All - Metro Baseball

June 10, 2005|By Pat O'Malley

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Steve Johnson

St. Paul's, pitcher

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-handed pitcher is the first baseball player to be named to The Sun's All-Metro team four times.

Johnson also has been named Maryland's Gatorade Player of the Year and was the only local player in last summer's AFLAC All-American High School game at Ripken Stadium. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers chose him in the 13th round of Major League Baseball's amateur draft.

He led the Crusaders to Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles his freshman and sophomore seasons, and no player accomplished what he did this season.

In leading St. Paul's (23-9 overall) to the most wins (18-2) it has ever had in the MIAA A Conference, Johnson set personal season highs for wins (10), innings pitched (93), strikeouts (130) and fewest walks (15) and posted his second-lowest ERA (1.27).

Johnson, who is the son of former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson, threw a no-hitter and a perfect game, and he tied the state record for strikeouts (20) in a seven-inning game.

Johnson was 34-6 -- the second-most career wins in state history --with 332 career strikeouts, fifth on the all-time list and first among A Conference pitchers.

He also set personal bests in batting average (.485), hits (47), doubles (19, a state record) and triples (five). Johnson, the Crusaders' leadoff hitter, scored a team-high 33 runs and had 16 RBIs and 12 steals.

Johnson, who batted .365 for his career, set the following state career records for batting: at-bats (427), hits (156), runs (147) and doubles (41).

COACH OF THE YEAR

Lou Eckerl

Calvert Hall

In his fourth year as coach at Calvert Hall, Eckerl led the top-ranked Cardinals to a record-breaking season.

After losing, 10-5, to Moore Catholic of Staten Island, N.Y., in the season opener, the Cardinals did not lose another game, rolling through the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs to claim the school's 14th A Conference title since 1963.

Calvert Hall finished 31-1, setting a state record for victories in a season and consecutive wins (31). The Cardinals scored 334 runs (10.4 per game), also a state record.

The Cardinals left little doubt as to who the best team was in the state, and they also were one of the top teams in the nation, as their No. 4 ranking in USA Today attests.

Eckerl, 53, became the first coach to win A Conference titles at two schools. He had led his alma mater, Cardinal Gibbons, to its first A Conference title in 1982.

Eckerl, who has been the Towson school's athletic director for the past 23 years, took over the baseball team after longtime coach Joe "Snooky" Binder stepped down after the 2001 season with 462 career wins and 11 A Conference titles.

In three seasons with the Crusaders (49-14) and four (91-32) at Calvert Hall, Eckerl has compiled a career record of 140-46 (.753).

Eckerl carried on Calvert Hall's tradition of putting a good hitting club on the field his first three seasons, but unlike previous Cardinals teams, it lacked consistent pitching.

Despite going 16-14 in his first season, Eckerl managed to get his team into the MIAA A Conference finals, where it lost to St. Paul's. The Cardinals also lost to St. Paul's in the finals in 2003 and finished with a 23-10 record and No. 6 ranking last season.

FIRST TEAM

Alex Buchholz

Old Mill, shortstop

A shortstop and pitcher, Buchholz led the No. 6 Patriots to the Anne Arundel County final, the Class 4A East regional semifinals and a 17-4 record.

The senior batted .513, with 35 runs, 22 RBIs, 13 doubles, one triple, three homers and seven stolen bases. He went 6-2 with a 2.27 ERA and 32 hits allowed, 43 strikeouts and 16 walks in 49 1/3 innings.

A three-year starter for the Patriots, Buchholz played the last three weeks with a bad thumb on his right throwing hand that affected his batting and pitching.

He was named to the Brooks Robinson All-Star Game and to Team Maryland. Buchholz also led Old Mill's soccer and basketball teams into the 4A state semifinals.

Steve Bumbry

Dulaney, outfield

A repeat first-team pick, the junior center fielder led the Lions to a 16-6 record.

Wearing No. 1 and leading off like his father, former Oriole Al Bumbry, he worked hard in the offseason with weight training and conditioning. The result was seven homers -- including five three-run shots -- after hitting none as a sophomore.

Bumbry went from 16 RBIs last season to 39 in 2005, from 20 runs to 33 and from 10 doubles to 12. He matched last season's total in triples (two) and stolen bases (32). Bumbry batted .434.

Defensively, Bumbry patrolled center field with speed and grace and showed a strong arm in throwing out four runners.

Chris Crum

Severna Park, third base

The Anne Arundel County Player of the Year and a repeat All-Metro selection, Crum batted and pitched the No. 3 Falcons (22-4) to their second Class 3A state championship in three years.

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