It took Harry Lentz 24 years of coaching, but his 1991 Northeast baseball squad finally accomplished what no other team has.
In going 24-0 this year, the Eagles not only set a state public-school record for the most victories by an undefeated team, but snagged Lentz' second Class 2A state championship since 1975 and his third overall.
Northeast third baseman Don Shump best described how Lentz, The Anne Arundel County Sun's baseball Coach of the Year, got his Eagles to the top.
"Hard work and knowing the game. He has us prepared forevery different team and every situation," said Shump, who set a single-season RBI record with 45 and holds the state career record with 81.
"With him, it was repetition, repetition. And all year long werun and work our butts off. He yells and does what he has to do, andeverybody gets mad at him. But it always pays off in the end, and wewind up a winner every year."
First baseman Russ Curry said, "We didn't have one day off during the week except on Sundays -- on some Saturdays we had three-hour practices. That's how coach made us better. He helped everybody come through when we needed them."
With allthe talent at Northeast, Craig Everett, The Anne Arundel County Sun's baseball Player of the Year, tops the list as the Eagles' most complete player.
"When Craig first came to us, we saw a lot of potential, but we weren't sure we could get him to play up to it," said Lentz, who has 312 career victories.
"But we definitely expected him to be as complete as he turned out. I even feel now that he has a lot more potential than he has
The Eagles watched ace pitcher Charlie Buckheit (11-0, 2.10 ERA) set a county record for career wins at 30-3 overall behind a team that averaged double-digit scoring and hitting.
But in two years, Everett is 12-0 with 70 strikeouts and 22 walks for a 2.07 ERA in 77 1/2 innings. He was the No. 2 pitcher this year, going 8-0, with 47 strikeouts and a 1.66 ERA. He gave up 12 earned runs and 13 walks in 50 1/2 innings of work.
As a lead-off hitter, Everett had a team-high 104 at-bats, going .442 and scoring a team-leading 41 runs. He had four home runs, and his 30 RBI rank fourth behind Shump, Curry (38) and catcher Rich Spiegel (34). His total hits (46) were one short of the state record set by former teammate Andy Srebroski, the 1990 Player of the Year.
"I knew my bat would come around after last year, but I wasn't sure how much my pitching would," said Everett, who also led this year's team in stolen bases and doubles with 13 each. "I never thought I'd pitch in eight games, but Charlie couldn't go all the time, so I just tried to step in when I had to."
Everett came through with the big hits when he had to, nailing home runs in victories over Arundel (a 14-4 rout) and Severna Park (a 15-1 shellacking). His second-inning, three-run homer against Hammond in the 15-3 state championship win gave the Eagles a 6-2 lead and deflated the Bears.
"Craig's come through with the big hits a lot, and he deserves to be the Player of the Year. He's a tremendous lead-off hitter for us," said Curry, a solid hitter at .462.
Everett's game against Severna Park was by far his most superb of the season, as he led a 12-hit, five-home run barrage.
As the Eagles handed Steve Foreman his first loss in six starts, Everett went 3-for-4 with a walk and three RBI and -- lacking a triple -- just missedhitting for the cycle.
On the mound, Everett went the distance for his sixth win, throwing 78 pitches -- mostly curves and changeups -- and scattering five hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
"Hehad almost a completely perfect game against Severna Park -- about as complete a game as you could have," Lentz said. "We knew that the short porch over there could cause us some problems, but Everett did what we asked of him again."
All he did was silence the bats of Steve Neuberger (.465, 17 RBI, two homers), Mark Budzinski (.452, 23 RBI, four homers), John Milisitz (.364, 19 RBI, four homers), John Novak(.349, 11 RBI, three homers) and Wes Zimmerman (.324, 17 RBI, three homers), who went a combined 1-for-15.
Severna Park's Rob McCandless went just 1-for-3, even though he entered the game hitting at a county record pace (.578) and with a team-high 25 RBI and three homers.
"It's always good to know that my team will score a lot of runs for me when I pitch," said Everett, who had just three errors. "I justwent into that game trying not to let them hit the ball in the air and get a home run out of a short fence. I kept a good location on theball, inside and outside pitches, and kept them off-balance with thecurveball."
The seventh of Everett's eight victories -- and the Eagles' regular-season-finale 20th victory -- came against Old Mill, 7-6, in the continuation of their suspended game.
Buckheit, the team's ace, trailed the Patriots when Everett relieved him and brought the Eagles back with two strikeouts and two walks in six innings of work.
He also had a three-hit victory over Middletown in the Eagles'13-3 Class 2A state semifinal win.
"Some people thought that I should have gone to Charlie in some games," Lentz said. "But we had gone with our rotation all
year, and we certainly have confidence in Craig. I think he responded well for us by shutting some teams down."
Everett, Buckheit and Shump are headed to Anne Arundel Community College, where -- thanks to Lentz -- scouts from several farm teams can keep an eye on them.
"Everett and Shump: Houston is specifically interested in them. Buckheit is being looked at by Kansas City, theOrioles, Houston, the Mariners and the Brewers," Lentz said.
Everett said, "Coach Lentz gets us a lot of publicity and does a lot to get people to look at us. If I was at any other school I probably wouldn't have any of the opportunities that I have now."
Everett and Shump were selected in last week's major-league baseball free-agent draft by Houston. After watching the duo in college, the Astros will make a decision about signing them before the next draft in June.
Everett and Shump Although it will be difficult for the 1992 squad to duplicate the accomplishments of this year's Eagles, Lentz is encouraged by the return of starters Spiegel (.472), Derek Dolch (.420, 28 RBI), Chad O'Brien (.463, 15 RBI), K. C. Murphy (.419, 29 RBI) and Joe Hoyer (.328, 14 RBI). As a pitcher, Dolch was 4-0 with a 0.58 ERA.
"This was a perfect year," Lentz said. "There's nothing I would change about it."