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Tri-County League

Owls Motivated By Tradition

By: Phil Haddad - Times Writer 7/27/06

Anyone who plays baseball never wants to give it up after they are done with their legion or college career. Enter the adult baseball leagues and the Gabelsville Owls. Most of the players on this year's team are former Boyertown players and have been taught to play the game the correct way. Well, correct according to Boyertown standards that is.

There are some college baseball players that play in the adult league (Tri-County League) instead of the college summer leagues. The adult leagues is good competition, but the schedule isn't as grueling. The Owls have a record of 25-3-1 so far this season, and two of of three losses were early in the season. The team didn't have a lot of their college kids that were on the roster. "Honestly, we should be 27-1-1," said Owls' head coach Matt Danner. "As far as the season, it's going really well.: Danner feels that execution of the game is what makes the Owls so successful. "It's the same thing as Boyertown baseball in general," said Danner. "Playing small ball, selfless baseball advancing runners, taking the extra base and solid pitching. So far this year we have had excellent pitching."

Justin Konnick, who is has been playing for the Owls for six or seven years, anchors the pitching staff. The team also has Jeremy Cabot (who is an Owen J. Roberts alum) along with Dan Kern and Shawn Betz who are the starting pitchers. Todd Stapleton, A.K.A. "The staple gun", is the closer. Danner is working on getting left-handed pitchers Seth Kaas and Mike Furman eligible for the playoffs. A player needs a certain amount of innings to participate in the playoffs. Also returning this year to the Owls are Jon Kalejta (who won Tri-County Rookie of the Year a few years ago and was the co M.V.P. of the playoffs last year), Mitch Schueck, Kyle Hoffman, A.J. Bohn, Ryan Bosch, Mike Ziemak, Matt Cotellese, Lyle Loeb, Matt Dierolf, Joe Soupik and Steve Jaffe.

Danner feels that the comradery is the best part of playing on the Gabelsville Owls. "Most of us have been playing together for a long time and that is what brings everyone back," said Danner. "Some of the older guys like Bob Graber who isn't from Boyertown (an Upper Perk grad), but he's been an Owl since 1999. The biggest reason he (Graber) sticks around is the comradery. That's what keeps him coming back. He's been in the league for 28 years." There are times when the team looks to Graber for leadership with his experience. "He is limited to the number of games that he can get to, due to family commitments," said Danner. "The younger guys 18, 19, 20-year-olds, do look up to him. The younger guys also look up to the guys that are my age (Shawn Betz, Ryan Bosh, Justin Konnick and A.J. Bohn)." The way that the veteran players lead the team is by example. "There isn't much leadership as far as rah-rah type stuff," said Danner. "It's mostly putting them in the correct position to make plays. "We're relying on their abilities and their smarts to get the job done. Having the confidence that they will get the job done. "Players my age learned to lead by the example of people from Doc Moyer's age group, his brother Todd, Neil Fox, Jeff Evans, Greg Gilbert and Dave Pence," said Danner. "They passed down the tradition to us, and now we're trying to keep the winning tradition going. These guys were playing when I first started. I learned a lot from them."

Danner and his age group learned to take the game seriously when playing for the Owls, but not too seriously. "This is a rec league," said Danner. "We're not playing professional ball and getting paid, but we take it serious enough that we take pride in how we play and how we present ourselves on the field." The players on this year's Owls understand the tradition of the team. "I think there is a little pressure," said Danner. "If I keep getting quality players to play for Gabelsville and we keep executing and playing the type of baseball that we were taught to play, then I'm not to worried about it at all."

With a win over Limeport last week, the Owls clinched first place in the division and the home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The playoffs will get underway on Saturday, July 29. Check out the Gabelsville Owls on the web at www.GabelsvilleOwls.com and you can check out the Tri-County league's website at www.TriCountyLeague.com

Phil Haddad is a free lance writer for the Times. All comments can be sent to Writersprts@dejazzd.com

ęBerks-Mont Newspapers 2006