Calvert Hall’s Jose Torres is VSN’s 2019 Baseball Player of the Year; Cardinal pitcher Peter Marchineck is honored as our 2019 Pitcher of the Year, while CHC coach Lou Eckerl and Old Mill’s Charlie Chaffin are the 2019 VSN Co-Coaches of the Year


by Pat O’Malley

The 2019 baseball season proved to be another outstanding campaign in the Baltimore area, featuring a return to championship glory by Calvert Hall, which finished No. 1 in the final 2019 VSN Baseball Top 20 after winning their 12th MIAA A Conference crown and their first since 2013.

This performance garnered top recognition for the Cardinals’ leaders, including shortstop Jose Torres, the 2019 VSN Baseball Player of the Year. Torres was drafted on Wednesday by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 24th round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft and has a scholarship to North Carolina State.

In addition, Torres’ senior teammate Peter Marchineck is the 2019 VSN Baseball Pitcher of the Year after winning nine games, including the championship clincher in the MIAA A tournament finals. Joining his two star players is Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl, who was named VSN’s Co-Coach of the Year along with Old Mill’s Charlie Chaffin. Eckerl has now won nine MIAA A titles as a coach and is approaching 500 career wins.

Chaffin also had a banner year at Old Mill, leading the Patriots back from a slow start to winning the 4A state championship.

Here are the stories of each of our 2019 baseball award winners:


2019 VSN BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JOSE TORRES, CALVERT HALL COLLEGE

Jose Torres capped a brilliant four-year high school career with unprecedented numbers in the same season in runs, hits and RBI’s and placed among the all-time career leaders in several categories while leading Calvert Hall to the VSN No. 1 ranking and an overall 24-6 record which included its 12th MIAA A Conference championship.

Torres, who is also a Wizard at shortstop, is unquestionably the 2019 Varsity Sports Network Baseball Player of the Year.

As a sort of a reward to his wonderful career, Torres, a North Carolina State commit, was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 24th round of the recently completed Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

He was the only Baltimore-area high school player chosen in the 40 rounds of the process.

“I was smiling from cheek to cheek, it’s unreal,” said Torres, who was at a friend’s graduation on Wednesday when he got the word from Brewers’ scout James Fisher. “It’s been one of my goals and dreams to be a pro baseball player and I will probably make a decision on what I’m going to do whether I attend NC State or turn pro.”

If Torres opts to play for the Wolfpack, he would not be eligible for the draft again until after his sophomore year at which time he would be 21 years old. Players attending four-year universities are eligible again at age 21 or after their junior year.

In leading the Hall to its first MIAA A Conference title since 2013, Torres said early in the season, “This is not the most talented team in my four years at Calvert Hall, but it is the most together team and definitely the best all-around team.”

The NC State commit was right on the Cardinals’ make-up as they won the A Conference regular season at 16-2 and swept the double-elimination post-season tournament 3-zip, and Torres had a lot to do with what was his first A Conference title since he started at the Hall back in 2016.

“I love Calvert Hall and playing here has been a great experience,” said Torres, a Parkville resident who followed his brother Dariel Torres to the Hall. Dariel, a center-fielder, graduated in 2016, Jose’s freshman year in which the latter batted .293 with a team leading five triples.

Jose would go on to play in 106 games with the Redbirds and post a career batting average of .379 and .402 this past banner season. His 2019 batting clip was second only to standout catcher Parker Landwehr, who batted .452. Torres did lead the team in several categories, including arguably the three most important numbers – hits (43), RBI’s (44) and runs scored (45).

We don’t know of any other player in the metro area who has ever rung up a trio of stats in the 40’s In the same season such as those established by Torres. The pop and power in his bat was sometimes awesome.

Torres also led in dingers with seven and hit three triples to finish his career with 13, second in Calvert Hall history to the 14 that Kevin Guthridge had in his career (2005-07) and Torres also ranks second In career doubles with 25 to the 37 by the late Kevin Lingerman (2005-08). Lingerman still holds the school record for career hits (126) as well and Torres is next with his 117.

As for runs scored, Torres goes out with 108, a distant second to Patrick Blair (2006-08) who finished with 131. All of Torres’ top numbers rank in the state’s Top 10’s of their respective categories, obviously an indication of the complete productive offensive career that he had.

When asked what was his biggest moment with the bat in his high school career, the most memorable, Torres answered, “The walk-off grand slam against Gilman in the bottom of the seventh.”

Torres drilled the 4-run knock on April 16 at Calvert Hall to give the Redbirds a scintillating 5-2 victory over No. 5 Gilman setting off mad hysteria.

