1998 All-Metro baseball teams

June 03, 1998|By Pat O'Malley

Coach of the Year

Bernie Walter, Arundel: Walter, a former shortstop at Brooklyn Park and the University of Maryland, has won more state titles (eight) and been to the state final more times than any coach since the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association baseball championships began in 1975. This season's record eighth state title by 12-1 over Patterson in the Class 4A final and a 22-4 record were hardly expected. Severna Park was clearly the favorite in 4A with its deep and experienced pitching staff and power. But Walter turned in one of his coaching gems and the Wildcats knocked off the Falcons the last two times they played, including in the 4A East region final by 12-7 in eight innings to advance to the final four for a state record 12th time. A master at making his players better as the season wears on so that they peak at playoff time, Walter turned a good team into a great team through preparation, intense practice under pressure and endless hours of batting practice. The Wildcats went out and batted .400 as a team and scored 67 runs in six playoff victories while Walter developed lefty Justin Bell (7-0) into a crafty hurler and honed the mechanics and confidence of unknown junior Andy Kostic (10-1). Anne Arundel County's all-time winningest coach at 427-117 (.785) in 25 seasons, Walter was named county coach of the year a record fourth time and is Metro Coach of the Year for the third time since 1980.

Player of the Year

Mark Teixeira, Mount St. Joe: Considered by most college and pro scouts to be the best hitter in the mid-Atlantic area, Teixeira, a 6-3, 225-pound switch-hitting third baseman, is the only repeater on this year's first team. He was drafted in the ninth round of yesterday's Major League Baseball draft by the Boston Red Sox but also has a full baseball scholarship to Georgia Tech. He recently completed a brilliant three-year varsity career. With 12 homers (tied state record by Severna Park's Keith Brunst, also this season), 36 RBIs and 47 runs scored (one short of state record) on a .548 (45-for-82) batting average, Teixeira established state career records for homers (29), RBIs (108), hits (128) and is second in runs scored (112). Teixeira this season also had seven doubles, a triple, 16 stolen bases and a state record 40 walks, 25 intentional. His slugging percentage was .911 with 90 total bases. "He's clearly the best hitter I've ever had," said veteran Gaels coach Dave Norton. "I like to compare Mark to David Tripp, but Mark has more power." Tripp was The Sun's 1987 Player of the Year who went on to pitch at Clemson and was later drafted and signed by the Oakland A's.

The first team

Matt Blethen, Havre de Grace, Senior, left-handed pitcher: Blethen, considered a pro prospect, was Harford County's top pitcher with a 7-1 record and also led the county champions in RBIs with 30. A stylish southpaw, Blethen led the county in strikeouts (77) and was second in innings pitched (53) and had a 3.15 ERA. With the bat, Blethen hit .500 (36-for-72 ) with a Harford County-leading 15 doubles, 22 runs scored and three homers.

Jason Bungori, Calvert Hall, Senior, right-handed pitcher: When Cardinal ace Justin Nash, a pro prospect, went down with an injury, Bungori stepped in and led the Hall to its tenth MIAA (formerly MSA) A Conference title and the ninth in the last 11 years under coach Joe Binder. "Jason did a terrific job for us after we didn't expect him to be around this spring," said Binder. Bungori, who had major knee surgery in January and was told he could all but forget his senior year, posted an 8-1 record with one save (15-1, seven saves in two seasons) with two of the wins coming in the playoffs. In 57 2/3 innings pitched, the 6-foot, 175-pound Bungori struck out 50, walked 27, gave up 48 hits and 15 earned runs for an ERA of 1.82. Bungori, who was Calvert Hall's quarterback in football, will attend Juniata College.

Pat Boucher, Severna Park, Senior, right-handed pitcher: Boucher was the ace of the No. 2-ranked Falcons (19-3) and swung a big bat as well. His pitching and slugging led the Falcons to the Anne Arundel County South Division title and the league's top overall record at 15-1. In 41 innings pitched, Boucher, a power pitcher, went 6-1 with 51 strikeouts, 25 walks, 34 hits and a 1.37 ERA. He was 11-2 over his last two seasons. When he didn't pitch, Boucher played left field and was more than adequate after playing the infield his first three years. Boucher hit a power-packed .387 with eight doubles, 15 runs scored, 25 RBIs and seven homers. He finished with 19 career homers, a state public school record.

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