1998 Baseball previews Harford County

March 22, 1998

Aberdeen Eagles

1997 record: 3-13

Coach: Charles Mortus

Top players: Nick Birch, Sr., C-OF; James Elliot, Sr., OF; John Hamilton, Sr., CF-P; Clint Issac, Sr., SS-P; Brian Lindecamp, Sr., OF-P.

Outlook: The Eagles hope to ride the momentum of winning three playoff games a year ago. Several JV players were a major part of Aberdeen's postseason success and figure to play bigger roles in their first full varsity season. RHP Hamilton has the best arm and also is a solid center fielder. Infield defense, especially at the corners, could be a problem early.

Bel Air Bobcats

1997 record: 12-8

Coach: Mike Ennis

Top players: Alex Bernstein, Sr., P-1B; Kyle George, Jr., P-SS; Mike Lacey, Sr., P-OF; Adam Rafalski, Jr., C-3B; Chris Reynolds, Jr., P-OF; Bobby Winter, Sr., 2B.

Outlook: The Bobcats lineup doesn't pack the usual punch so Ennis will need contributions from everyone. Bel Air does have four quality pitchers and it is one of the more fundamentally sound defensive teams in the league.

C. Milton Wright Mustangs

1997 record: 13-7

Coach: Bob Rudolph

Top players: Mike Crone, Jr., 1B-C; Andy Givens, Sr., P; Brad Glascock, Jr., SS; Bobby Lee, Sr., C; Ryan MacNeill, Sr., CF; John Rudolph, Sr., P.

Outlook: A regional finalist a year ago, the Mustangs lost a starter at every position but should regroup nicely with plenty of talent. The lineup includes mostly unproven hitters, as Lee is the only player who had more than eight at bats last season. The Mustangs have two steady arms in John Rudolph and Givens, who combined for 50 innings pitched and 35 strikeouts in 1997.

Edgewood Rams

1997 record: 10-9

Coach: Dave Robinson

Top players: Joey Bilotto, Sr., 3B-P; Bobby Ghiraradello, Sr., P-CF; Mike McIntosh, Jr., 1B-P; Charles Merryweather, Soph., P-SS; Rex Sapasap, Sr., 2B; Josh Smith, Jr., C.

Outlook: Better infield defense and pitching depth should keep the Rams competitive within the league. Ghiraradello is the top pitcher and led Edgewood with a .500 (25-for-50) batting average last season. McIntosh and Smith figure to supply run production from the middle of the order.

Fallston Cougars

1997 record: 10-10

Coach: Robert Limpert

Top players: John Caslin, Jr., P-SS; Justin Collins, So., P-SS; Mike Duncan, Jr., 3B; Jim Liberto, Sr., C; Jeff Smith, Sr., OF-P.

Outlook: A good mixture of youth and experience has the Cougars as the up-and-coming team in Harford County. RHP Caslin is a year older and his velocity is up from a year ago, when he was third in the league in strikeouts. Duncan is an excellent all-around player and Liberto (.500, 23 RBIs, eight doubles) returns as the big hitter.

Harford Christian Eagles

1997 record: 9-6

Coach: Rich Davis

Top players: Joe Bradiehauf, Soph., 1B; Greg Davis, Jr., P-SS; Keith Davis, Soph., CF-P; Abe McKnight, Sr., C; Billy Saunders, Sr., P-SS; Jessie Spencer, 3B.

Outlook: Despite fielding just 12 players, the Eagles should remain a contender in the Susquehanna Independent Athletic Conference. Davis is the leader on the mound and should get a lot of work as the Eagles schedule is down to only 15 games.

Harford Tech Cobras

1997 record: 1-14

Coach: Joe Foltz

DTC Top players: Jeff Bohdel, Jr., 3B; Miks Marrs, Sr., P; Dan Williams, Jr., C.

Outlook: The Cobras will look to build around their three returning starters. Foltz is hopeful better pitching depth will make his team more competitive in the league. Bohdel (.304 batting average) was the leading hitter as a sophomore and Williams' five home runs were second in the county last season.

Havre de Grace Warriors

1997 record: 14-4

Coach: Joe Oswald

Top players: Jason Bauer, Sr., 1B; Chad Blevins, Sr., SS; Matt Blethen, Sr., P-OF; Dan Hiser, Sr., DH; Jason Kingsley, Sr., OF-P; Brad Spence, Sr., C.

Outlook: The Warriors had a breakthrough season a year ago but a loss in the opening round of the playoffs has them even more determined this season. A potent lineup is led by the slick-fielding Blevins (.500 BA, 6 HR, 33 RBIs), Harford County's Player of the Year in 1997, who is headed to Shepherd College. Bauer and Kingsley both hit over .350 last season and combined for seven homers and 43 RBIs. The Warriors also have two power pitchers in lefthanders Blethen (3-2, 44 strikeouts, 32 IP), who will attend West Virginia in the fall, and Kingsley.

John Carroll Patriots

1997 record: 7-11

Coach: Al Ward

Top players: Phill Akens, Soph., P-INF; Ricky Black, Jr., IF; Jeff Greggs, Jr., C; Sam Houston, Sr., OF; Paul Isbell, Jr., P-3B; Derek Kocis, Sr., P-1B; Scooter Monroe, Jr., OF.

Outlook: The Patriots return a good core from the team that won three of its last four games last season. Ward has good speed at the top of the order, particularly in Monroe and Isbell is the run-producer as well as the top pitcher. Pitching depth alone should allow the Patriots to stand up to the rigorous A Conference schedule.

Joppatowne Mariners

1997 record: 12-8

Coach: Tony Blackburn

Top players: Jon Andrews, Sr., C; Rob Burns, Jr., 3B; Chris James, Jr., OF-1B; Jason Roe, Sr., 1B-P; Eric Shank, Sr., CF; Justin Sudina, Sr., SS.

Outlook: Blackburn is thin on pitching with the returners combining for only seven innings a year ago. Andrews (.460, 4 HR, 28 RBIs) is the best all-around player and along with Roe (.375), will steady an offense that includes several underclassman.

North Harford Hawks

1997 record: 5-12

Coach: Tim Larrimore

Top players: Nick Layfield, Sr., P-OF; Mike Pezzica, Jr., P-2B; Scott Phillips, Soph., P-OF; Jeremy Stifler, Soph., C; Brett Upton, Jr., P-3B; Brian Watts, Soph., IF; Randy Weeks, Jr., P-1B.

Outlook: The Hawks' youth carried them to four victories in their last five games last season and Larrimore likes his team's chances of finishing among the top three in the league. LHP Phillips, a transfer, adds to an already young pitching staff and Pezzica, Layfield and Weeks all batted over .325 a year ago.

Pub Date: 3/22/98

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