Category: Baltimore City News
Chesapeake-Anne Arundel is No. 1 in VSN Baseball Top 20 poll
The last two postseasons have been difficult for Chesapeake-Anne Arundel High. The Cougars are hoping to change that this coming May as the Pasadena school is No. 1 in the VSN's Baseball Top 20.
Led by two-time reigning VSN Player of the Year Joe Seider, Chesapeake enters the spring as the favorite in Anne Arundel County. The Cougars are hoping the third time is the charm after losses in the last two Class 3A state final.
Perennial MIAA A Conference powerhouses, Archbishop Spalding and Calvert Hall College, are second and third, respectively. Arundel and Patterson Mill completes the Top 5.
Pictured above: Chesapeake-Anne Arundel celebrates after scoring in last spring's Class 3A state title game at Ripken Stadium. The Cougars, looking to claim the state crown after losses in the 2017 and 2016 3A final, are the top-ranked team in VSN's Baseball Preseason Top 20.
Here is the entire 2017 Preseason VSN Baseball Top 20:
VSN BASEBALL PRESEASON TOP 20
1. CHESAPEAKE-ANNE ARUNDEL COUGARS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #4
Final 2017 record: 20-4
Coach: Ken King
Players to watch: Joe Seidler, RHP/1B, senior; Dylan Young, RHP/SS, junior; Colby Buckheit, RHP, junior; Mike Cybert, 1B, senior; Colton Spangler, OF, junior
Opening pitch: After back-to-back losses in the Class 3A state final, Chesapeake is hoping to capture the elusive crown with two-time VSN Player of the Year and preseason All-State selection Joe Seidler leading what should be the area’s top pitching trio. Junior righthanders Dylan Young, who matched Seidler in wins going 6-0 with a 1.20 ERA, and Colby Buckheit who won three games while seeing limited action, give the Cougars as good a 1-2-3 staff as there is.
Buckheit is the son of former Northeast pitcher Charlie Buckheit, who had an Anne Arundel County career record of 30-3. Seidler, who is 19-4 overall in his 3-year career, and was 6-2 with a 2.02 ERA last season after winning 11 games as a sophomore, hopes to erase the heartbreak of losing two consecutive finals before moving on to Radford University.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Seidler, a pro prospect, is also the team’s leading hitter batting .420 with 25 RBIs, 18 runs, 10 doubles and 3 dingers and when not on the mound is outstanding defensively on the corners at either 1st or 3rd base. Cybert (.333, 20 RBI) and Spangler (.367) will add offensive punch.
2. ARCHBISHOP SPALDING CAVALIERS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #2
Final 2017 record: 21-8
Coach: Joe Palumbo
Players to watch: Peter Godrick, CF, senior; Matt Palumbo, INF, senior; Justin Caesar, SS, junior; Nick Benitez, INF, senior; Alex Green, OF, junior; Justin Pelletreau, C, senior; Zach Powers, RHP, junior; Daniel Elliott, RHP, sophomore
Opening pitch: After winning three straight MIAA A Conference championships, the Cavaliers slipped last spring finishing second in the regular season to Calvert Hall College and third in the post season tournament. They are primed for another serious run with five returning starters, but question marks on the pitching staff.
Junior Zack Powers and Daniel Elliott (both junior varsity promotees) along with Cory Blohm, the younger brother of 2016 VSN Pitcher of the Year Tyler Blohm (now a standout at Maryland), are expected to answer those questions. Godrick is following in the footsteps of brother Billy Godrick, VSN Co-Player of the Year in 2016, and is also a leadoff batter hitting .257 with 20 runs and 18 RBIs in 2017.
Matt Palumbo is another in the long line of Palumbos who can hit. He slapped shots from the left side all over the diamond for a .302 batting clip with seven doubles, four triples and scored 17 runs. Green, another lefthand swinger batted .362 scoring 18 times and Pelletreau hit .308 as a backup catcher.
