Although they were not able to bring home a victory during Tuesday's Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches Junior Classic, the contingent from Frederick County more than validated their selection to the prestigious event.
Playing for the West squad, Walkersville High School's Brady Policelli and Troy Cavell, Catoctin's Seth Schubert and Joey Johnson, Thomas Johnson's Michael Omelchenko, Frederick's Jerel English and Brunswick's Dallas Darling combined for five of the team's eight hits and a solid pitching performance at Prince George's Stadium in Bowie.
“I got a little jitters coming up here just competing with everybody, the best in the state,” said English, who went 1 for 2 in the West squad's 3-2 loss to the North. “I just came to compete, to play hard and hopefully I did well in the coaches' eyes. I think I did well [but] I think I could do better.”
Those players were among 90 participants competing for a spot on the Maryland Futures squad, which will play in a local tournament in August before heading to the EVO Shield Perfect Game National Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz., in September. The MSABC will select the squad and announce the roster Sunday.
This is the second year for the MSABC Junior Classic, the brainchild of DeMatha Catholic coach Sean O'Connor, aimed at helping the state's top players gain exposure. There were a handful of college coaches and local professional scouts in the stands.
“It's exciting,” O'Connor said. “We have 90, I think, of the best baseball players in the state and we added a couple of the top sophomores in there to really make it a premiere event. We had about six or seven sophomores who were nominated by their coaches. It added a little different flavor this year.”
Johnson and Policelli each had one hit, and Omelchenko belted a pair of singles, including one in the bottom of the ninth that he tried to stretch into a double. He was thrown out at second base to end the game.
“It was awesome, a great opportunity,” Johnson said. “I had a lot of fun and made a bunch of new friends. I hope it helps me go onto the next level.”
Schubert started for the West squad and worked two scoreless innings on the mound with three strikeouts.