College student-athlete dies in car crash


Joshua Leland Siegert was supposed to make his first start of the season yesterday, hitting in the ninth spot as designated hitter for St. Mary's College of Maryland as the team played Villa Julie College. But Siegert never came to bat.

The baseball game was canceled after the 21-year-old junior died early yesterday morning in a single-car crash on Route 5 in St. Mary's County.

"It's so tragic. I still have the lineup card on my desk because I know how much he wanted to play," said Lew Jenkins, the college's baseball coach.

Siegert, of the 5100 block of Orchard Green in Oakland Mills, was a passenger in a 2002 Honda Acura being driven south by Bernard Jonathan Sekula, a 23-year-old senior at the college, on Route 5 near Willow's Road about 2 a.m., according to the St. Mary's County Sheriff's Department.

The Honda drifted into the northbound lane, struck a concrete culvert, left the ground and hit a utility pole, the Sheriff"s Department said.

Sekula, of Glen Gardner, N.J., and Siegert were declared dead at the scene, the department said.

Siegert graduated in 2000 from Long Reach High School, where he was the starting shortstop on the varsity baseball team for two years. He was known as the team's practical joker and leader, said Tim O'Brien, who coached the team.

"He could brighten a practice better than anyone. ... But he could take people to task and get them ready to play, too" O'Brien said.

During his senior year, Siegert invented a pick-off play which the team still practices but never uses in games because "it's illegal in about nine different ways," O'Brien said.

With a runner leading off second base, Siegert would pretend he had been stung by a bee and would drop his glove and begin yelling in mock pain. While the runner was distracted, the second baseman would sneak in behind him, get the ball from the pitcher, and apply the tag to the startled runner.

"The first time [Siegert] did that, everyone starting laughing. We had to stop practice," O'Brien said.

Siegert's father, Mike, is a lacrosse coach at Centennial High School, but Siegert had always wanted to be a baseball player, family members said.

"He just liked to play. He would play anywhere I asked him, and it never bothered him," said his college coach.

Siegert's family said he wanted to be an elementary school teacher and high school baseball coach once his playing days were over. "Young kids flocked to him, and he thought he could have an effect on them," said Mike Siegert.

Siegert was popular among his peers, according to St. Mary's students. He was in third place in the annual "Mr. SMC" contest, a pageant and talent show that raised money for charities.

"He could have won the whole thing ... and now we have to take his name off the list," said Jayson Williams, student body president.

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