- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The talent and the results have not matched up yet for the College of Southern Maryland baseball program, which entered this spring hopeful of its first better than .500 season since 2002.
Head coach Joe Blandford, now in his 12th season, was not camouflaging his feelings about the Hawks’ struggling 10-24 record, 3-15 in the Maryland Junior College Conference, near the bottom of the league, entering Tuesday’s home doubleheader against Rockville at Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium, home of the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
The Tuesday action finished too late for inclusion into this edition.
“It’s been a frustrating season,” Blandford said. “We have some talent. We’re just not hitting. We’ve gotten people on base, but we’re not hitting them home. It’s just frustrating.”
The Hawks run-ruled a solid Allegany team, 12-1 in the opener of a March 22 home doubleheader, only to lose the second game by a 3-1 margin. Allegany was 17-10 (8-6 Maryland JUCO) entering its Tuesday doubleheader.
“We had so many opportunities to win that [second] game,” Blandford added. “We’re just leaving too many guys in scoring position. That’s our major problem.”
The Hawks also defeated Maryland JUCO runner-up Catonsville (20-9, 10-1 entering Tuesday) by a 6-4 count on March 31 in a twin-bill opener on the road. Catonsville was unbeaten in 18 of its previous 19 games before falling to the Hawks.
The nightcap of that doubleheader in Catonsville resulted in a 10-0 loss for the Hawks, however.
“All in all, the league is a lot tougher this year with teams on the bottom beating teams on top,” Blandford said.
Freshman David Sapp (Leonardtown) has evolved into the Hawks’ pitching ace, responsible for half of the team’s 10 wins.
Sophomore pitchers Ryan Neeley (Lackey) and Kevin Bauer have been more inconsistent for the Hawks, as they are returning from offseason Tommy John surgery. Bauer is 100 percent, Blandford said, while Neeley is still progressing at a slow rate.
“We have the ability to win, we just haven’t put it together,” the Hawks coach said. “The chemistry is not there right now. We haven’t jelled yet, but the guys are working hard.”
Blandford is pointing to six games in three doubleheaders versus fellow Division II opponents Garrett (April 12, away), Rappahannock, Va., (April 21, home) and Dundalk (April 28, home) as key to the Hawks making the postseason.
“We can control our own destiny basically,” he said. “Anything can happen once you get into the playoffs. So we just need a little bit more consistency. Making routine plays, throwing strikes, hitting with men in scoring position. … It’s just simple baseball.”