Cal Ripken Senior League Square Off Features Locals
By Keith Mills
Two of the premier amateur baseball leagues on the East Coast showcase their talent July 14 in Bethesda when the Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate Baseball League All-Stars square off against the Valley League All-Stars.
Now in its sixth year, the Cal Sr. league, an eight-team league featuring some of the premier college players in the country, specifically in the Baltimore-Washington-Virginia corridor, face the Valley League, a 12-team NCAA-sanctioned collegiate league based in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia. The latter celebrates its 87th year of existence this year.
This year's All-Star game, played at Shirley Povich Field, home of the Bethesda Big Train, one of the eight teams in the Cal Ripken Sr. league, will again feature a slew of current college and former area high school standouts.
Three of the Cal Sr. teams play its games in the Baltimore area -- the Baltimore Redbirds, Southern Maryland Nationals and Youse's Maryland Orioles, formally the Leone's-Johnny's baseball powerhouse.
Former Orioles farmhand and current associate Orioles scout Tim Norris manages the Youse's team. He will assist Bethesda's Sal Colangelo in tomorrow night's game and will feature four of his current players: pitchers Blake Geiger and Chris O'Grady, third baseman Ben Carhart and outfielder Chad Taylor.
Geiger went to Calvert Hall where he helped Lou Eckerl's Cards win three straight MIAA A Conference championships and is now a junior at the University of Richmond.
Carhart went to Palm Beach State Community College in Fort Worth, Fla. where he was a teammate of former Boys' Latin standout Austin Knight. Knight was selected in the 37th round of the June draft by the Orioles and is currently hitting .286 for the Aberdeen Ironbirds. He also played for Youse's Maryland Orioles last year while Carhart will move on to Stetson University in the fall.
Taylor is from Jefferson High School in Tampa, Fla. and will be a sophomore at the University of South Florida, while O'Grady is a senior at George Mason, where he is a teammate of Dan Palumbo of Archbishop Spalding and Kevin Lingerman of Calvert Hall.
Several other players on the Cal Sr. league team have local ties. Alex Frederick was an All-State shortstop at Dulaney High two years ago. He now plays for the Baltimore Redbirds, coached by Mike Carter. Frederick will be a junior at UNC-Greensboro, where he is a teammate of Loyola-Blakefield's Harry Slade, also a member of the Youse's Maryland Orioles. Frederick hit .306 this past spring at Greensboro with three doubles.
Corey Jensen also plays for the Redbirds and made the All-Star team as infielder. He was an All-State selection at Severna Park High for coach Jim McCandless before moving on to Hillsborough Community in Tampa. He is headed to Florida Southern University in Lakeland in the fall where he will be a teammate of Tony Mitchell, who will also play in tomorrow night's All-Star game as a member of the Rockville Express.
Mitchell played for coach Rocco Barletta at Kent Island High. He hit .389 as a sophomore at Manatee Community College two years ago before moving on to Florida Southern last year, where he hit .308 with three home runs and 38 RBI as a junior.
Adam Hoyt and Tommy Winegardner will represent the Southern Maryland Nationals in tomorrow night's game. The Nationals are managed by Terry Terrill, head coach at Riverdale Baptist, and feature a handful of former area high school players including Jeff Kemp (Archbishop Spalding/Radford University), Austin Poretz (St. Mary's/Catonsville Community College) and Winegardner, who played for Terrill at Riverdale Baptist, and will be a junior at the College of Charleston.
Hoyt, from Chesapeake Beach, Md., went to Northern High in Calvert County and will be a senior at Bluefield State College in West Virginia.
Austin Harclerode will be a junior at Towson University. A former All-Howard County outfielder for coach Dave Ahern at Centennial High, he helped the Eagles win the 2004 Class 3A state championship as a freshman and finish as runner-up as a sophomore. He was also named the Offensive MVP of the 2008 Brooks Robinson Classic at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. He started both of his seasons at Towson and is the current Cal Ripken Sr. League Offensive Player of the Week.
He will represent the Bethesda Big Train in tomorrow night's game after hitting .391 last week with three doubles, a home run and nine RBI. The Big Train trail Youse's Orioles by a half-game in the Cal Sr. league standings.
Also representing the Big Train, Bryan Hamilton will be a senior at UNC-Charlotte where he is currently a teammate of Severna Park's Dylan Taylor and was a teammate this past spring of Eastern Tech's Ryan Rivers, who was drafted in the 35th round by the Los Angeles Angels and is currently playing in the Arizona Rookie League.
Hamilton went to Mount St. Joseph where he helped pitch coach Dave Norton's Gaels to a 24-6 record and the 2004 MIAA A Conference championship. He was a member of the Atlantic 10 All-Freshman team back in 2007 and led the 49ers in strikeouts last year as a junior.
Gates open for the Cal Sr. versus Valley League All-Star game at 5 p.m. A home run hitting contest will be held at 5:30 p.m. and first pitch at 7:30 p.m.
Posted July 13, 2010