A couple of pretty good pitching matchups in baseball and softball are on tap today at 3:45 p.m.
At Arundel High in Gambrills, the struggling host Wildcats (5-3) are expected to run ace right-hander Brian Rolocut out to the hill to go against Glen Burnie (3-4). The visiting Gophers are expected to counter with left-hander Tony Saunders.
North County is the site of the Karen Hay vs. Jen Bostak or Jen Schmittle matchup. Hay is the ace of The Baltimore Sun's top-ranked Knights (9-0), while Bostak and Schmittle share the role for the fourth-ranked Old Mill Patriots (5-0). This game pits a pair of teams who lead their respective Anne Arundel County Divisions.
The Bay Division lead belongs to North County at 5-0. Old Mill shares the Friendship lead with Chesapeake (5-1), and both teams are 2-0 in league play.
There is no question that pitching will be the entertainment todayin these two games.
Rolocut is 4-0, his last win coming April 9 by 13-0 over North County. The hard-throwing right-hander punched out 13 in only five innings of work and allowed just one hit.
More importantly, Rolocut walked only two. This is a kid who has gone from a pitcher who couldn't hit the broad side of a barn to a guy with greatcommand of his pitches.
"Brian is more confident when he goes outthere," said Arundel coach Bernie Walter.
"He has developed into a pro prospect, and I give a lot of credit to John Hall for some things he has done with him. John helped him regain his confidence as a pitcher and a few little drills he does with pitchers had a positive impact on Brian."
Hall, whose son, John, is a senior outfielder/pitcher at Archbishop Spalding, worked with the pitchers on the Walter-coached Mayo Post No. 226 American Legion team last summer. His son also plays on the team.
Rolocut became a project for Hall, and the results are a more confident pitcher who can throw strikes and believes he can win.
"I got Brian to get his nose and chin out ahead so that he would stay better balanced and not overstride," said Hall. "He's worked very hard to make himself into an excellent pitcher.
"Brian has always had a great arm, and it was only a matter of him getting the ball over."
We caught a glimpse of the improved Rolocut back in September in the 12th Annual Anne Arundel County Sun-Oriolelanders All-Star Baseball Game at Joe Cannon. Rolocut made the local team,the Arundel Suns, because he threw hard and threw strikes.
Rolocut fired a scoreless inning at the Oriolelanders and looked really good.
This spring, Walter, a master at bringing along pitchers, has fashioned Rolocut into one of the premier pitchers in the metro area. After last week, Walter is thankful for Rolocut because without him, the Wildcats would be in deep trouble.
Arundel was knocked off Wednesday at home by Queen Anne's (3-2), 10-9, and Friday the Wildcats were upset at South River (3-5), 11-6. Rolocut's shutout of North County was sandwiched in between.
The only other loss for Arundel cameat third-ranked Severna Park (6-0 and soon to be No. 1) by 6-3 on April 1. Rolocut did not start any of the games the Wildcats lost, and Walter is fortunate to have Rolocut ready for today. Runs could be scarce on both sides today.
Arundel will see the best left-hander inthe county in Saunders. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder is coming off a powerful 9-0 victory over fifth-ranked Old Mill (4-1) on Wednesday. Saunders (1-2) shackled the Patriots on a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts.
The lefty had pitched well enough to win his first two games, butsome shoddy defensive play was his undoing. In a scenario similar tothat of Arundel, the Gophers lost the next game (Friday) after the Old Mill victory by 7-3 at Severna Park.
Saunders is originally from Glen Burnie, but moved to Howard County for a year before moving back for his senior year. Longtime Glen Burnie Patriots manager Bill Nevin, who runs AM-Pro Sporting Goods, had predicted a bright future for Saunders.
Two summers ago after his sophomore year, Saunders hadput together a great summer for Nevin's Patriots and was named to our Oriolelanders Game with his older brother, Bill, a catcher from Virginia Wesleyan.
After a dismal spring at Howard High, where he gotlittle support, Saunders pitched for the Oriolelanders last fall anddrew the attention of several pro scouts. Baltimore Orioles' scouting supervisor Jim Gilbert and his son, Tom, run the team. And as a result, they are tailed in the fall by a host of opposing scouts.
Saunders pitched very well in the fall, developed into a prospect as Nevin had predicted, and the scouts have turned out this spring to see him pitch. Several major league clubs were represented at his masterpiece over previously unbeaten Old Mill Wednesday.
Today's game at Arundel will draw a posse of scouts, because it gives the bird dogs a chance to catch two prospects, Rolocut and Saunders, in the same game.