Steve Johnson, St. Paul’s

Steve Johnson, St. Paul’s (Sun photo by Christopher T. Assaf / June 3, 2005)

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.


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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.

The senior batted .486 with 11 doubles, a triple, four homers, 26 RBIs and 30 runs. He also had six stolen bases and struck out only six times.

The right-hander went 7-0, including a three-hitter to stop Frederick, 8-2, in the 3A state semifinals, and had a 1.15 ERA. Crum, who was 11-0 over the past two seasons, emerged as Anne Arundel's top pitcher in his senior year.

In 54 2/3 innings, Crum struck out 57 and walked 21 while yielding only 27 hits.

Crum is Virginia Tech-bound as a third baseman.

Andrew DePaola, Hereford, second base

One of the metro area's top athletes, DePaola was a main cog in the No. 12 Bulls' 18-3 season.

A second baseman and pitcher, DePaola batted .527 with seven doubles, one triple, one homer, 29 runs, 20 stolen bases and 13 RBIs batting leadoff or second.

He also had a .640 on-base percentage.

DePaola was 3-1 with three saves and a 1.35 ERA, striking out 30 in 31 innings and walking nine. His only loss was by 3-0 to Eastern Tech in the Class 2A North regional final.

DePaola also was the quarterback of the Bulls' Class 2A state runner-up team, and he will play football at Rutgers.

Scott Krieger, Calvert Hall, third base

Krieger repeated as an All-Metro third baseman after putting up big numbers for one of the most powerful offensive teams in state history.

As the No. 3 hitter in the top-ranked Cardinals' prolific lineup that averaged 10.4 runs per game, Krieger led the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champs with a .516 average and tied fellow All-Metro teammate Mike Newton by scoring a state-record 54 runs.

Krieger, who has been signed by George Mason to play the outfield, hit nine homers and knocked in 45 runs.

In addition, Krieger had 11 doubles, five triples and a 1.032 slugging percentage, and was successful on 19 of 21 base-stealing attempts.

Mike Newton, Calvert Hall, outfield

As the Cardinals' leadoff hitter, Newton set the table for his hot-hitting teammates. He had the ability to begin a game with a home run, or by beating out a ground ball for a hit.

Newton, a second-team pick last season as a junior, struck out only eight times and drew 16 walks to go with his .421 batting average.

Newton, who covered a lot of ground in center field and has a good arm, shared a state record for runs (54) with teammate Scott Krieger and tied Joe Velleggia for the team lead in doubles with 13. Newton also had two triples and five homers and 32 RBIs.

He went 34-for-34 in stolen-base attempts and 61-for-61 over the past two seasons.

Kenneth Primeaux, Perry Hall, outfield

Speed, strength, athleticism and a quick bat made Primeaux one of the metro area's best outfielders over the past three seasons. As a senior, Primeaux took his overall game to a higher level.

The Gators' center fielder batted .466, scored 26 runs and knocked in 29.

Spraying line drives all over the field, Primeaux also had 11 doubles, four triples and two homers. He was 10-for-10 in stolen-base attempts and drew 16 walks.

Primeaux's play led the Gators to the Class 4A North regional final and a 16-7 record.

Brad Rifkin, Park, first base

Rifkin, a slick-fielding first baseman who also can swing the bat, capped a brilliant four-year career with the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference Bruins.

Batting .540 this season and having committed just three errors over the past two seasons, Rifkin was a second-team All-Metro pick last year.

Rifkin proved his ability by landing a starting position on last fall's talent-laden Oriolelanders showcase team, and has been chosen for this year's Brooks Robinson All-Star Game at Camden Yards.

Rifkin, who did not strike out this season, drove in 35 runs, scored 30 and had 10 doubles, two triples, four homers and 11 steals. A left-hander, Rifkin was 4-4 with a 1.78 ERA.

He will attend Brown.

Gerard Sokolis, Eastern Tech, pitcher

Sokolis closed a stellar three-year varsity career by helping his team win the Class 2A state championship.

After giving up four runs early in the 9-4 win over North Hagerstown in the title game, Sokolis settled in and pitched five scoreless innings the rest of the way to finish the season 8-0 and his career 24-1.

Last season, Sokolis beat Liberty in the state semifinals only to forfeit the game when it was learned that he had pitched one more inning than is allowed (14) in a seven-day period.

That bitter exit from the playoffs drove Sokolis, who is headed to Wallace State (Ala.), and his teammates to a 22-1 campaign. Sokolis struck out 62 and walked only seven in 56 innings and had a 0.85 ERA.

Joe Velleggia, Calvert Hall, catcher

After missing last season with an injury, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound junior catcher and cleanup hitter came back strong, leading the No. 1 Cardinals in homers (11), RBIs (52) and walks (18) and tying for the team lead in doubles (18).

Velleggia batted .485 and scored 28 runs despite often being replaced by a courtesy runner.

Velleggia helped the Cardinals cruise to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title, going 7-for-9 with four homers, a double, six runs and six RBIs in playoff romps over Archbishop Spalding, St. Paul's and Mount St. Joseph.

He hit two home runs in the 12-2 win over the Gaels in the title game.

Rob Waskiewicz, Calvert Hall, pitcher

After missing his junior year because of elbow surgery - the result of injuries he suffered in a car accident -Waskiewicz, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound right-hander, emerged as the Cardinals' ace this season.

With the Cardinals lacking a true No. 1 pitcher the past three seasons, Waskiewicz filled the void and the result was a 31-1 campaign, No. 1 ranking and the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title.

Waskiewicz went 10-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 65 2/3 innings. The Virginia Tech-bound Waskiewicz, whose fastball is in the mid-to-high 80s, struck out 59, walked 15 and gave up 57 hits.
Second team

Ed Bach, Atholton, senior, pitcher

Nate Curd, St. Paul's, senior, pitcher

Neal Davis, Catonsville, junior, pitcher

Chris Merrick, Fallston, senior, pitcher

David Caldwell, Loyola, senior, catcher

Jake Shibilsky, Ches.-AA, senior, first base

Brett Harman, Westminster, sophomore, infield

David Walters, River Hill, senior, infield

Steve Shultz, Hereford, senior, third base

Tim Rappazzo, Gilman, junior, shortstop

Derek Goughenour, Old Mill, senior, outfield

Scott Tolliver, Fallston, senior, outfield
Note: Teams selected by Pat O'Malley after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.