Pitching must be as deep as snow to win county title

March 21, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

This spring, more than any of recent years, the premium will be on pitching when Harford County teams get around to playing baseball games outdoors.

With last week's snowstorm setting back programs for a couple of weeks, teams likely will be forced to play three or more games a week to make up early postponements.

"You'll need solid pitching," said Bel Air coach Mike Ennis, "and the team that wins [the county title] will be four-five deep in pitchers.

No coach wants to be tagged a favorite because this could be one of the more unsettled seasons. However, off its returning players from a regional final entry, coupled with solid although not exceptional pitching, Fallston appears to be in the most favorable position.

A stumble, though, and three or four teams are capable of stepping up and taking charge. A team-by-team look at preseason prospects:

Aberdeen

Coach Stu Hinch wants to forget last season, when a senior-dominated team tacked a 1-15 mark onto a 2-14 record of the previous year. In his first year, Hinch really had no chance stepping into a situation like that.

This spring is different, as there are only two seniors -- returning second baseman Danny Gaughan and Travis Thornton -- and most of the players were on Hinch's junior varsity team two years ago so they are familiar with each other.

"This team has a lot more talent than last year's, and a much better attitude," Hinch said. "There is no individual standout; we're going to play as a team."

Gaughan will be flanked by Dave Thompson, a sophomore first baseman, and either Frank Johnson or Steve James, junior shortstops. All but Gaughan are also pitchers. Third baseman Greg Zimmerman completes the infield.

Eric Sohl and Mike Erickson will form two-thirds of the outfield, with Richard Beagle (also a pitcher), Jeff Bandy and Thornton seeking to become the right fielder. Sophomore Lou Grant is the starting catcher.

Bel Air

After Bruce Ennis pointed out the need for several starting pitchers, the man who will be starting his eighth season as coach paused and cited this as a weakness of his team. "We only have three starters and overall, a lot of unproven talent." A year ago, the record was 10-10, 8-8 in the league.

There is, however, a lot of talent that was around last year, including pitchers Brad Sisolak and Bryan Linz, among eight seniors. Also looking for innings are pitchers Steve Seebode and Jason Koppelman.

At the same time, though, there is one who is not around. Pete McKinney, an outstanding shortstop as a freshman last year, moved to Florida with his family at Christmas.

A 15-3 JV team has contributed junior catcher Brian Securro, sophomore infielders Ryan Kagay and Chris Cornwell, plus a third pitcher,Victor Smith.

C. Milton Wright

The keys for the Mustangs are a senior pitcher who didn't pitch last season and two returning regulars who are being counted on to hit. There is plenty of experience overall, though, as seven starters are back from a 12-9 team and quite a few of the candidates played on an unbeaten JV squad two years ago.

Brendan Bennett, a right-handed pitcher, won six games as a sophomore, then was scholastically ineligible for much of last year. "We need him to return to his sophomore form," said Jim Miller, starting his 13th season. "He's a hard thrower and knows how to pitch."

The past two seasons, Miller got solid run-producing hitting from Kenny Batten and Jeff Hawk; now he is looking toward senior Brad Fordyce and junior Brian Taylor to do the same thing.

Senior team captain Joe Zarzycki was a regular with playing time at different positions -- mostly infield -- a year ago, and is listed as the third baseman. Tommy Walsh, who started last year as a sophomore and is now "bigger, stronger, faster," Miller said, and senior Matt Lynch will form the shortstop-second base combination.

Edgewood

The development of several veterans who are sophomores and juniors could go a long way toward turning around last year's 7-11 record. Coach Kevin Tyree also should be more comfortable in his second season, after the Rams did not blend as well as expected last year.

For the second straight season, though, the mainstays are expected to be left-handed pitcher Wade Greason and center fielder/pitcher Jamie Coons, a pair of talented seniors.

Greason started 10 games and was 3-4, including two one-run losses. Coons has hit more than .400 the last two years, and has 10 career home runs.

Although Tyree admits it hurts defensively to take Coons out of center, he has senior Ellis Diaz, the starting left fielder, who showed steady improvement, especially defensively. He hit. 280 and has good power.

Among the infielders are Joe Smith at first, Tony Forte, a .300 hitter with power at shortstop, and Rob Mister, who played some last year, at third.

"We have a lot of youngsters back who played as freshmen and sophomores, and I just hope that, as a team, we will be able to hit with more power than last year," said Tyree.

Fallston

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