1994 All-metro Baseball Team

June 10, 1994|By Pat O'Malley

COACH OF THE YEAR

* Joe Binder, Calvert Hall -- What Calvert Hall has done in the last seven years under Binder has been unmatched in Maryland.

The Cardinals repeated as Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (formerly MSA A Conference) champions, winning their second in a row and sixth conference title in seven years, setting a school record for wins (27-3).

During the incredible run, the Cardinals had an .825 winning percentage, going 160-34 to put Binder's 15-year varsity career record at 306-92 (.769). This year's title was Binder's seventh overall. His first came in 1984.

"We lost Jason Rinehart [who won eight games as a junior] early to an elbow injury, but Andy [Bair, 11-0], Craig Shiel [9-1] and Billy Staub [4-1] stepped up," said Binder, who was Evening Sun Coach of the Year in 1989 and Sun Coach of the Year in 1988.

"This team ranks at the top of the best teams I've had."

Binder, who has been teaching at the Towson school for 26 years, never has been a coach to dodge the competition and has fashioned one of the toughest schedules in the metro area.

The Cardinals served notice early how good they would be when they beat defending state 4A and mythical national champion Arundel, 4-1, in its Easter Tournament Championship.

They dealt All-Metro pitcher Brandon Agamennone his first loss in two years.

Calvert Hall followed that by barnstorming through the Cincinnati area, reeling off five straight wins and outscoring its opponents, 52-7.

There were also victories over Riverdale Baptist of Prince George's County and defending state 2A champion Glenelg.

It was the first loss of the season for Riverdale Baptist (33-4), then ranked No. 1 by The Washington Post.

Calvert Hall (4-0 against perennial contender Mount St. Joseph) lost twice to Gilman and once to McDonogh in the MIAA playoffs before coming back to avenge those defeats.

"That was our biggest test, the toughest part of my job, making sure that we stay on the fine edge with everybody shooting for us," said Binder.

"When you are used to winning, you have to make sure complacency doesn't set in, and continue to push every game."

Calvert Hall again pushed its way to the top as the class of the metro area and was ranked No. 23 in the nation by both USA Today and Baseball America.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

* Andy Bair, Calvert Hall -- Bair had the kind of season every player dreams about having.

After a brilliant fall season with the Oriolelanders, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound left-hander emerged as a blue-chipper for the Cardinals this spring, going 11-0 with 123 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings.

Intimidating with his size, intensity and probably the best arm in the area, Bair led Calvert Hall to a repeat MIAA title with an ERA of 0.82.

Bair threw the school's first perfect game in coach Binder's 26 years with the Cardinals, 3-0 over McDonogh.

He was simply overpowering with his blazing fastball, back-breaking curve and nasty changeup, striking out 14 and throwing only 84 pitches. Only once did he go to a 3-2 count, and a bunt down the third-base line on a 1-2 count to Richie Levin leading off the seventh was the nearest thing to a hit. Bair pounced on it and threw out Levin by a step.

"Bair was hitting the spot and it was the best game I've had the privilege of working in some 20 years," said home plate umpire Bob Nykyforchyn.

It was the second of three wins over MIAA runner-up McDonogh for Bair, who also played first base or designated hitter and batted .375 with four homers and 17 RBIs.

Bair, who the scouts say should be a high draft choice in 1995, is one of only three Marylanders and the only junior named to the East Region 17-18 team that will play in the USA Olympic Festival this summer.

Players on four region teams will vie for a berth on the USA Junior National Team in Busch Stadium, St. Louis, from July 2-11. Competitors move on to Tyler, Texas, and from there the final team will play in early August in Toronto's Skydome. Bair has an excellent chance of making the final team.

THE FIRST TEAM AT A GLANCE

* Brandon Agamennone, Arundel, Sr., Pitcher -- The lone repeater on this year's team, Agamennone capped a 21-4 three-year varsity career by pitching the Wildcats (21-3) to the state 4A final. Because of the state pitching rules, Agamennone came out after six innings holding a 2-0 lead over Perry Hall, which pulled out the game to win the title, 5-2, in eight innings.

The slender right-hander finished the season 8-2 with one save, an ERA of 1.52, 105 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 82 2/3 innings. Anne Arundel County's Player of the Year also hit .309 with six doubles, three homers and 18 RBIs playing third base or center field when not pitching.

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