3. CALVERT HALL COLLEGE CARDINALS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #1
Final 2017 record: 27-4
Coach: Lou Eckerl
Players to watch: JP Murphy, OF, senior; Jose Torres, SS, junior; Pete Marchineck, LHP/1B, junior; Parker Landwehr, C, junior; Dom Freeberger, 2B, senior; Dan O’Connor, RHP, senior
Opening pitch: Murphy, a four-year varsity standout, is the jewel of this Cardinal edition. The two-time MSABC (Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches) Preseason All-State selection and High Point University commit is ranked as the No. 1 outfielder in Maryland by Perfect Game because he can do it all.
A sweet swinging right-handed hitter with line drive power, Murphy batted .453 with five homers, four triples, seven doubles and 27 RBI and 28 runs scored last season. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Murphy covers a lot of ground in the outfield and possesses a very strong arm and could be a pro draft choice this June.
Torres, who batted .333 with five doubles, four triples and a dinger scoring 24 runs and knocking in 17 from his No. 2 spot in the batting order, will anchor the infield with his quick feet, exceptional athletic skills and superb arm. The pitching staff will be young, but 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior lefty Marchineck and righthander O’Connor should emerge with Landwehr, a Boston College commit and excellent hitter, handling the staff behind the plate with skill.
4. ARUNDEL WILDCATS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #15
Final 2017 record: 16-6
Coach: Frank Hood
Players to watch: Will Schubert, RHP, senior; Steve Sturlaugson, RHP, senior; Garrett Stanard, 2B, junior; Pat Mason, OF, senior; Moises Aristy, SS, junior
Opening pitch: The last time the Wildcats made it to a state final was 2012, and the last time they won it all was in 2006, the record 10th state title under legendary coach Bernie Walter. Walter, now retired, has been hanging around the Gambrills school the last couple seasons assisting one of his former players in Hood, and they may be putting together a strong 4A state title contender this spring.
Senior righthanders Schubert (4-2, 0.46 ERA, 45 IP, 41 K’s) and Sturlaugson (6-2, 1.18 ERA, 47 IP, 47 K’s) could be a formidable duo on the mound behind what appears to be a typical solid Wildcat defense to be anchored by DeMatha Catholic transfer Aristy. The offensive punch is also there with returning All-County junior Stanard and Mason leading the way. Stanard is coming off a sterling season in which he batted .426 with five doubles, 25 runs scored and 11 stolen sacks while Mason hit .339 with 10 doubles, 12 runs and 15 RBI.
5. PATTERSON MILL HUSKIES
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #5
Final 2017 record: 21-3
Coach: Matt Roseland
Players to watch: Austin Koehn, RHP-SS, Sr., Max Elliott, OF, Sr., Steve Spencer, 2B/OF, Sr., Thomas Kragh, 3B/OF, Sr.
Opening pitch: The two-time defending UCBAC Chesapeake champs (42-7 the last two seasons) will continue to chase that coveted 1A state title in a stacked region with the likes of a loaded Colonel Richardson and St. Michael’s. The latter spoiled Patterson Mill’s season last year with a 5-1 defeat in the 1A state semis, but the Huskies push on under Roseland who has built the Harford County school into one of the state’s top programs.
Koehn, a UNC-Greensboro commit and MSABC preseason All-State selection, returns as the ace of the pitching staff after going 10-1 as a sophomore and 6-2 last year with a 1.14 ERA in 55 innings pitched with 58 strikeouts and only eight walks. Elliott, who will play hoops in college, returns as the team’s leading hitter with a .515 average, 25 runs, 22 RBI, 10 doubles, five triples and two homers. Also among the team’s eight returnees are UNC-Wilmington commit Spencer (.426, 20 runs, 21 RBI, seven doubles and only two strikeouts in 77 at-bats and Kragh (.265, 16 runs, 17 RBI).
