Anne Arundel County's top scholar baseball players will be honored at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Michael's Eighth Avenue by the Friends of Joe Cannon Stadium committee. Each of the county's 13 baseball-playing high schools will be represented at the banquet.
Defending state and region champion Arundel (20-2, No. ""TC ranked) will be honored as the county Team of the Year, and Severna Park coach Jim Pitt will receive Coach of the Year honors.
Pitt led the No. 9 Falcons (12-7) to the 4A East Region semifinals by successfully combining a "pitch by committee" routine with a record-setting hitting club (school record .382 as a team).
The baseball/scholar dinner leads off the county postseason for graduating seniors, 32 of whom have been selected for an all-star game to be played on Sunday, June 5 at Cannon.
All the scholars and all-stars were selected by the Cannon committee.
Scholar-athletes to be honored are: Eric Stuller, Annapolis; Leo Zerhusen, Archbishop Spalding; Tony Costanzo, Arundel; Sean Ryan, Broadneck; Brian Doyle, Chesapeake; Mike Bronakoski, Glen Burnie; Dennis Jenks, Meade.
Matt Lentz, North County; Todd O'Brien, Northeast; Mike Longazel, Old Mill; Jason Keefer, Severna Park; Troy O'Connor, Southern and Andy Meyers, South River.
An overall scholar will be chosen and receive a $1,000 scholarship to the school of his choice.
Eight of the baseball scholars also were named to the all-star teams. On the South team are: Ryan, Jenks, Costanzo and O'Connor while Zerhusen, Keefer, Bronakoski and Doyle made the North Team.
Other members of the South team -- which includes five Arundel players -- are Brandon Agamennone, J.P. Noon, Wade Rolocut and Jeff Hedrick of the 4A East Region champion Wildcats; Yancey Quigley, Matt Slater and Brian Zimmerman of Broadneck; Chris Johnson and Jeff Kapusta, Annapolis; Corey Contee and Wayne Small, Southern; and Kevin Dove, South River.
Keefer is joined on the North team by Severna Park teammates, Mike Fleming, Tim Williams and Brad Tippin; Old Mill's Ken Pumphrey, Ryan Wood and Mike Bussey; Bob Christopher and Mike Saffield, North County; Jason White, Chesapeake; Jason Hohman and Norm Stephenson, Northeast; and Ken Baker, Glen Burnie.
The committee made sure at least one senior from each school was selected for the nine-inning all-star game with everyone guaranteed playing time. Winning and losing takes low priority to participation in the game.
A rare occurrence
Do you realize for the first time in several years that Anne Arundel County has only one baseball team and one softball team in the high school state semifinals?
Top-ranked Arundel (20-2) qualified for the state 4A semifinals winning its fourth consecutive region baseball title, and South River was a surprise softball winner in the Class 2A East Region.
With defending state softball champion Chesapeake knocked off in 10 innings by Northern, 6-3, in the 4A East Region final, it marks the first time in eight years that Anne Arundel County won't have a team in the final four of that classification.
Anne Arundel has dominated the state softball tournament for nearly a decade, but just as in baseball, these things run in cycles.
County baseball teams have made quite a showing in recent years with Class 2A Northeast and Arundel winning state and national championships by the Easton Collegiate baseball polls in 1991 and 1993, respectively.
Going into this season, it appeared that the county would land three teams -- 4A, 3A and 2A -- in the state semis, but only Arundel made it. Broadneck and ace Sean Ryan dropped a 1-0 heart-breaker to Centennial in the 3A East Region semis and the Howard County team ended up winning the region.
Northeast started the season with optimism, but the Eagles suffered through the worst season (4-15) in the illustrious 27-year career of coach Harry Lentz.
Southern was primed to take the Eagles' annual place in the state 2A semis, but after making postseason for the first time since 1977, the Bulldogs lost a 2-0 decision to Parkside in the 2A East final.
Baseball is still very good in Anne Arundel County, but I think it has improved dramatically around the state.
Springbrook coach Bob Cilento, a Crofton resident, thinks Arundel has a great chance of winning a record seventh state crown.
"From what I've seen and know of Watkins Mill and Bowie, Arundel has a great shot unless Perry Hall is very good," said Cilento.
No. 4 ranked Perry Hall (17-3) has very good pitching with an unbeaten 6-foot-7 right-hander in Jesse Moore.
Neither Watkins Mill or Bowie is ranked by the Washington Post, but Arundel, No. 1 by The Baltimore Sun, is No. 2 behind Riverdale Baptist (32-3) in the Post poll.
Arundel was also ranked No. 4 this week in the USA Today East Region with The Baltimore Sun's No. 2 Calvert Hall (27-3), the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association champion, at No. 5 in the USA Today East.