Towson High's Stark graduates to next level in baseball

Towson High graduate Sam Stark isn't wasting time getting ready for his first baseball season at Division II  Millersville University in Pennsylvania.

Five days a week, the shortstop spends about three hours lifting weights, fielding and practicing his swing in a batting net in his basement and in a batting cage in Essex and at Gilman.

Moreover, the Roland Park resident leans on his father, Chris, who played third base for the University of Maryland in the 1980s, for advice and help with his workouts.

"My dad has been there before," Sam Stark said. "He knows what you need to do to get ready for college. The things you can do so you can have a legitimate chance to come in and play as a freshman. He's a great coach and he's been my main coach for years."

The 5-foot-10, 166-pound Stark is a perfectionist when it comes to honing his skills.

"I have to get strong and improve every aspect of my game," he said. "I just want to make sure I am hitting solid every time up, fielding every ground ball the way I should with the proper mechanics and throwing with the correct arm angle. All that stuff."

The 2013 Baltimore County Player of the Year — as voted on by county coaches — will be suiting up for Millersville on a baseball scholarship after choosing the Marauders over offers from Marshall College in West Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Stark has a chance to start as a freshman, although it may be at second base instead of shortstop.

"Sam has a great opportunity to win a job," Millersville baseball coach Jon Shehan said. "Second base is wide open. We have a sophomore second baseman (Tyler Thomas) returning that played very little. Sam has gotten a lot better since last fall."

That's about the time Stark made quite an impression on Shehan during a practice on the Millersville campus.

"We are allowed to work out a lot of kids, and he got a hit off of Tim Mayza, who was picked by the Blue Jays in the 12th round (of the Major League Baseball draft in June)," Shehan said. "Our pitcher was a little bit mad."

This summer, Stark is using those skills for the Victus Diamond Pros, a squad in the Eddie W. Brooks Collegiate Baseball League.

Stark is batting .435 with a .586 on-base percentage.

Stark went 3-for-3, scored a run and knocked in another in a 9-1 victory over New Jersey's Tri-State Aresenal on June 19. Two days later, he went 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored in 9-5 win over the New York Clippers.

Victus Diamond Pros coach Joe Dadura values Stark as much for his defense and leadership skills as for his bat.

"I got lucky picking him up," Dadura said. "He is a very special player and brings something to every game. The biggest thing with him is his metal approach. He really understands the game and his baseball I.Q is really high."

Stark started at Towson for four years and finished his high school career with a .435 batting average.

After batting .450 as a junior with three home runs, 25 RBIs and 23 runs scored, he hit .565 with 28 runs, five doubles, three triples, two home runs and 20 RBIs this past spring.

Stark, who grew up playing in the Roland Park Little League program, helped spark the Generals to a 16-3 record by leading the team in five offensive categories.

"He is definitely the most serious about baseball of all the players I have coached in 11 years," Towson coach Brad Eastham said. "His dedication to the sport separates him from other guys. He is always working on his craft and trying to learn new things to improve."

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