Lacrosse has such a strong presence and following in the Baltimore area that the quality baseball played at the high school and college level here is often overlooked. UMBC has just one non-Marylander on the team that earned an at-large berth to the NCAA baseball tournament, and George Washington used local talent to win the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Dave Fletcher, a senior catcher from Dundalk who's hitting .315, is a four-year starter for the Colonials, who open the Midwest Regional against host Wichita State tomorrow. Scott Sharp, a sophomore third baseman who played at Liberty High, is an A-10 all-star with a .360 batting average, and he has eight pitching starts. The second baseman is Todd Pitsinger, a senior from Chesapeake High.
Ryan Clark, a freshman from Mount St. Joseph, has 14 pitching appearances. Another top prospect for the Colonials is Ryan Hendricks, a sophomore first baseman. Despite his bloodlines -- he's Elrod Hendricks' son -- the McDonogh School graduate didn't take the game seriously until he was 15.
North Carolina State, the second seed in UMBC's Atlantic Regional at Miami, has Randallstown's Robbie Bark in center field. Another Baltimore Countian will play that position part-time for Ohio State in the South I Regional at LSU. Roy Marsh, a freshman from Perry Hall, is hitting .326 for the Buckeyes.
Import-driven: Essex Community College, conversely, is headed to the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo., with more Pennsylvanians than Marylanders.
The Knights have 12 Pennsylvanians on their roster, and the most productive has been Jeff Fry, a freshman outfielder-pitcher who has a team-leading .454 batting average and a 3-0 pitching record. Jackson Edwards, a sophomore from Lancaster, has a 7-1 record, and could start against the Community College of Rhode Island on Saturday, when the 10-team tournament opens.
Chris Lafferman, The Baltimore Sun Athlete of the Year for Poly in 1989-90 who first attended Towson State, is hitting .315 while playing third base and first. The right fielder is Ken Batten, a freshman from C. Milton Wright. Jerry Fisher, a freshman from Southern in the city, has a 4-1 record and a 2.07 ERA, but arm problems have slowed his progress.
Essex (29-4) has won 12 straight games, going unbeaten in postseason play. The Knights' eighth-year coach is George Henderson, who took the Community College of Baltimore to the Junior College World Series in 1980 and '82.