6. HOWARD LIONS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #6
Final 2017 record: 18-7
Coach: Nick Hoffner
Players to watch: Brendan Foster, RHP, junior; Gabe Delgado, RHP, junior; Ryan Kulick, RHP/1B, junior; Brian Jakubek, C/OF, junior
Opening pitch: After upsetting Severna Park (4-3) in the 4A state semifinals last May, the Lions came up short in the state final, losing to Montgomery County's Northwest. The Howard County school is really hungry in 2018 and its 1-2 junior pitching duo of Foster and Delgado have the Lions licking their chops.
Foster was 6-1 with a 1.91 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 30 walks in 36.2 innings of work while Delgado was 3-2 with a 3.87 ERA and 42 K’s and 22 walks in 34.1 innings. The duo will have to carry the load by cutting down on their walks in order to lead a team that has only three seniors and is junior dominated.
Two other key junior returnees are Kulick and Jakubek. Kulick put up good numbers with the bat hitting .385 with five doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs and was 2-5 pitching with a 3.90 ERA. Jakubek batted .353 with club leading runs (18) and RBIs (21) and three doubles.
7. CENTURY KNIGHTS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked
Final 2017 record: 16-4
Coach: Mike Marrale
Players to watch: Michael Marrale, C, senior; Jeremy Lapp, RHP/OF, senior; Ethan Kiple, OF, senior
Opening pitch: Michael Marrale and Lapp are the main men in the Knights’ quest of a long run in Class 2A this spring after a 3-2 loss in the West Region semis to Marriotts Ridge.
Putting up such big numbers as a .440 batting clip and slugging percentage of .907 with 10 dingers, 31 RBI and 28 runs scored (no courtesy runner), Marrale was the Carroll County Player of the Year in 2017. The Old Dominion commit arguably the area’s premier catcher and a MSABC preseason All-State selection.
Lapp, also an MSABC preseason All-State player, is a power pitcher (clocked in the high 80’s) and power hitter. He was 7-1 on the mound with 64 Ks in 44 innings pitched, the result of his superb mechanics and nasty change that he masterfully sets up hitters. At the plate, Lapp hit .309 with seven homers and 21 RBI and his athleticism has helped prepare him for the next level, likely as a pitcher at West Virginia.
8. LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD DONS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #10
Final 2017 record: 13-14
Coach: Mike Kelly
Players to watch: AJ Holcomb, INF., senior; Matt Wyatt, RHP, senior; Will Glock, RHP/SS, senior
Opening pitch: After an improbable run to the MIAA A Conference tournament crown, the Dons (a Don is a matador) wear a cloak of most wantedafter upsetting top-ranked Calvert Hall College, 8-3 in the grand finale to post the Towson school’s first MSA or MIAA championship since 1946.
A trio of key returnees in Holcomb, Wyatt and Glock will lead the Dons and it’s a question of how well their pitching staff responds and will they have enough depth overall. Holcomb and Glock return as MSABC preseason All-State players.
The left-hand hitting Holcomb, who will play at High Point University next spring, led Loyola in hitting with a 296 average, 15 RBIs and six doubles, a triple and three homers, two coming in a 3-1 victory over Archbishop Spalding in the tourney semfinals. His swing is sweet and his discipline at the plate is exceptional.
Virginia-bound Wyatt was 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 35 innings striking out 25 and walking 19. Glock (1-1, 2.65 ERA), who is a Maryland commit, got his first win in the MIAA A final with four scoreless innings in relief after giving up three runs in the first and Wyatt finished the last two frames.
9. DULANEY LIONS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #7
Final 2017 record: 19-3
Coach: Ryan Wolfsheimer
Players to watch: Nolan Matsko, RHP/INF., senior; Bryce Frederick, INF, sophomore; Jack Tarantino, LHP, senior; Danny Beard, RHP, senior; Ben Stoner, LHP/OF, senior
Opening pitch: After a disappointing loss to Howard in the Class 4A North Region final last season, the Lions have a strong nucleus returning to make another run and defend their Baltimore County title. Leading the way are Matsko, Frederick and pitchers Tarantino, Beard and Stoner.
Matsko, who has committed to Georgetown, batted .444 with eight doubles, four triples and two dingers and 22 RBI, and will be starting a third straight season in which he may pitch a little more. Frederick led the Lions in batting with a. 490 clip and drilled nine doubles while knocking in 23 runs.
