Although Catonsville doesn’t play at Mount St. Joseph in the Jack Conley Tournament until April 19, the baseball teams are eager for warm weather and to heat up on the diamond. Here is a breakdown of the teams.
2013 record: 17-5
Coach Rich Hambor’s quote: “We have such a veteran team and we are not teaching anything for the first time.”
Breakdown: The Comets went to the state championship game last year where they lost to South River.
Along the way they won several close games thanks to a stellar fundamental defense and timely hitting.
The top returning hitters are outfielder Ryan Whittington (team-high .432 avg., 11 RBIs, .537 on base percentage), pitcher John Klein (team-high 17 RBIs, .377 avg) and third baseman Danny Bruno (.355 avg, 16 RBIs).
Bruno had Tommy John surgery on his arm in November and isn’t expected to return until early to mid-April.
Senior veteran Spencer Singh will replace him at third base.
Senior shortstop Joey Getzendanner batted .346 and senior catcher Scott Beautz drove in 14 runs.
Beautz played outfield last season, but takes over catching duties because senior Chris Fleming is out for the season with a torn labrum.
Klein, who posted an 8-2 record and 1.28 earned run average, is the ace of the staff that includes Chris Jay (2-0, 2 saves, 2.10 ERA).
Other candidates for the hill are seniors Jon Brown and James O’Toole and juniors Lee Wolfe and Jake Willis.
Junior David Lake is the backup catcher.
Senior Jake Smuck (1B) and Tim Smith (2B) were varsity reserves who move into the starting infield this season.
Whittington and veterans Anthony Pehr and Mike Heaney comprise the starting outfield.
Senior Lyw Westrick will be the fourth outfielder with juniors Wolfe, Matt LaPrade, Garrett Wack and Tyler Rubalcaba waiting in the wings.
Catonsville opened its season on March 24 with a 5-4 loss to Franklin.
The Comets’ home game scheduled for March 25 against Lansdowne was postponed until April 8.
Mount St. Joseph
2013 record: 19-11
Coach Jody Harris’ quote: “On paper, you’ve got to think pitching is the strength of the team.”
Breakdown: Harris takes over for Dave Norton, who left after 603 wins and 31 years at the helm to become the school’s principal.
Harris, who was Norton’s assistant from 1985 through 2010 and in 2013, played at St. Joe and graduated in 1979.
The new head boss is armed with a staff of right-handers led by senior Peter Solomon 6-1, 2.66 ERA, 69 strikeouts in 52 innings), who has signed to play at Notre Dame next year.
Solomon tossed five shutout innings in the Gaels’ league-opening 8-0 win over Archbishop Curley.
Senior Joel Kenney (4-2, 1.99 ERA), junior Ben Wilson and sophomore Zach Stoll bolster the staff.
Sophomore shortstop Max Rogers should also be in the pitching mix.
The Gaels boast depth at catcher with seniors Tony Caporlette and Connor Eagleson and juniors Ed Nottingham and Mark Overmeir.
Eagleson, who had arm surgery, should also see time at designated hitter and Nottingham, who batted .426 last season, will play in left field.
Nottingham blasted two home runs against Curley.
Junior Clark Clatchey (.338 avg. 21 RBIs) returns as the starting center fielder.
“I’m looking for him to be a run producer,” said Harris, of the Catonsville native. “He’s got a lot of offensive skills and he’s definitely improved.”
Solomon, when not on the hill, and juniors Andre Brown and Timmy McManus will share right field.
Brown stroked a pair of doubles in the Curley game.
Senior Sam Rowan (.337 avg., 25 RBIs) is coming off a really strong season at first base and will be a cog in the heart of the lineup with Clatchey and Crawford (.378 avg., 25 RBIs).
Juniors C.J. Palting (2B), Matt Sniezak (SS) and Stoll (3B) round out the infield.
The Gaels opened the season with one win in three tries in less than ideal conditions in Myrtle Beach, SC.
“It did nothing but rain down there,” Harris said. “It was a driving rain in two of three games.”