Archbishop Spalding took a first step towards repeating as MIAA A Conference baseball champions Monday. The top-ranked Cavaliers defeated No. 11 John Carroll, 7-4, at Pachence Field in Severn.
The No. 2 seed in the double elimination tournament, Spalding (19-6-1) will play fifth-seeded Calvert Hall Wednesday afternoon at Pachence Field, with the winner advancing to the championship round, starting Sunday afternoon at Joe Cannon Stadium. The Cardinals routed No. 1 seed and fourth-ranked Archbishop Curley, 13-1, Monday in Baltimore City.
Last season, Spalding went undefeated in regular season and reeled off three consecutive playoff wins, capped with a victory over John Carroll at Harford Community College, to claim its fifth MIAA A crown.
Parker Thomas and a sampling of bunts - the Cavs’ weapon of offensive ignition - led the way against the sixth-seeded Patriots (13-9) Monday. The ace righthander, bound to East Carolina University, ran his record to 8-0 for the second straight season, allowing just three hits and striking out eight over six innings.
Thomas, the 2022 VSN Pitcher of the Year, is 16-0 over the last two seasons and 22-2 in his three-year varsity career.
“Once again Parker did a pretty darn good job against one of the top offensive teams in our league,” said Cavaliers coach Joe Palumbo. “He did what we expected him to do as our ace. And our offense put some runs on the scoreboard.”
In what has become a rarity in all levels of baseball, Spalding perfectly executed the bunt Monday. The Cavs either got off a bunt successfully or attempted to bunt several times in the contest.
Cleanup batter Luke Sanborn laid down a safe squeeze bunt with one out in the bottom of the first to score Ethan McNally who had doubled to left to get the victors going. McNally, the Cavs’ catcher and leadoff batter, would reach base two more times on walks.
“The bunt is a really good weapon and we take advantage of it,” said Palumbo whose team will bunt at any time with any batter in any situation. “We try to manipulate the defense and keep constant pressure on them.”
Sanborn would drive in another run on a fielder’s choice matching Tyler Smith’s two RBI on a double in a three-run fourth and centerfielder Brayden Marrocco had two hits to contribute to Thomas’ effort on the mound.
“It might not have been my “A” game, but I do the best I can,” said Thomas. “I used my fast ball, change and slider to get it done. We’ve got a great chance to win this title again. We are playing with great intensity and we are battle tested.”
Will Rhine was the only Patriot with two hits - a double and single - Monday. The sixth-seeded Patriots, who defeated Gilman in Friday’s opening round, move into the losers’ bracket and will play the winner of Gilman and Curley Wednesday.
“I thought Parker pitched a gem,” said Siler. “We had base running problems today, running ourselves out of a couple innings and we had defensive errors as well. They took advantage of our mistakes.”
The Friars’ bid for a first MIAA A crown since 2018, got off to a rough start at home as Calvert Hall (17-11) posted a second straight complete road effort to move into a position for a spot in the championship round.
Following senior Kevin Seifert’s shutout performance (5-0) at Mount St. Joseph Friday, senior lefthander Patrick Genco tossed a complete-game five-hitter against the Friars. He allowed one run and struck out eight.
Genco got all the support he would need before taking to the mound as the unranked Cardinals scored three runs, highlighted by EJ Hankerson’s two-run double, in their opening at-bat. Calvert Hall scored seven times over the first three innings.
The Cardinals failed to score in the fourth, but tacked on six more runs over final three innings capped its largest margin victory of the season. Jake Butler cracked a three-run shot in the seventh.
Calvert Hall, which last won the A crown in 2019, will try to punch its ticket to the final round Wednesday against the reigning champ Cavaliers. Spalding won, 4-0, in the league’s opener for both back in late March before the Cardinals scratched out a 3-2 victory Apr. 1
MIAA A CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
NO. 1 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 7, NO. 11 JOHN CARROLL 4
JOHN CARROLL 000 100 3 - 4 6 3
SPALDING 101 302 x - 7 6 1
Matt Bishop, Aaron Snyder (4), Jack Burton (5), Will Rhine (6) and Dallas Brooks; Parker Thomas, Jake Yeager (7), Cody Sharman (7) and Ethan McNally
2B - John Carroll - Rhine; Spalding- Ethan McNally, Tyler Smith
CALVERT HALL 13, NO. 4 ARCHBISHOP CURLEY 1
Calvert Hall 3 2 2 0 2 1 3 - 13 13 1
Curley 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 1 5 3
Patrick Genco and Brennan Kwiatkowski; Dillon Michaloski, Augie Nemec (3), Carson Eddy (3), Brett Townsley (5), Kellen Deacon (7) and Derek Poole
2B: Calvert Hall - E.J. Hankerson, Kaden Barmer, Conner Keys; Curley - Sealing
HR: Calvert Hall - Butler