What are the best high school teams in Frederick this winter?
Thanks to the coronavirus, we’ll likely have to wait a little longer to find out. Frederick County public-school sports have been postponed since the beginning of the school year because of the pandemic.
So to help fill the void, The Frederick News-Post thought it would be fun to ask readers to pick the best Frederick County high school teams of all-time in each sport.
Each week, we’ll feature a sport and list contenders from years past in that sport. Readers can visit www.fredericknewspost.com to vote for the team they think is best. We’ll do this for all sports, fall, winter and spring.
Each Thursday, when we list candidates for another sport, we’ll reveal the team from the previous week’s sport that got the most votes.
This week’s sport: Baseball. May the best team win.
1969 Frederick Cadets
Accomplishments: District 1, Class A-AA champion, 17-1 record
Frederick closed out a decade of excellence on the diamond by winning its third straight District 1 crown — and it did so in dramatic fashion.
Trailing Fort Hill by three runs heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Cadets staged a rally that was capped by Maurice Boyd’s towering, game-winning, two-run homer to left-center with one out. Frederick 5, Fort Hill 4.
This was the final game in a Cadets uniform for Petey Cooper, a left-handed pitcher-first baseman who was drafted in the fifth round by the Cincinnati Reds the week before this game. Cooper went out with flair against Fort Hill, striking out 16, walking none and scattering either four or six hits (the number reported in contemporaneous game stories varies). Cooper went a staggering 13-0 on the mound that season.
“While Cooper’s pitching carried us most of the way, we also had some good clutch hitters,” Cadets coach Charlie Lutman told The Hagerstown Morning Herald’s Larry Yanos. “And they had much to do with our success.”
One such clutch hitter was Ken Steidings. After striking out three times against Fort Hill starter Jack Cheney, who pulled a hamstring muscle in the seventh, Steidings hit a two-run single off reliever J.R. McDonald, setting the stage for Boyd’s heroics.
The MPSSAA didn’t hold a state tournament until 1975, so the 1960s Cadets never had a chance to contend for a state crown. Still, they were undoubtedly a force during that era. For instance, the 1962 Cadets went 11-1 with three players — Chris Soles, Tom Bichy and Bill Siedling — who helped the University of Maryland capture its first ACC baseball crown in 1965.
1983 Thomas Johnson Patriots
Accomplishments: Class 4A state champion, Tri-State League champion, 20-2 record
Steve Parsons took over Thomas Johnson’s baseball team in 1983.
“I really did not know much about the team except from what I heard from local people and what I read in the papers,” Parsons told The Frederick News-Post.
No doubt, the papers and locals had plenty to say about the Patriots during Parson’s first season. With eight players hitting over .300 for the season and a trio of strong pitchers, the Patriots outscored their two opponents 25-0 in the regional playoffs and went on to capture their first state crown, beating South River 13-9 in the championship game.
Credit South River for scoring nine runs during a postseason in which TJ pitchers were extremely stingy. TJ’s Jeff Garvis threw a three-hit shutout in TJ’s first playoff game, Wayne Finley followed with a no-hitter in the regional final and Jeff Rinehart tossed a five-hitter over Gwynn Park in the state semis.
Leading the way for TJ offensively was switch-hitting shortstop Troy Wilson, who helped the Patriots win a state football title the previous fall. Batting .463 heading into the state final, Wilson had three hits, scored three runs, drove in three runs and stole two bases in his final game.
But other Patriots who swung productive bats included Rinehart, Frank Martz, Tom Harwood, Garvis, Chris Olson, Ron Winpigler (a crack third baseman), catcher Erik Howard and Greg Thrasher.
1991 Brunswick Railroaders
Accomplishments: Class 1A state champion, 19-4 record
Brunswick made history in 1990 by winning its first baseball state title. It also made history in 1992 by becoming the first baseball team to win three straight MPSSAA state titles.
So perhaps it’s tempting to overlook the 1991 Railroaders, but that would be a major oversight. That Jeff Warfle-coached Brunswick team was a force.
