Parker Thomas was Parker Thomas.
The McNally brothers, Jack and Ethan, believe in doing things together like getting big hits in the same inning of the biggest game of the season.
Top-ranked Archbishop Spalding repeated as MIAA A Conference champions Sunday evening with a 2-0 victory over Calvert Hall in front of an overflow crowd at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
In winning their fifth title since 2014, the Cavaliers (21-6-1 overall) capped another perfect run (3-0) through the six-team double elimination tournament. Last season, the Severn school went undefeated in MIAA A regular season play (14-0).
“It doesn’t get old, tell you that, when it does I’ll hang it up,” said Spalding coach Joe Palumbo, a former standout shortstop at the University of Maryland who now owns the most A crowns along active coaches (five) with the retirement of legendary Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl after last season’s tournament.
The latest Spalding championship was mainly in part due to the right arm of Thomas who fired a two-hit masterpiece on just 90 pitches featuring 8 punchouts (two in the first, two in the last) and one walk. Calvert Hall had only four base runners.
Headed to Division I East Carolina University, Thomas finishes his senior season 9-0 and his three-year varsity career at 23-2, second only to four-year varsity lefty and Baltimore Orioles’ draftee Tyler Blohm who was 25-4, including 9-0 in his senior year in Spalding’s MIAA A Conference championship year of 2016.
“Parker is phenomenal and me and him work so well together, I’m going to miss him but we plan to keep in touch,” said senior catcher Ethan McNally, who will play at James Madison next season.
The McNally brothers provided the run support Thomas would need in the bottom of the fifth. Jack, a sophomore third basemen, led off the frame with a knock to right off Calvert Hall southpaw Patrick Genco, who had been shutting the Cavs down. Brandon Marrocco followed with a sac bunt and ensuing errant throw that put runners on first and third.
Ethan singled to center to score his little brother and make it 1-0 Cavs. An attempted pickoff of McNally’s courtesy runner, Carson Merritt, went awry and would lead to the second run.
Thomas yielded harmless singles in the third and seventh innings. Calvert Hall (17-13), which got a grand slam home run from senior Jake Butler in the bottom of the seventh to advance past John Carroll in the loser bracket final Friday, had only four base runners Sunday.
Ethan McNally gunned down one attempting to steal, another was the first out in a 4-6-3 double play and one left stranded. Only two Cardinals were left on base.
“It means a lot to all of us seniors and of course, to the younger guys too,” said the 6-foot-3, 200-pound righthander, whose repitore includes two-seamers, slider and change-up. “It is especially pleasing to me because of what happened to me my sophomore season.”
As a sophomore, Thomas got the loss as Gilman knocked off the Cavaliers in the MIAA A championship finals, finishing the season at 6-2. It lit a fire under him.
The response: 17-0 over the last two seasons, two MIAA A championships and VSN’s Pitcher of the Year honors in 2022.
“It was a championship performance by Parker in what I think is the best conference in the country,” said Palumbo. “He really stepped up and our team did with him.”
MIAA A CONFERENCE FINAL
at Joe Cannon Stadium
No. 1 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 2, CALVERT HALL 0
CALVERT HALL 000 000 0 - 0 2 2
ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 000 002 x - 2 4 1
Calvert Hall - Patrick Genco, Jake Butler (5) and Brennan Kwiatkowski; Spalding - Parker Thomas and Ethan McNally