Thursday's Anne Arundel County baseball championship game could be an exhibition at best, the result of poor scheduling and the negatives of the blind draw.
Neither of the opponents in the county final is expected to pitch their No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher because all but one of the four teams involved are opening in the state playoffs the very next day.
Despite top records, they're playing Friday thanks to the outgoing random draw, which, by the way, gave 5-10 Meade a first-round bye in the 4A East along with 2-13 Annapolis in the 3A East.
County regular-season champ and No. 3-ranked Severna Park (16-3, 13-2) will be in one dugout Thursday night at Cannon Stadium in Harman's with its foe yet to be decided.
The possibility of a three-way tie at 11-5 each for the other berth exists among No. 1 Arundel (15-4, 11-4), Broadneck (11-7, 10-5) and Northeast (11-7, 10-5), but Arundel would win by virtue of the best overall record at 15-5 if it would lose tomorrow.
If Arundel wins at home tomorrow vs. South River (4-14, 2-13), it's over.
Severna Park plays host to Arundel on Friday in the first round of the 4A East region. Northeast visits Frederick Douglass of Prince George's in a 3A East first-rounder.
Of course, if Arundel and Severna Park play the county final, neither will use their best pitching because the next day is much more important.
Arundel coach Bernie Walter is considering bringing up a JV pitcher to pitch the game.
"You wonder what the game really means," said Severna Park's first-year coach Jim McCandless, who feels there should have been some breathing room between the county final and the playoffs.
"It makes no sense. Josh Banks [7-0, 1.45 ERA] and Jason Carl [6-0, 2.94] will not pitch Thursday no matter who we play."
Starting in the fall, the state is adopting a seeding system (top four teams) for all sports except football. Severna Park and Arundel would have been seeded 1-2 and would have had a first-round bye and it would have been a county championship game to see, not an exhibition.
Broadneck drew the top seed and a bye in the 4A East and plays the Arundel-Severna Park winner May 15. If it's Severna Park, the game would be at Broadneck, but if Arundel prevails, the game is in Gambrills.
Arundel, which became the fourth metro area team this spring to be ranked No. 1 in The Sun poll last week, had a rough week at 2-2.
Friday night in Pasadena, Arundel was trailing host Northeast, 6-2, in the top of the third when the game was suspended because of lightning, but came back to finish and win yesterday, 15-10, with junior ace Chip Ziegler gaining his county-leading eighth win (8-1) in relief.
It was Ziegler's second win this week and lowered his ERA to 0.24.
Tomorrow, in the final regular-season games, Arundel plays host to South River, Broadneck plays host to North County (6-9, 10-9) and Northeast travels to Southern (6-9, 10-8) in Harwood.
If Arundel and Broadneck tie at 11-5, Broadneck wins by going 2-0 against the Wildcats, while an Arundel-Northeast tie puts the Wildcats in the final based on head-to-head competition.
Joe Feldmann of Annapolis and Severna Park's Meg Miller are the winners of this year's Dick Hart Scholarships for their unselfish team play and excellence in the classroom. Hart is the late Andover coach.
The Sun's three-time All-Metro and baseball Player of the Year (1998) at Mount St. Joseph, Mark Teixeira, a Severna Park resident now starring at Georgia Tech, has received one of the first 20 invitations for Team USA trials to be held June 16-21 in Tucson, Ariz. Team USA will play Japan, tour the U.S. and visit the Netherlands this summer.
The application for The Sun's 18th All-County Academic-Athletic Team has been published in both The Sun sports and Maryland news sections.
Ten boys and 10 girls will be named to the team and honored at a banquet, with two overall winners, one boy and one girl, receiving $5,000 scholarships.
High school students who reside in Anne Arundel County and play at least one varsity sport are eligible to apply.
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