Bair's perfect game is flashback for McDonogh coach Poklemba

April 25, 1994|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun Staff Writer

While it was a first for many at McDonogh Friday, it wasn't for coach Al Poklemba. Top-ranked Calvert Hall's Andy Bair fired a perfect game at Poklemba's No. 6 Eagles winning, 3-0.

Afterward, the Hall's veteran coach Joe "Snooky" Binder said Bair was the first pitcher to throw one for the Cardinals in his 23 years of coaching (six junior varsity, 17 varsity).

A perfect game over seven innings is a rarity and even more startling when two powers such as Calvert Hall and McDonogh are playing.

"I told them it wasn't a first for me," said Poklemba.

Poklemba was on the short end of another one just three years ago in a playoff game with Mount St. Joseph. Another left-hander Ryan Clark, who is now pitching at George Washington University, threw that one at the Eagles.

"Al's right. Ryan had about 12 strikeouts and it was the first game of the MSA playoffs," St. Joe coach Dave Norton said.

To throw one, a pitcher usually has to have a little luck, but Bair was so perfect in throwing just 84 pitches (65 strikes) and striking out 14 that he didn't need any spectacular plays. The closest thing to a hit was Richie Levin's bunt between the mound and third on a 1-2 pitch leading off the seventh.

Bair jumped on it and threw Levin out by a step. During the course of the game the 6-foot-5 and 225-pound pro prospect went to a full count only once, in the fourth inning before striking out Dennis Badham.

Plate umpire Mickey Fortunato was calling the low strike both ways and Bair threw his tailing fastball, back-breaking curve and nifty change where the man in blue was calling strikes.

"Andy was on target wherever I held the glove," said sophomore catcher Mike Jewell, who had a single, walk and missed a double with the bases loaded in the fourth when Badham made a sparkling back-handed grab in deep left.

Calvert Hall pitching coach Mark Amatucci, who threw a few one-hitters for the Cardinals in the late 60s, said Bair's effort was "the best I've ever seen."

As the suspense mounted in the late innings, the McDonogh fans were giving it to Bair pretty good calling him "Big Bair, Slim an even Fat Boy." The heckling only made Bair more determined.

"It . . . just made me more intense," said Bair, "and I shut them up."

Poklemba said a possible showdown between Bair (5-1), who also owns a one-hitter (10-0 in five innings) over the Eagles, and McDonogh's junior ace Michael Ginsberg (5-0) looms.

"It's no coincidence that I held Ginsberg back and pitched him Wednesday, and that Calvert Hall has yet to see him this year," said Poklemba.

It was in 1992 that Poklemba did not pitch Kenny Cloude, a bonus pitcher in the Seattle Mariners' organization, against Calvert Hall until the playoffs and the Eagles went on to win it all.

Cardinals nationally ranked

Calvert Hall chalked up another "W" Saturday with a 10-4 victory over Carroll (D.C.) with Billy Staub hitting a triple and picking up the win. Bair and Dominic Liberto homered for the Cardinals, who cracked the Top 25 at No. 23 in the latest Baseball America national rankings.

The Cards also were No. 7 in this week's USA Today's East Regional rankings and Arundel was No. 9.

Gaels win Riverdale tourney

Pro prospect Steve Matcuk pitched a four-hitter in a 3-2 championship game win over the Washington Post's top-ranked Riverdale Baptist (19-3) and took Most Valuable Player honors as Mount St. Joseph won the Riverdale Tournament.

The Gaels nipped Bishop Ford of New York in the first round as Pat Bowen fired a one-hitter.

Around the horn

Edgewood shortstop/pitcher Chris James has signed for a partial scholarship to Division I Liberty. James has been a three-year starter for coach Kevin Tyree. . . Class 3A Thomas Johnson's Mike Anders ran his record to 6-0 with wins over Glenelg by 11-0 on Monday and 4-3 over Westminster on Friday.

Anders' ERA is 0.95 and has 62 strikeouts in 37 innings with a pair of one-hitters for the 11-2 Patriots of coach Jimmy Foit.

The high school career of Glenelg senior Brian Boteler may be over due to a serious knee injury he suffered last week, a blow to the defending state 2A champion Gladiators' chances of repeating. . . Boteler was an All-Metro designated hitter/third baseman as a junior.

Big games on deck -- today, No. 2 Old Mill at No. 3 Arundel and tomorrow, top-ranked Calvert Hall at No. 4 Mount St. Joseph, both at 3:45 p.m.

Because he feels it "would be anti-climatic" to the regular-season conference championship, Binder and Calvert Hall will not participate in the second annual Private School Tournament set for mid-May. . . Defending champion St. Joe and McDonogh will play, along with Cardinal Gibbons from the MIAA.

Crown All-Star tryouts will be held 10 a.m. May 22 at Broadneck High and the senior showcase at Camden Yards after the Orioles-Twins game is set for June 19. . . The Baltimore Major League (unlimited) is looking for an eighth team, call Norm Mason at (410) 247-1422 (day) or (410) 768-3261 (nights) for information.

Quote of the week

Broadneck coach Mark Stover to Chesapeake left-hander Jason White: "Are you a senior? [answer yes]. Good that means we don't have to see you anymore."

White pitched three times against Broadneck in the past three years and never gave up a run, winning 2-0 on JV in 1992; 1-0 last year; and 3-0 ten days ago.

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