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Boys' Latin baseball enjoys view from top of MIAA B Conference

Mark Lopez bats third and plays shortstop when he's not on the mound. The junior has scored 35 runs and drove in 30.
Mark Lopez bats third and plays shortstop when he's not on the mound. The junior has scored 35 runs and drove in 30. (photo by Steve Ruark)

Boys' Latin coach Bill Greenwell has fond memories of competing against the one opponent that has stood between his squad and a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference title the past couple of years.

Without St. Mary's, who moved up to the A Conference this spring after claiming back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015, the Lakers are three games ahead of second-place Annapolis Area Christian School in the chase for the top seed in the upcoming B Conference playoffs.

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"I actually miss St. Mary's," said Greenwell without a hint or irony. "They are a really good club. I miss the competition between us."

Perhaps it's because no conference rival has been able to slow down Boys' Latin's inexorable run to the top of the standings, other than a 7-2 loss to Severn in mid-April and 6-4 setback to Annapolis Area Christian School in early May.

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"I still think that there's plenty of good competition in the league," said Boys' Latin senior first baseman Max Keefe. "It's not like we're crushing those other teams. And there are a lot of 6-5 teams (AACS, Glenelg Country School and Severn) beating each other up."

It's no wonder the Lakers (16-9, 11-2 conference) are riding so high, considering that the team's nine-deep pitching corps is so talented despite graduating last year's standout, Skyler Morris, currently sporting a 2-2 record and a 4.35 ERA as a rookie hurler for Towson University in the Colonial Athletic Association.

This year's ace, senior and tri-captain Justin Ward, and other top pitchers, such as juniors Zach Grace, Mark Lopez and J. P. Woodward, join freshman Sam Grace in helping compile the team's sparkling 2.60 ERA.

As accomplished as the pitchers are, Boys' Latin's hitters regularly pound the ball at the plate and catch it when they are in the field.

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Senior Sam Bowen is a good example of someone boasting those skills, muscling a team-high three home runs for the Lakers as a leadoff hitter and playing center field with style and grace.

Sophomore Pat Luterman is a prototypical second hitter, setting the table for the heart of the order to knock him in. The versatile infielder, who plays shortstop and third base, is second on the squad in runs scored.

Mark Lopez bats third and plays shortstop when he's not on the mound. The junior from Towson has scored 35 runs and knocked in 30.

The cleanup slot belongs to Keefe, a senior gap-hitter batting a robust .452 while driving in a team-leading 36 runs. Keefe and Lopez are the other captains.

Junior Marquise Washington is in the five-hole in the lineup and is a ball-hawking left fielder with plenty of speed. He bats one spot ahead of sophomore right fielder Cole Jarrett, the heir-apparent to take over in center next spring after Bowen departs for Hamilton College.

Junior catcher Matt Purnell hits eighth, although his greatest value to the team may be his ability to harness a howitzer-like arm well enough to gun down an impressive 50 percent of would-be base stealers.

Senior Tommy Esposito and sophomore Jackson Gazin share second base on the diamond and the ninth slot in the order.

If you think Greenwell's statement about missing St. Mary's seems odd, he also has an interesting perspective on his team's depth.

"I just have too many good players," the sixth-year coach said, knowing he will garner little sympathy from his B Conference colleagues.

Those players are "hitting their stride," according to Keefe in their quest to capture a championship.

"It left a bad taste in our mouths to walk off the field last year (in a loss to St. Mary's in the title game)," Keefe added. "We certainly want to go out on top this year."

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