Chaney Enterprises Coach Ed Glaeser doesn't know much about the National Amateur Baseball Federation playoffs, which begin today in Altoona, Pa. And why should he? His American Legion baseball team hasn't been there in years.
The Waldorf-based team, which had won six consecutive Frank Riley League titles (including three state championships in 1994-96) before this season, qualified for a berth in the tournament. But it's not American Legion postseason play -- and that doesn't make Chaney's venerable coach happy.
"I think about 10 teams go to the NABF tournament, but to tell you the truth it's been so long since we've been there that I'm not even sure about that," said Glaeser, whose team finished second to Greenbelt with an overall record of 29-13 and a 20-8 league mark. "This is a like a consolation prize, but we'll have to take it."
The double-elimination tournament runs through Sunday, with the winner qualifying for the NABF World Series in Evansville, Ind.
Because the NABF teams recruit from a much wider area than is permitted by American Legion, which limits teams to recruiting in their assigned "district," Glaeser was allowed to add players to his team's roster for the trip to Altoona.
"It may be the second-place tournament, but it's still very tough up there," said Dan Devitis, coach of Design Corps of La Plata. "That's why American Legion teams are allowed to add a few extra players. It's not going to be an easy road."
Two of Devitis's players -- his son, Derek, a recent graduate of La Plata High, and outfielder Justin Hill, a 1999 graduate of Westlake -- were among those added to fortify Chaney's lineup. Glaeser also took three players from the St. Mary's team: Kevin Burch, Eric Franc and Tracy Vallandingham, all of whom were members of the Leonardtown team that upset Glaeser's Thomas Stone Cougars in the Maryland 3A South Regional tournament last spring. The Raiders advanced to the state final before falling to South Carroll, 8-1.
Hill and Devitis were two of the top hitters for Design Corps this year, batting .411 and .400, respectively. Vallandingham and Franc, both excellent defenders, add depth at shortstop and catcher. Burch, who served as Leonardtown's leadoff hitter, will join Chaney's pitching rotation and can play outfield.
"These five guys . . . solidify a lot of the places where we weren't strong, particularly on offense," Glaeser said. "With these guys, we will be much more representative of baseball in Southern Maryland."
Part of the reason for Chaney's second-place finish, the coach said, was that it didn't have much offensive power after its top two hitters, third baseman/pitcher Kenny Myers, a rising junior at Thomas Stone, and All-Met pitcher Nick Vitielliss, a 1999 Thomas Stone graduate. Myers hit .435 with a team-high 16 home runs and 64 runs batted in. Vitielliss, who went 6-2 as a pitcher with a 2.65 earned-run average and 62 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings pitched, batted .380 with nine home runs and 50 RBI.
Vitielliss -- who will attend Indiana University next season despite being selected in the late rounds of the Major League Baseball draft by the Baltimore Orioles -- knows Glaeser is disappointed to be in this tournament, and so are the players.
"Especially the guys who have been on this team for a few years, because we're not used to coming in second place," he said. "But once we fell behind Greenbelt so far, we just started pushing to make some sort of postseason tournament, and now that we have, we want to go out and win it.
"With the additional pitching and hitting we picked up, I think we have a pretty good shot at it."