Tie-breaker steps might cheat C'peake


Tie-breaker criteria could cost No. 12-ranked Chesapeake a spot in Tuesday's county baseball championship game if the Cougars do not win their final two regular-season games.

Results from head-to-head play are far down the list at No. 4 in the five steps instead of being at the top or at least No. 2, as is the case in most standard tie-breakers.

But county athletic directors had to be different. Here's their list:

1) Most division wins. 2) Wins in the county league. 3) Overall wins, including tournaments. And then, 4) Head-to-head results.

A non-league game with fourth-ranked Mount St. Joseph that the two teams were unable to reschedule figures in the mix, as well. Let me explain.

With two games left to play, Chesapeake (11-6) leads both 10th-ranked Old Mill (11-7) and No. 17 North County (11-7) by one game in the North Division with two games left. The Cougars are 6-2 in division play; the others are 5-3.

The Cougars host North County today and visit Northeast (6-11 overall, 3-5 league) on Monday. North County hosts Old Mill on Monday. Old Mill is home today against Meade (5-11, 2-6).

If Chesapeake wins both of its games, the Cougars are in, no matter what the other two do. Chesapeake is the only one of the three contenders that can be involved in a tie with either of the other two.

"We really want to win the county championship," said Cougars coach Jim Simms. "It's super-important to us. In 21 years, the school has never won a county championship in baseball. We've got two tough games to get there."

Simms led Chesapeake to its first state title in baseball last year.

But if Chesapeake and North County tie at 7-3 each, North County will go to the county title game because it will have more county league wins (11). North County went 4-2 against the South; Chesapeake and Old Mill were both 3-3.

By beating North County today, Chesapeake can knock the Knights out of the scenario. But Old Mill still could be alive with a victory over Meade. This is where the county criteria are faulty.

If Chesapeake were to be upset by neighbor Northeast, and Old Mill defeats North County, defending county champion Old Mill will take the division -- despite two losses (5-4 and 16-6) to Chesapeake.

Chesapeake and Old Mill would be tied for division wins (seven) and county league wins (10), but Old Mill would have 13 wins in all games to 12 by Chesapeake. They would have the same number of losses (seven) overall, but Old Mill would have one more win.

And that is where the St. Joe game comes in.

Not being able to reschedule that game could come back to haunt the Cougars. A win there, and the tiebreaker would go to Chesapeake by virtue of head-to-head play.

The current criteria could allow Old Mill to back in, and county athletic directors should rethink the order, which is backward.

Their excuse is that their structure encourages teams to make up postponed games, but they make up county league games, anyway.

In the South Division, things are clearer, with top-ranked Severna Park (15-2, 7-1) having defeated South River (6-9, 2-6) by 9-5 Wednesday.

Barring a total collapse by the Falcons, which would mean losing their final two games (both away) with Broadneck (8-9, 3-5) and Southern (5-13, 2-6), Severna Park needs both, or the Falcons may have to go to a coin flip.

Third-ranked Arundel (14-4, 6-2) is right on the heels of the Falcons and has to win its final two -- Annapolis (6-8, 4-4) and South River -- and hope for a Falcon loss.

Arundel and Severna Park split in the division, each won all six games with North teams, and each would end up with 16 wins in all games necessitating a coin flip.

Severna Park's scheduling conflict with Dulaney and Arundel's 5-4 non-league loss to Old Mill could be crucial.


Severna Park hit three homers Wednesday in its 9-5 win over South River to break the county record of homers (31) in a season set by Brooklyn Park in 1980 and tied by Old Mill in 1989. The Falcons take 33 into today's game.

Keith Brunst, Pat Boucher and Chris Nardone hit the Falcon homers. It was county-leading 10th for Brunst, one short of the county record (11) set by Boucher last season.

Boucher's homer was his sixth this season, giving him 18 for his career, which ties the state public school record shared by two others from the Hagerstown area.

Have a note for Sidelines? Call Pat O'Malley's 24-hour Sportsline at 410-647-2499.

Pub Date: 5/01/98

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