With winter making a comeback this week, the great sport of baseballhas been put on hold around here, but it's the lead on today's "Q's & A's."
At one point in that game, did the opposing relievers think they were back in Anne Arundel County on a spring afternoon?
With former Brooklyn Park High right-hander Steve Day and former Broadneck lefty Brian Toronto out of the bullpens of Miami and Texas, respectively,it said once again that Maryland kids can play big-time college baseball.
Day, who is in his second year with the 'Canes after two years at Essex Community College and a sterling career at Brooklyn Park in which he was named the Anne Arundel County Sun ABC-Independent Leagues Player of the Year, threw three scoreless innings for Miami.
Toronto was in the game at the same time as Day and had it not been for Toronto's big-league pickoff move, Day might have picked up the win. The Broadneck and Anne Arundel Community College grad, who received a baseball scholarship to Texas this winter, was in the game to save it for the Horns.
Miami had mounted a threat and hoped to take the lead, but the slick Toronto picked off a runner to quell the uprising.
Texas and Miami are perennially two of the nation's top college baseball teams and among the elite eight that qualify for the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., each year.
When Toronto arrived in Texas this season after his banner year at Anne Arundel C.C., wherehe led the nation in ERA for junior college pitchers at 0.68, he waskidded with comments like "Do they play baseball in Maryland?"
Those Lone Star State people know we do now. Toronto is starting to draw the scouts, too.
Former L.A. Dodger pitcher Burt Hooton, who nowscouts for them, came to watch Toronto recently and was not only impressed with his pickoff move but his knuckleball as well.
"Brian says he's going to put Anne Arundel County baseball on the map in Texas," said Anne Arundel C.C. pitching coach Larry Shillenberg, who talked by phone to Toronto last weekend.
Toronto and Day were on the Anne Arundel County Sun All-County teams in their senior years, the former in 1988 and the latter in 1986. It's interesting to note the other county pitchers named with them.
The All-County first-teamers with Toronto were Kevin Alarie of Annapolis and Joe Andrezjewski of Chesapeake High. Alarie, who was Player of the Year in 1986 after leading Annapolis to its first state championship in baseball, is on a full baseball scholarship at UMBC.
Alarie, a right-hander, has a goodchance of being drafted by a big-league club this spring in his junior year while Andrezjewski is pitching in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system. Andrezjewski turned down a full scholarship to Miami to sign a lucrative bonus contract with the Brewers after graduating or he and Day now might be on the same staff together.
Day's All-County first-team partner was Arundel's Denny Neagle, who was Player of the Year in 1986. Neagle received a full baseball scholarship to the University of Minnesota, but after his junior year in 1989 he signed a bonus contract with the Minnesota Twins.
A smooth left-hander, Neagle won 20 games last summer in the Twins' system pitching at the A and AA levels. His banner season has earned him a spot in spring training with the big club as a member of the 40-man roster.
Yes, these Anne Arundel County kids can play baseball and pitch with the best of them.
Now let's get to some questions without answers, which of course, come from your input to the 24-hour Sportsline, 647-2499.
* With the naming of former Andover High baseball coach Don Usewick as North County's baseball coach, do the words of Knights' athletic director Mike Baker in making the announcement mean that Dennie DeWitt, thelongtime Brooklyn Park coach who stepped down as Knights' coach for "health reasons," will not be back next season?
"Don will be our coach this season and beyond," said Baker yesterday on the Sportsline.
* If you saw the thrilling 92-87 Annapolis overtime victory over Southern of Baltimore on Friday night, do you agree with me that the visitors from the Maryland Scholastic Association might be the most undisciplined boys basketball team to ever play at Annapolis?
I think Southern was out of control in the second half when it realized itwas going to get beat. Derrick Watkins, who wears No. 43 for Southern, spent most of the night taking cheap shots with Dennis Edwards as his main target. Watkins finally was ejected in overtime after a flagrant foul.
And how about Southern's David Cason hitting a desperation three-pointer with no time on the clock to send the game into OT?He then circled the entire gym with several teammates all of whom taunted the Annapolis fans verbally by pointing a finger at them. Aren't we lucky there was no incident because of such unsportsmanlike conduct?
No technical was called for that, so why would anyone expect a "T" when Cason flung his mouthpiece across the gym after fouling out? Aren't referee Mike Margiotta and his partner, Jim Robinson, fortunate there was no brawl after the way they let things get out of handinstead of taking control of the game?
"After the game, one of their players picked up a chair and went after a girl fan of ours," said Annapolis coach John Brady, who wasn't talking about the game untillate Monday.
When asked if Southern would be back for an encore, Brady answered, "What do you think?" Guess, not.
* Do you Annapolis alumni and parents know that assistant
football coach Billy Phebus is organizing a group to be called "Friends of Al Laramore" to perpetuate the memory of the late Annapolis high football coach?
Phebus and company plan to approach the school and formally request the naming of the football field after Laramore or at least have some sort ofbust or monument at the Richard Ensor Stadium to remind everyone of Laramore.
If you are interested in getting involved in the group, give Phebus a call at 647-4929.
* Do you think that North County assistant basketball coach Dan Krimmelbein's idea of naming the Knights' gym "The House Hart Built" after Dick Hart, the near 30-year Andover hoop coach who passed away recently, is excellent? There is one thing, though, to consider.
With the Knights currently in the old Andover gym awaiting the renovation and improvements to Lindale Junior High so it can be the home of North County High, would Hart's name bemoved over to that gym in the transition? If not, then wait until you get in the new school, guys, and then name the gym after Richard Hart.
* Did you know that South River assistant hoop coach Jack Jordan is a double-dipper just like Krimmelbein? Both those guys are their school's Saturday custodians, who open and close the gyms and turn on the furnace. I thought we were supposed to keep the heat off as a cost-saving measure this winter?
* Does the office of the superintendent need to send out spotters to North County and South River to see if the furnaces are on? Oh, that's right, the Riva Road types don't work on Saturdays, so forget that.
* After watching a lot of youth basketball this year, I'm convinced that 8-foot baskets (not the standard 10-foot ones used by the big guys) for kids 12 and under would make for better games and make better players.
* And isn't it great to hear that the Navy ice hockey team (12-3-1) of Coach Jim Barryreceived a berth yesterday in the National Club Hockey Tournament, Feb. 27 to March 2 in Tempe, Ariz., after being ranked No. 7 by Club Sports?