Arundel, Northeast again among county's best 1993 high school baseball preview

March 22, 1993|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Staff Writer


If Panthers coach Larry Brogden can get some help from four guys he's counting on, Annapolis should improve on its 5-15 record of a year ago.

Brogden, in his 19th season in Annapolis, hasn't had a winning campaign since his state championship year of 1988.

Right-handed pitchers/infielders Chad Hartman and Coron Johnson, center fielder Matt Criscimagna, all seniors, and junior catcher Chris Johnson form a solid returning nucleus.

"I'm really depending on those guys and hope that we find a few other good players to go with them," said Brogden.

Hartman hit .366 and led the Panthers in RBI (18) last spring while pitching and playing the middle-infield positions.

A slick fielder, Hartman had a good summer with the Annapolis American Legion Post No. 7 and played in the 13th annual Oriolelanders All-Star Game as an infielder. He is expected to be the Panthers' shortstop this spring when not pitching.

Coron Johnson will pitch and play third with junior Donnell Ravenell swinging from short to third depending on who's pitching.

Brogden said he feels he has "a complete player in Chris Johnson" behind the plate. Johnson possesses a strong arm and is expected to bat third.

Criscimagna, who led the club in batting last year at .424, will patrol center field with the same great hands he displayed in football as an All-County and second-team All-Metro tight end.

"We should be strong up the middle with our pitching, Chris catching, in the infield and with Matt in center field," said Brogden.

Two other pitchers on the all-righty staff will be senior Mike Graf and junior Jake Chew, up from the junior varsity.

Sophomore left-hander Pat Donlin will share first base with Chew and senior Mike Myers and junior Jeff Kapusta will battle for the second-base job. Senior Jim Norris is another infielder who should see a lot of time.

Flanking Criscimagna in the outfield will be junior Eric Stuller in left and senior John Hollander in right. Hollander played JV two years ago and was cut from varsity as a junior, but Brogden says he "is a lot stronger."

Junior Sean Cowan is expected to be the fourth outfielder.

Archbishop Spalding

While it's their goal to make the playoffs, it appears to be easier said than done for veteran coach Tom Lind and his Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers were 12-11 overall last year, made the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference playoffs for the first time in school history and Lind was named Anne Arundel County Coach of the Year. The team had gone 2-12 the year before, Lind's rookie year.

Back to that? "I hope not, but it could be a tough year," said Lind.

"If our pitchers can throw the ball over the plate, we catch the ball and manufacture some runs, we can win some games," he said.

Much of the burden falls on the shoulders of senior Jeff Paxson, an All-County second baseman last year who batted .422 with had a school-record 36 RBI.

This year, the Towson State-bound Paxson will be the No. 1 pitcher and play shortstop when not on the mound. The Cavs lost All-County shortstop/pitcher Pat Calabrese (.508, 20 RBI) and second-team All-County DH/pitcher John Hall (23 RBI, three home runs) to graduation.

Paxson, who had a successful shoulder operation in the off-season, will be the staff workhorse and will be backed by sophomores Dominic Lascola and Brad Mosher.

Seniors Fabian Diliamey (C), Jamie Garvin (1B) and Chris Lucas (2B) give the Cavs experience in the infield. Sophomore Andy Canterna also will play first.

"Lucas hit the hell out of the ball for us last year before he got hurt about midway through the season and didn't play again," said Lind.

Lascola, who will play short when Paxson pitches, also will play third with junior Mark Shires, who is the other catcher.

The outfield is thin in numbers, but Lind says "they should be very good defensively."

Senior Jamie Nelson and juniors Brent Pollard and Leo Zerheusen are expected to start and Lind is considering keeping freshman Matt Brady, who runs well and is an excellent bunter.


Arundel returns 14 players including Mizuno-Baseball America Preseason Honorable Mention All-Americans Tim Giles and Jeff Hedrick from its Class 4A, Region IV championship team.

Coach Bernie Walter, who has won a county-record five state championships and has a 302-88 career record, led his team to a 17-6 record (ranked fifth in The Baltimore Sun's final top 15) last spring, including a 4-1 loss to Gaithersburg of Montgomery in the state 4A semifinals.

"Our pitching should be pretty good, we should be solid defensively and we have more overall speed," said Walter, who is in his 20th season.

Walter will be looking to replace 11 wins from graduated All-Metro right-hander Brian Rolocut, the Anne Arundel County Sun Player of the Year who is now at Miami Dade (Fla.) Community College.

Junior Brandon Agamennone (5-2 with one save and a 2.39 ERA as a sophomore) is expected to be the ace and will be complemented by seniors Giles and Brian Sands.

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