Old Mill looks tough, as in 1989 Balanced Patriots are team to beat Baseball preview

March 26, 1991|By Sam Davis

This past winter, the question was whether top-ranked Dunbar's 1990-91 basketball team was as good as its powerhouse 1982-83 team.

A similar question is being asked this spring about Old Mill's 1991 baseball team.

Is this team as good as the 1989 team that went 20-1 and won the state Class 4A title?

"This is a very balanced team, with pitching, depth and experience," said Old Mill coach Mel Montgomery, whose team has been ranked 19th in one national poll.

The Patriots are loaded with veterans from last year's 19-4 state semifinalist, including five pitchers who accounted for 18 of the wins. Old Mill also has three players who helped Arundel coach Bernie Walter's Mayo Post No. 226 team win the American Legion national championship last summer.

But before Old Mill can start thinking about state titles, the Patriots will have to contend with Arundel and Northeast in Anne Arundel County.

Nothing is new in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference, where the favorites are two-time defending champion Calvert Hall and Mount St. Joseph, which has lost to Calvert Hall in the past two championship series.

Southern, Patterson, Mervo and defending champion Gilman are expected to contend for the B Conference crown. Two-time C Conference champion St. Paul's, which moved up to the B this season, could also be a factor.

With St. Paul's out of the C Conference, Mount Carmel is the team to beat. Last year, Mount Carmel lost to St. Paul's in the championship series after taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

Defending state Class 4A champ Perry Hall is again the favorite in Baltimore County's 3A-4A league. If Perry Hall falters, Class 3A powers Lansdowne, Dundalk and Catonsville are ready to step up.

There is no clear favorite in Baltimore County's 1A-2A league, which has several new coaches. Look for perennial contenders Sparrows Point and Towson to lead the way, with Pikesville close behind.

In Harford County, Edgewood, which lost in the state title game last year, is favored. C. Milton Wright and defending county champion Bel Air will challenge the Rams.

Hammond is favored to win its first Howard County championship. Oakland Mills figures to provide Hammond's toughest competition. Mount Hebron and Centennial should also contend.

The Carroll County race is expected to come down to the potent offenses of Liberty and Westminster.

1. Old Mill -- The Patriots have all of their pitchers and several key field players from last year's 19-4 state semifinalists. LHP Doug Stockman (9-2, 2.72), RHP Eric Scott (4-1, 3.37), LHP Jim Simms (3-1, 3.65) and RHP Mike Nappier (2-0, 2.42) accounted for 18 of the 19 wins.

Scott, who also plays shortstop, batted .429 with 10 extra-base hits and 33 RBI. P/LF Simms (.375), C/2B John Bussey (.376, 20 RBI) and CF William Beverly (.367, 21 RBI, 15 SB) provide additional offense. All are seniors.

Montgomery can call on 10 graduates of a 15-3 junior varsity.

2. Perry Hall -- The Gators lost five starters from last year's Class 4A titlist (20-0), but a good nucleus remains.

Three All-Metro players return -- first-team OF Roy Marsh (.468, 5 HRs), second-team SS Donnie Burks (.524, 23 RBI) and second-team P Kevin Loewe.

Coach Larry Butz says Gilman transfer Danny Brown has looked good behind the plate in early drills, but Brown will be pushed by senior Dave Niedzialkowski.

3. Mount St. Joseph -- Seven starters return.

Calvert Hall has beaten Mount St. Joseph the past seven times the teams have met.

"We're always one of the top teams around, and the only team that keeps us from getting on top is Calvert Hall," said Mount St. Joseph coach Dave Norton, who is beginning his ninth season. "Until we beat them, it's like a monkey on our backs."

Senior P Ryan Clark leads the returnees, as the Gaels try and get past Calvert Hall and win their first A Conference title since 1987. Last season, Clark was 8-3 with a 1.05 ERA.

With junior OF Bob Bush, who batted .366 last season and senior SS Knoll Axt, who batted .343, leading the way, Mount St. Joseph shouldn't have any trouble scoring. However, the Gaels have no proven pitcher other than Clark.

4. Arundel -- The Region IV finalist (17-5) has 14 returning varsity players. "We have experience. We're very solid defensively, with good speed, and I think we'll hit," said coach Bernie Walter.

Sophomore RHP Shawn Crews (3-1, 2.78, 1 save) and senior RHP Larry Dobson (3-2, 3.36) will be backed by Chris Tutas, Jeff Beard and Chris Durocher.

The infield is anchored by third-year starting SS Scott Young (.290). Also back are 1B Scott Penland and DH/C Dusty Oldfather. Rodney Stevens (.357), Doug Stern, A.J. Trout and Eric Hontz lead an all-senior outfield.

5. Calvert Hall -- The only regular back is senior IF Ken Konopacki, but don't count the Cardinals out.

"We're reloading," said Calvert Hall coach Joe Binder, whose team has the talent to contend for a third straight conference title.

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