After consecutive losses, Archbishop Spalding’s baseball team created a logjam atop the MIAA A Conference standings.
Friday, the No. 1 Cavaliers reminded the field why they’re still the team to beat.
A commanding complete game performance by Parker Thomas and a team effort at the plate helped Spalding end a tough week with a much-needed 7-0 win over third-ranked John Carroll at Pachence Field in Severn.
Thomas struck out six and scattered four hits on an economical 83 pitches to stem a Cavalier two-game league losing streak on back-to-back losses to Loyola Blakefield and Calvert Hall to improve the team’s record to 14-4 and 6-3 in the MIAA A. The talented right-handed hurler faced the minimum three batters in four innings, including a 1-2-3 seventh inning on two flyouts and a groundout.
“Just sticking to the game plan from the beginning, using my four-pitch mix and attacking the hitters the best I can,” said Parker, who will perform for East Carolina University next spring. “My fastball was doing it’s normal thing: rise and running. The two-seam was sinking and doing all of those special things. Change-up was there. Slider was there. In any count, I could throw up anything I could up there. It’s huge because coming off two losses–to come back to win this game was huge for us.”
“It’s a big win. We’ve actually had a rough week,” said Spalding coach Joe Palumbo. “We blew a seven-run lead against Loyola on Monday. Then we lost a one-run game. We had a chance to win in the bottom of the seventh against Calvert Hall Wednesday. This puts us at 6-3 in league and two wins over them (John Carroll) as a tiebreaker. That was big.”
Parker, last spring’s VSN Pitcher of the Year, received all the runs he would need in the bottom of the second inning as the Cavaliers jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a fielder’s choice ground ball by Carson Merritt and a mammoth, two-run home run over the right field wall by Brayden Marrocco. Sharman followed with a double to the center field fence but Carver Salazar was thrown out at the plate to limit further damage.
“The first pitch, he gave me a fastball not in my zone,” Marrocco said. “I was looking for a fastball to be on time. I got the pitch middle in and sent it for a ride. Coming back to beat a good team (after the two losses) is really special.”
Merritt pushed that Spalding advantage to 4-0 in the third; this time it was on a perfectly-executed bunt single down the third base line to score Tyler Smith (2 for 3, run, walk), who singled and reached second on a double to center field by Ethan McNally (2-2, two RBI).
The Patriots (9-7, 4-4 MIAA A) looked to get on the board in the top of the fourth with runners reaching on a single and an error with one down, but Thomas worked a popout to shortstop and then struck out Miguel Leon on three pitches to end the threat.
“Coach (Jim) Penders at the University of Connecticut told me one time that the difference between great baseball and good baseball is this much with a gap of a millimeter between his fingers,” said Patriots coach Darren Siler while holding a slight space between his thumb and forefinger. “I thought we swung it OK. We put barrels on baseballs. I felt like we were making good contact. Baseball is the way that it is. Sometimes, you don’t hit it where they ain’t. We couldn’t string anything together to plate across the runners.”
Spalding padded its lead with a pair of runs on an infield single by McNally and a bases-loaded walk worked by Adam Ferony in the fourth inning for a 6-0 advantage. McNally then pushed across the team’s seventh and final run on a sacrifice fly to deep center field that brought home Cody Sharman (1 for 3, double, walk, run).
The Cavaliers are tied for first with Archbishop Curley, which outlasted Loyola Blakefield. Three squads - Loyola, Calvert Hall and Mount St. Joseph - sit one game behind at 5-4. John Carroll, who lost to Spalding in last spring’s tournament final, and Gilman (both 4-4) are a game behind in the loss column.
The top six teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will advance to the league’s double elimination tournament.
“That was certainly a bounce-back game for us after Monday and Wednesday against a really good team,” said Palumbo. “I thought we played what I think is our most complete seven-inning game all year long.”
NO. 1 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 7, NO. 3 JOHN CARROLL 0
John Carroll 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 4 0
Spalding 0 3 1 2 0 1 x - 7 9 1
WP - Parker Thomas. LP - Pierce Quinn.
2B: John Carroll - Dallas Brooks. Spalding - Cody Sharman, Ethan McNally.
HR: Spalding - Brayden Marrocco.
RBI: Spalding - Ethan McNally 2, Carson Merritt 2, Brayden Marrocco 2, Adam Ferony.