“I’ll never forget how that felt,” said Torres.

Torres however, was more than an offensive machine and was equally superb in the middle infield with his glove and natural skills. He posted an .856 fielding percentage with 50 assists and 45 putouts and 16 errors in 111 total chances. He was good as gold on the routine plays, especially in clutch situations and often acrobatic or lightning quick on the tough plays that he would finish with his quick feet and strong arm.

“He was all over the place making plays, just unbelievable,” said Peter Marchineck, Calvert Hall’s VSN Pitcher of the Year. “I loved to watch him whether I was pitching, playing first base or sitting on the bench make plays nobody else could. Jose was something else.”

And believe it or not, Torres would also occasionally take the baseball from coach Eckerl and jump on the bump to close a game here or there. This past season Torres was 3-for-3 in save opportunities
posting a 0.00 ERA. His final save came in his last game as a Cardinal when he saved the MIAA A Conference final for Marchineck and his teammates.

Marchineck went 6.1 innings, giving way to Torres who put the fire out on the last two Greyhounds to preserve a 4-2 championship victory over Gilman.

It’s likely that the man who put the fire out, Jose Torres is likely to be on fire in the years to come. His torch is bright.


2010 VSN PITCHER OF THE YEAR
PETER MARCHINECK, CALVERT HALL COLLEGE

Peter Marchineck is one of the most gregarious student-athletes you will ever meet and he is also one of the most talented athletes you will meet. His Calvert Hall College High School baseball coaches and teammates love him because his positive demeanor and competitive spirit is contagious, and played a major role in the huge success of the No.1 ranked Cardinals (24-6) this spring.

The senior left-hander was an area best 9-1 on the bump, the final win for the coveted MIAA A Conference Championship, the Hall’s first since 2013 and Marchineck is the 2019 VSN Pitcher of the Year. Marchineck was a workhorse starting 12 games and pitching 58.1 innings, striking out 60, walking 34, giving up 46 hits and just 17 earned runs and posting a 2.04 ERA.

In the A Conference championship victory by 4-2 over No. 5 Gilman (22-10), Marchineck avenged a regular season loss to the Greyhounds by going 6.1 innings scattering six hits and yielding only two earned runs to post it in the win column. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder also launched his fifth dinger of the season, second only to the seven by teammate and VSN’s Player of the Year Jose Torres, in the grand finale at Harford Community College.

It was the 12th MIAA A Conference title for the Hall to go with 16 MSA championships, the first in coming in1929 for a total of 28. The MSA was the former private school circuit that evolved into the current MIAA.

Marchineck, who is headed to Towson University, was a tight-end on the football team but will play baseball only, after helping the Redbirds ring up their 28th championship by posting all nine of his wins against ranked teams.

“Peter is such a good person and player,” said his Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl. “I’m going to miss him and so are the returning players and coaches because Peter cared about his teammates and everybody affiliated with the team. I’m really happy that he’s getting this recognition and award.

He’s really deserving.”

Marchineck posted two wins each over No. 9 Mount St. Joseph, No. 13 Loyola and Archbishop Spalding. The Cavaliers were ranked most of the season and were in the A Conference Tournament but were eliminated early and fell out of the Top 20.

McDonogh also lost twice to Marchineck, who is basically a two-pitch pitcher – fast ball and curve. McDonogh proved to be a surprise playoff team climbing as high as No.12 in the rankings. Other ranked teams losing to Marchineck were No. 5 Gilman and No. 13 Loyola and the big lefty notched his very first win of the season back in March by 4-2 over St. John’s College (DC), which went 29-3) and ended up as the No. 1 ranked team in the Washington Post.

Marchineck, who is from the Hereford area, went 1-1 against Gilman, the A Conference runner-up. He gave up five hits and seven runs (3 earned) to the Hounds back on April 22 in a 10-5 loss. The week before the Redbirds had posted a 5-2 victory over Gilman in which Marchineck worked the first five innings and did not get a decision. He left with the score tied before Torres delivered a dramatic grand slam in the bottom of the 7th to win it.

“That grandslam by Jose is something I will never forget,” said Marchineck, who came close to a 10-win season. “Jose gets a lot of credit for my success because of all the great plays he made. He made plays that I still don’t believe.

“This was a great team of guys who were always pulling for each other. I’m going to miss it.”


