Dempsey's new-found power gives boost to his credentials Old Mill first baseman leads area with 7 homers


When the baseball all-county first team is chosen later this month, Old Mill's Ryan Dempsey could be a man without a position.

But one probably will be created for him. He has left the voters little choice.

The senior first baseman has the misfortune of roaming the same territory as Arundel's Tim Giles, who finished the regular season as the county's leading hitter with a .596 average.

Dempsey, by contrast, was hitting .310 going into Friday's Class 4A, Region IV playoff game at Patterson, which Old Mill won, 12-4.

Here's where it gets interesting.

Dempsey also leads the metro area with seven home runs and has 30 RBI. Giles has five home runs and 30 RBI.

The solution?

Dempsey, 6 feet 4, 215 pounds, could wind up as a designated hitter, making room on the first team for both deserving players.

Considering that Dempsey didn't even rate honorable mention last season, he isn't going to fuss over the possible change.

"It doesn't really matter to me," he said. "Awards are nice, but results are more important."

Giles and Dempsey are teammates on the Mayo Post 226 American Legion team and will be sharing first base this summer.

And trading a few barbs.

"We bug each other in a nice way," Dempsey said. "Every time I make a play, he'll be the loudest, just to let me know that he's watching me. Whenever he plays first, I'll be sure to bug him about it."

As a junior, Dempsey batted .333 but hit just two home runs with 13 RBI. He decided after the season that changes had to be made -- in his diet and training regime.

Blaming his allergies, Dempsey said he dropped to 175 pounds by season's end. But protein drinks, vitamins and weight lifting added muscle, and running sprints improved his time in the 60-yard -- from 7.6 seconds to 7.2.

"I also rode the exercise bike three nights a week, 30 miles an hour for 12 minutes. That helped me a lot in my legs," he said.

It certainly helps a player's RBI numbers when the batters ahead of him get on base, which seniors Phil McGinnis, Lee Haney and Ryan Scott did with regularity this season.

"That's what has contributed to his run total," Montgomery said.

Defensively, he has made the adjustment from the outfield to first base, a switch that took place in 10th grade. "His defense has been outstanding this year," Montgomery said.

So has his offense.

Dempsey came within two home runs of the school's single-season record, set by Brian Antal in 1990.

Not that this mattered to him.

"Records weren't really important to me," he said. "Some of my teammates would get on me about how I only needed two more. I just wanted to improve on last year and help the team. Basically, that's what I did."

Unlike other power hitters that Montgomery has coached, like Antal and Clark Wagner, the right-handed hitting Dempsey didn't rely as much on brute strength to drive the ball over the fence. All of his home runs this season were hit to the opposite field, including two in a 12-8 win over Glen Burnie.

"He has a classic swing," Montgomery said. "It doesn't look like he's a strong hitter, yet he has a quick bat. His bat speed is what gets the ball to travel. I've had guys bigger and stronger, but Ryan has a really quick bat."

Dempsey's stance leaves him well off the plate, allowing him to extend his long arms and direct the ball into right or right-center ,, field.

"Everything that would be over the plate for everybody else is outside to me, so I can just step into it and hit it out there," he said. "Inside pitches, I just pull, but I really don't get many inside pitches."

He saw fewer fastballs as well. That's the price a long-ball hitter pays as the season wears on.

"In the first Severna Park game, I hit a home run. In the second game, it was curveball after curveball," he said. "Usually, if I get a fastball anywhere near the strike zone, I'm going to hit it and hit it hard."

Dempsey didn't set any individual goals this season after trying to achieve all-county and all-metro status as a junior.

"I said that last year just to keep myself focused," he said. "This year, I just wanted to play hard every game, play with intensity."

And if he winds up on the all-county first team as a designated hitter, he won't complain.

"Your picture is in the paper either way," he said.

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