Team Maryland hopes to outshine California and Florida in Sun Belt Classic


For Dave Wright, bigger certainly does not mean better.

The director of Team Maryland will be traveling next week with 20 of the state's best high school baseball players to the Sun Belt Classic in Stillwater, Okla., to face teams from California and Florida, among others.

Wright says that although those states have a larger pool of players to draw from, a small state such as Maryland has an advantage because it's easier to watch and recruit talent.

"I think there may be more quality ballplayers [in the state], but you can only play nine at a time," he said.

"For a small state, this is a great baseball tradition," said Roger Wrenn, who coaches at Patterson High and is an assistant head coach to Team Maryland.

In its first appearance in the tournament last year, Team Maryland upset Florida, 4-3, in 10 innings for its only victory.

"I thought we played very competitively," Wrenn said. "We had two goals in mind . . . to be competitive and to be the classiest outfit there."

This year, however, Wright said he believes this team has more pitching depth and should be more successful.

"Last year, we didn't have a pitcher capable of throwing over 84 [miles per hour]," Wright said.

Enter Southern High pitcher and MSA B Division Player of the Year Jerry Fischer, who has been clocked as high as 91 mph, and was recently drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers. Fischer said this is Team Maryland's opportunity to show the bigger states "we're just as good as they are."

Pitcher Charlie Buckheit, who was 11-0 this season for Class AA champion Northeast High School, said he's excited to compete against the bigger states, but admitted he's "a little nervous going up against better competition."

Before they reach the Oklahoma State campus where the tournament will be held, the team will stop in Ohio and Missouri for two practices before the six-game series.

Play begins Wednesday with Team Maryland facing Oklahoma and Florida followed by Ohio (Thursday), California (Friday) and defending champion Georgia (next Saturday). The playoffs for first through fifth place will be held June 23.

Wrenn, Wright and assistant director Geoff Smoot have raised $4,600 and Gov. William Donald Schaefer, just as he did last year,donated a bus for transportation on behalf of the state. The Baltimore Oriole Advocates donated equipment, and the Eastern Shore LegionPosts made a donation to the organization.

Wright said this tournament gives the players the opportunity to beseen by both college and professional scouts and "helps kids do what they have to do in life."

Team Maryland roster

Pos. Player School

P Jerry Fischer Southern

P Charlie Buckheit Northeast (AA)

P Craig Everett Northeast (AA)

If Brett Kentz Towson

P Jeff Wagner Liberty

P Shannon McKenzie Beall

P/Of Keith Kormanik Gilman

P Ryan Clark Mount St. Joseph

P Todd Murphy High Point

Of Kenny Batten C. Milton Wright

P Chris Botulinski Meade

P/Of Troy Brohawn Cambridge-South Dorchester

2B Willy Scott North County

C William Oakley James M. Bennett

P David Mummert Surrattsville

If Chris Rodgriuez Riverdale Baptist

C/If Kenneth Konopacki Calvert Hall

C Patrick Colliere DeMatha

If Ryan Beard St. Maria Goretti

P/Of Kevin Loewe Perry Hall

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