by power pitching, Zebron’s OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1.189, the highest by almost 240 points on a team that hasn’t lost a regular-season game since the year before he entered high school, also led the North Bayside.
Zebron’s efforts on the mound, as an outfielder when not pitching, and at bat, not only gave the Colonels a boost on the way to their third straight North Bayside title, but also earned him the Star Democrat’s Mid-Shore Baseball Player of the Year award.
“He’s just got a tremendous upside,” said Colonel coach Dan Mangum. “To think that I had said nobody could fill Caleb’s shoes, and Zebby went out there and did that on the mound. He hit the ball well, too, and ... I think the biggest thing we had this year on the pitching staff was how few people we walked.
“If you pound the zone, and you don’t walk anybody, that’s going to take pressure off your hitters, and take pressure off your defense,” Mangum added. “Zebron, and Jaret, and [freshman] Jamison [Covey] all three did that all year.”
Zebron, who completed three of the five games he started, yielded just eight walks, and 24 hits, in 40 innings of work, for an impressive 0.80 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched); the Colonel staff as a whole gave up just 30 walks in 132 innings of work, while fanning 140 hitters en route to an 18-2 season.
Half an hour to the north, the Queen Anne’s County High baseball team was on its way back to the top as well.
Having reached the Class 2A East regional final last year, the Lions, who lost only a small portion of their starting lineup, reloaded and looked ready to take on the world.
“But we started 0-5, counting the Easter [tournament] games,” said coach Chris Fitzgerald. “And one of our two big-gun pitchers was hurt early, and the other late.”
With Zach Bednar missing the first two weeks of the year, and 2016 classmate Jimmy Rich missing the rest of the season after a mid-April ankle break, Fitzgerald had some lineup juggling to do.
He proved up to the task, as did the pitching staff and lineup he found himself cobbling together.
“We had several guys come up big for us this year,” Fitzgerald said. “Chase Porter, Pat Freeman, Kole Klabe, Camden [Lancaster]. Several guys, like Luke Weddell, Dylan [Thomas], who came in and got the job done when we needed it done . ... This team had a real chemistry, a real feeling to it, that they had been together for so long, the seniors, that they just knew they could win, could play good baseball when they needed to.”
The Lions rolled over North Caroline in their first playoff game; Lancaster’s game-winning hit helped the team outlast Easton in a 10-inning sectional final, putting it on the road to Fallston for the 2A East title game.
The Lions came out on top there, too, winning 7-4. The regional crown marked the first state-tournament berth for the Lions since 1978, when they won it all.
Fitzgerald’s efforts and historic season earned him the Mid-Shore Coach of the Year laurel.
Here’s the rest of the AllMid-Shore baseball team for 2016.
Pitcher Noah Brack Jr., St. Michaels A tall, lanky lefty with a sneaky-fast heater and the ability to keep almost anyone off-balance, Brack led the conference in pitching wins with seven. Brack struck out a division-high 82 hitters in 48 1/3 innings; opponents batted just .161.
Playing first when he wasn’t on the bump, Brack made just one error all season, and posted a .992 fielding mark.
Brack also hit .406, with a .500 on-base average, 19 runs scored and 12 RBIs.
Pitcher Chase Porter Jr., Queen Anne’s Despite not having pitched an inning on varsity before 2016, Porter was the right man, in the right place, at the right time, for the Lions
when injuries took a toll on the staff. Leading his team in wins with four, Porter put up a 1.91 ERA over 51 1/3 frames of work.
Porter was instrumental in the Lions’ playoff run, getting the mound win over the Bulldogs, pitching three scoreless innings of relief against Easton, and earning a save in the regional final at Fallston.
Pitcher Joseph Burack Sr., N. Caroline Serving as third baseman, shortstop, catcher, and the team’s winningest hurler with three victories, Burack had a no-hitter and one-hitter in the final weeks of the season. He hit .366 with a division-best five home runs, 26 RBIs, and 13 walks.
Burack struck out just four times all season, was the coaches’ selection as North Bayside Player of the Year, and finished with a .518 on-base percentage, a .585 slugging average, and an OPS of 1.103.
Pitcher Devin Stanford Sr., St. Michaels Going 5-2 on the bump, Stanford posted a stingy 1.15 ERA, his only losses coming against then-unbeaten Colonel in early May, and eventual state 1A champ Brunswick in extra innings.
