Connie Mack teams growing weary of bridesmaid image

June 14, 1992|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SIDELINES

From top to bottom, the talent is not as deep as in the local American Legion 18-and-under baseball league.

But the county's six Connie Mack teams can hold their own.

And veteran Pasadena Saints coach Steve Herzberger said his young club and Harundale could compete on a regular basis in the county Legion circuit.

At season's end, the top Connie Mack club will get a chance to prove it when it meets the local Legion champion in a best-of-three series for the right to represent the Anne Arundel Amateur Baseball Association American Legion/Connie Mack 18 and Under League in the Continental Amateur Baseball Association to be played here.

The county's six Connie Mack teams play a 30-game schedule with one game with each of the five Legion teams. The Saints, Harundale, Glen Burnie, Linthicum-Ferndale, Broadneck and South River make up the Connie Mack League and play each other five times.

The in-league Connie Mack games total 25 and the other games come against Legion teams (Mayo Post 226, Annapolis Post 7, Severna Park Post 175, Severn Post 276 and Ferndale Post 289).

"I think our team and Harundale could definitely compete in the Legion league," said Herzberger, who moved his top-notch 16-and-under Bulls Mickey Mantle team of last summer up a level to 18-and-under this summer.

"I'm not saying we would win the Legion league, but we would hold our own and we can definitely play with Severn Post. I know because most of the players Willie [Dominguez, Severn coach] has played for me with the Bulls."

Herzberger draws his players from the same high schools as Severn Post, Northeast and Chesapeake.

After losing the Mickey Mantle 16-and-under title last year by one game to the perennial champion Glen Burnie Patriots, Herzberger put his Bulls in the Pony Baseball District Tournament at the Brooklyn Park 10th Avenue Fields.

The Bulls swept the Pony District in four straight, but were eliminated from further postseason action in the state tournament in Hagerstown.

"We decided to move the team up and keep the boys together so we merged with the Saints this year and I think we should do well once we get everybody playing, which should be by this week," said Herzberger, whose Saints are off to a 3-2 start with victories over Broadneck, Linthicum-Ferndale and South River, and losses to Harundale and Glen Burnie.

What has been frustrating to Herzberger and practically every coach in the Connie Mack League is the time of the year. Graduations, Ocean City June week for seniors and sports banquets make it pretty tough to field your best in this age division at the end of the school year.

"Once we get all the distractions out of the way, we should be fine because we have pretty good pitching and team speed," said Herzberger.

The Saints' pitching staff is headed by Chesapeake's standout junior John Young and graduating seniors Jason Siemer and Darrell Keith. Young was named to the Anne Arundel County Sun All-County team as a utility player.

Young is taking on the same role of pitcher/shortstop with the Saints that he did so well for Jim Simms' Chesapeake team. The Cougar junior batted .492 and won four games pitching.

Siemer, who plays second when he is not pitching, hit .394 this spring and was 1-1 hurling at the varsity level. Keith is Siemer's sidekick at second and also throws well.

Herzberger and his assistants, Tom Caines and Ron Samuels, also will call on Sean Sesney, Jason Hohman and Jerry Scheff for pitching chores.

Sesney is a Chesapeake grad who played some at Anne Arundel Community College while Hohman was a sophomore standout on the state Class 2A champion Northeast team. Hohman plays shortstop and the outfield as well. Scheff was also a pitcher/infielder at Chesapeake High.

Hohman and outfielders Paul McKenzie, Ryan Herzberger and Brandon Steinheim give the Saints good overall team speed.

Herzberger said his son and Hohman can cover the 60-yard -- in 6.8 seconds, which is very good for high school players. McKenzie, who is coming off a spring bout with mono, also runs under seven seconds and judging from Steinheim's 4.2 in the 40, his 60 figures to be below seven.

"We don't have a time on Brandon in the 60, but his time from football is quick at 4.2 in the 40," said Herzberger of the

Cougars football and baseball star.

"Ryan and Brandon alternate at leadoff batter for us," said Herzberger, whose other outfielders are Shawn Fleming of Northeast, Jamie Robertson and John Samuel of Chesapeake.

The team's catching is in the hands of Archbishop Spalding's Fabian Dilaimy with Scott Rey of Northeast and Bob Widmer of Chesapeake sharing first base, and Steve Mellyuchuck of Chesapeake High and Anne Arundel Community College at third.

"We've only played one game with the entire team on hand, so we are looking forward to this week when we will have everybody there from now on," said Herzberger. "It should be our team and Harundale battling all year for first place in the Connie Mack and finishing near the top gives us a few options at tournaments."

The Saints and Harundale tangle again 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 24, at Chesapeake.

Not only do the Saints have the CABA berth to shoot for, but the Connie Mack also is sanctioned with the National Amateur Baseball Federation and Dizzy Dean Baseball.

As a bonus for his players, Herzberger and staff are taking the Saints to an invitational in Greensboro, N.C., on July 1.

"It's a Pony Invitational and should be very competitive with teams from all over the place," said Herzberger.

This Tuesday the Saints will be involved in what should be a very competitive game at 6 p.m. at Chesapeake High when they take on the Severn Legion team.

It should be like a civil war because most of the players on both teams play for Chesapeake and Northeast.

It's one of those fun games for neighborhood bragging rights.

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