After Palisades High pitchers hit seven Chatsworth High batters in an LA City Section playoff game, Dolphins Coach Tom Seyler said the hit batters were unintentional, although throwing inside was the game plan.
Following an investigation, Seyler was fired on Friday, June 7.
He had coached the team to the Western League championship in all four years he’d been head coach, and Palisades was 15-0 this season in league games.
But the City Section has a clause that reads “Pursuing Victory With Honor.”
Seyler will remain a teacher at the school.
“I’m definitely disappointed,” Seyler told the Mirror on Sunday, June 10. “There is an appeal process, but I’m going to collect information before deciding if I want to appeal.
“I’ve been the head coach for four years and there weren’t any complaints.”
Chatsworth is ranked among the top high school baseball teams in the nation and leads California schools in home runs. The team went on to win its seventh LA City Section championship. One of its players, Mike Moustafa, was the No. 2 choice in the major league baseball draft on Friday, June 8, and another, Matt Dominguez, was No. 12.
Getting the opportunity to play Chatsworth in a playoff semifinal game represented a showcase event for Palisades.
And Seyler decided the best way to confront the power hitters was to crowd them with pitches. However, in no way did he want the batters to be hit, he claimed.
Throughout the game the Chatsworth coach complained about the hit batters, and in the sixth inning Palisades reliever Andy McGee was ejected for hitting Dominguez.
During the next week McGee and Dolphin starting pitcher Cole Cook apologized, but the investigation went on.
Seyler pointed out that a Palisades batter was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning when Chatsworth was 10 runs ahead.
Seyler is proud of what the team accomplished. “I’ve been involved with the program for eight years and this was our best team,” he said. “We went undefeated in the league for the first time and were seeded fourth in the City Tournament, our highest ever.”
Palisades defeated Sylmar, 2-0, and Roosevelt, 9-8, to reach the semifinals.
Roosevelt had won 30 games and was a formidable opponent. Palisades won, 9-8, and the game ended when McGee caught a line drive at shortstop with the tying run on third base.
McGee and Cook were named to the all-city first team. Pitcher Johnny Bromberg and outfielder Austin Jones made the second team. McGee is headed to Yale and Cook to Pepperdine.
Seyler isn’t ready to say Palisades will be the league champion again next season. “We’ll be rebuilding,” he said. “We’re losing nine seniors. But our younger players will get experience in off-season play.”
That has already begun. Palisades has two teams entered in American Legion baseball, as does Santa Monica. Games began last week, with the majority scheduled at UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Stadium and the high schools.
There will be a few returnees to the Dolphins’ team. Seyler describes catcher Jarrell Champion as “the backbone of the squad.” Oliver Goulds returns at third base and Zachary Doucher at first.
The teams who dueled for second place in the league, Hamilton and University, are considered contenders for next season. Then there’s fourth place Westchester, which won the Invitational Division championship, an event comprised of teams ranked 17th through 32nd in the city. It’s not as prestigious a tournament, but nonetheless gives the league more recognition.
“It speaks well of our league when our teams do well in the playoffs,” said Seyler.