Arundel is hotbed for prep baseball Old Mill's Barnes, Manns, Arundel's Light acclaimed

Local Sports: High School Baseball Preview

March 19, 1996|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

When it comes to quality high school baseball, count Anne Arundel County among the nation's elite.

College and pro scouts are on record as saying that "Anne Arundel baseball is the best from top to bottom in the state of Maryland."

This year's national preseason publications are pointing to Old Mill outfielders Joe Barnes and Chuck Manns, and Arundel junior right-hander Kurt Light as among the nation's best. Also, outfielders Andy Vermillion of Arundel and Glen Burnie's Desmond Dailey have drawn attention.

Despite Maryland's often cold spring climate, the quality of county high school baseball has not suffered.

In 1991, Northeast (24-0), coached by the late Harry Lentz, claimed the National Championship awarded by Easton Sports and Collegiate Baseball, and two years later, Bernie Walter-coached Arundel (21-1) won the same national crown.

Walter led Arundel to a Maryland-record seventh state championship (Class 4A) last spring and Mark Stover's Broadneck Bruins won the 3A State title, putting Anne Arundel baseball in a class by itself.

National Coach of the Year honors from the National Interscholastic Federation went to Walter, and the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches inducted Walter (367-107, .774), the winningest active coach in the metro area, into its Hall of Fame in February.

Walter's achievements in the last 10 years, especially his leading the USA Junior Olympic team to its first World Title over Cuba in Sydney, Australia in 1988, paved the way for Anne Arundel to be noticed nationwide.

It doesn't hurt either that Walter protege and 1986 Arundel grad Denny Neagle was a National League All-Star last summer, winning 13 games for Pittsburgh. Neagle signed a $2.35 million dollar contract with the Pirates in January.

Recently Baseball America named Arundel Maryland's top team and Manns the top player, honors reserved last year for Calvert Hall and its ace left-hander Andy Bair. Bair turned down a scholarship to Miami to sign a $100,000 contract with the Florida Marlins.

Manns was All-County and All-Metro as a junior, leading the Patriots in average (.479), doubles (12) and RBIs (23). Over the summer, Manns hit .349 for Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) National Champion Gunther's in Fort Wayne, Ind.

In the CABA High School World Series in Euclid, Ohio, Manns hit .435, the third best among a number of pro and Division I prospects.

Barnes, who received a full scholarship to national JuCo power Indian River (Fla.) Community College, was named the Maryland preseason Player of the Year by the High School Baseball Recruiting and Scouting Guide. All-County and second team All-Metro last year, Barnes hit .427 with 27 runs scored for the Patriots and went on to hit a home run for the NABF All-Star Team on ESPN (June) in Pine Bluff, Ark., and take MVP honors (.370 overall) in the CABA World Series in Fort Wayne.

Light, 8-1 for state champion Arundel including a four-hitter in the 4A final, was All-County and All-Metro as a sophomore. The hard-throwing right-hander was 13-1 with Gunther's during the summer and was the only pitcher from the East named to the United States Team for the Goodwill Games in Australia in December.

So impressive was Light in Australia that he received an invite to the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., in August.

Manns, Barnes and Light were the only Anne Arundel players named to the first MSABC preseason All-State team, and the Barnes-Manns duo also were named to the Sports Biz All-Region (Md., Del., Va. and D.C.) 1st Team (seniors only).

Vermillion, who has signed with Division II Shepherd College as a two-way player, was second team All-Region outfielder by Sports Biz along with Dailey.

Last spring, Vermillion was an All-County pitcher after going 6-2 with an ERA of 1.41 for State champion Arundel. Playing center field for the Wildcats, Vermillion hit .389 with 20 runs scored, 18 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.

Vermillion also had an outstanding summer for Mayo Legion, leading John Hall's team into the Dizzy Dean World Series in Tennessee.

Dailey, who also has drawn interest from a number of college basketball teams (two-time All-County), has 6.6 speed in the 60-yard dash and has caught the attention of several college and pro scouts according to his coach Bruce Sider. The University of Maryland is among those showing baseball interest in Dailey.

Collegiate Baseball and Sports Biz listed several other county products in their preseason rundowns on Maryland, including infielders Brian Bogle (Old Mill), Scott Crandell (Southern) and Jimmy Woods (Arundel) and pitchers Scott Vane (Severna Park) and Derek Loosararian (Arundel).

Such outstanding underclassmen as Chesapeake pitcher Jared Vogt (7-3, All-County as a sophomore) and second baseman Steve Sylvester (Arundel) also has have received mentions.

Hotbed for baseball? Not a bad description of Anne Arundel County.

Pub Date: 3/19/96

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