BIRDSBORO >> By no means would anyone ever classify Justin Wieand as an angry person.
On the mound, though? That’s a different story.
The fast-paced right-hander dominated Daniel Boone on Monday afternoon, pitching a complete-game shutout on the way to Boyertown’s 5-0 win in Berks County American Legion play at Optimist Field.
“I just always pitch angry,” Wieand said with a friendly smile after the game. “I always feel like I’ve got something to prove out there — I wanna do the best I can every time I’m out there. When I get mad, I just put it into the next pitch.”
On the shoulders of Wieand’s complete-game effort, the Bears improved to 8-6 in Berks County League play, now having won four straight. Daniel Boone falls to 3-10, having now lost eight straight games — four straight shutouts — since the middle of the month.
He’s not out there on the mound digging up old hurt, or in the dugout blasting Eminem on his headphones.
Nope, Wieand’s motivation stands in the batter’s box just over 60 feet away.
“I’m just trying to get everybody out. Everybody,” he said. “I’m trying to throw a perfect game every time I’m out there. Is that possible every time? No. But I want to get as close as I can whenever I pitch.”
He was flirting with it Monday, carrying a no-hitter into the fourth inning before Boone shortstop Joey Moyer landed a single to center field.
For the game, Wieand let up just two hits — both to Moyer — to go along with a pair of walks and four strikeouts.
“When he’s got that curveball-slider combo going, he’s usually tough to hit,” said Boyertown manager Rick Moatz. “He was getting ahead of guys tonight, which made it even more effective for him.”
The Bears afforded their starting pitcher plenty of breathing room from the get-go — crossing runs in the first and second innings before adding a pair in the third, bolstered by Tate Yergey’s RBI double to left. Shortstop Chris Davis finished 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored while left fielder Sean Sutterby and designated hitter Mike Xanthopoulos each had two hits. Second baseman Michael Raineri and catcher Nick Diciacco each had a hit, a run scored and an RBI as the Bears racked up 10 hits.
“We haven’t been hitting that well of late,” said Moatz, “so a game like this is good for us. We want to try and improve that (hitting) for when we get to the postseason.”
While the hits were finally flowing from the visiting dugout, the home team Orioles found themselves up against the same battle they’ve been facing the past 10 days. Through their previous six losses, the Blazers have been shutout in five games. During that stretch, they’ve been outscored 17-3.
Naturally, that doesn’t sit well with head coach Mike Barbera.
“We’ve been struggling at the plate,” he said, “and their pitcher took advantage of it — gotta give props to him.
“The talent is here,” he went on. “We’ve beaten two of the best teams in the league this year (referencing wins over Norchester and Boyertown). Right now, I think it’s mental. We’re fielding well, we’re pitching well and keeping ourselves in games. We’ve just got to start hitting.”
Boone’s only legitimate scoring chance came during the bottom of the fourth inning. After Moyer’s one-out single, Matt Stevens knocked a grounder down the left side that both the third baseman and left fielder lost track of in the sun, enabling runners to advance to second and third. During the next at-bat, Moyer was tagged out trying to steal home on a bang-bang close play at the plate.
“We had to take a chance there,” said Barbera. “The way we’re hitting right now, we had to try something different to get him (Moyer) in.”