Anne Arundel County

Baseball

March 21, 2001|By Pat O'Malley

Class 4A baseball contenders Old Mill, Glen Burnie, Arundel and Severna Park and 3A Northeast appear to have the kind of pitching depth it takes to win championships.

Clearly, Severna Park (19-4) had the deepest staff last season in winning the county regular-season title, but ended up being upset by Broadneck in the 4A East quarterfinals.

Jim McCanless, The Sun's County Coach of the Year after leading Severna Park to an unprecedented four wins over Arundel, lost All-Metro pitcher Josh Banks to graduation along with No. 2 Jason Carl.

The Falcons' pitchers are senior Len Smith and junior A.J. Nealey, each of whom have limited time on the mound; and sophomores Alex Vitale and Ryan Doot from the JV team.

First baseman-outfielder Tim Pollock (.421); center fielder Steve Weber (.338); and catcher Mike Prim (.302) should be the big guns for the Falcons, who have only four seniors.

Old Mill (16-8), which won the 4A East Regional title last season, returns All-County pitcher Steve Johnson (7-3, 0.89 ERA) and pitcher-first baseman Scott Koscielniak, who won three games. Senior Jay Long also gives the Pats a solid pitcher.

"Our pitching could be the deepest it's been in 10 years," said Pats coach Mel Montgomery. "It's whether we hit or not."

Old Mill lost two All-County outfielders in Antoine Cooksey and Jason Galloway from a team that was shut out by eventual state champion Watkins Mill in the state semifinals.

Glen Burnie (13-8) returns pitcher Josh Larkins, who emerged as the ace as a freshman, going 5-1, the only loss to Old Mill in the 4A East final.

Pitcher Matt McCormick also returns, and coach Bruce Sider thinks he has at least a couple of other good arms.

Sider and the Gophers won the 4A state title in 1999. With All-County center fielder Keith Williams, first baseman Cory Dukehart, infielders Greg Hammack and Jim Whisman, and Meade transfer Welby Veras, Sider said, "We can be in the thick of things."

Coach Bernie Walter likes his staff at Arundel (16-6), but has to start the season without All-Metro pitcher and returning Player of the Year Chip Ziegler (8-2, 0.75 ERA).

Ziegler, who also hit .363 with six homers and a county-best 31 runs scored, is academically ineligible, according to Ziegler and his father, Mike Ziegler.

The pitching burden falls on capable sophomores Joey Frykman and Travis Chamberlain, and juniors Bart Maxwell and Bobby Goldbeck.

Northeast (16-7), a 3A East Regional finalist, returns a host of players who should give the team another shot at the region title, coach Marshall Kawecki said.

Pitcher Eric Brown (3-3) is back, along with promising left-hander Anthony Hastings, shortstop Steve Bowen (.394, 25 RBIs) and third baseman Brooks Holman (.319). Brown is a utility player who hit .356 with 21 RBIs last season.

Sean Tettemer replaces his former coach at Broadneck (13-8) in Mark Stover, who retired after 16 seasons. Tettemer has no proven pitching back.

Jayson Jennings hit a school-record .456 last season on the way to earning All-County honors. The shortstop is among a key group of Bruins that includes infielder Tim Gappert and outfielder Eric Walsh.

North County (10-11) also has a new coach in Dan Mangum Jr. He says his Knights "should be a contender." Four seniors lead the team: pitchers Gil Cavey and Randy Lopata; center fielder Mike Pfisterer; and first baseman Alan Heath.

Chesapeake (7-13) should be "a whole lot better," according to coach Jim Simms. Four right-handers - juniors Luther Cook and Vic Ostrowski and seniors Jon Philip and Scott Duncan - hold the answers.

Annapolis (5-15), South River (6-16) and Meade (6-12) hope to improve.

"We might surprise because our pitching is stronger than I'm accustomed to," said Larry Brogden, in his 28th season at Annapolis.

Senior Matt Sanchez and junior Mark Neptune should be the Panthers' top pitchers. The team also has promising newcomers Windship Wheatley and David Curran.

South River coach Ken B. Dunn is optimistic with three returnees - pitcher Joey Taylor; catcher Matt O'Neal and second baseman Alex Blucher - from last season's team that won two playoff games.

Meade has not had a winning season since 1991, and Ralph Beachley, who coached the Mustangs in 1993, is back to try again.

Southern (11-10), the lone 2A school in the county, should once again be competitive with the larger schools under coach Gary Gubbings. Pitcher-outfielder Kevin Hammett is the senior leader.

Archbishop Spalding (11-13) hopes to be a sleeper in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference, while Severn (13-8) and Annapolis Area Christian (13-8) expect to challenge in the B and C conferences, respectively.

Players to watch

Steve Johnson

(Old Mill, senior, pitcher)

Stylish southpaw makes Pats team to beat

Keith Williams

(Glen Burnie, junior, center fielder)

Three-sport standout, is pro prospect with his speed, quick bat and strong arm

Chip Ziegler

(Arundel, senior, pitcher/outfielder)

Returning Player of the Year is key to Arundel season

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