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Severna Park duo make final run


Since age 9, Matt Griswold and Scott Neuberger have played baseball together in Severna Park. They've pushed each other to excellence, but after this year they will go their separate ways in hopes of being reunited in professional baseball.

Both Severna Park High outfielders have received a scholarship, Griswold to Virginia Tech, Neuberger to Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College.

Last fall the two were starters on the Oriolelanders, a team of the top high school prospects in the mid-Atlantic area. Baltimore Orioles' territorial scouting supervisor Jim Gilbert and his staff select the team from a tryout of 200 players.

Neuberger, who was All-County in soccer as a junior, gave up the sport so he could trek to Frederick each fall weekend with Griswold to play for the Oriolelanders. Exposure in front of pro and college scouts was just what they were looking for in their quest to play professional baseball one day.

"It's our goal to sign one day and we're confident that somebody will give us a chance," said Neuberger.

Griswold is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound left-handed-hitting right fielder while the 6-2, 190-pound Neuberger, the Falcons center fielder, hits from the other side. Severna Park coach Jim Pitt considers them two of the best he has had in his 26 years as a head coach.

"They have as much power as any two we have had," said Pitt, a former Atlantic Coast Conference batting champion at Maryland and Minnesota Twins minor-league outfielder.

"Scott is more of a line-drive hitter. Matt has a home run swing with a little dip in his. And they rarely strike out [four times between them]. They are both excellent defensively with Division I arms."

Both have started since 10th grade, but Neuberger's sophomore season was cut short by a stress fracture in his back while Griswold hit .260 with one homer. That first varsity homer won a game.

Last season was productive for both, especially Neuberger who was named All-Metro after hitting .578 with 32 runs scored, 20 RBIs, seven homers, three triples and seven doubles. Griswold hit .360 with one homer.

Griswold is hitting .479 (23-for-48) this season with four homers and 19 RBIs, while Neuberger has a county-leading seven homers and has knocked in 23 runs with his .409 (18-for-44) batting clip.

Neuberger's 14 career homers place him within two of the county public school record (15) set by his former teammate, catcher John Milisitz.

"We definitely compete against each other and it makes us both play a little harder," said Neuberger, who has an older brother, Steve, to compete with as well.

Scott often has been compared to Steve, a University of Maryland junior outfielder and All-Metro in 1992.

"A lot of people didn't think I would be as good as my brother, but they started noticing me last year," said Neuberger. "And with Matt to compete against, it's fun because when he hits one out, I try to hit one farther."

Griswold, whose grandfather, Allen Griswold, was a shortstop in the Detroit Tigers organization in the late '30s, said, "If Scott hits a two-run homer, I want to hit a three-run homer.

"My dad [Steve, who played football at Boston College] started me playing in our backyard when I was 5 and I developed rivalries with him and my brother Jim growing up until Scott and I started playing together.

"Batting left-handed has been an advantage and it was natural to me."

Both players credit Pitt and their Severna Park Legion coach Jim McCandless for refining their batting skills.

"Mr. Pitt knows us well and can spot little things we're doing wrong," said Neuberger.

Griswold added, "He makes us realize that we have weaknesses to work on and is constantly pointing out what we need to do to get better.

"Jim McCandless is a workaholic and his good habits have rubbed off on us."

While there is not a lot of difference in their hitting and defensive skills, they lead their younger teammates in different ways.

"I'm more laid back than Matt," said Neuberger.

The not-too-shy Griswold runs the team on the field from his right field berth.

"I like to be loud and intense, and get really fired up," said Griswold.

"Scott leads more by example, and together we both have the same goal -- to get a shot at the playoffs and a state championship our last year."

Griswold and Neuberger will play together on their legion team again this summer, but next spring, they go it alone for the first time.

"We will keep in touch, and who knows we may play together again at a higher level," said Griswold.

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