Southpaw Tarantino was 2-0 with a 1.90 ERA and will pitch at Johns Hopkins in 2019. Stoner is another left on the staff while Beard is a righty. The latter two hurlers saw limited duty last spring, but are expected to see more innings this season giving the Lions a deep staff. The Matsko/Frederick duo should ignite the offense to provide the hurlers lots of runs.
10. MARRIOTTS RIDGE MUSTANGS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #12
Final 2017 record: 19-4
Coach: Paul Eckert
Players to watch: Dylan Anagnos, RHP/OF, senior; Josh Olsufka, RHP/3B, junior; Hunter Reeling, INF/OF, senior; Joey Fellona, C, senior
Opening pitch: With preseason All-State hurler Anagnos, who was 7-1 with 47 K’S in 39 innings and an 0.88 ERA as a junior returning, the Stangs should once again be a contender for the Howard County and 2A West Region championships. Anagnos impressed last summer in the Perfect Game National Academic Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla., and is ready to be the ace.
Anagnos pitched 3 scoreless innings striking out 6 with no walks and one hit at Perfect Game event against players from all over the country. Anagnos also was clocked 6.78 in the 60-yard dash which is a pro-time.
Olsufka, catcher Fellona and the versatile Reeling are other key returning players for the Marriottsville school. Reeling swings the bat with some power and can play 2B and 3B in addition to patrolling the outfield.
11. ARCHBISHOP CURLEY FRIARS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked
Final 2017 record: 15-14
Coach: Brooks Norris
Players to watch: Tyler Locklear, 3B, junior; Paul Nixon, 1B/RHP, senior; Nick Brown, OF/1B, senior; Trent Gast-Woodard, C, senior; Matt Peters, RHP, senior; Mike Sacha, RHP, junior
Opening pitch: The winning tradition of Curley started with the Friars 1st and only coach for 41 years in the late legendary Al Frank (546 wins) and the father-son duo of Tim and Brooks Norris who have carried it on.
Tim was an All-Metro pitcher winning the A Conference (MSA now the MIAA) championship in 1978 on his graduation day and it was ditto for Brooks in 2001 on his graduation day as an All-Metro RHP/1B, Frank’s last A Conference crown. Brooks was also a sophomore starter on Frank’s 1999 A title team. Last spring the Friars dropped out of the Top 20 the final week after losing 2 games in the post season tourney, but a solid nucleus returns and optimism is in the air.
Locklear, who will play at Virginia Commonwealth next spring, is a preseason All-State after batting .365 with 26 RBI, nine doubles, two triples and six home runs, and then leading Youse’s Orioles to a National title in the summer. He will be joined by three pretty good hitters in Nixon (.320), Brown (.317, three HRs, 15 RBI) and Gast-Woodard (four HRs and 15 RBI).
If the pitching comes through, the Friars will come through.
12. SEVERNA PARK FALCONS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #3
Final 2017 record: 22-3
Coach: Eric Milton
Players to watch: Kody Milton, 3B/1B/RHP, senior; Cameron Clark, RHP, senior; George Lesher, C/OF, senior
Opening pitch: Milton, a four -year varsity starter at the corners and MSABC preseason All-State choice headed to Maryland where his dad and coach pitched before embarking on a major league baseball career, is the main man. Last season as a junior, Milton, a pro prospect, put some big numbers batting a robust .580 with 11 doubles, six homers and 32 RBI. The batting average was the second highest in school history just behind the .586 clip by INF/RHP Rob McCandless in 1991. Rob was the younger brother of the late coach Jim McCandless, who led the Falcons to three state championships.
The current Severna Park team is gunning for a third consecutive appearance in the state final four, in hopes of winning that elusive title after being upset 4-3 by Howard in the 2017 state semis. Outstanding catcher and All-County outfielder Lesher (.395, seven 2B's, 26 RBS, 17 runs) also returns as does the ace of the pitching staff in Clark (5-1, 0.90 ERA). The key to another run to the state tourney will be the contributions of the younger pitchers.
