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High school baseball: Baltimore County preview

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Arlington Baptist Eagles

1992 record: 8-4. Coach: Dave Lawson.

Top players: Jarrett Watson, Soph., CF; Steve Reese, Sr., SS; Bret Anderson, Sr., P.

Outlook: The Eagles leave the MSA this year in favor of the Christian Schools Athletic Association, which features some MSA-caliber teams, mostly in the Washington suburbs. They lost just two starters and should be in contention for the title. Watson, an All-MSA C Conference outfielder as a freshman, will lead the way.

Calvert Hall Cardinals

1992 record: 19-8. Coach: Joe Binder.

Top players: Brian Matz, Sr., P-1B; Josh Itzoe, Sr., SS; Larry Marino, Sr., 3B-P; Adam Roberts, Jr., OF; Tim Pilarski, Sr., INF.

Outlook: The Cardinals will be a force even though they graduated nine from last year's MSA A Conference runner-up team, Leading the way will be Matz, a left-handed pitcher-first baseman, who last season was 8-2 on the mound and hit .444 with a team-leading 30 RBI. Marino will add another powerful bat to the middle of the lineup (.423, 29 RBI) and also will pitch. Itzoe, Roberts and Pilarski also will help the Cardinals shoot for their 11th title game in 13 years.

Catonsville Comets

1992 record: 1-17. Coach: John Leslie.

Top players: Mike Barrett, Sr., P; Chad Cameron, Jr., P; Jeremy Kolarek, Jr., P-C; Jim Bright, Sr., 1B.

Outlook: After suffering through an aberration of a season in 1991, the Comets look to be much improved. Barrett, Cameron and Kolarek will lead a pitching staff that should be the strength of the team. The Comets' goal is a .500 season.

Dulaney Lions

1992 record: 13-4. Coach: Ron Audlin.

Top players: Jeff Berman, Sr., P-SS; Todd Retchless, Sr., C; Rodney Maenner, Sr., P; Jason Jacobs, Sr., P-3B.

Outlook: With one returning starter from last year's regional semifinal team, the depleted Lions will rely on a number of former role players and nine JV call-ups. While Berman, Maenner and Jacobs will lead the pitching staff, Retchless will anchor the lineup. This team should be competitive.

Dundalk Owls

1992 record: 11-8. Coach: George Scheulen.

Top players: Keith Fletcher, Sr., P; Rich Estes, Sr., P; Freddie May, Jr., P; Todd Rettkowski, Sr., C.

Outlook: The Owls are young but talented. They will carry 11 or 12 juniors, and will be without their starting middle infield, out indefinitely due to injuries and grades. Fletcher, Estes and May give them depth at pitching, but the key to a winning season could be offense. A number of players from Dundalk's two-time defending JV county championship team will bolster the lineup.

Eastern Vo-Tech Mavericks

1992 record: 7-11. Coach: Joe Gast.

Top players: Eric Messercola, Sr., P-2B; Glen Umbarger, Jr., P-3B; Tom Bialozynsky, Jr., C; Tom McNair, Sr., LF; Jason Schisler, Sr., RF.

Outlook: The Mavericks have a lot of question marks after graduating all but one starter. Messercola and Umbarger will lead the pitching staff while Schisler, the team's leading hitter last season, will play right field and anchor the lineup. The outfield could be the strong point.

Franklin Indians

1992 record: 13-6. Coach: Chick Vrany.

Top players: Steve Teter, Sr., P; Jason Schweriner, Sr., SS; Daryl Chambers, Sr., 3B.

Outlook: There's no question Franklin will field a competitive team, though scoring runs could be problem. Only one starter returns from last year's regional qualifier, and this year's talent is still a question mark. The Indians will build around a nucleus of Teter, Schweriner and Chambers.

Hereford Bulls

1992 record: 12-4. Coach: George Cooper.

Top players: Josh Rohlfs, Sr., C; Steve Dorfler, Sr., OF; Dewayne Fowble, Sr., P; Gabe Selko, Sr., 3B; Chris Currier, Sr., INF.

Outlook: With the nucleus of the team returning, the Bulls could be in for another big year. Rohlfs and Dorfler were All-County selections last year and Fowble made it as a sophomore. Their strength will be at the corners, but the outfield and pitching depth remain question marks.

Kenwood Bluebirds

1992 record: 6-10. Coach: Carroll Hess.

Top players: Tony Santesse, Sr., P; Dave Osbourne, Jr., P; Steve Hewitt, Sr., CF; Kevin Steinbach, Sr., SS; Billy Baxter, Sr., C.

