A Licking County (Ohio) high school baseball team received national attention earlier this week, sparking mixed emotions.
Twitter was abuzz for a few hours early Monday afternoon as news of Licking Heights’ 65-0 victory against Harvest Prep on April 5 spread. The Sporting News’ Bill Bender, a former sports editor for The Advocate in Newark, called longtime coach Jeff Boyer to investigate.
When Bender’s story with Boyer’s explanations was posted, the link was retweeted across the country. The Hornets and Warriors played three innings that afternoon, and when Boyer suggested his players take intentional outs, he said an umpire told him that would make the game a “travesty.”
When the score was called to The Advocate that evening, staff members took one note on the game. Boyer wanted Jacob Brandwein’s home run documented.
It is not the first time Heights has been in this situation.
The Hornets routinely have blown out far less experienced Harvest Prep teams in the past, scoring more than 40 runs multiple times. Boyer apologetically calls in the scores and prefers to give as little information as possible. Some newspapers refuse to print the scores.
Thankfully, this is one of the reasons Heights is playing its final games in the Mid-State League-Cardinal Division before moving into the Licking County League. With the improvement of their best athletic programs, the Hornets have found themselves in blowout situations often.
In recent years against Millersport, the football team has played second- and third-stringers almost exclusively on offense. The Hornets have never beaten the struggling Lakers by more points than the rest of their league brethren.
It has been the same story on the basketball court the past few winters. Unfortunately in baseball, the sport has no clock. Teams cannot dribble and pass excessively or run into the line and fall down after three yards.
Of the seven documented Harvest Prep games this season, six teams have scored at least 20 runs. Wellington scored 38. Still, scoring 65 is not acceptable for any reason.
Boyer said he had lost track of the score. Almost immediately after the game, Heights students took to Twitter to congratulate their classmates on their “great” victory, and a few Harvest Prep students even joined the conversation in seemingly good spirits.
Was offense taken? Nobody probably will truly know until the two teams meet again Monday. I expect Boyer will discuss scenarios with the Harvest Prep coaching staff and umpires before the game.
I expect Heights will have a full complement of reserve players to use after the first inning. The game will be a blowout again, but it had better not be 65-0.