Poly baseball coach Charles Sullivan will be the first to admit his sixth-ranked Engineers have a deficiency in one of the game's most critical areas -- pitching.
Yet his starting hurlers, senior Joe McKenzie (4-1), sophomore Steve Worrell (4-1), senior left-hander Lee Glowacki (2-0) and senior Derrell Montgomery (1-0, with a save) are successful because the Engineers are solid practically everywhere else.
"They're not strikeout pitchers, but they just know we're going to hit the ball and they rely on our defense," said Sullivan, whose Engineers had a 22-hit effort in Monday's 21-2 win over City. "We're hitting .383 as a team, and I'm most pleased with our defense."
Poly (13-4, 11-0 in the 4A-2A league) averages 12.1 hits per game. The Engineers are 54-for-54 on steal attempts, led by junior shortstop Charles Wilhelm (15 steals) and senior center fielder Brian Fortman (13 steals).
Poly played errorless ball in its two biggest victories. The first was its league-opener, a 9-5 win over Patterson -- last year's top-ranked team with a 20-1 record. The second was a 6-5 win over No. 9 Old Mill.
The Engineers also scored a come-from-behind 7-6 win over former No. 15 C. Milton Wright.
Poly has had just two bad games -- a 13-3 setback against Glen Burnie and a 16-12 loss to Bel Air. It also lost to No. 7 Edgewood and Fallston.
Fortman and Wilhelm are the leaders, batting first and third, respectively, in the Engineers' lineup.
"Confidence in our fielding has been a big key," said Fortman, who is hitting .443 with 16 RBI, four triples, six doubles and 28 runs scored. "We feel we'll get the offense and the defense when we need it, so we can come back and win the close ones."
Wilhelm (.464, 26 RBI, 28 runs), a third-year starter, has seven triples, six doubles and three home runs. Over a seven-day period earlier this season, Wilhelm went 12-for-15 with three singles, doubles and triples and 12 RBI.
"We've got sound defense and we're getting our bats on the ball for the extra-base hits," said Wilhelm, who has made only two errors and has been in on six double plays.
The No. 4 batter is left fielder Mike Forstner (.383, 21 RBI), who has six doubles and three home runs. The No. 6 hitter, second baseman Barry Lancaster (.378, 14 RBI), also has a home run.
Junior right fielder David Green (.464, 17 RBI) has two home runs and three doubles.
Seventh batter Craig Macke (.395, 19 RBI), No. 8 batter Ronald Scott (.300, nine RBI) and No. 9 hitter Will Smith (.407, 18 RBI) added unexpected punch to the lineup. Macke, a first baseman, has two home runs and Scott has scored 17 runs.
"Our pitchers need to keep people off of bases more for us to succeed," said Sullivan, whose Engineers will compete in the 4A Region II playoffs, along with No. 4 defending state champ Perry Hall.
Sullivan said today's rematch with Patterson should help to further gauge his Engineers.
"The players understand completely that to win, we've just got to make sure the focus is there, like it was against C. Milton Wright, Old Mill and Patterson the first time," said Sullivan.