BY GREG FLINT
WEST LEBANON, Ind. —
Early season non-conference games in any sport often lead to unusual results. They can come from any combination of inexperience, lack of importance and coaching experimentation.
All of those may have been a factor as Seeger defeated visiting Bismarck-Henning 24-0 in a game shortened by the 10-run rule.
The game started reasonably enough as Dustyn Ingram of the Blue Devils hit a scorcher that Patriot third baseman Dakota Ware grabbed for an out. The team got a walk from Dylan Dodd and saw Patrick Ganley sacrifice him to second.
Dodd reached third on a wild pitch, but after another walk, the ensuing batter hit a fly to center for the third out — a perfectly normal first inning.
Things changed in the bottom of the inning as Seeger sent 13 batters to plate, getting seven hits, seeing three runners reach base on walks and one more on an error.
When Bismarck-Henning finally recorded the third out, the Patriots were up 7-0.
Having such a lead in a non-conference matchup allowed Seeger head coach Nate Davis to pull starting pitcher Avery Acton and replace him with freshman Josh Orahood.
“I didn’t really want to put him in for the first time in a close game,” said Davis, “but we had enough of a lead I thought it would let him be more comfortable out there.”
Orahood would pitch the remainder of the contest, doing what Davis call “a good job” in his first varsity action.
The young hurler retired the side in the second, getting a grounder, a pop foul and a strikeout.
Bismarck-Henning coach Mike Packard changed pitchers twice in the Seeger second inning, but to no avail, as the Patriots sent 17 batters to plate and added a dozen more runs to lead 19-0.
It quickly became obvious that the Seeger hitters, under no pressure, were relaxed at the plate and waiting for their pitch. At the same time, the Blue Devil players were trying too hard and getting more and more tense.
Packard chose to go to his bench and play some of his many freshmen.
“Seeger really hit the ball and they took advantage of every mistake we made,” said Packard. “I’ve got a good group of freshmen so I put them in to see what they could do.”
Davis had done the same, saying by game’s end his entire varsity had played and each one had received at least two at-bats.
All those changes by both coaches might help explain why the scoring slowed down as the game progressed.
Seeger added one run in the third and four in the fourth.
Bismarck-Henning did not score, but loaded the bases in the third and got two runners aboard in the fourth.
Asked what his team got out of such a game, Davis said, “We got a lot of reps and got to see the ball fall. That’s important, especially this early in the season with conference games coming up next week.”
After such a harsh outcome, Packard explained how his team would move forward.
“We’ll sort of forget this game, but we may remember it later when we see how far we’ve come at the end of the year,” he said. “For now, we move on and get ready for a conference game tomorrow and three next week.”
He then added that he thought his freshmen — a group he described as “wanting to learn and eager to learn” – had picked up some things and would continue to grow from the experience of having seen varsity action.
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org