The public and private school baseball playoffs begin Friday. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association tournament features six undefeated teams — believed to be the most ever — while the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association postseason sees No. 1 Calvert Hall try to reclaim the A Conference crown it lost last season for the first time in six years.
"It is so hard to go undefeated in a season, especially in baseball," said Paul Fahrner, chairman of the MPSSAA's baseball committee who in 1990 coached Paint Branch to a 20-0 record and a Class 3A championship. "There are so many fluke things that can happen. To go through the whole season and then to keep that perfect streak going in the playoffs, where especially in the semifinals and finals, you're playing some really good teams — to get through all that undefeated is really a fine achievement."
In the 35 years in which records have been kept, there have been only 10 undefeated state champions. Fahrner said this year's six unbeaten teams is believed to be a record. Five are seeded No. 1: Class 4A North's Westminster (17-0), 4A West's Sherwood (16-0), 3A East's J.M. Bennett (16-0), 2A South's Gwynn Park (17-0) and 1A South's Dunbar (14-0).
No. 2 seed Reservoir (19-0) is also in the 3A East bracket and lost a coin flip to J.M. Bennett.
"There's not much we can do about it," Gators coach Adam Leader said. "We would have liked to have been No. 1, but there is a plan out there for us. We just have to go out and win."
Meanwhile, in the MIAA, Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl has been saying since before the season that his team is motivated by last year's championship loss to Gilman. As the 25-7 Cardinals enjoy their first-round bye, waiting for the winner of St. Paul's vs. Loyola, Eckerl sees no reason to change his assessment.
"Our kids really did re-dedicate themselves and work hard in the weight room," said Eckerl, whose team has hit 49 home runs. "And I don't think Gilman not being in the playoffs will make any difference. I hope we play well because we know this is a whole new season and we saw last year that someone can get hot and turn the outcome of a game."
Both the public and private schools will play their championship games at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. The MIAA A and B Conference finals are May 22 (times to be announced). The MPSSAA holds the 4A championship at 7:30 p.m May 27. The 1A, 2A and 3A finals are May 28 at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
For detailed seeding for MPSSAA teams, go to mpssaa.org. For the MIAA bracket, go to baltimoresun.com/varsityletters.