After nearly two and a half hours of baseball that seemed like three and a half hours under a warm sun, it all came down to Archbishop Spalding’s big sophomore closer Nathan Wines and the top of Calvert Hall’s batting order, down by two, in the top of the seventh.
Defending MIAA A Conference champion Spalding was just three outs away from returning to the finals of the double elimination tournament. Wines closed the door as the top-ranked Cavaliers posted a 4-3 victory at Pachence Field.
Wines saved it for lefty Cody Sharman, who was outstanding over the first six innings and Spalding advances to Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans, Sunday afternoon at 5.
With Spalding up by 4-2 Kaden Barmer led off the Cardinal seventh inning with a two-bagger to left and Spalding coach Joe Palumbo came out to the bump and asked for the baseball and replaced Sharman bringing in 6-foot-3, 185-pound Wines, his young lumbering closer.
“I was a little nervous at first, feeling a bit of pressure and if I get that feeling, I just walk around the mound and then I’m okay, ready to go,” said Wines, who notched his third save. “I love being the closer, believe me just to get some pitching time on this team with the great pitching staff we have.”
Before throwing a pitch, Wines attempted a pick-off of Barmer on second and threw the ball into centerfield with Barmer racing to third base. Tom Pilarski lofted a fly ball to right easily scoring Barmer to make it a 4-3 game. Wines then coaxed Conner Keys to sky to left for the second out.
It wasn’t over as C.J. Garick reached on an infield hit. Wines rose to the occasion striking out one of the better hitters in the MIAA in Calvert Hall’s cleanup man Jake Butler.
It was Spalding’s second straight win after a bye. The Cavs (20-6-1) defeated John Carroll, last year’s finalist, by 7-4 on Monday while fifth-seeded Calvert Hall pounded top-seed and fourth-ranked Archbishop Curley, 13-1.
The Hall will host No. 11 John Carroll at 4 p.m. on Friday, after the Patriots eliminated Curley, 10-0, on Wednesday.
Yesterday, Calvert Hall (17-12) jumped on Sharman for three hits and two runs in their first at bat. Tom Pilarski, Conner Keys and C.J. Garrick each singled in the Cards’ initial at bat to load the bases. Pilarski and Keys scored on fielders choices by Butler and Mike Copenspire for a 2-0 lead before Sharman got the third out.
“I felt good out there, but the first inning didn’t go as I expected it to,” said Sharman (7-2) and signed with Seton Hall University as a sharp student/athlete with a 3.9 GPA. “I got it together in the second inning (retired the Cardinals 1-2-3) and got it going after that with my fast ball and circle- change. The circle-change was my go-to pitch today.”
Sharman shutdown the Hall the next five innings.
Meanwhile, Spalding scored two runs in the second and a 3-2 lead in the third. A couple Cardinal miscues started the bottom of the second and those two were driven in on singles by Brayden Marrocco and Ethan McNally to tie the contest at 2-2 in the bottom of the second. Shortstop Carver Salazar’s first of two hits for the Cavs scored the third run in the team’s next at bat.
It remained 3-2 through five innings until the sixth frame when the Cards threatened and failed and the Cavs rung up a big insurance run for the 4-2 lead. Butler and Copenspire got knocks to start the frame to put the heat on Sharman, who would finish with 99 pitches and no walks. Sharman would bear down big time striking out two and then coaxing the third batter to ground out.
“It’s never easy,” said Palumbo. “All you gotta do is win by one run. Cody battled through that first ‘inning and then battled through the sixth. We are hard to beat.”
Ryan Seifert battled the Cavs into the sixth before yielding the latter’s insurance run, a two-out two-bagger by Luke Sanborn scoring Ethan McNally.
“We didn’t take advantage of opportunities we had,” said Calvert Hall coach Brooks Kerr. “We didn’t score runs that we needed. Maybe, we will so that and get to Sunday and play them again.””
As for Sunday and a chance to win it all again, Palumbo said, “our pitching gives us an edge. We have an elite high school pitching staff. We’ll see.”
MIAA A CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
NO. 1 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 4, CALVERT HALL 3
CALVERT HALL 200 000 1 - 3 10 2
ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 021 001 x - 4 11 1
Ryan Seifert, Peter Bashore (6) and Brennan Kwiatkowski; Cody Sharman, Nathan Wines (7) and Ethan McNally
2B - Calvert Hall: Kaden Barmer (CH); Spalding - Parker Thomas, Luke Sanborn
WP - Sharman (7-2)
SAVE - Wines (3)
LP - Seifert (4-4)