The Bishop Gorman Gaels entered the 2009 baseball season as the consensus No. 1 team in America by Baseball America, ESPN, Perfect Game Cross Checker and MaxPreps. The Gaels had a number of All-American-type players returning from a team that went 41-3 in the spring last year and also won the National American Legion World Series during the summer.
But 2009 hasn’t quite started out as expected. The Gaels are 0-2 on the season with a 4-2 loss to Silverado of Las Vegas and a 2-1 loss to Horizon of Scottsdale in the first round of the Big League Dugout Invitational.
The offense has mananaged just three runs so far this year. Last season the Gaels scored under three runs just once all year – a 2-1 loss to Palo Verde. Bishop Gorman scored in double digits 29 times last season.
The Gaels managed six hits in the loss to Silverado, but only one went for extra bases. Jeff Malm, last year’s Gatorade Player of the Year in Nevada, had a triple in his three at-bats and drove in a run. Steven Manthei had a pair of hits.
Joey Rickard started on the mound and went 4.2 innings and struck out nine. He gave up just two runs on three hits, but two of the hits were doubles. Manthei finished the game and also gave up two runs on two hits with a double. Manthei, who was 9-0 last season, took the loss.
Against Horizon, the Gaels managed only four hits off of junior right hander Joey Danner. Bishop Gorman scored early on an error while Horizon scored twice in the sixth on a pair of bunts off of Malm.
The Big League Dugout Invitational, which is played in Scottsdale, features five teams that won state titles last year, including Rocky Mountain of Fort Collins, Colo., Scottsdale Chaparral of Arizona, Wilson of Portland, Ore., Bishop Gorman and Horizon.
While Bishop Gorman’s slow start is unexpected, the Gaels aren’t the only team ranked among the nation’s elite to get off to a rough start.
Coppell, which started the season ranked No. 1 in Texas at the 5A level and No. 4 in the MaxPreps preseason rankings, is off to a 6-6-1 start including a pair of losses to defending state champion Plano West (3-5, 6-7), and a pair of losses in the Westwood Warrior Classic over the weekend to Midland (1-2) and Westwood (5-7).
Park Vista of Lake Worth, Fla., ranked No. 7 in the preseason, has a winning record at 5-4, but that’s more than double the losses the Cobras suffered all year. Park Vista won 30 straight games last season before falling in the playoffs.
Parkview Baptist of Baton Rouge, La., ranked No. 13, had a rough stretch at the beginning of the month, losing three in a row. The Eagles (9-4) have righted the ship a bit with a 5-1 record last week. However their four losses this year equal their total from last season.
American Heritage of Plantation, Fla., ranked No. 14, was one of the top teams in the country last season. However the Patriots lost two of their first three games and have three losses total. American Heritage had just two losses in 2008.
The Patriots have a young club this year, however, and are starting to take shape. American Heritage is 8-1 in its last nine games.
Despite the rough start by several of the teams in the preseason Top 25, a number of teams are performing as expected.
Mater Dei is 7-0 on the season with three shutouts and a win over Capistrano Valley (4-3).
Barbe of Lake Charles, La., is 11-1-2 with nine straight wins while Calallen of Corpus Christi, Texas, has opened the season with an 11-0 mark.
At the top of the rankings, Bellaire of Texas, Owasso of Oklahoma or Farragut of Knoxville, Tenn., could be poised to take over the top spot from Bishop Gorman when the first regular season MaxPreps Xcellent 25 Baseball Rankings are released next week.
Farragut is 3-0 to start the season with all three wins by at least 10 runs. The Admirals have outscored their opponents 33-1. Owasso is also undefeated at 5-0.
Bellaire, meanwhile, has taken over the top spot in the Texas Baseball Coaches Association poll, was 10-0-1 headed into action this week.
The MaxPreps Xcellent 25 Baseball Rankings will appear on Tuesday each week beginning March 24.