2019 VSN BASEBALL CO-COACH OF THE YEAR
LOU ECKERL, CALVERT HALL COLLEGE

Lou Eckerl, the winningest active high school baseball coach in the metro area, just keeps adding to his exceptional legacy. After leading Calvert Hall College High School to still another MIAA A Conference championship and another VSN No. 1 ranking in the Baseball Top 20, Eckerl is the Varsity Sports Network Baseball Co-Coach of the Year.

Eckerl, who is closing in on a couple big coaching records, led the Cardinals to both the regular season (16-2) and MIAA A Conference post season double-elimination tournament (3-0) championships and an area best 24-6 overall record. The Cardinals lost only two games locally in No. 5 Gilman, 10-5 and No. 13 Loyola, 10-8. The Hall lost their other four games, two in a Florida Tournament and two others in
non-conference games outside the metro area.

“We had great senior leadership that created a great team atmosphere,” said Eckerl. “At the end of the season when we won the first two games of the tournament and had a few days off, waiting for the team we would play in the final, I was going to give them a couple days off, but they didn’t want that. They wanted to practice every day leading up to the championship game, so we practiced.

“We had guys like Peter (Marchineck, ace pitcher), who were always looking for what they could do to help. It was a great group of kids and I also had a great staff. It was a season to remember.”

Eckerl’s coaching staff included long-time third-base coach Brooks Kerr, pitching coach Andy Bair, who graduated in 1995 and is one of the greatest pitchers ever at the Hall, going 29-0, 22-0 on the varsity, Paul Swartz, Zach Rowe and Tyler Birkmaier. All but the latter played for Eckerl and graduated from the Hall.

Calvert Hall’s A Conference title was its 12th in the MIAA to go with its 16 MSA titles, making it a record 28. The MSA evolved into the MIAA.

The Cards ended up taking two out of three from Gilman, 5-2, in the first regular season meeting and 4-2 in the A Conference final and they had defeated Loyola, 7-5, in their first regular season meeting before losing to the Dons. The Cardinals also knocked off St. John’s College (DC), 4-2, to start the season. The Cadets (30-3) were the No. 1 ranked team by the Washington Post and their only other losses were to teams from Florida and Bishop O’Connell in Arlington, Va.

After going 17-12, including losses in their first two games of the A Conference tournament for the first time ever under Eckerl and falling to its lowest ranking at No. 15, the Cardinals came back on a mission and accomplished it big time. This season’s A Conference trophy was the first for the Cards since 2013 and was a back-to-back title and it was the second time in three years that the Hall finished No. 1 in the VSN rankings.

Loyola came out of nowhere and won the 2017 A Conference championship, the Dons’ first since 1946, but Calvert Hall finished No. 1 in the VSN Top 20 with its area best 27-4 overall record. Loyola was 13-14 overall and ended up ranked No. 10.

The A Conference crown this season was the 8th for Eckerl in his 18 seasons as Calvert Hall coach and he also won an A Conference title under the auspices of the MSA (evolved into the MIAA) in 1982 at his
alma mater nee Cardinal Gibbons. Eckerl is the only coach to have won A Conference championships at two schools.

So, how has the hard-nosed, extremely competitive Eckerl done it?

“He’s old school, demands discipline and hard work,” said Peter Marchineck (9-1), Calvert Hall’s ace and VSN Pitcher of the Year, whose words were echoed by Player of the Year, shortstop Jose Torres.

“Coach Eckerl knows how to drive us and he cares about us.”

The school’s alumni association is exceptionally dedicated to the value of athletics and has provided funds for a college-like football stadium and likewise, a state of the art lighted turf baseball stadium. And Eckerl and company have responded with a quality baseball program that is the envy of most.

Eckerl, who is 438-135 (.778) at the Hall, spent two seasons at Gibbons going 49-14 and coached his 20th season overall this spring. Next season could be very special for Eckerl, who has also been Calvert Hall’s athletic director for 37 years. Eckerl takes a career record of 487-149 (.766) into 2020 needing 13 wins to reach the coveted 500-win plateau and 25 wins to break the Calvert Hall school record of 462 wins by Joe “Snooky” Binder.

Binder was 462-151 (.754) in 20 seasons, winning 11 A-Conference titles before Eckerl replaced him in 2002.

Also in Eckerl’s impeccable legacy are the 2005 and 2007 championships by the Cardinals in which they set records for wins. Calvert Hall set an area record for wins (31) and consecutive wins (31) in a 31-1 season in 2005, but two years later set new records going a perfect 33-0. The entire program, JV and freshman teams included, was undefeated in 2007 at an incredible 75-0. The Cards extended the
33-game winning streak to 35 by winning the first two games of 2008 before losing an out of town game.

