Another `game of the year' for Severna Park, Arundel?


May 16, 1999|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

It was the baseball "game of the year" last spring. Get ready for the encore tomorrow.

The site, some of the players, and the stage of the meeting are different as top-ranked Severna Park (17-4) plays No. 2 Arundel (16-5) at 4: 30 p.m. tomorrow in Gambrills.

But the rankings are the same for the teams going into this Class 4A East quarterfinal, the first playoff game for both after first-round byes.

Last year, the teams met in the Class 4A East final at Severna Park, with Arundel taking a dramatic 12-7 victory in eight innings. Arundel went on to win its Maryland-record eighth state championship and left the Falcons thinking what might have been.

Severna Park has never advanced to the state final four under coach Jim Pitt. Arundel always has stood in the way.

The teams split in regular season last year, and their scheduled county championship game was rained out. Because they had the best record in 16 league games, the Falcons were declared county champions.

Once again this season Severna Park had the best record (14-2) over 16 games, but when the Falcons played Arundel for the county championship last Monday, the Wildcats won, 8-2.

Severna Park fans hope that loss works in their team's favor, because Arundel has to beat the Falcons a fourth time to advance in the regional. Arundel dealt the Falcons their only two league losses, 11-8 and 9-5.

Four wins over a very good team is a tough task, but Arundel has a certain mystique and penchant for playing its best baseball at the end of the season, when it counts most.

"We aim to get better as the season goes on," said Arundel coach Bernie Walter, who lets nothing stand in the way of team goals.

Walter is a firm believer in the theory that teams play the way they practice. That means playinghard every time players step on the baseball field. At Arundel, where winning has become a habit, prima donnas are not wanted.

Example: Before the Wildcats' 3-2 final regular-season victory over Annapolis, Walter sent two star players home. The two were dogging it in pre-game practice.

That's unlikely to happen again this season as the Wildcats work toward ending the season with a ninth state title.

Meanwhile, Severna Park is still looking for its first and hoping the Arundel hex has an end.

Those who have seen a lot of Anne Arundel County baseball will tell you that the 1998 Falcons werethe best team Pitt has ever had.

Thatteam had deep pitching and a lot of power, hitting a state record 44 homers. Yet they came up short.

This year's Falcons have adequate pitching, not nearly as much power, but better defense.

"This may be one of the best defensive teams we've ever had here," said Pitt, who is completing his 30th season in the county, the last 26 at Severna Park.

"Our outfield is outstanding.

All three can run, throw and hit, and [Matt] Sansbury has solidified our infield at shortstop. He's not flashy -- just gets the job done on the routine plays."

Sansbury was in and out of the line-up last season but won the shortstop job this spring.

The outfielders are seniors Joe Weidman (.483) in left, Tony Dokoupil (.421) in center, and junior switch-hitter Derek Dixon (.382) in right.

The question is: Can this Severna Park team beat Arundel?

All-stars? Or all stars?

The county's boys lacrosse coaches named 13 players each to their first and second All-County teams.

Girls' coaches were more liberal, naming 20 to their first team, 20 to the second, and nine honorable mention. Annapolis and Severna Park had 10 girls each, first team through honorable mention.

But even with a total of 49 girlscited, four schools -- Chesapeake, Meade, Old Mill and Southern -- were shut out.

Old Mill was 5-7 overall, and its coach, Jen Tate, wasn't happy with the process.

"I didn't attend the coaches meeting because of human error, and unfortunately, none of my girls were nominated," said Tate. "They [coaches] said since I wasn't there, none of my girls could be on the team, which is too bad, because we have a lot of good athletes."


* Annapolis' Dewayne Hunt is believed to be the first county athlete to play on three county championship teams in one year. Hunt was a key contributor to Annapolis county champions in football, basketball and outdoor track.

The All-County defensive back in football was also a defensive standout on the Panthers' basketball team. He won the prestigious Dick Hart Award, a scholarship that goes to an individual who exemplifies the intangibles.

The Panthers track team won the school's first county title since 1969 this week, with Hunt fifth in the triple jump.

* Arundel's Norris Roy, a three-year starter at third base, is closing in on several school career batting records and is likely to finish as the Wildcats' fifth all-time leading hitter.

* Former Old Mill pitcher T. J. Antonacci just completed his season as the closer for Division III Chowan (N.C.) College with a 3-1 record, leading the team in ERA (2.67), saves (two) and appearances (17).

Have a note or idea for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline at 410-647-2499.

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