John Carroll will be looking to end its baseball season on a positive note this week when it competes in the first private schools baseball tournament, a 10-team event that begins tomorrow.
The Patriots, seeded fifth, drew a first-round bye and will play at ,, The Heights School in Potomac on Wednesday. The semifinals and final are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans (Anne Arundel County).
John Carroll has had two seasons in compiling an 11-5 record, and coach Al Ward can pinpoint where one ended and the other began.
"We were unbeaten and leading Fallston at home, 6-2, in the last inning, when they rallied and beat us 7-6," Ward said.
"I think we peaked in the middle of that game, and did not play up to our potential the rest of the way. That loss haunted us the rest of the season, although we did get a couple of close wins.
"Still, we lost three games -- two to Fallston, one to Joppatowne -- by a total of four runs. That's the way it goes sometimes."
The Patriots did come back to include two well-played games, a 4-2 win over Bel Air and a 2-1 decision over Aberdeen, among its late-season starts.
Ward, completing his 16th season, said before the season started that this group had had more summer-league experience than any he had coached. Now he believes this fact is reflected in the team's success.
"Overall, I'm extremely pleased. Our record indicates how our pitching and defense improved," he said.
That's putting it mildly. The team's errors have been cut in half, and its ERA is down more than four runs a game compared with last season when the record was 5-12.
Among the pitchers, senior left-hander John Schab is 4-1 with a 1.58 ERA; junior right-hander Rich McElroy is at 1.61, and junior right-hander Nick Jenkins ("a pleasant surprise," said Ward) has 21 strikeouts and a 1.78 ERA for 16 innings pitched.
There are only six senior regulars, but they have provided the bulk of the hitting. Troy Walters is at .448 (and 2-2 as a pitcher with a 2.88 ERA); Seth Rigler, .409, with nine extra-base hits (six doubles, two triples, one home run); Geoff Pickett, .405, and David Davis, .349, with eight doubles and 12 stolen bases. Schab and David Ishmael complete the cast.
"I talked with the seniors before the season and told them that, in general, the season depends on you," Ward said. "And they have responded."
4 The coach also is enthusiastic about the future.
"We were playing an average of three or four juniors every game, and our JV team had an 8-4 record. I think we'll be solid again
next year," he said.
Meanwhile, a tournament looms ahead, and the seniors want to make it one to remember.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE
A statistical look at how John Carroll's baseball team has improved since last year:
Category.. .. .. ..1993.. .. ..1992
Won-lost record.. .*11-5.. .. .5-12
Runs allowed.. .. ...53.. .. ...162
Hits allowed.. .. ...75.. .. ...163
Walks allowed.. .. ..65.. .. .. 116
ERA.. .. .. .. .. ..2.09.. .. .6.86
Errors.. .. .. .. .. 28.. .. .. .55
Runs scored.. .. .. .113.. .. ..114
* Through regular season; tournament game Wednesday