1995 All-carroll County Baseball Teams

June 06, 1995|By Bill Free

CO-COACHES OF THE YEAR

Carl Rihard and Guy Stull, Westminster -- Some people say the days of playing strong fundamental baseball are long gone but not for these two preachers of the inside game and it paid off with a memorable 20-3 season and a trip to the state 4A championship semifinals in College Park for the Owls.

Rihard and Stull, co-coaches, guided this team to an exciting 11-3 record in one-run games, and eight times, Westminster rallied in the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th innings to win games. There were some experts who thought the Owls might be only the third best team in the county this season behind a loaded South Carroll nine and a Mike Huller-led North Carroll squad. But Westminster quickly dispelled that thinking by starting out the season 10-0 before losing back-to-back 5-4 games to Liberty and South Carroll.

Then the Owls won 10 more in a row to bring them within two victories of the school's first state baseball championship. However, a physically- and emotionally-drained Westminster team ran out of steam in the late innings against Perry Hall in the state semis and lost a heart-breaker, 4-3, in nine innings.

Twenty-four hours earlier, the Owls had played a tension-filled 10-inning thriller, coming from behind twice to tie Springbrook before winning, 5-4, in the last of the 10th on a booming triple by Steve Mays to win the 4A West Region title.

Westminster had a pocketful-of-miracles season lost three games by a total of three runs, only losing one time (5-4 to Liberty) when the Owls had at least one day off between games, and making the state final four for only the second time in the school's history.

The Owls won the Central Maryland Conference title with a 10-2 record and shared the county title with South Carroll (4-2 records).

FIRST TEAM AT A GLANCE

Jon Barnowski, Liberty, Sr., outfield -- One of the primary reasons the Lions earned a berth in the state 2A West Region playoffs for the first time in four years, Barnowski hit .373, had 16 RBIs, four doubles, two home runs and two triples. He also adjusted quickly to a midseason switch to center field after playing shortstop most of his career at Liberty. That move enabled sophomore Ryan Renehan to play short and contribute to the team's overall success (11-9 record). "Jon is a good kid and very coachable," said Liberty coach Steve Insley. "He had a lot of good games for us." Liberty made it to the 2A West final with a 6-2 victory over Damascus before losing to South Hagerstown, 8-2. Barnowski will attend either Catonsville Community College or Frederick Community College.

Denny Bowers, Westminster, Jr., designated hitter -- This strongly-built athlete crunched the ball most of the season for the Owls and he was an immediate success on the mound as the team's No. 3 pitcher, going 5-0 with a 1.12 earned run average, 27 strikeouts and seven walks in 25 innings. Those pitching stats were a surprise, but nothing Bowers did with the bat surprised many people after watching him hit a couple of times. He stung the ball with authority nearly every time up, hitting .405 with four long home runs, driving in 22 runs, hitting eight doubles, scoring 21 runs and finishing with a .676 slugging percentage. As expected, he batted cleanup in the strong Westminster lineup that produced a 20-3 record and a berth in the state 4A semifinals. Bowers announced he was ready to pitch in the 4A West championship game against Springbrook moments after the Owls had tripped Gaithersburg, 4-3, in the semifinals 24 hours before the Springbrook game. Bowers got his wish, being called on to relieve starter Andy Marsiglia in the seventh and going the last four innings to pick up a 5-4 victory that sent the team to the states. He shut down Springbrook on one hit and no runs, striking out three and walking three.

Eric Eldridge, Liberty, Sr., outfield -- When this youngster with a strong love for the game arrived at Liberty from Archbishop Curley two years ago, it pumped new life into a struggling program. In two seasons, Eldridge played a major role in the Lions' gaining new respect around the county and in the Central Maryland Conference. "If I had eight more players like Eric, we'd be in great shape," said Liberty coach Steve Insley. Eldridge was the team's No. 1 pitcher this season (4-2 record, 3.50 ERA, 38 strikeouts in 33 innings) and he threw a six-hitter in a 6-2 victory over Damascus in the 2A West Region semifinal. Eldridge also went the distance in a 5-4 victory over Westminster, handing the Owls one of their three one-run losses this season. At the plate, he hit .305, stole 14 bases and had two doubles and two triples. When not pitching, Eldridge played center field and he had a .990 fielding percentage.

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