The southpaw struck out 56 batters in 36 2/3 innings, allowing just 21 hits — an average of .153. At the plate, Stanford hit a solid .296, with 21 runs scored, starting in center field when not pitching.
Pitcher Jamison Covey Fr., Col. Richardson A breakout star for the Colonels, Covey went 6-1, his only loss in relief in the conference championship, Covey led the team in pickoffs with three.
Covey also posted a 2.74 ERA, and 29 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings of work, while issuing just nine walks.
Catcher Dylan Nepert Sr., Col. Richardson Nepert followed a dominant 2015 campaign with an encore this spring, making several state-level all-star teams and earning a spot with the Seton Hill (Pa.) University team next year.
Hitting .356 with 28 RBIs, two homers, and with an OPS of .950, only three runners stole a base on Nepert, Colonel’s starting catcher, all season — the lowest among players for whom that statistic was available. First Baseman Jaret Bennett Sr. Col. Richardson Hitting .373 with two homers, Bennett scored 24 runs, drove in 16, and reached base at a .500 clip this season. He finishes his high school career with a .446 career batting mark and a 16-4 record as a pitcher, not having lost a decision on the hill since his sophomore year.
Bennett, the hardestthrowing southpaw in the division since North Caroline’s Marshall Thompson (2008), struck out 64 hitters in 41 2/3 innings, while walking just nine and allowing 29 hits, for a WHIP of 0.93. On the hill, he was 5-0 with five complete games in six starts, with an ERA of 1.51. Second Baseman
Tyler Harding So., Cambridge-SD Posting a .408 average, Harding also scored 21 runs and drove in 11 to provide spark at the top of the Cambridge-South Dorchester lineup, just as he did as a freshman.
On the mound, the righthander led his team with three wins, three complete games, two shutouts, and an ERA of 2.01. In 45 1/3 innings of effort, he struck out 33, allowing just 33 hits; opponents hit only .210 against him. Third Baseman Nathan Howeth So., St. Michaels One of the youngest stars on an already young Saints team which lost just one player to graduation in 2015, and two this year, Howeth’s 31 hits led the Bayside Conference.
Howeth finished the year with a .408 average, tying Harding as tops among sophomores, 26 runs scored, 20 driven in, and seven doubles, batting in the three-hole in the lineup much of the season.
Shortstop Michael Richardson Sr., Cambridge-SD A four-year varsity regular, Richardson went out in style, hitting .393 with 15 runs, 17 RBIs, five doubles, and an on-base average of .487. His OPS was 1.044 and his 10 stolen bases were a team-best.
Richardson’s other laurels include making the Brooks Robinson All-Star game, played Sunday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, as well as the District 8 all-star team.
Outfielder Devin Sparks Sr., Cambridge-SD Possibly the best-kept secret in the North Bayside, Sparks was a tough out in a lineup chock-full of them.
Batting .414, Sparks also led his team in runs scored (18), and RBIs (15), while reaching base at a .471 pace and putting up an OPS of 1.074; he was 7 for 8 at stealing bases.
Outfielder Tyson Johnson So., Kent County An athletic five-tool standout on the Trojans for two years running, Johnson led the 2016 team in hitting (.375), runs (18), hits (18), RBIs (12), and doubles (five).
With a .492 on-base mark, and an OPS of 1.075, Johnson also picked up a pair of pitching wins, and struck out 28 hitters in 23 2/3 innings of work.
Outfielder Matthew Grogan So., St. Michaels Hitting .403 with 16 runs, 11 RBIs, and eight doubles, Grogan reached base at a .493 clip, and his OPS of 1.074 was among the top five in the North Bayside.
The Saints’ top right-hander on the hill, Grogan went 2-0, got a no-decision when he threw seven scoreless innings early in the season against Colonel, and struck out 42 hitters in 45 1/3 innings; opponents hit .228 against Grogan, who posted an ERA of 2.77. Designated Hitter C. J. Chansler Jr., St. Michaels
Chansler put up numbers that would keep him in or near the cleanup position on almost every team in the Bayside Conference this year.
He hit .392, with 27 RBIs, 24 runs scored, and a division-high 11 doubles; his on-base average was .442, and he put up an OPS of 1.010.
Utility Player Ryan Farr So., Easton Farr’s .333 batting average led the Warriors; he also posted a .406 on-base average, driving in a team-high 12 runs while scoring 10 on the season.