Aside from possessing talented underclassmen who would lead Brunswick again the following season, players like pitcher-infielder Scott Frye (eight HRs, 25 RBIS, 8-2 with a 2.14 ERA) and outfielder Matt Domer (.479, seven HRs), the 1991 team also had stellar seniors such as pitcher Joey Lucas (8-1, 2.18 ERA, 93 strikeouts in 61 innings), infielder Bob Dawson (.448, six HRs) and catcher Troy Taylor (.414).
All five of those players earned Frederick News-Post all-area honors in 1991. No wonder Brunswick breezed through the regional playoffs and ended up pulling out a 6-5 win over Williamsport in the state championship game.
After sweeping the Wildcats by a combined score of 18-0 during the regular season, Brunswick found itself locked in a 5-5 tie heading into the bottom of the seventh in the 1A final. While using three homers — two from Domer, one from Frye — to score their first five runs, the Railroaders employed a small-ball approach for the game-winner.
Lucas led off with a bunt single, advanced from first to third on Mark Myers’ sac bunt, and scored on Mark Campbell’s bunt, drawing a throw that got past the catcher.
1994 Thomas Johnson Patriots
Accomplishments: Class 3A state finalist, 23-5 record
While Thomas Johnson won its second state title in 1992, the 1994 Patriots seemed to feature more depth.
“That year , we had some unbelievable talent in Ron Shankle and Mike Leatherman,” TJ coach Jim Foit told The Frederick News-Post back then. “But [this year] statistically we’re so balanced.”
TJ’s lineup was full of dangerous hitters, including Joey Hammond (a Baltimore Orioles draftee who played 11 years in the pros), Kevin Breckenridge (who later signed as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox), Fondtaine Weedon and Roger Printz, among others.
TJ also had a bonafide ace in Mike Anders, a holdover from the 1992 state champion team who went on to star at Bucknell. Anders came into the state final, which he was scheduled to start, with a 10-0 record and 1.47 ERA.
But while warming up before the first inning, the pitcher re-opened a cut on his finger. Breckenridge, the No. 2 pitcher, got the nod and did a solid job, but the Patriots ended up losing 4-0 to Thomas Stone.
1999 Walkersville Lions
Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, MVAL champion, 21-3 record
Under head coach Paul Merrill, the Walkersville Lions fielded several strong teams during the 1990s.
Still, heading into the 1999 season, Merrill had yet to guide Walkersville to a state crown. And by season’s end, the Lions reached the state championship game for the fourth time under Merrill.
“That plays on your mind a little bit,” Merrill told The Frederick News-Post back then. “But I just felt good when I walked out on the grounds today. I just had that feeling. The only thing I told myself was, ‘Don’t overreach.’ The kids have been playing good baseball.”
Sure enough, Walkersville beat Centennial 9-5 for the program’s second state title (the first came in 1978). In that game, Walkersville got a three-run double from Nick Clabaugh, an RBI triple from Pat Calloway, and solid pitching from Matt Doyle (who started) and Bret Fouche (who went 9-1 that season).
Walkersville’s postseason momentum picked up when it beat hard-throwing Fort Hill pitcher Jim Barrett, who was selected by the Houston Astros in the third round of the 1999 MLB amateur draft, in the regional playoffs.
Fouche, catcher Alex Cardy (who batted a team-high .438) and Doyle earned News-Post first-team honors.
2000 Brunswick Railroaders
Accomplishments: Class 1A state semifinalist, MVAL champion, 20-2 record
This is the only Brunswick team on this list that didn’t win a state title, but a quick glance at the MPSSAA record book reveals why it is included.
The 2000 Brunswick Railroaders still hold the MPSSAA record for homers in a season with 49. Their top slugger was Kevin Goode, whose 11 homers that season fell two short of his state record 13 from the previous season.
Brunswick’s Alan Webber — aside from being a stellar pitcher — is also in the MPSSAA record because he hit three grand slams in 2000.
That hard-hitting lineup seemed poised to help the Railroaders gun for their first state crown since 1996 as Brunswick jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Rising Sun in the state semis. But after the first inning, Rising Sun brought in reliever Joe Coudon, who held the Railroaders scoreless the rest of way while helping his team win 6-2.
