With the Montgomery County high school baseball season set to begin Friday and Saturday, many teams will enter the spring with a genuine ace pitcher.
Gaithersburg coach Jeff Rabberman is in the envious position of having one of the preseason favorites to capture the 4A West Region and state titles primarily because he has two stars, infielder Evan Colon and pitcher Nick DeCarlo, who were selected to the 2014 preseason all-state team by the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches.
“I know we’re going to have a good season, but I can’t remember heading into a season when so many teams had a pitcher that could beat you on any given day,” Rabberman said. “I know we have Evan and Nick, but if you look at teams like Sherwood, Quince Orchard, Northwest, [Bethesda-Chevy Chase] and [Winston] Churchill and of course, Poolesville in 2A, each of those teams has a pitcher that can basically shut you down.”
Underscoring the depth of the county is Churchill, which overcame a 6-10 regular season to earn a berth in the 4A state title game last year at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. Churchill returns seven of its starters.
“On any given day, any team can beat you,” said Churchill fifth-year coach Scott Blackwood, a 2002 Quince Orchard graduate. “Our best pitcher, Eric Brodkowtiz, is as good as anyone out there. Obviously, Gaithersburg has Nick DeCarlo and Sherwood has Matt Chanin and Poolseville has Robbie Metz. It’s a tough league across the board. You just can’t show up at the park and think you’re going to leave with a win.”
Bethesda Chevy-Chase fifth-year coach John Schmidt guided the Barons to a 16-4 mark last spring and has several returning starters, including all-state first team selection Joe Feldman (C), pitchers Chris Krawezyk and Connor Byrne, senior Matt Bacon (OF) and Andrew Brilliant (1B). Feldman is heading to Amherst College this fall.
“We’re probably in the toughest league in the state,” said Schmidt. “When you look over the rosters you see 8-10 teams have an ace. If you draw that pitcher on that day, you’re looking at winning 2-1 or 3-2. But it makes the teams that much stronger. When you get to the region playoffs, you want to be ready for anyone and if you can get to states you have to be ready to face the best.”
Clarksburg fourth-year coach Matthew Derrick will also have a formidable battery in senior pitcher Zach Thompson and junior catcher Peter Limber. Clarksburg, which opened as a 2A school in 2006, has gradually become more competitive. Last year, the Coyotes finished the season 6-10 after a 1-17 mark in 2012. In a classification where Gaithersburg, Quince Orchard and Sherwood and the perennial powers and Northwest is emerging, Clarksburg is gaining respectability.
“If you look at the teams we face and the players and the coaches, the Montgomery County 4A league is among the toughest in the state,” Derrick said. “You know you’re going to have Gaithersburg, Quince Orchard and Sherwood in the running for the region and state title and then you look at Poolesville and how far they’ve come. ... The quality of the play day in and day out is excellent and the coaches at those schools are first rate.”
Poolesville, the county’s smallest school, is among the contenders for the 2A state title this season for second-year coach Steve Orsini and Metz, a preseason all-state selection who is expected to attend George Washington University this fall. Metz will have some pitching duties this spring for Poolesville, but he will primarily play shortstop in college.