13. GILMAN SCHOOL GREYHOUNDS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #11
Final 2017 record: 23-11
Coach: Larry Sheets
Players to watch: Max Costes, RHP/INF, senior; Pierce Bennett, 3B, junior; Tyler Martinez, OF, junior
Opening pitch: The Hounds need to be more consistent if they hope to win their first MIAA A Conference championship since 2010. Sheets, a former Baltimore Oriole outfielder, has done an excellent job creating young hitters and implementing a pitching-by- committee philosophy that Costes, a MSABC preseason All-State infielder who will join his brother Marty at the University of Maryland in the fall, leads.
Costes (.392, six HRs, 26 RBI last spring), Gilman’s #3 batter is clearly one of the state’s premier hitters with plus power (50 RBI last two seasons) and has a strong arm. Bennett batted .400 last spring with 21 RBU and swiped 16 bases out of the No. 2 spot in the batting order while fellow junior Martinez batted .270 with 15 stolen bases as the ninth-place hitter. The aforementioned trio looks to give the Greyhounds a solid offense that will put runs on the board as they seek to contend in what should be an extremely competitive A Conference.
14. RIVER HILL HAWKS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #8
Final 2017 record: 17-6
Coach: John McCoy
Player to watch: Josh Mann, RHP, senior; Tucker Finkelston, 3B, senior; Anthony Richards, 1B/OF, junior
Opening pitch: The Hawks ran out of pitching, losing to Chesapeake-Anne Arundel in the 3A East Region final, ending what had been a promising season with seven returning starters. Ace Mann, who was 6-1 to earn All-Howard County honors, but was not available to pitch in the East final. He returns along with several other experienced hurlers and No. 3 batter and third baseman Finkelston, who batted .390 last spring.
15. BEL AIR BOBCATS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #17
Final 2017 record: 14-7
Coach: John Swanson
Players to watch: Drew Gagnon, OF, senior; Andrew Sunday, 3B, senior; Tyler Schimming, RHP/OF, junior; Cam Kalandros, LHP/1B, senior; Spencer Sanza, SS, senior; Matt Fino, C, sophomore
Opening pitch: After winning the Class 4A state in 2016, the Bobcats were knocked out by Dulaney in the 4A North semifinals last spring. Bel Air, the runner-up in the UCBAC Chesapeake, returns eight seniors including captains in Gagnon and Sunday. Schimming is a third captain on Swanson’s squad.
The 17th year coach also welcomes back seniors Kalandros, Sanza, Liam Powers, Brody Cullison, Jonah Einsig and Josh Stocum. Fino has a lot of potential.
Swanson says the “season unfolds in the first two weeks” as to who the top teams will be, but that was before the snow storm. Swanson is excited about this year’s group.
16. JOHN CARROLL SCHOOL PATRIOTS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked
Final 2017 record: 13-15
Coach: Darrion Siler
Players to watch: Nick Collier, LHP, senior; Ryan Archibald, C-INF/OF, senior; Johnny Galant, OF, junior; Nico Santaro, INF, junior; Tyler Blittensdorf, INF, junior
Opening pitch: The Patriots may be the sleeper in the MIAA A Conference. Archibald and Collier are MSABC preseason All-State selections and the main reasons that the Patriots will be dangerous to the perennial contenders come post season. Collier, a four-year starter and Towson University commit was the team’s MVP in 2017, batted .385 and won six games on the bump. In addition, Collier carriers a 4.0 GPA in the classroom and takes his intelligence onto the diamond.
Archibald, a California native who has committed to the University of Arizona, came to John Carroll his sophomore year. He had an immediate impact displaying his versatility by playing every position on the field. He ended last season as the Patriots’ starting catcher and was named to the All-MIAA A Conference first team last spring.
Clean-up batter Santaro, Galant and Blittensdorf appear to be top underclassmen on a junior dominated team ready to challenge the establishment.
