A team comprised of several members of Northeast's Class 2A and Arundel's Class 4A state champion teams, as well as a couple from Mayo Post 226's American Legion national champion squad -- 0-3?.
The Anne Arundel All-Stars, with a 37-man roster of players from legion teams Severn Post 276, Severna Park Post 175 and Annapolis Post 7 -- 0-3?
After that miserable start, the All-Stars have put together a three-game winning streak to even their record in the Continental Amateur Baseball Association's 18-and-under World Series. But most observers thought the team would breeze through the tournament.
Instead, the All-Stars still need a victory over the Linthicum-Ferndale Raiders in today's 10 a.m. game at Kinder Park to earn a spot in next week's eight-team double-elimination tournament. The All-Stars are tied with Michigan and Indiana for third place, behind Division I leader Westerville, Ohio, (5-1) and Tennessee (4-2).
"Standing on the outside, you look at all the talent that we have on our squad andyou say, 'Wow, how can they be losing that badly?' " said Rob McCandless, an infielder/pitcher. "But there are guys who are tired from playing all those games. Some guys still have (aches and pains)."
BySunday, for example, McCandless and seven of his All-Stars teammateswill have played in 17 baseball games in eight days.
Each was a member of the South squad that lost, 6-4, to the North in last Sunday's American Legion All-Star game at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, andeach was chosen for this Sunday's state All-Star game in Hagerstown.
Catcher John Milisitz (Severna Park), outfielder Mark Budzinski (Severna Park), outfielder Steve Neuberger (Severna Park), third baseman Chris Rodriguez (Annapolis), pitcher Jeff Chroniger (Annapolis), catcher Rich Spiegel (Severn) and pitcher/outfielder Craig Everett (Severn) were selected to the state team.
"We were embarrassed after the first two games, we really were," said McCandless. "We didn't throw legitimate, quality pitches, and we payed the price for it."
Just ask Tim Collins. He was on the mound for one of four Westerville homers in a 12-2 loss.
"We were all right for the first three innings, but after that, I remember turning my neck a lot and watching theball go into the outfield," said Collins, a pitcher/outfielder who plays for Severna Park in the American Legion League. "It was only 2-1going into the fourth inning. Then, they hit their first home run at3 1/3 innings. It was something like 98 degrees and I was a little tired at that point, but I thought I could make it through.
"I got the first guy out, the next guy (reached base on a) hit, then there was an error, and I just fell apart. The next guy hit a shot off me that went about 350 feet and that was my last inning."
The rest, said Collins, is history.
And that's exactly how he and his All-Starsteammates would like to remember their first loss, and the subsequent 10-1 shellacking they took from Tennessee later that day.
Said Collins: "We were a little too arrogant before the first three games, and I think we were sort of brought down to earth."
The All-Stars overpowered their next three opponents, beginning with Michigan (a 12-2 victory) at Saw Mill Creek Park Tuesday night.
"We lost to Pikeville in extra innings," co-manager Willie Dominguez said of his team's third loss, 6-5, Tuesday morning. "We went nine against them, and that's the game where we started to turn it around."
From there, Dominguez went to his aces. McCandless won the next game, 8-1, over New Jersey Wednesday morning, and Jerry Fisher won the afternoon game, 9-1, over Indiana at Kinder Park.
"It finally came together against Michigan," said pitcher Charlie Buckheit, who picked up the victory in that game. "I think we were feeling a lot of pressure from everyone thinking that we were going to win everything. The legion isprobably harder for us to win than this tournament is, but we still want to win it."
"We would have used Charlie Buckheit, Tim Corcoran, Derek Dolch, Craig Everett, Johnny Williams -- any one of those guys could have been assets in the first few games," said Dominguez, who coaches Severn in the legion league. "Most of these guys are playing three games a day between the CABA and the legion league, so we were saving our best pitchers for the legion leagues."
Last night, Severna Park Post 175 completed an unfinished game with Annapolis Post 7. Severn Post 276 played a double-header against Mayo Post 226 last night and will complete a pair of unfinished games against Annapolis sometime today.
"After the high school season, you look forward tosummer ball. But it has been hectic, switching back and forth from team to team," said Spiegel. "It's just that the game of baseball means a lot to me. I like to go out and put a lot into it."
"It was kind of nice to get a break, but I think we're really ready to start playing now," said Collins, who will be a senior at Broadneck this fall. "This game (against Ferndale) means everything to us -- whether we go on to the winner's bracket or to the consolation rounds. Because we're on a roll now, we're at the right level where I think we should be playing."