HARMANS — Eighteen county players were chosen to the 36-man roster for the North squad in yesterday's inaugural American Legion Southern Region Maryland All-Star game at Joe Cannon Stadium.
With so many talented players to chose from -- including those from legion national championMayo Post and the public school state champion squads of Arundel andNortheast High schools -- the North coaches had the unenviable task of trying to find playing time for each player.
But while the North's notables fought for playing time, the one player from a county school on the South squad played a key role in his team's 6-4 win.
Pat Calabrese, who will be a senior at Archbishop Spalding this fall, nailed a first-inning RBI double to the gap in left-center field to stake his squad to a 4-0 lead it never relinquished.
"My versatility helped me out because I can play both infieldand outfield," said Calabrese, 17, explaining why he got so much playing time.
The Bowie resident had two putouts from second base andplayed two different outfield positions in five and a half innings.
Calabrese plays for Cheverly in the legion league.
Said South coach Ed Glaeser: "At the start we didn't have a second baseman, so our arrangement was to have Calabrese play there. Even though he's normally an outfielder, he played very well."
For the game, the Southern Maryland District of the American Legion was divided in half. Players from Prince George's, Montgomery, Charles and Calvert counties composed the South team.
Four county players each from Annapolis Post 7, Severna Park Post 175 and Severn Post 276, and three each from Mayo Post 226 and Linthicum-Ferndale Post 289 were teamed with EasternShore participants on the North team.
Prior to the start of the game, players were permitted to show their stuff in a mini-workout in front of 30 to 40 scouts from colleges and major league teams.
Afterward, 25 players -- 15 from the county -- were selected to next Sunday's state all-star game in Hagerstown, to be played following a game by the Hagerstown Suns, a Baltimore Orioles farm club. Mayo coach Bernie Walter will coach that team.
Locals chosen to the state all-star team were pitchers Andy Young, Lance Taylor and Chris Botulinski(all of Linthicum-Ferndale), Jeff Chroniger and Brendan Sullivan (Annapolis), outfielders Steve Neuberger and Mark Budzinski (both of Severna Park) and Craig Everett (Severn).
Others selected were: shortstops Rob McCandless (Severna Park) and Eric Scott (Mayo); second basemen Calabrese and Tre Overstreet (Mayo); catchers Rich Spiegel (Severn) and John Milisitz (Severna Park) and third baseman Chris Rodriguez (Annapolis).
For Everett, The Anne Arundel County Sun's Player of theYear, it was just another honor in a successful year.
Last spring, he led Northeast High to an unbeaten season and a No. 1 national ranking. Earlier this summer he helped Team Maryland, a high schoolall-star team, to a third-place finish in an Oklahoma tournament.
"All that time I've been spending in the batting cages is paying off," said Everett, who has been drafted by the Houston Astros and will attend Anne Arundel Community College this fall.
Everett singled in his only at bat in two innings.
In the first inning, the South team rocked Charlie Buckheit for four hits, including two RBI doubles.Buckheit lasted only 27 pitches before he was yanked.
Young relieved Buckheit in the second, retiring the side with a strikeout and two comebackers before being replaced by Denny Lowe in the third.
With Lowe on the mound for the North, the South squad was held scoreless with just one hit over the next two innings. Botulinski replaced Lowe and kept them scoreless in the fifth.
The North finally scored in the third inning when Taylor hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Steve Neuberger to make it 4-1. Neuberger had led off with a double and reached third on a single by Jeff Chroniger.
With two outs in the fifth, Chroniger scored from third to make it 4-2, after Brian Becker's infield single slipped under the outstretched glove of pitcher Eric Shelton.
"I didn't expect to get two at-bats, but I was able to hit the ball," said Taylor. "It was a good day for me and of all the pitchers I saw today, I thought Chris and Andy threw as good as anybody."
Brett Kintz' sixth-inning two-run triple -- the South's eighth hit of the day -- gave his squad its 6-2 lead.
North's Eric Smallwood crossed the plate on a Devon Leap ground-out in the seventh after singling, walking and reaching third on a sacrifice bunt. After a triple, Sean Downs scored on McCandless' eighth-inning ground-out to bring the North to within 6-4.
"A lot of major league scouts around Maryland had been talking about how baseball in this state has beendeteriorating, but with this and (Mayo's national title last year), we're trying to make a comeback," said Jim Gilbert, a Baltimore Orioles Maryland scout who contacted the coaches about starting the game. "I just think, and Major League Baseball thinks, that American Legionbaseball is the strongest around. This is the hotbed right here."