Lansdowne's 1st champs swinging in their defense

Some would argue that Lansdowne's state championship baseball team rivals David Byrne, lead singer of the rock group Talking Heads, as the best thing the high school has ever produced.

Others, like Lansdowne's Vivienne Dailey, will tell you that it has surpassed Byrne.


"Byrne doesn't even hold a candle to them," said Dailey, in her 10th year as co-athletic director with Ed Walker. "I've never met the guy, but when was the last time David Byrne came walking through our halls."

Certainly not as recently as returning seniors Rob Parsons, an All-County catcher, third baseman Bob Wheelton, shortstop Andy Stocksdale and outfielder Vince Queen, each of whom wears a state championship jacket, as veterans from an 18-3 team that won the 3A crown, 3-0, over Centennial last season.


It was the school's first state title in any sport since it opened in 1967.

"Everyone wants to stick their chests out -- not like we're bragging or anything because you've got to act more respectably," said Wheelton, who was 3-0 with 17 strikeouts as a pitcher last year.

"You just feel like you have to carry yourself in a certain way."

Wheelton hit .359 with six RBIs last year and had his game-winning second home run in the 5-4 win over Thomas Stone in the state semifinal.

"These kids knew they were good, but winning the state title validated them," said Dailey of an achievement that earned 17th-year coach Ron Bareford Coach of the Year honors by The Baltimore Sun.

"Ron Bareford is such a low-key guy that after all these years, it's great that he's the one it happened to."

And when you coach a school's first state champion, Bareford said, it's amazing the recognition you get in your community.

"Within a couple days of the game, one restaurant gave me a free meal, and another bought a round of drinks for myself and some friends," recalled Bareford, 56, who is assisted for the third year by Ed Jackson.


"The community picked right up on it, and now, it seems the rest of the kids are catching the fever. There's no lack in enthusiasm, and they're convinced that we can get back to the states."

The first couple of efforts by the 11th-ranked Vikings (1-0) offer proof to that assertion.

The Vikings' season-opener against No. 9 Patapsco ended 2-2 after seven innings before being suspended because of darkness, and their next game was a come-from-behind, 6-1 victory over No. 7 Perry Hall -- Bareford's first win over the Gators in four years.

Wheelton overcame a sore elbow to go the distance with no walks against the Gators, striking out six and giving up five hits.

"It was tough to do," Wheelton said, "but you just feel like you've got to give that little bit extra."

Everyone, it seems, has to give a little extra, considering the Vikings lost to graduation their three starting pitchers, All-Metro Randy Musgrove (8-0), second-team All-Metro Brian Sullivan and Josh Benson from last year's squad.


Parsons, who hit .387 last year with a team-leading 18 RBIs and seven doubles, reluctantly has stepped into a pitching role. Stocksdale, who hit .350 as a second baseman last year, has moved to shortstop where his leadership and experience can better help the team.

And Queen, who threw out three runners to key last year's 1-0 playoff victory over Dundalk, aims to improve on last year's eight steals and .241 batting average.

"Being a team captain, I just want to do anything that'll help the team get back to the state championships," Parsons said.

Though his hitting (.287) is down, Parsons had 10 strikeouts and gave up five hits and two walks against Patapsco in the game that will be continued as a doubleheader later this season.

"We knew this year will be a lot tougher," Parsons said. "We'll see everybody's top pitcher, and they'll pull out all the stops just to say they beat the state champs."

For the Vikings to get back to the states, Bareford said they'll need support from senior third baseman Howard Popp, junior Crough twins Tim, a left fielder, and Tom, a second baseman, junior utility player Dan Ambrose and sophomore first baseman Charles Walter.


Popp keyed the six-run third inning against the Gators with a two-run triple. Also in the rally, the Crough brothers each had singles and scored. Ambrose singled to start the comeback against Perry Hall and later scored the tying run. Walter threw out three runners against Patapsco.

"We think being on top makes everybody play better," Stocksdale said. "The next time I watch a team win a championship on TV, no matter what level it's on, I'll be one of those few people who can say to himself, 'I know how that feels.'"