Sauer pitches in as Patterson's No. 1

April 04, 1993|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

Patterson's John Sauer is what baseball coach Roger Wrenn calls "an outstanding athlete."

The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder has an excellent blend of speed (4.6-second 40-yard --) and power (325-pound bench press).

Last fall, he earned second-team All-Metro football honors with a team-high 84 tackles and 1,482 rushing yards (21 touchdowns) to lead the Clippers to the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference title.

But can Sauer -- who pitched sparingly during last year's 20-1 MSA B Conference baseball championship campaign -- step in as the No. 1 hurler this spring?

Sauer has accepted the challenge, and Wrenn calls him "the real thing."

"We knew we'd be losing a lot, so we started grooming him [Sauer] last year," said Wrenn, who lost five pitchers to graduation, including first-team All-Metro left-hander Gary Burrows, who was 21-1 with 239 strikeouts for his career.

"It wasn't an act of desperation that we've gone to John," said Wrenn. "He's got a good, strong arm and a good breaking ball. And in terms of potential, his best position might just be as a pitcher."

That's saying plenty, since Sauer, a senior, was among his team's top contributors as a center fielder last year. He hit .531 with 20 RBI and four home runs, scored 31 runs and was successful on 19 of 20 steals.

Not only is Sauer saddled with maintaining the Clippers' pitching reputation, but with second-team All-Metro Buddy Edmond (.467, RBI) having transferred to No. 11 Mount St. Joseph, Sauer's hitting responsibilities have increased.

"I worked all summer on my hitting, I take my cuts down a little more and I'm more balanced [at the plate]," said Sauer, who played summer ball with the Essex-based Baltimore Bedoins. "I'd like people to see me and say that I've improved everything about my game and that I've established myself as a pitcher."

Sauer proved just how valuable he is in the Clippers' season-opening, 9-5 loss to Poly.

Patterson led 1-0 over three innings, with Sauer striking out six of 13 batters with two walks and two hits before being lifted in favor of Gus Karanikolis.

"He's expressed how confident he is that people can't beat him," said Green, a catcher who hit .361, scored 27 times and stole 16 bases last year. "His curveball's not as good as Gary's [Burrrows] but I think he throws a little harder, so I think he can do as good. I'll help him mix his pitches. I'm real excited."

So is Wrenn, after watching Sauer go 2-for-3 against Poly, including a three-run home run.

"I'm not concerned one iota about his hitting, and I think he'll be what we want on the mound," said Wrenn. "He's just a determined athlete. He's got that bulldog in him."

That same tenacity that helped Sauer in football last fall has attracted baseball scouts from five pro teams, most recently the St. Louis Cardinals, who called the day of the Poly game.

Sauer's determination also might increase his college options, with Salisbury State, Frostburg State, Penn State, Kent State, North Carolina State and Montgomery College-Rockville among his considerations.

"Coach first approached me last season, telling me that I'd have to be the go-to guy this year," said Sauer. "He said, 'Almost everything we do will depend on how you perform.' So there's no pressure. I'm ready for it."

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