Wright baseball is filling the gaps

Mustangs adjust to loss of starters

Notebook

March 04, 2007|By Bill Free | Bill Free,Sun Reporter

Coming off a season in which his C. Milton Wright baseball team finished as the Class 4A state runner-up, coach Tony Blackburn is hoping his new-look Mustangs can attain similar success.

"I graduated what I had up the middle," said Blackburn, who is beginning his second season as the team's coach. "So I'm taking guys who played corners for me last year and moving them into that center spot."

Senior left fielder Drew Klapko is moving to shortstop this season, junior Jordan Wlodarczyk is going from third base to catcher, and senior right fielder Pat Rafferty is solidifying the middle by moving to second base.

"We play a lot a lot of tough competition in our nonconference games, so I'm trying to rely on that experience," Blackburn said. "We have a good bunch of kids who have been working hard in the offseason and a lot of them still have a little bit of a bitter taste in their mouth since losing that state championship game [to Arundel, 5-3]. So that fuels them. They all played summer, they all played fall, and they've all been working out."

Joining Klapko, Wlodarczyk and Rafferty as returning starters are senior center fielder Greg Walter, junior first baseman-pitcher Mike Rappazzo and senior pitcher-utility player P.J. Vernes.

Walter hit .468 last season, was a second-team All-Metro selection and a first-team All-Harford pick. Klapko was a first-team All-Harford choice, batted .409 and hit a home run in the first round of the playoffs.

The Mustangs graduated All-Metro left-handed pitcher Nick Bisesi (Chesapeake College), but Blackburn believes his team can overcome that loss with the players' big-game experience.

"I think that last year we played at Ripken Stadium, we played at Bowie Stadium, we played down in Montgomery County at some really nice venues and we played in the regional championship game and state semifinals. So bringing that experience in, I don't think my kids are going to get rattled this year," he said.

So close

The Aberdeen boys basketball team went from jubilation to dejection within a matter of seconds at the end of Monday's 44-43 loss to River Hill in the Class 3A East regional first-round game.

With Aberdeen trailing by three in the closing seconds, the Eagles' Darnell Blevins hit a jumper with three seconds left that he and his teammates thought was a game-tying three-pointer.

As the Eagles celebrated, the officials ruled that Blevins had his toe on the line, and River Hill escaped with a 44-43 win.

The next day, Aberdeen senior forward Roger Murayi still was replaying the crushing loss in his mind.

"They put it up on the scoreboard as a three-pointer," he said.

Aberdeen coach Richard Hart said he wasn't sure whether the call was right.

"It was awfully close. I thought it was a three-pointer at first," Hart said.

Perfect ending

Chris Wagner of Fallston ended his indoor track career with an exclamation point at the state track meet nine days ago.

The senior set a Class 3A state record by winning the 800 meters in 1 minute, 57.04 seconds at the Class 3A-2A state title meet. Wagner did not lose a race all season.

Wagner, who is headed to West Point next fall to run for Army, finished 16th in the Class 3A state championship run in cross country at Hereford last fall.

bfree7066@hotmail.com

Jeff Seidel contributed to this article.

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