The start of the MIAA B Conference baseball finals at Joe Cannon Stadium was delayed by more than two hours Sunday afternoon because of a marathon contest in the C finals.
Behind the pitching of Leo Anterpen and the hitting of Ryan Scarff, McDonogh delayed the crowning of the B champion by besting top-seeded Gerstell Academy, 5-1, to force a decisive final game in the double-elimination tournament.
The two squads will face off Monday afternoon at 5:30 p.m, back at Joe Cannon Stadium, for the championship.
“I’m just proud of the guys,” said Eagles coach Matt Tuneski, whose team improved to 17-9 with a fourth straight win out of the loser bracket. “What a week right? We lost on Monday and won on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Come out today against a really good Gerstell, which beat us twice already this year. Just proud of the effort.
“The freshman, lefty (Anterpen) had lost to Gerstell twice. Proud of his demeanor. Proud of his poise. He just competes for us. The same for Ryan Scraff. They walk probably our best player, Peter (Kokinis), Scraff stepped up. He was struggling offensively. It was a clutch hit for us.”
Anterpen, in his six innings of work, struck out seven batters, scattered four hits, and allowed a single run in the bottom of the second. He opened the contest with three straight strikeouts.
“I thought my fastball was working for me,” said Anterpen, who also added a pair of hits out of the No. 8 hole. “Command was a little bit of an issue for me, but I stayed within myself and pounded the zone. Tomorrow, we’re going to come out firing early and attack.”
Offensively, Scraff and Billy Moore supplied all the offense the Eagles would need, including Scraff’s three-run triple down the right field line that sparked a four-run rally in the top of the fifth inning. The rally ended with a run-scoring ground out by Moore to break open the pitching-dominated contest.
Scraff’s timely hit, which sharply rolled into the right field corner, followed a single by Anterpen, an error on a sacrifice bunt by Chase Borz, and a walk to Kokinis to load the bases. Moore grounded out to third base, allowing Scraff to reach home.
“He walked Peter to load the bases, so I kind of took that personally,” Scraff said. “(Falcons hurler John Delgado) hung a curveball . . . and I put a barrel on it and got a hit. It felt good. We knew we didn’t play our best ball the two times we played them (during the regular season). We knew we had a really good chance coming into this game if we played our best ball. If we play our best ball tomorrow, we’re going to take it home.”
Moore staked the Eagles to a 1-0 lead with a double to deep right field to score Scarff, who drew a walk and broke for second on the Moore hit to easily reach home plate. Hayden Pittler knotted the score for Gerstell (19-4) at 1-1 in the bottom of the second on a single to shallow right field to bring home Jack Buffrey.
Delgado worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the top of the fourth with a pair of strikeouts and a leaping line drive grab by first baseman Gavin Larson before Scraff’s shot down the right field line in the next inning helped set up Monday’s finale.
“It was a close game,” said Falcons coach Cap Poklemba, whose squad is seeking its first B Conference crown and second overall since 2019. “They had one big hit that kind of cost us. We couldn’t quite fight back from it. We’ll be fine. We’ll come back tomorrow. We have all of our arms ready to go tomorrow. Come back and get the job done.”
MIAA B CONFERENCE FINALS
at Joe Cannon Stadium
MCDONOGH 5, GERSTELL ACADEMY 1
McDonogh 1 0 0 0 4 0 0 - 5 6 1
Gerstell 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 - 1 6 1
WP - Leo Anterpen. LP - John Delgado. 2B: McDonogh - Billy Moore. 3B: McDonogh - Ryan Scarff. RBI: McDonogh - Ryan Scarff 3, Billy