17. RESERVOIR GATORS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: #9
Final 2017 record: 16-5
Coach: Adam Leader
Players to watch: Cameron Hyder, OF, senior; Trevor Romaine, RHP, junior; E.J. Sweet, RHP, senior; Kyle Chu, LHP, senior
Opening pitch: Hyder, an MSABC preseason All-State outfielder, leads 11 returning seniors and the nucleus should make the Gators one of the teams to beat in Howard County and the Class 3A East Region. One of five returning starters, Hyder, a four-year starter and Salisbury University recruit, batted .409 with 8 doubles and scored 20 runs last spring as the Gators’ leadoff hitter.
Romaine is geared up for his third varsity season and could emerge as the ace of the pitching staff while also playing the infield. Kyle Chu and EJ Sweet will join Romaine as key hurlers as the Fulton school aims for their first region title since 2014 when it captured its first state title (3A).
18. ST. MARY'S SAINTS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked
Final 2017 record: 17-12
Coach: Mike Bronakoski
Players to watch: Stephen Pelli, RHP, senior; Brandon Cook, RHP/OF, senior; Nick Quinn, INF, senior; Nick Hopkins, INF, senior; Chase Hillard, INF, senior
Opening pitch: Pelli, a University of North Carolina commit, was named to his third MSABC Preseason All-State team and is considered one of the top pitchers in Maryland. He was clocked in the 90’s last spring when he went 4-6 for the Saints who missed the MIAA A Conference Tournament. Pelli had 98 K’s in only 53 innings and a 2.70 ERA.
Cook , an outstanding hitter bound to Shepherd, led the Saints in batting at .415 with 10 doubles, two triples, 22 RBI, 30 runs scored and 14 stolen bases. LaSalle-bound Hopkins (.350, 17 stolen bases last spring) will be another key to the Saints' quest of qualifying for the MIAA A post sesason.
Bronakoski, who took over in mid-season last spring after Johnny Poss abruptly resigned, is optimistic about the Saints chances of success this spring.
19. FALLSTON COUGARS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked
Final 2017 record: 15-8
Coach: Grant Morlock
Players to watch: Everett Cox, SS, senior; Alex Baily, C/OF, junior; Josh Bogdan, RHP, senior; Andrew Kalista, INF, junior; Kyle Moody, RHP, junior; Connor Pickle, INF, sophomore
Opening pitch: After graduating nine seniors following their impressive run to the Class 2A state final last spring, the Cougars return five starters. Among them is Cox, a captain who led the team with his .407 batting average with 17 RBI and 25 runs scored last spring.
Baily (.345, 19 RBIs, 23 runs) and pitching ace Josh Bogdan who was 2-2 with a 4.80 ERA also return. The righthander will be joined by two other righties in Kalista and Moody and southpaw Pickle.
Morlock likes his team’s chances of advancing to a fourth East Region final in the last five years. The Harford County school’s tough schedule in the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference's Chesapeake Division will prepare them for the post season.
20. C. MILTON WRIGHT MUSTANGS
Final 2017 VSN Top 20 rank: Not ranked
Final 2017 record: 16-7
Coach: Joe Steka
Players to watch: Cory Paulsen, RHP/1B, senior; Hunter Wright, LHP, sophomore; Jacob Spurlock, OF, junior; Sean D’Adamo, C, senior
Opening pitch: Paulsen returns as the ace and one of the top hitters after an excellent junior season. The righthander went 8-1 with a 1.73 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 36 innings and only 11 walks and was one of the best hurlers in the UCBAC in 2017. Paulsen, who plays 1B when not on the bump, also batted .353 and knocked in 22 runs. D’Adamo also returns as does centerfielder Spurlock who had an excellent sophomore season batting . 403 with 27 runs scored and 10 RBI.
Stetka, in his 8th sesason as Mustangs coach and is also an associate scout with the Baltimore Orioles, is also excited about Wright. Stetka says his club has added some speed and strong arms for hopefully another run in the Class 3A state playoffs.