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Futures Team Perfect In Midwest Classic

By Keith Mills

First Team Maryland, now Futures Team Maryland. The two amateur teams sponsored by the Maryland State Baseball Coaches Association finished an impressive summer, winning 10 of 13 games and proving again they can compete on the national level.

In June, Team Maryland came within one inning of reaching the championship game of the Sun Belt Classic in Norman, Okla., finishing with a 5-3 record while the first Futures Team Maryland recently returned from the Midwest Classic in Plainfield, Ill. after finishing a perfect 5-0.

The Futures Team Maryland was made up of 18 rising seniors and coached by Ty Whittaker (Eastern Tech), Sean O'Connor (DeMatha), Jim Simms (Chesapeake, Anne Arundel County), Matt Noble (Northwest) and Bernie Walter, who just announced he was retiring after coaching the baseball team at Arundel High in Gambrills for 36 years.

The Futures Team was assembled this summer for the first time after the Maryland State Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game at Thomas Stone High in May and a subsequent tryout at Arundel High School one week later. The team consisted of the following players: Zach Andrews and Steve Jenkins (Arundel), Troy Bennett and James Rossi (Stephen Decatur), Travis Clark (Hammond), Kyle Convissar (Severna Park), Tommy Cunningham (Blake), Zach Fitzpatrick (McDonogh), Dominic Fratantuono (Cardinal Gibbons), Nick Karis and Chris Rados (Northwest), Ryan Kroll (Broadneck), Mike Marsh and Jason Seitler (Chesapeake, Anne Arundel County), Zach Nadolny (Bel Air), Nick Riley (Gaithersburg), Daniel Seeba (DeMatha) and Tyler Steele-Worsham (Resevoir).

Maryland opened the Midwest Classic on Thursday with a pair of wins, 14-9 over Kentucky and 7-2 over Missouri. They slammed five home runs in the two games, including a pair of grand slams in the first inning of the win over Kentucky. After Kentucky scored a run in the first inning, Maryland scored nine runs, eight coming from grand slams by Steele-Worsham and Karis. Kentucky cut a 10-5 lead to 10-9 in the sixth before Team Maryland scored two runs in the bottom of the inning to put the game away.

Cunningham, who played for the Oriolelanders fall showcase team as a sophomore, picked up the win in game one with relief help from Riley and Seitler, who retired the side in order in the seventh inning to earn the save.

Bennett, the pitcher of the year in the Bayside Conference this spring, picked up the win against Missouri in Game 2 on Thursday in relief of Clark, who started and pitched three innings. Fratantuono, who has earned a spot for the second year in a row on the Oriolelander team, slammed Team Maryland's third home run of the tournament in the third inning to snap a 2-1 tie.

Clark and Cunningham also homered as Maryland busted open a close game with two more runs in the fourth and three more in the sixth; Clark and Marsh finished with two hits each.

Bennett was also the winning pitcher in Friday's 10-3 win over Michigan as the rising Seahawks senior celebrated his 17th birthday by replacing Nadolny after the Bel Air right-hander left in the first inning with a shoulder injury after facing just one batter. Michigan scored three runs in the first, though Maryland rallied for two runs of its own in the bottom of the inning.

Marsh opened with a single to left and scored on a double by Convissar, who helped Severna Park win this year's Class 4A state championship. He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Clark. In the second, Kroll slammed Maryland's third grand slam of the tournament for a 6-3 lead while Marsh homered one inning later for a four-run lead. Seeba added a two-run triple for the final Maryland runs and a 3-0 tournament record.

Maryland capped off the three-day event just outside Chicago with two more wins on Saturday as Seitler and Karis picked up wins and Steele-Worsham slammed two more home runs.

With matching 3-0 records, Maryland handed Indiana its first loss of the tournament as Seitler pitched 6 and 2/3 innings with five strikeouts, picking up a win to go with his save in game one. Down 1-0 in the second, Steele-Worsham ripped a two-run home run and then drilled another in the fifth as Maryland built a 4-1 lead. They added a run in the sixth on a single by Andrews and then scored four more in the seventh as Fratantuono's two-run double keyed another big inning and a 9-3 win.

Down 8-4 to Illinois in its fifth and final game, Maryland rallied with five runs in the seventh to pull out the victory and head back home with a perfect record. Clark, Cunningham and Steele-Worsham produced clutch RBIs in the decisive seventh. The winning run scored when Rossi, with Seeba at first and Cunningham at third, beat a possible double play relay to first allowing Cunningham to score the winning run.

Karis picked up the win in relief of Riley, who pitched five innings in a steady rain.

One other highlight for Futures Team Maryland was a trip to U.S. Cellular Field Thursday night in Chicago to watch the White Sox play the Yankees, a game that featured two rather prominent Baltimore high school baseball alumni -- Gavin Floyd and Mark Teixeira, Severna Park neighbors and Mount St. Joseph graduates.

Floyd and Teixeira were both selected in the 2001 major league draft -- Floyd by the Philadelphia Phillies with the fourth pick and Teixeira by the Texas Rangers one pick later, after sensational high school careers for coach Dave Norton at Mount St. Joe. Floyd's start against the Yankees was just the second time he had pitched against Teixeira in the major leagues. Last September when Teixeira was with the Angels, Floyd pitched to a no-decision as the White Sox won, 7-6. Teixeira singled and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in two official at bats against Floyd, who was much better in his start against the Yankees.

Floyd pitched 7 and 1/3 innings, allowing just one run while striking out 10. He struck out Teixeira twice as the White Sox won 3-2.

Posted August 11, 2009