Gugliotta's actions louder than words Senior leader: Glenelg's versatile and all-county player is working on being more vocal for state baseball champion Glenelg.

April 18, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Captain Ben Gugliotta is determined to see Glenelg's baseball tradition continue on his senior watch. And so far, he's handling the pressure of keeping the Gladiators' winning ways intact.

"There's more pressure because I have to try and be more vocal, and that's not really who I am," said Gugliotta, 6 feet 1, 190 pounds. "I need to play hard every day and can't slack off. And I have to try and help teach our younger hitters."

Glenelg -- the only Howard County school to win a state baseball title -- went 21-3 last season on the way to its second state championship. In defending the title, Gugliotta doesn't want to let his teammates down, as he thinks he did during basketball season, when a back operation sidelined him for a month, and then a knee injury kept him out of the playoffs.

He's not disappointing anyone down so far. A first-team all-county first baseman last season, he's batting .420 with two homers, two triples, two doubles and 15 RBIs from the cleanup position. He's playing mainly shortstop.

As a pitcher, he's 3-0, including a four-hit, 4-3 victory over archrival Atholton Monday.

The 10th-ranked Gladiators are 6-2, the only losses a forfeit to Liberty and a 3-2, last-inning loss to Centennial.

Last season Gugliotta played a key role in Glenelg's state championship, batting .409 with four homers, four doubles and 33 RBIs. He hit a 420-foot homer in the state final and drove in the game-winning run in the regional final against Atholton, as the Gladiators rallied in the last inning.

"He's a quiet competitor who knows the game, is patient at the plate and hits to all fields," coach Ed Ashwell said. "He pitches with good velocity."

Gugliotta has played every position but center field during his three-year varsity career that began midway through his sophomore year when he was called up to replace injured third baseman Brian Boteler.

He immediately faced lots of pressure because Boteler was The Sun's Howard County Player of the Year.

This season he feels a similar pressure because last year's leaders have graduated and he's taken on the role of helping the inexperienced hitters. And he thinks the team has good hitters, as evidenced by Tuesday's 17-2 pounding of Hammond.

"We're right up there with last year, once we find ourselves, and that's starting to happen now."

Gugliotta said he learned a lot about hitting from former Glenelg coach Terry Coleman.

"I've been lucky by having two really good coaches [Coleman and Ashwell] at Glenelg," he said.

One of Gugliotta's strengths as a hitter is that he rarely strikes out -- only four times last season, and none this season.

"I like to get a lot of two-strike counts, but I rarely walk," he said. "I like to make the pitcher work."

As a pitcher he rarely issues walks -- three in 17 innings this season, while striking out 20.

"I get people to hit a lot of ground balls on my slider and curve," he said.

Gugliotta said he learned a lot about pitching by catching Sean Lookingbill, a three-time all-county player who now plays for UMBC.

"He never got down and never gave up a big inning," said Gugliotta, who worked on developing a slider last summer to use as his strikeout pitch. He was 5-2 with a 2.80 ERA for the Dayton Raiders.

Last season he was 4-3 with a 3.86 ERA, 40 strikeouts and 22 walks in 40 innings, but pitched in the shadow of his best friend, Dennis Pagel, who was 7-0, threw a no-hitter and had a 1.49 ERA.

He and Pagel plan on attending Salisbury State College. Gugliotta, who has a 3.8 GPA and 1,170 SAT score, wants to study business and eventually work in the front office of a major-league baseball team.

Pub Date: 4/18/96

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