Fischer, Team Maryland shining in Sunbelt


STILLWATER, Okla. -- Jerry Fischer preferred pitching in the Sunbelt Classic Baseball Series over an assignment in an Arizona rookie league.

Team Maryland coaches were overjoyed with the Southern High righthander's decision and performance yesterday in the six-state all-star tournament at Oklahoma State University.

Fischer, drafted in the 42nd round by Milwaukee, won a series-opening pitching duel before Northeast product Craig Everett drove in four runs in the second game of Maryland's sweep through the first day of the third annual Sunbelt.

After going 1-5 at last year's Sunbelt Classic in Florida, Team Maryland director Dave Wright had plenty to be happy about after a 2-1 win over Oklahoma and 6-5 conquest of Florida. Team Maryland enters today's 3 p.m. (EDT) game with Ohio (0-1) in first place. California and Georgia also sent teams to the Sunbelt, which ends with Sunday's championship round at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.

"This is a different year, a different team," said Wright, a Towson coach who coordinated Maryland's second Sunbelt entry. "The problem we had last year was selling this program. Nobody knew about it. This year kids were fighting to get on the team."

Fischer, a diabetic who takes insulin shots each morning, was strong enough to go the distance, striking out four and walking three. He sailed through the middle innings, yielded three straight one-out singles in the seventh and escaped the jam with a strikeout and popup.

"A scout told me I'd be in an Arizona rookie league if I signed," said Fischer, who hasn't committed to a college after going 9-2 at Southern. "I might sign if the money's right, but there's no hurry. I'd rather be here."

Team Maryland trailed 1-0 in the sixth before Cambridge-South's Troy Brohawn evaded a tag at third base on the front end of a one-out double steal and Beall's Shannon McKenzie chopped a two-run single, scoring Brohawn and Calvert Hall's Ken Konopacki.

"That wasn't a Baltimore chop, it was a Frostburg chop," Wright said, "the kind you get up in Allegany County around those coal mines."

McKenzie finished the day 3-for-3 with a double and four walks, three coming in the win over Florida. Everett sat out the first game with a sore arm before supporting Northeast teammate Charles Buckheit with a three-run homer in the second. Buckheit pitched six strong innings before Brohawn came on to bail him out a jam in the seventh with two strikeouts.

Team Maryland's aggressiveness was apparent on the bases. Konopacki, The Evening Sun's Player of the Year, set Sunbelt single-game and series records with three stolen bases against Florida and four of his team's six thefts on the day.

Of Team Maryland's 20-man roster, only six players have committed to colleges. They are: Ryan Beard of St. Maria Goretti (Old Dominion); David Mummertt of Surrattsville (St. Mary's); William Oakley of James M. Bennett (Maryland walk-on); Ryan Clark of Mount St. Joseph (George Washington); Keith Kormanik (Boston College-football); and Brohawn (Nebraska).

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