The high school baseball playoffs are about to begin, and Anne Arundel County will have four teams involved -- three in Class 4A and Southern or Northeast in 2A.
Patterson of Baltimore's presence in Class 4A, Region IV has eliminated an Anne Arundel team from the state playoffs. Top-ranked Arundel (15-1) has secured the top seed and is assured of a home game next Friday.
Patterson (12-4), Chesapeake (11-4) and Old Mill (11-5) also have clinched berths, and their seedings will be determined by what happens today and Monday. The advantage of being the No. 2 seed is having the home field to start the regional.
The No. 4 team lands the task of playing at Arundel, while the No. 3 seed plays at No. 2 on Saturday, May 22. The two winners meet at the higher seed for the right to advance to the state Class 4A final four, set for Tuesday, May 25, at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
Despite having perhaps the deepest pitching staff in the county, North County (10-7) is on the outside looking in after blowing a 7-4 decision to Class 2A Southern (9-9) on Wednesday. The Knights also lost a crucial 6-3 game to Meade (5-10) to cripple their playoff hopes.
North County -- with no-hitters by Joe York, Rob Christopher and Mike Wooden -- has nothing to show for the best season in its three-year history. The Knights close at Queen Anne's on the Eastern Shore today.
Severna Park's 8-6, final-inning loss to Glen Burnie (7-8) Monday at home left the Falcons 9-7 and out of the playoffs.
As it stands, Chesapeake visits Glen Burnie today and plays host to Old Mill on Monday. The Cougars have 83 playoff points and can finish with as many as 99. Class 4A teams are worth eight points and only 4A schools are left on the schedules of the three teams vying for the remaining seeds.
The maximum possibility for Patterson, which has 87 points, is 103. The Clippers, who beat Poly yesterday, 3-1, have a game left with Edmondson, but if Chesapeake wins its final two and finishes with 99 points, the Cougars would earn the second seed by virtue of the playoff points average.
The total number of points earned is divided by the number of games played to determine the playoff points average. Unlike Patterson and the other two teams involved, Chesapeake has a 17-game schedule rather than the maximum 18.
Therefore, Chesapeake's average would be 5.82 (99 divided by 17) and Patterson's would be 5.72 (103 divided by 18).
At this point, Patterson needs to win its last game and Chesapeake to lose at least one to take second. If Old Mill wins its final two -- today at Joe Cannon against Severna Park and Monday at Chesapeake -- and Patterson beats Edmondson, the Clippers would be No. 2 (5.72), Old Mill would be third (5.6, 102 divided by 18), and Chesapeake fourth.
The other scenario would be an Old Mill sweep and a Patterson loss that would leave Old Mill No. 2 (5.6), Chesapeake third (5.35) (provided the Cougars win at Glen Burnie today) and Patterson fourth.
Chesapeake or Old Mill could have a tough time if either has to play at Patterson. The Clippers are extremely tough at home and have a legitimate blue-chip hitter in John Sauer, who also pitches.
Only one other county baseball team will make the postseason, either Southern or Northeast in 2A, Region III, where Rockville, Surrattsville and Damascus have clinched berths.
Southern (9-7 in non-tournament games, 9-9 overall) truly has been the positive surprise of the season, while Northeast experienced a fall (7-9, 8-10) from the elite after two straight state title seasons (42-5).
Northeast trailed Southern by 13 playoff points before last night's must-win game with Broadneck in Pasadena. The Eagles then would have to knock off Southern at Northeast on Monday to make it by a point, providing Southern loses at Broadneck today.
Southern has to lose both games for Northeast, which has to win both, to qualify.
Southern coach Chuck Crandell has done a marvelous job. The Bulldogs were 15-118 over eight previous seasons, but have their best club since the 8-10 team led by infielder Doug Ward and pitcher Joe Stallings in 1981 under coach Charlie Grace.
With a chance at their first winning season in baseball since the mid-1970s, when Dale Castro pitched for them, the Bulldogs have knocked off a host of 4A schools, including The Baltimore Sun's ninth-ranked Old Mill, No. 11 North County and previously ranked Broadneck.
Senior pitchers Chris Bush (5-1, 1.30 ERA) and Troy O'Connor (2-3, two saves, 2.00 ERA) have kept the Bulldogs competitive along with the hitting of juniors Kirk Rogers (.500), a first baseman, and outfielder Wayne Small (.361), and senior infielder William McGee (.333).