The Columbia Reds, an under-15 baseball team, won its first Baltimore-Metro League title by sweeping the Elkridge Hurricanes in a doubleheader Sunday at Atholton High School to earn a berth in the National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series beginning July 22 in Gallatin, Tenn.
The Reds (24-6) clinched the regular season title by winning their final eight games to secure one of 32 spots in the national event and make their first World Series appearance since the team advanced to the NABF's under-13 tournament in 2002.
The Reds, who posted victories of 7-2 and 4-2 against the Hurricanes, feature a roster in which 11 of the team's 12 players reside in Howard County. The Reds set the stage for Sunday by sweeping the Towson-based Putty Hill Panthers, 7-1 and 4-0, in a doubleheader on Saturday.
"We knew going into the season we'd be in the mix, but winning a league that has so many good teams is a big accomplishment," said Reds Coach Tim O'Brien, who is also the head coach at Long Reach. "We knew if we were going to have a chance to win the league, we were going to have to get on a roll, and that's what we did."
Atholton's Sauers Eager
After the Atholton boys' basketball team last winter came within one victory of winning its first county title since 1998, senior guard Craig Sauers couldn't wait to get back onto the court.
Sauers, one of three starters expected to return from last season's team that finished 16-8, said the Raiders are using their games at the Centennial Boosters Summer League as the first step in winning the county championship.
"I think coming so close last year made us want it even more," said Sauers, who averaged 10.1 points per game last year and is the team's top returning scorer. "We have a lot of players back, and we're trying to prove this summer that we're the team to beat."
Atholton entered Tuesday's game against Mount Hebron with a record of 4-2 after posting a 50-34 win over Centennial, as the Raiders opened the game with a 12-0 run and cruised to victory.
The Raiders figure to field one of the county's most experienced teams this winter, as six of their top nine leading scorers are expected back. However, the Raiders will need to replace All-County forward Jonas Vaitkus, who averaged a team-high 14.1 points per game.
"We had a lot of underclassmen last year, and now it's our turn to hold down the fort," said senior forward Andrew Zavage. "With us, it's always going to start with our defense, and I think we're going to get some good experience playing with each other this summer, and it should give us a head start for when the regular season begins."
Eagles' Lissner Is 12th
Centennial sophomore Ryan Lissner, the All-County tennis player of the year last season, finished in 12th place at the New Jersey Open last week and now will look to improve on that finish at the under-16 Super National tournament that begins Sunday in Rockville.
Lissner burst onto the high school tennis scene this spring by cruising to county and Region III championships before suffering his first loss of the season to Churchill's Jared Pinsky in the state final.
But Lissner, who placed fifth in the Mid-Atlantic Section III Championships earlier this month in Virginia Beach, said his competition this summer in private tournaments has been much tougher than the opponents he faced during the high school season.
"What I've seen this summer isn't anything like what I saw during the high school season, except maybe how good the players were at the state tournament," Lissner said. "It's totally different. Everybody I play is good, and I have to play my best to be able to win. It should be a really good challenge for me this summer."
New Coach for Vikings
Mount Hebron hired John Sunderdick as its baseball coach, Athletic Director Mike Duffy said last week.
Sunderdick, who had spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at the Community College of Baltimore County at Catonsville and coached Mount Hebron's junior varsity baseball team from 2001 to '02, replaces Matt Forsyth, whose contract was not renewed for undisclosed reasons.
"I think it's a great fit for us because the kids know John, and he's got the experience we're looking for," Duffy said. "He's been part of our program, and he has experience playing in college [at Brown] and when he was an assistant coach at the Community College of Baltimore County at Catonsville, so I really think its going to work out."
Forsyth had spent the past seven seasons at Mount Hebron, leading the team to five consecutive winning seasons that included county titles in 2000 and 2002. Mount Hebron finished 14-7 this season after losing to Wilde Lake in the quarterfinals of the 3A East Region tournament.
"It really hurts that I'm not going to be at Mount Hebron because for seven years being a coach there was very special to me," Forsyth said. "But it's my goal to get back into coaching, and hopefully I'll have my chance next season somewhere else."