Could retirement be in the offing for the 67-year old (turns this year) who has spent nearly 40 years as athletic director at the prestigious Catholic high school, almost 20 of those years as baseball coach?

Eckerl won’t say, but you know he can’t walk away from at least a couple meaningful records.


2019 VSN BASEBALL CO-COACH OF THE YEAR
CHARLIE CHAFFIN, OLD MILL HIGH SCHOOL

Dr. Charlie Chaffin guided the Old Mill Patriots to the most unlikely run to a state baseball championship, at least in Anne Arundel County history, if not the entire metro area this spring and is the Varsity Sports Network 2019 Baseball Co-Coach of the Year.

Coach Chaffin is not part of the Old Mill faculty and instead is a scientist of medicine and had the cure to turn Patriot woes into the ultimate glory.

Chaffin’s Old Mill Patriots started the season at 5-8 but proceeded to reel off 12 consecutive victories, including a 4-3 thriller in 9 innings over Sherwood of Montgomery County at Ripken stadium in Aberdeen. The win gave the 17-8 Patriots the Class 4A State championship and the No. 2 ranking in the final VSN Baseball Top 20.

Old Mill started the season at No. 17, but fell out of the rankings during their early struggles, returned at No. 17 during their winning streak, which saw them soar to No. 10 and finally a No. 2 finish with the state crown in their hands.

It was the Millersville school’s fourth state baseball title and a Maryland record 31st for Anne Arundel County in what was Chaffin’s third season as head coach.

The team lost their returning All-County second baseman and senior leader in Nick Cinquanto in the very first game of the season. Cinquanto was hit in the face by a pitch in his first at-bat and broke his cheekbone and orbital bone and was likely out for the season.

“I really underestimated how much Nick’s loss effected the team,” said Chaffin, who instilled a positive atmosphere that overcame the early setbacks and gradually ignited a fire in the hearts of his determined players.

“Nick surprised everybody by battling back and his return meant a lot to us turning the season around. We developed a growing sense of trust in each other.”

Chaffin says that when the Pats lost their 8th and final game of the season by 9-8 in 10 innings on April 22, at then No. 13 McDonogh of the MIAA A Conference, the team could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Nick had come back and the McDonogh game was really a turning point where we started believing in ourselves,” said Chaffin looking back on the incredible season. “They (McDonogh) are one of the better teams in the area. We go into their place and go 10 innings. That was the game we walked away from that and everybody thought we can do this.

“We can compete with anybody. The guys started accepting their roles. You may not pitch a lot, but you may pitch two really important innings. So, that’s been a big part of it too.”

A prime example of accepting your role was sophomore reliever Kevin Curran, who came out of the bullpen to notch both wins in the State Tournament having delivered first under intense pressure in a 4-3 state semifinal victory over Walt Whitman at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda that put the Patriots in the state final.

In the state championship against Sherwood, Curran (3-1) replaced starter Hunter McKean (6-1) after the senior right-hander had thrown 108 pitches over seven innings.

“At the beginning of the season, I was told my time would be limited and that I had to prove myself,” said Curran while savoring the big moment of throwing two scoreless innings in the biggest game of his life – the state final. “I earned my role and stuck with it coming into situations like this tonight.”

Chaffin’s confidence in a 10th grader such as Curran in the two most critical games in the state tournament proved to be two superb decisions by the coach. The courage Curran displayed in blocking out the pressure and focusing on the task at hand came from Chaffin’s confidence in him.

Developing such positive relationships with his players is one of the characteristics that appealed to Old Mill athletic director and former baseball coach Jeff Martin in hiring Chaffin to succeed him.

“Charlie has developed great relationships with our student-athletes,” said Martin, a very successful former soccer and baseball coach, who coached one of the premier relief pitchers in Major League Baseball today in Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012 at Old Mill. Hader was 10-0 with a county record 0.39 ERA and county record tying four shutouts.

“Charlie was my assistant the last couple years that I coached and has a great knowledge of the game and is a great teacher of the game.”

In the Patriots banner season, their last four wins were the most impressive, defeating No. 8 Severna Park (16-6), by 7-2 in the 4A East Section I final and Section II champion No. 6 South River (16-7) by 2-0 in the 4A East Region final, and of course the state tournament identical 4-3 pressure packed wins over Walt Whitman (16-4) and Sherwood (22-2).

How confident was Chaffin that the Pats would do it?

“I was smart, I brought extra clothes for the state championship game, you can write that,” said the doctor, after being chased out on the field after the state final and finally doused with Gatorade and water.