Count on close, quick games in pitching-rich 4A League

SIDELINES

March 27, 1994|By PAT O'MALLEY

Check these baseball scores: 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-2, 3-0, 4-3 (some in extra innings), with most of those games played in two hours or less.

Those scores could be what's ahead in Anne Arundel County high school baseball, especially in the 4A League this season.

The pitching potential is that good and deep to produce a record number of one-run contests, close games and record times.

Let's look at the pitching staffs, starting with the Class 4A contenders Arundel, Chesapeake, Old Mill, North County and Glen Burnie. That's not to exclude Annapolis, Meade and Severna Park.

Annapolis is very young as is Meade, although competitive, and hard-hitting Severna Park is lacking in coach Jim Pitt's words, "experienced pitching."

Defending state champion Arundel boasts returning All-Metro right-hander Brandon Agamennone (8-0, four saves in 1993), and savvy senior prospects Wade Rolocut, Kevyn Dodson and Jamie Stoddard are vying for the No. 2 spot. Aggie is the man, but he will need help if the Wildcats are to repeat.

Neither Rolocut, Dodson or Stoddard had any varsity pitching time last year to speak of, but are well-schooled and competitive Wildcats with the ability to step up. If tradition serves true, one of them will.

Coach Bernie Walter's No. 3 Wildcats open at Meade on `D Tuesday and then play in an Easter tournament that includes top-ranked Calvert Hall. Walter might find out early who No. 2 is going to be.

Meade coach Rick Terry said that although his staff is made up of "unknowns," they could be "well-knowns" by season's end. Terry said the Mustangs (6-12 a year ago) "have a shot at that fourth playoff spot."

Chesapeake returns All-County left-hander Jason White (5-4, 1.40 ERA), who lost three games in extra innings a year ago, two of them to Arundel, including a 1-0 heart-breaker in the region semifinals.

The 10th-ranked Cougars of coach Jim Simms return a solid No. 2 behind White in right-hander Jeremy Pellegrini (6-1). Simms is confident that juniors Derek Blood and Randy Clifford give his staff depth.

Chesapeake visits No. 2 Old Mill on Tuesday in what figures to be the game of the day.

Old Mill boasts three tall and talented right-handers with a lot of varsity experience in Ken Pumphrey (5-1), Mike Bussey and Jeff Haynie. The trio got in some work Wednesday against Riverdale Baptist of Prince George's, but coach Mel Montgomery wasn't that pleased.

"Our pitching wasn't as good as I hoped it would be, but it's early," said Montgomery, who had a Saturday scrimmage with Poly canceled.

Old Mill won't play again until April 6 at Annapolis, but Chesapeake is going to Riverdale Baptist for an Easter tournament.

No. 8 North County travels Tuesday to Severna Park, where junior ace Mike Wooden (4-3, county-leading 84 strikeouts) is likely to take the hill against the Falcons. Coach Don Usewick also has senior lefty Bob Christopher and junior right-hander Tweety Barton to call on.

Severna Park coach Pitt plans to "pitch by committee this season," but has a bevy of outstanding hitters led by senior first baseman/pitcher Brad Tippin. But what's that old saying? Good pitching beats good hitting.

Glen Burnie -- behind left-hander Keith Volkman and right-handers Chuck Harris, Mike Bronakoski, Ken Baker and Jay Sponaugle -- has a capable staff. It opens at Annapolis on Tuesday.

It could be a matter of coach Bruce Sider making a big decision about who to pitch the most.

The county 3A-2A League boasts 3A Broadneck with ace Sean Ryan (6-1), Ryan Parr, Matt Slater, Dan Lynch and Robert Wakefield on its staff. The 6-foot-7 Ryan led a Bruins staff that set a school-record team ERA of 2.30 last year and could make a return trip to the 3A East Region playoffs.

Class 2A teams Northeast, Southern and South River could make the four-team county league very interesting, again because of pitching.

No. 18 Northeast was 11-11 last spring, but two senior transfer pitchers in lefty Norm Stephenson (formerly Chesapeake) and Larry Burkindine (formerly Glen Burnie) and three-year starter Jason Hohman should make the Eagles tough.

Troy O'Connor, a 6-foot-4 senior right-hander, is the only experienced hurler at Southern, but coach Chuck Crandell is counting on two superb athletes to give him a No. 2 and 3.

Outfielders Wayne Small and Corey Contee are expected to chip in on the mound for Southern (10-8 last year).

South River coach Kenny Dunn has one legitimate hurler in junior right-hander Randy Long and several young arms that should help improve on last year's 6-14 mark.

Northeast, Southern and South River compete in the 2A East Region where Cambridge-South Dorchester is one of the favorites. Cambridge coach Doug Fleetwood said that he "has the most pitching we've had in about 10 years."

Now with all this pitching, rapidly played, low-scoring games should be the norm. That's unless the hitters accept the challenge.

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