SPARROWS POINT -- While two county teams were battling the elements and opposing teams over the weekend with the hopes of advancing to the state tournament, one team was lamenting its exclusion from the playoffs.
Westminster finished the season with a 14-6 overall record, but failed to make it to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. But it wasn't the lack of wins, but the point system the bigger Class 4A school has to labor under that kept the Owls out of post-season play.
"The point system makes it sound like any 4A team is better than any other program," said Westminster head coach Carl Rihard. "There is nothing we can do from our end. We are a 4A school surrounded by 2A and 3A schools."
Westminster was edged out by two Prince George's County schools -- High Point and Eleanor Roosevelt -- both with 9-6 records. But those teams played more Class 4A schools and nipped the Owls in points-per-game average, 4.67 to 4.48.
(In the state playoff system, teams earn eight points for beating a Class 4A opponent, seven for topping a Class 3A team and so on.)
Westminster lost three of the six games by one run. Rihard said the losses to Class 3A South Carroll and Class 2A North Carroll did the most damage.
"Naturally the team was disappointed," said Rihard. "The regional chairman called on Monday to say we were in. Then he called on Tuesday to say we were out."
While the Owls were grounded, both South Carroll and Francis Scott Key were flying high in the first round of the playoffs.
South Carroll played only two innings against Randallstown before rain halted the Class 3A Region III game Friday afternoon, with the Cavaliers leading the Rams, 6-0. The game was to be resumed yesterday (after press time) where it left off in the top of the third inning.
If they Cavs won yesterday, they would play host to the winner of the Atholton-Thomas Johnson game (also postponed until yesterday) on Monday at 4 p.m.
The Francis Scott Key Eagles, meanwhile, got a dose of confidence just before the start of the playoffs with a 6-4 win over defending state champion Brunswick on Monday.
The confidence was evident Friday as the second-seeded Eagles (9-10) took advantage of six Sparrows Point errors and advanced with an 11-2 victory. The Eagles were to play that same Brunswick team yesterday (after press time).
The winner of that game will head for the state Class 1A semifinals Tuesday.
At the beginning of the season, Key coach Bob Caples said it was this season or never as far as a state title was concerned. The Eagles fielded a veteran club, including several three-year varsity starters.
The state title is certainly in the Eagles' grasp, if Monday's victory over the defending state champion Brunswick team was any indication.
"In my heart I want to play Brunswick," said Eagles head coach Bob Caples. "This would be the rubber match, and it is always a good rivalry between us and Brunswick. The sparks always fly."
The Eagles started the season red-hot with a 5-0 record and cooled midway in the season, but finished 3-1 in the last week.
Key showed why they finished the season strongly with the determination to score runs almost at will Friday.
Everyone of the Pointers' errors resulted in a Key run. Only one of the four Key runs in the first inning was earned.
"We do have the ability to do that," said Caples of his team's scoring potential. "We went after these guys with the intention of stealing."