1993 high school baseball preview

March 22, 1993

North County

After two years of growing pains -- 8-11 and 6-14 records -- the Knights are ready to make a charge at their first winning season.

Coach Don Usewick is excited about his pitching staff. His club ranks as a legitimate sleeper in the Class 4A, Region IV race.

"Our staff is looking good with four guys who can win," said Usewick. "This is the best group I've ever had."

Seniors Joe York and T. J. Hall, sophomore Mike Wooden, all right-handers, and junior lefty Bob Christopher are expected to carry the load. Sophomore right-hander Tweedy Barton adds depth to this promising staff.

York had 60 strikeouts last season and Wooden, who displayed uncanny poise as a freshman, had 36. All the pitchers, with the exception of York, got extensive work in the summer.

Hall pitched for Ferndale Post 289, Barton for the Glen Burnie Patriots and Wooden and Christopher with the Little Orioles, going 15-1 and 8-0, respectively. Wooden struck out 222 in 113 innings last summer.

Junior Mike Saffield, up from JV, has stepped into the starting catcher's role after the transfer of Rob Miller to Northeast. Saffield is being pressed for the starting spot by senior Dave Brown.

Two seniors are expected to be at the corners -- first baseman Eric Schwink and third baseman Doug Nelson. Two juniors, second baseman John Bermudez and shortstop Justin Rice, will play the middle.

Usewick called up Rice from coach Al Pindell's eventual co-division JV champion at mid-season and he solidified the infield.

"Justin is a really steady player and that's what you need at shortstop," said Usewick. "After we called him up, our infield got better and this year with our pitching and Justin's experience, our infield should be real tough."

Other infielders will be junior first baseman Justin Godfrey, senior middle infielder Scott Lam and Wooden.

York, Christopher and Hall are the three main outfielders and when one of them is pitching, either junior Dave Saffield, Mike's twin, or Bermudez could be out there.

"We might surprise some people this year," said assistant coach Brad Wilson.

Northeast

In Pasadena, they're looking for a three-peat and the Eagles appear to have more than their share of pitching to make another run at a state Class 2A championship.

The Eagles followed their 1991 national championship season (24-0) by going 18-5 (ranked No. 6 in the final Baltimore Sun poll) and repeating as state 2A champions last spring.

With their top two pitchers -- senior right-handers Wayne Hudson and Chris Kelly -- back, not to mention junior Jason Hohman (3-1) and lefty Glen Burnie transfer Ed Nalley, the Eagles boast one of the top pitching staffs in this pitching-rich county.

"My big concern is that we lost our entire infield and the type of pitchers we have throw a lot of ground balls, so we have to hope the infield comes along," said coach Harry Lentz, who is 330-173 with three state titles in his 25 seasons.

Hudson and Kelly posted 6-1 records and were named to the Anne Arundel County Sun All-County second team. Hudson struck out 53 in 57 innings and gave up only 45 hits with a 3.68 ERA.

Kelly struck out 43 in 44 innings and gave up 25 hits and six earned runs for an ERA of 0.96.

Lentz has some big holes to fill with All-Metro catcher Rich Spiegel (.423, seven homers, 38 RBI) graduated along with All-County outfielder Derek Dolch (.402, 14 RBI), and All-County second-team third baseman Chad O'Brien (.356, 19 RBI).

North County senior transfer Rob Miller, considered one of the better receivers in the county, has big shoes to fill behind the plate, and junior Larry Barath will be the backup catcher.

The infield has senior Ryan Herzberger at first base. Senior Scott Taylor, who saw limited time last spring, is being pushed for second base by sophomore Jeff Dolch.

Dundalk transfer James Wanner is the third baseman with Hohman and Hudson handling short and third depending on who's pitching.

Seniors Shawn Fleming, Jeff Hagan and Rich Heffner, and junior Todd O'Brien will take care of the outfield.

Old Mill

After going 13-7 and finishing 10th in the final Baltimore Sun pollwith what may have been the youngest club he's ever had, 15-year coach Mel Montgomery (210-79, two state titles) is looking forward to this season.

"We managed to win 13 games with just two seniors," said Montgomery.

Montgomery welcomes back 17 players (most of any county team), including an outstanding pitching staff led by senior left-hander Lee Haney. Haney, a three-year starter, was 6-1 with a 2.79 ERA last season.

Two big junior right-handers in 6-5 Kenny Pumphrey and 6-3 Mike Bussey join Haney on the Patriots' staff, along with senior lefty Pat Crawford and junior Jeff Haynie.

"Our pitching is deep and I can't remember when we had two hard throwers like Pumphrey and Bussey to go with a finesse pitcher in Haney," said Montgomery.

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