2009 Frederick Cadets
Accomplishments: Class 3A state champion, MVAL Piedmont champion, 20-3 record
The 2009 Frederick Cadets had 10 seniors, and they were hungry after seeing their realistic championship hopes dashed by an upset loss in the previous season’s regional playoffs.
So, not only did the Cadets reach the state championship game for the first time in program history in 2009, they also rolled to a 7-2 win over Fallston for the program’s first state crown.
“We really thought this is where we would be last year,” longtime Cadets coach Phil Rhodes told The Frederick News-Post that night. “The kids and coaching staff knew we needed to take care of business.”
In the final, Frederick got another stellar start from senior lefty Jimmy Lanning, who tossed a three-hitter. It got three hits and an RBI from leadoff hitter Josh Jackson, who later went on to compete in Mixed Martial Arts, and two hits and an RBI out of standout second baseman Brady Wilson, who went on to play at West Virginia University.
Wilson (who hit .494 with 13 doubles, three triples and five home runs), Jackson (five HRs, 31 RBIs), Lanning (8-0, 1.87 ERA), Erich Dylus and David Hornstein all earned Frederick News-Post all-county first-team honors.
2013 Catoctin Cougars
Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, 19-4 record
Heading into 2013, the Cougars had made five state-tournament appearances, including three trips to the championship game, in the previous 11 seasons under coach Mike Franklin.
No doubt, Catoctin was a stellar program. All it lacked was a state title, and the Cougars filled that order by beating North Caroline 4-2 in the 2013 Class 2A state championship game.
The Cougars benefited from a rock-solid battery comprised of pitcher Alex Kennedy and catcher Joey Johnson.
Kennedy, a lefty, went 7-2 with an 0.49 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 57 innings. He also batted .418 with 24 RBIs. In the state final, he got the complete-game win and delivered an RBI double.
Johnson also was an all-county first-teamer, finishing with team-highs in batting (.538), homers (five) and RBIs (32). He doubled in the state final.
Catoctin was blessed with strong pitching. Aside from Kennedy, they had pitchers Connor Cool and Seth Schubert earn all-county first-team honors.
2015 Brunswick Railroaders
Accomplishments: Class 1A state champion, MVAL Antietam champion, 23-2 record
Hard to believe that, heading into the 2015 season, it had been 19 years since Brunswick’s storied baseball program had won a state title.
But this was the season that saw the Railroaders end that drought with authority, winning their final 18 games and earning the program’s fifth state crown (and their second under head coach Roger Dawson). While Brunswick repeated as state champ the following season, this team was flat-out dominant.
Leading the way was Frederick News-Post Player of the Year Andrew Wanger, a junior who contributed with his pitching and bat. Wanger went 6-0 on the mound, including a 13-strikeout four-hitter in Brunswick’s 4-0 win over McDonough in the state championship game. Wanger also batted a team-high .474 with eight doubles, 25 RBIs and 12 stolen bases and had an 0.91 ERA.
Brunswick pitcher-infielder Ryan Capstick, who earned all-county first-team honors, was another multi-faceted weapon. As a pitcher, he went 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA. At the plate, he set a single-season school record with 13 doubles, hit three homers and added 31 RBIs.
Heck, Brunswick’s No. 9 hitter, catcher Joe Rindone, batted .398 with eight doubles and 19 RBIs en route to earning all-county first-team honors. Pitcher-outfielder Doug Pearl was another first-teamer.
2017 Middletown Knights
Accomplishments: Class 2A state champion, 21-5 record
Middletown’s wait for its first baseball state title came to an end in 2017, although the Knights still had some waiting to endure near the end of their run.
Middletown’s postseason that year included a 12-inning, four-hour regional championship game against Marriotts Ridge and a rain delay at the state championship game that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes.
But the Knights were undeterred by such things and rolled to an 8-0 win over Fallston in the state final. That day, coach Andy Baker told his team they would “forever be linked in history.”
Against Fallston, Matt Dillard tossed a five-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts, and Robbie Houck had two hits and two RBIs.
Senior pitcher-infielder Houck (.372, 22 RBIs, 7-2 with a 1.29 ERA) and senior outfielder Andrew Wenner (.423) both earned News-Post all-county first team honors.