Dearth of dominant teams reflects hitting decline


If the results over the first couple weeks of the baseball season are any indication, there may not be a dominant team in Anne Arundel County, nor the metro area for that matter.

There doesn't appear to be a lineup in the county or area as potent as the likes of last year's top-ranked Archbishop Curley, the 1998 Severna Park team or several Mount St. Joseph, Calvert Hall, Arundel, Northeast, Old Mill and a couple of North County teams of the last two decades.

Those clubs had pop from top to bottom in their batting orders. Curley, last year's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference champion, batted .357 as a team with a state-record 49 homers and 312 runs scored, second only to the 326 runs by the 1991 Class 2A state champion team of the late Harry Lentz.

Third baseman Mike Costello was the big gun in the Curley lineup with state records for homers (15), hits (62) and RBIs (58).

In 1998, Severna Park boasted the county's first triple crown winner in catcher Keith Brunst, who hit .536 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs, and two other All-Metros in right-handed pitcher/designated hitter Pat Boucher (.387, seven HRs, 25 RBIs) and outfielder Tony Dokoupil (.500, five HRs, 32 runs, 29 RBIs) in what was as potent a lineup as Anne Arundel County has ever seen.

Pitchers in the year 2000 aren't facing lineups like that. Granted, several county and metro teams have some pretty good hitters, but they lack depth through the lineup, allowing pitchers to pitch around the big guns.

Top-ranked Severna Park (4-0) has emerged as the county's best team because of its pitching depth, but it may not have a typical power lineup.

First-year Falcons coach Jim McCandless has lamented his club's hitting, saying, "We have a way to go and need to get more quality at-bats."

Veteran coach Bernie Walter, who has had more than his share of power-packed lineups through the years, is not too happy about his No. 4-ranked Arundel Wildcats, who are off to a 3-2 start.

"Our hitting for power is poor and we've got to change the lineup," said Walter after his team's second straight loss, by 6-2 to Severna Park on Thursday.

The day before, the Wildcats left 12 men on base in a 6-3 loss at Broadneck. Friday, true to his word, Walter changed things and Arundel romped, 14-4, at South River (2-3). But can the Wildcats keep it up?

Severna Park took advantage of seven Arundel errors to win Thursday, and, at least temporarily, escaped Southern-Harwood (2-1) Friday with an 11-11 tie, the game suspended after seven innings due to darkness. The teams will finish it off before their regularly scheduled game April 28 at Severna Park.

Still, hitting or no hitting, the bottom line is that pitching and defense wins championships. Coaches like McCandless and Walter will take that over power.

Stick shorts

Talk about pressure. The fourth-ranked St. Mary's boys lacrosse team has a huge week coming up.

The Saints' next two games in the MIAA A Conference could make or break their season after their surprising, 10-8 loss to No. 7 Calvert Hall (3-2) on Friday.

What's surprising about the Calvert Hall loss is that the Saints seemed to be getting it together in an 11-6 win over No. 2 Boys' Latin (4-2) on Tuesday.

The good news for the Saints (2-2) is that both games are at home in Annapolis.

Tuesday, top-ranked Gilman (3-0) comes calling, followed by No. 8 McDonogh (5-1) on Friday. Both games will be at 4 p.m.

Eleventh-ranked Severn School (2-3), the county's other MIAA A Conference team, had a rough week, losing by 15-7 to McDonogh on Tuesday and by 11-6 to No. 5 Loyola (5-1) Thursday in league play, and in a nonleague game wasted a 7-2 lead and bowed to DeMatha of Hyattsville, 11-9, last Saturday.

Coach Ray Bowen's Class 2A Southern Bulldogs ran their record to 3-1 with an impressive, 6-5 overtime victory over Class 4A and 15th-ranked Arundel (3-1) Friday.

Tom Scibelli's second goal of the game, 40 seconds into the extra period ended it for Southern.

Mac Chase, the hero of No. 6 Severna Park's 14-9 home victory over ninth-ranked Annapolis (2-2), with a career high seven goals, is the son of Mike Chase, a former standout Annapolis athlete.

The elder Chase, a longtime business administrator at Anne Arundel Community College, played baseball and football for the Panthers. But he married Candy Trettin, who is from a lacrosse-playing family of boys who played at Severn, so the Chase boys took up lacrosse against Dad's will.

"Mac is lightning-quick with the ball and plays solid defense," said Severna Park coach Mike Bellotte. Chase has been offered a scholarship to the University of Denver, but would rather stay in the area.

"I wish UMBC and Towson would come on and make Mac an offer because he can play at that level."

Chase has drawn interest from those schools, plus Washington College and the University of Maryland.

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

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