Moeller Baseball Trying to End Pope's Streak
April 12, 2012Cincinnati Moeller High School
Pope takes winning streak, top prospect Underwood into game vs. Cincinnati power Moeller
Pope, a Cobb County school that won its first state title in baseball in 2009, will carry a eight-game winning streak and one of the nation’s top prospects into Thursday’s home game against Moeller of Cincinnati.
Moeller defeated Class AAAA’s second-ranked team, Loganville, 13-2 on Wednesday night and will play at Sprayberry on Saturday.
Pope lefthander Duane Underwood, ranked the No. 19 high school prospect nationally by MaxPreps, won’t pitch, but he’s fun to watch in the batting lineup. He has five home runs and nine stole bases. As a pitcher, he’s 2-0 with a 2.10 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 23.1 innings. Opposing hitters are batting only .135.
Pope will throw John Lloyd, the No. 4 starter. He’s not allowed an earned run in 14 innings, which demonstrates the depth of pitching that makes Pope (14-5, 6-1 in Region 5-AAAA) a state contender.
‘’We’re very blessed to have lot of good pitchers,’’ Rowland said. “It’s a shame this isn’t a summer team where we’re playing six games a week because we have the pitchers to do it. It’s hard to get everybody game time.’’
Other starters are Ben Levine, who is 4-0, and Joe Wiseman, who plans to walk on at Georgia Tech.
Pope returned only three starting position players and Underwood in the rotation from a team that reached the quarterfinals in 2011.
Starting now are three sophomores in outfielder Jake Henson, second baseman Harrison Siegal and first baseman Patrick Wiseman. Senior starters are catcher David Bohn, center fielder Greg Keel and shortstop Tripp Sullivan, plus Underwood. Junior third baseman Nathaniel Lowe is a two-year starter.
It’s a young team, Rowland said.
‘’That was part of the early thing [which included a 6-5 start], finding the pieces of the puzzle,’’ Rowland said. “We were finding our identity early. They’re stepping up now. We’ve been swinging it pretty good.’’
Win or lose, Pope is a team in the spotlight because of Underwood, a late-bloomer. He has signed with Georgia.
Rowland had this to say about his Underwood
His speed: ‘’I’ve never witnessed a high school player throw as hard as he does for us. He’s been in the 92 to 95 range. During the summer, they had him quicker at Perfect Game [showcase] tournaments, but that’s what he’s been for us.’’
On what scouts like: “He transferred to us as a junior [from McEachern], and I just don’t think he logged a lot of innings early in his career. Pro guys like that because he’s not one of those guys who throws a ton of innings through the summer. He’s just now learning how to pitch, how to control his change and curve, working on command. He’s come a long way. He’s a perfect pro prospect because he’s a young senior who hasn’t thrown a lot, and guys would love to get him in their system and develop him further.’’
On the choice of pro ball or college: “His parents are big on the education part, so it’s good to have bargaining power, but I don’t know. Some scouts are really high on him, and I know Georgia would love to have him as well.’’
The Pope-Moeller game starts at 5:55 p.m.