Starting at shortstop, Farr also spent time at third base, as well as serving as a reliever. Farr threw eight scoreless innings in a 14-inning loss in late April against South Bayside powerhouse Stephen Decatur; he finished the year with an ERA of just 0.64. Utility Player Matthew Elliott Sr., Cambridge-SD Playing third or DHing in the place of an underclassman pitcher when he wasn’t, Elliott finished a four-season varsity stint in style, hitting .431 with 12 runs scored, four doubles, and two triples, while playing in every game.
Elliott, who also saw time in other infield positions and pitched numerous games during his high school career, looks to make an impact next year with the Salisbury University team.
Second Team Pitchers: Jack Wheatley (Sr., Easton); Brandon Latham (Fr., Easton); Pat Freeman (Jr., Queen Anne’s); A. J. Willey (Jr., N. Dorchester); Tyler Loh (Jr., Kent Island); Mason Ledford (So., Easton); Catchers: Brenan Cassell (Sr., Easton); Dylan Thomas (Jr., Queen Anne’s); First Baseman: Ben Manley (Sr., Kent County); Second Baseman: Morgan Loetz (So., N. Caroline); Third Baseman: Evan Fishpaw (Jr., Cambridge-SD); Shortstop: Camden Lancaster (Sr., Queen Anne’s); Outfielders: Nathaniel Lowe (Sr., Cambridge-SD), Seth Parks (Jr., St. Michaels); Keegan Bentz (Jr., Easton); Sean Reid (So., Kent Island); Peyton Lieske (Jr., N. Dorchester); Designated Hitter: Jake Hipps (Jr., Kent Island); Utility Player: Allan Saathoff (Jr. 2B/3B/SS/P, N. Caroline).
Honorable Mention Cambridge-SD: Landen Warfield (Sr., 1B); Matthew King (Jr., 3B/P); Bradley Stanton (Jr., 3B/P); Koby Schreiber (Sr., C); Josh Townsend (So., C/P/IF). Col. Richardson: Remington Mangum (Fr., 1B); Garrett Nepert (So., 2B/P); J. B. Buchanan (Sr., 3B); Shawne Bowens (Sr., OF). Easton: Trent Weems (Fr., 2B); Dylan Waters (Sr., 3B/P); Keegan Bentz (So., OF/P); Cody Farr (Sr., DH). Kent County: Josh Iseman (Jr., 3B/1B/P); Austin Black (Sr., OF); Austin Peet (Sr., SS); Jordan Cappalo (Sr., 2B); J. P. Nicholson (Sr., C); Josh Frey (Sr., OF). Kent Island: Jake Hipps (So., DH); Kyle Sonneveldt (Sr., C); Dylan Tvelia (Jr., IF/P); Ian Schools (Fr., OF/P); Colin McKinnon (Jr., OF); Logan Dumenil (Jr., 1B). North Caroline: Cameron Byrd (Sr., OF); Dan Edris (Sr., 1B/P); Jaret Price (So., P); Will Manship (Fr., 2B/ SS); Mason Blake (Jr., OF); Mark Conner (Jr., P/IF). North Dorchester: Jerome Thomas (Jr., SS); Dajuan Malone (Sr., OF); Tanner Warrell (Fr., DH/3B); Tyler Windsor (So., P/IF). Queen Anne’s: Zach Bednar (Sr., P); Jimmy Rich (Sr., OF/P); Kole Klabe (Sr., OF); Luke Weddell (So., OF); Darin Rosebrock (So., OF). St. Michaels: Albie Urbina (Sr., P); Devin Lednum (Jr., OF); Brennan Shinski (Jr., P); Andrew Risher (So., SS); Tucker Heinlein (Jr., DH); Trent Saunders (So., 2B); Nick Newnam (Fr., 1B).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Though the All-Mid-Shore team usually includes Saints Peter and Paul, information was not available from that team this year. Follow me on Twitter:
MATTHEW GROGAN St. Michaels
JAMISON COVEY Col. Richardson
TYLER HARDING Cambridge-SD
NOAH BRACK St. Michaels
MICHAEL RICHARDSON Cambridge-SD
MATTHEW ELLIOTT Cambridge-SD
DEVIN STANFORD St. Michaels
TYSON JOHNSON Kent County
JOSEPH BURACK N. Caroline
JARET BENNETT Col. Richardson
DEVIN SPARKS Cambridge-SD
RYAN FARR Easton