Outlook: The Bluebirds lost a number of close games last year and are counting on the nucleus of Santesse, Osbourne and Hewitt to help turn their fortunes around. Four starters return, but the team is otherwise young. Pitching will be the strong point.

Lansdowne Vikings

1992 record: 17-5. Coach: Ron Bareford.

Top players: Josh Benson, Sr., P; Randy Musgrove, Sr., P-OF; Brian Sullivan, Sr., P; Rob Parsons, Jr., C-P; Danny Muller, Sr., SS.

Outlook: The Vikings, who last year lost to Thomas Johnson in the Class 3A state finals, have the heart of last year's powerful pitching staff back in Benson, Musgrove and Sullivan. Parsons, too, can pitch when needed, and will add a big bat to the

lineup. One of the only real questions on the team will be if Muller can adjust to shortstop after playing second base last season. Look for this team to go a long way again.

Loch Raven Raiders

1992 record: 7-9. Coach: Bud Keene.

Top players: Mark Crouse, Sr., P; Shawn Gardini, Sr., P; Frank Moyer, Sr., P-1B.

Outlook: First-year coach Keene had his pick of the litter with over 60 players showing up for tryouts. The Raiders will have strong pitching, with Crouse and Gardini starting and Moyer playing the role of closer. Keene also will benefit from nine players who last year helped the JV to an 18-2 mark. With strong pitching and good young hitting, Loch Raven could be in a postion to make the playoffs.

Loyola Dons

1992 record: 13-10. Coach: Dave McCann.

Top players: Tom Dugas, Sr., P-1B; Joe Coates, Sr., P-3B-OF; Brian Perrier, Sr., CF; Chris Marshall, Sr., SS; Eric Frankovic, Sr., P.

Outlook: In the words of McCann, the Dons are "loaded." They can field a senior at every starting position and have a strong pitching staff and lineup. Dugas and Coates will play a large role in both, and could be helped substantially with the midseason return of the injured Frankovic, last year's cleanup hitter.

Lutheran Saints

1992 record: 6-8. Coach: Tom Kolb.

Top players: Joel Davis, Jr., P; Matt Duggins, Jr., OF; Curtis Miller, Jr., P; Kevin Gundell, Sr., INF-P.

Outlook: Division realignment will help the Saints, who will compete solely against other private schools this season. Their strength is pitching, led by Davis and Miller. They lead a group of talented young players who should help Lutheran to its goal of a better-than .500 season.

McDonogh Eagles

1992 record: 20-7. Coach: Al Poklemba.

Top players: Kenny Cloude, Sr., P-SS; Ian Hendricks, Jr., 2B; Richie Levin, So., P-LF; Mike Ginsberg, So., P-SS.

Outlook: The defending MSA A Conference champions return a solid nucleus featuring Cloude, The Sun's 1992 Player of the Year. Cloude went 13-1 with a 1.92 ERA last season, and will once again be the featured performer in a talented but young pitching staff. The Eagles are strong defensively and have a potentially potent lineup. If the pitching holds out, they could once again be in the title hunt.

Milford Mill Millers

1992 record: no varsity; JV: 1-15. Coach: Jim Webb.

Top players: Brian Shuford, Jr., P-C-1B; Ra-Mie Ray, Fresh., P-SS-CF; Nike DeLeonardis, So., P-C; Taj Andrews, Jr., C-1B.

Outlook: With no varsity last year and a JV that won just a single game, the Millers are starting from ground zero. They do, however, have some young rec-league talent that could keep them competitive. Shuford, Ray and DeLeonardis will handle the pitching chores and Andrews, the unofficial team leader and best hitter, will anchor the lineup.

Overlea Falcons

1992 record: 14-4. Coach: Dave O'Neill.

Top players: Mark Truszkowski, Sr., SS-P; Charlie Feelhely, Sr., 1B-P; John Kopajtic, Jr., 3B-P; Brian Lijewski, Sr., CF.

Outlook: The Falcons return the core of last year's regional finalists in Truszkowski, Feelhely, Kopajtic and Lijewski. Truszkowski, a starter since his sophomore year, may be the best player in Baltimore County and will provide a good bat, a strong arm and outstanding fielding. If the season goes as expected, the Falcons once again will make it to postseason play.

Owings Mills Eagles

1992 record: 1-15. Coach: Randy Pentz.

Top players: Paul Beccio, Sr., P; Pat Eagan, Jr., P; Randy Shernan, Sr., CF; Clint Helphenstine, Sr., LF.

