'Comeback player' has Owls back in title chase

May 15, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Staff Writer

Dundalk baseball coach George Scheulen calls ace hurler E'mar Fleming "a comeback player," but even those words aren't enough to aptly describe Fleming's turnaround.

"The kid was going nowhere after being ineligible to play sports for two years, but I think the basketball coach, Andy Pons, got to him," said Scheulen.

"He's been eligible ever since, he's working hard in class and he's just a real nice kid. I'm certainly glad we have him for baseball."

Is he ever.

Fleming, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior right-hander, has a two-year record of 10-0 with 58 strikeouts in 69 innings -- including 6-0 this season with a 1.98 ERA.

And after averaging 14 points as a basketball co-captain, he's getting looks from Coppin State and Keystone (Pa.) Junior College for both sports.

"I'm planning on going to college," said Fleming. "And if it's possible, I'd like to play both sports."

Neither Scheulen nor Fleming's teammates is putting it past him.

"He's not an overpowering pitcher, but he's got great concentration and control," said Scheulen, whose Owls are 16-1. "E'mar's got great touch and can throw hard or take a little bit off the ball. And he's usually hitting the right spots."

AFleming is a major force for the Owls, who lost, 1-0, to eventual state champion Lansdowne in last year's 3A regional title game. Friday's 4-1 Dundalk victory over Eastern Tech secured a least a tie with Lansdowne for the league crown.

Fleming epitomized what Scheulen likes most about him in his most recent victory -- Wednesday's 6-3, come-from-behind decision against Perry Hall. Against the Gators, last year's Baltimore County 3A-4A league champ, Fleming yielded three of seven hits in the first inning, after which he trailed, 3-0.

"I specifically asked to pitch against them, even though it wasn't my turn in the rotation," said Fleming. "I had pitched the previous Friday and I came out nervous. But it felt great to come back and beat them -- it's what I wanted all year."

The victory avenged an earlier 5-3 loss during which catcher Mike Dziemburski got a good look at the Gators' batters.

"I kept track of what they did and I knew E'mar could come back on them," said Dziemburski. "All he had to do was keep the ball down and make them hit grounders or pop-ups. The defense did the rest."

So did the Owls' offense, as it has all season.

There are heavy hitters throughout the lineup, beginning with second baseman Luke Bell (.490, 15 runs, 11 RBIs), first baseman Gene Woods (.467, 13, 17) and outfielders Travis Thornton (.490, 22, 22) and Eric Cuppett (.450, 21, 22).

Others hitting well have been right fielder Tylan Baylor (.400, 23, 17), Dziemburski (.366, 15, 18), shortstop John Blalock (.310, nine, 13) and left fielder Rich Sponaugle (.275, 15, 14). Dan Schreiber, who comes off the bench, is hitting .400.

Dziemburski, Baylor and Sponaugle all have two home runs, Cuppett has a team-leading five triples and Blalock leads with five doubles.

"This is the most hitting on one team that I've ever had," said Scheulen. "Every year, we've had to rely on hitting and pitching. But this year, with the power we have at the plate, it's been a lot different."

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