regional – will play Huntingtown of Solomons Island 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans. The Hurricanes (14-8) are making their sixth appearance in a state final four and were there last season after winning the 3A State final over Chesapeake in 2016.
The Cougars and Canes will play the first game of a 3A doubleheader with surprising Towson (10-7) and Frederick’s three time state champion (last 4A in 2002) Governor Thomas Johnson (11-5) following at 7:00 p.m. Towson stunned No. 7 Bel Air, 1-0, at Ripken’s Yankee Stadium in Aberdeen to win the 4A North Region.
The Bobcats (15-3) from Harford Country and UCBAC moved down to the 3A classification this spring after winning the 4A title in 2016, their second in four years. Towson is making only its fourth appearance overall, the last in 2009, and the Generals own one state championship, that in 2000 in Class 2A.
Seidler (6-1) went 6.2 innings at Reservoir holding the Gators (17-5) to just one run and four hits to go with four strikeouts and two walks with two hit batters on 102 pitches. The control problems occurred in the middle innings of 3-4-5. He came out in the seventh with two outs and a runner on second base.
Junior shortstop Dylan Young came on and didn’t waste anytime striking out the last batter looking on three pitcher, all curve balls.
“We had scouted them and had a good feeling about using the curve ball,” said Young, who was credited with a save.
Seidler said afterwards that his curve wasn’t as sharp as usually it is said that coach Ken King’s decision to remove him “was the right one.”
The only run the Cougar ace gave up came in the third inning after the visitors had staked him a 2-0 lead in the first frame and added two more big runs in the top of the fourth. The Gators’ Todd Deltofo’s fielders’ choice scored EJ Sweet who had led off the inning with a knock, with the home team’s only run.
Seidler led off the game with a base hit off losing pitcher Trent Romaine who later plucked Young, the cleanup batter with a pitch and he and Seidler’s courtesy runner, Andy Colebrook, came around on junior catcher Tyler Shadle’s three-bagger to right for the initial 2-0 lead. Shadle was 3-for-4 on the day.
Junior second baseman Colby Buckheit, who had an outstanding day with the glove at second base, delivered a huge two-run, two-bagger in the fourth after Shadle had singled and Mike Cybert had doubled. With the infield up, Buckheit drilled the first pitch to him into left-center to make it a commanding 4-1 lead behind Seidler, who lifted his school record career mark to 25-5.
“I was up there with two outs and just trying to get the barrel on the ball,” said Buckheit. “I figured he (Romaine) would try to get ahead with a fast ball down the middle and that’s what I got. I was looking to drive it and waited back on it.”
As for his defense up the middle handling six chances flawlessly, four assists and two putouts, two of his assists on charged balls, Buckheit said, “It’s probably the best game I have ever played at second base. I just kept my head down and made sure I had the ball before I was ready to throw.”
Buckheit is a prime example of the way this Chesapeake team has played defensively the last couple weeks and definitely in the playoffs recording wins by 8-5 over Northeast and trekking over to the Eastern Shore to win the 3A East Section 1 title by 4-2 at Stephen Decatur.
Under coach King, traditionally the Cougars have been known for their pitching and defense, but this season there was a stretch where they weren’t making plays and were making an uncharacteristic 3-4 errors a game.
There were a lot of doubters among Cougar fans and baseball observers that they weren’t going to make it back to the State semis and that their run was coming to an end.
“We have spent a lot of time on defensive drills and trying to get better, a lot of things you do at the beginning of the season,” said King. “The kids have really worked hard and we (coaching staff of Mike Marsh, Chris Kojack and Jeff Young) have seen them get really focused.”
Certainly, the focus and intensity with which they are playing right now could not have come at a better time.
CLASS 3A EAST REGION BASEBALL FINAL
No. 13 CHESAPEAKE-AA 4, No. 11 RESERVOIR 1
CHESAPEAKE- AA (13-6) 200 200 0 – 4 8 1
RESERVOIR (17-5) 000 100 0 – 1 4 0
Joe Seidler, Dylan Young (7) and Tyler Shadle;Trent Romaine, Cam Hyder (6) and Jason Meyer
WP-Seidler (16-1) SV-Young LP-Trent Remained (5-2)
2B: C-AA-Mike Cybert, Colby Buckheit.