Outlook: If the Eagles are to contend, they'll have to improve their hitting. Last year, it took a 15-run effort in the final game to lift their season average above .200. Pentz says an indoor batting cage has helped strengthen the hitting, and if the pitching stands up they could meet their goal of a .500 season.

Parkville Knights

1992 record: 6-12. Coach: Wally Guenther.

Top players: Bill Mooney, Sr., CF; Matt Gaines, Sr., 3B; Rob Gill, Sr., P; Joe Rose, Sr., P.

Outlook: The Knights have potential, and Guenther expects them to hold their own in his first varsity season. Gaines will lead the offense, while Gill and Rose will start on the mound. Mooney also should be a key producer once he recovers from a badly sprained ankle.

Patapsco Patriots

1992 record: 15-4. Coach: Dave Ingle.

Top players: Chris Mirabile, Sr., P-SS; Jerry Vecchioni, Soph., SS-P; Daryl Esteppe, Sr., C.

Outlook: The Patriots return five starters from last year's Class 2A state semifinalists. Mirabile, Esteppe and Vecchioni will make them strongest up the middle, but they also should have more depth than last year. Their goal is to make the state finals.

Perry Hall Gators

1992 record: 21-0. Coach: Larry Butts.

Top players: Mandell Marsh, Sr., CF; Jeff Burrows, Sr., INF; Jessie Moore, Jr., P.

Outlook: The defending Class 4A state champions, who have compiled a 59-3 record over the past three seasons, have just two returning starters. Marsh and Burroughs will spark a potent lineup, and reliever Moore will step up to be a starter. But the key will be the part-time players who will be counted on to step up. If the untested talent pans out and the defense holds up, look for Perry Hall to have another big season.

Pikesville Panthers

1992 record: 6-10. Coach: Mike Bruner.

Top players: Josh Katz, Jr., CF; Nate Holzman, Jr., SS.

Outlook: The Panthers lost most of their pitching to graduation and will use JV call-ups at several key positions. Katz, a center fielder, is the team leader, last year finishing at the top of most offensive categories in the league. Holzman will be another key player who will have to step up to lead a number of unproven players.

Randallstown Rams

1992 record: 10-9. Coach: Dave Wright.

Top players: Shilo Merwitz, Soph., P, Brian Ward, Soph., P; Brandon Thomas, Soph., OF; Nick Burns, Sr., C-P.

Outlook: Though the Rams have 14 returnees, they'll rely heavily on sophomores Merwitz and Ward. Last year the pair stepped up to go 6-2 down the stretch. Thomas hit over .390 as a freshman and will be counted on to provide much-needed offense. Wright says his team could be good if it hits the ball.

St. Paul's Crusaders

1992 record: 7-11. Coach: Tom Longstreth.

Top players: Steve Truitt, Jr., SS; Chris Beach, Jr., 1B; Ian Seletzky, Sr., P- 3B.

Outlook: With a mix of eight returnees and nine up from a strong JV, the Crusaders could be in a position to contend. Truitt, a third-year starter, and Beach, the team leader in RBI and runs, will lead the offense, while Seletzky (4-2 last year) will anchor the pitching staff.

Sparrows Point Pointers

1992 record: 8-10. Coach: Sam Scott.

Top players: Bill Finnerty, Sr., C; Jim Cavasina, Sr., CF; Steve Iman, Jr., 3B; Eddie Wenker, Soph., P-1B.

Outlook: The Pointers have some talented players, with good fundamentals and winning attitudes. For them to improve, however, an untested pitching staff, led by Wenker, will have to step up. Finnerty and Cavasina, two power hitters, will provide punch in the lineup. Heading into the season, five positions were still up for grabs.

Towson Generals

1992 record: 9-7. Coach: Bill Yosca.

Top players: Ryan Moran, Sr., 2B; Mike Solis, Sr., SS; Scott Trapnell, Sr., P.

Outlook: With Moran (.380 last year) and Solis (over .430) leading the way, the Generals look to have a potent lineup. The big question mark will be the pitching. Trapnell will be the backbone of an unproven staff that could make or break the team.

Woodlawn Warriors

1992 record: 2-14. Coach: George McClure.

Top players: Rodney Pettit, Sr., P-3B; Mike Tudor, Sr., C-SS; Dave Swing, Sr., 1B; Kevin Charles, Sr., C.

Outlook: The Warriors won just four games the last two seasons, but could give other county teams a surprise. McClure had the most players come out in his 10 years of coaching. Pettit, an All-County selection as a sophomore, will lead the pitching staff and, along with Swing, provide a potent bat in the lineup. Woodlawn also is improved defensively and could be a .500 team.

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