Patterson sluggers are doing number on foes

April 24, 1992|By Dave Glassman | Dave Glassman,Contributing Writer

The stat sheet suggests King Kong's Slo-Pitch Krushers.

They have won their first 12 games, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 174-32. Pitcher-designated hitter Garry Burrows is batting .625 with 15 RBIs in just 24 at-bats. fTC Centerfielder John Sauer is hitting .590 with four homers, 18 RBIs and 21 runs in 39 at-bats. Third baseman Roger Main is hitting .476 with 20 RBIs and 24 runs scored. Leftfielder Buddy Edmond is hitting .514 with 26 runs scored.

Instead, those unlikely numbers belong to coach Roger Wrenn's No. 4-ranked Patterson baseball team. They have won blowouts by scores of 14-2, 18-8, 11-1, 16-2, 29-0 and 22-0. Only Southern, a 2-1 loser to the Clippers in the second game of the season, has stayed close.

It's not just MSA B Conference competition feeding those stats. McDonogh, a good A Conference club, fell 18-8. And on Tuesday No. 10 C.M. Wright visited, only to fall behind 13-0 after four innings before eventually losing 15-8. Wednesday, Patterson jumped to a 5-0 first-inning lead, then played lackadaisically, committing five errors, but still eased past Edmondson, 11-6.

So, how did the Clippers get so good?

"Hard practice," said Main. "We do a lot of hitting drills."

That may be an understatement.

"In an hour, sometimes they get 300-400 swings," Wrenn said. The players rotate around various stations in the gym and other rooms. "We use every nook and cranny," said Wrenn. They hit off tees into a net, hit curves from a pitching machine, swing with a volleyball between their legs, hit off one knee, and flick at tennis balls tossed from behind a net just 10 feet away.

"We hit deflated basketballs to emphasize follow-through," said Wrenn, who has a 253-116-2 record in 18 years at Patterson. "Most are drills I've stolen from other coaches. We would rather hit inside and teach kids to hit inside because it's quieter. We share a lot of stuff with the girls softball team."

And once they're on base, the Clippers know what to do. Errors, both physical and mental, are abundant in high school baseball. Against C.M. Wright, Patterson alertly took advantage of every opportunity to gain an extra base.

"That's all we do at practice -- situations," Edmond said. "Like, he'll put outfielders in the infield who aren't used to handling the ball. Then he'll put on signs." The ensuing bobbles produce chances to practice game situations.

"Everybody knows what to do," said Edmond, who also is expected to be one of the area's top quarterbacks as a senior next fall. "Everybody steals bases, not just the fast guys. The first four batters, he just gives the green light to."

The Clippers not only mash the ball and steal, they bunt for basehits, too, even when they're well ahead. Some observers might think that rubs it in, but Wrenn teaches aggressive play, putting constant pressure on the defense to force mistakes.

"A lot of their bunts are on their own," he said. "If you preach all of that . . . when you're ahead you can't tell 'em not to. We call it runnin' and gunnin' baseball. We'll take the extra base and sometimes we're going to be out. It's a lot like run-and-shoot offense in football or full-court pressure in basketball. We would never try to rub it in, but that's our style of play."

The rest of this offensive machine includes catcher Ronnie Green, first baseman Charles Farley, rightfielder Brian Pisani, DH Kennard Pugh, second baseman Keith Parks and shortstop Ernie Bartlett.

Lefthanders Farley (6-0) and Pisani (4-0) are the key starters. Righthander Sean Kelly also starts and Sauer and Main are the relievers. "I think we certainly have the deepest pitching in the conference," said Wrenn. "It's kind of unusual to have five guys who can pitch."

Fielding is the only question mark for the Clippers in Wrenn's eyes. They've committed 28 errors this season. "That's the part of our game that's been untested," he said.

But they've passed a more important test. "They're an exceptionally nice group of young people," Wrenn said. "They'll do what I want 'em to and work hard."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.