Parker Thomas continued his encore season for top-ranked Archbishop Spalding, hurling a complete game shutout, 2-0 over No. 5 Loyola Blakefield Friday afternoon in a key late season MIAA A Conference baseball in Towson.
The reigning champ Cavaliers (18-5 overall) remained tied for first place at 9-4 with No. 7 Archbishop Curley in the torrid MIAA A race. The latter Friars edged No. 13 Calvert Hall, 2-1 on Friday night following a 1-0 victory over Spalding on Wednesday.
The Cavaliers and Dons are vying for the top seed which is rewarded a first round bye in the upcoming double elimination post season tournament. The second seed also earns a first round bye. Three other teams follow the top two at 7-6 each in league play with one game to go.
Thomas, the 2022 VSN Pitcher of the Year, kept the defending champion Cavaliers atop the conference with Curley by scattering six hits on 90 pitches striking out 11 and not walking a batter. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound righthander was brilliant with his four-seamer, slider and changeup not to mention his location running his personal record to 7-0 and his overall record since last season to 15-0 - was 8-0 as a junior.
In his three varsity seasons, Thomas is 21-2.
“In my opinion Parker is the best pitcher in the state of Maryland,” said Cavaliers coach Joe Palumbo of his East Carolina University-bound ace. “Coming off a tough 1-0 loss to Curley on Wednesday, we needed a big effort and Parker does what an ace needs to do. I think he is just as good as last year, maybe better.“
Thomas got the only run he actually needed in the third inning and the Cavaliers added a big second run in their final at bat to be sure. A two-out knock to center by first baseman Tyler Smith scored rightfielder Mike Sanborn from second base. Sanborn drew a base on balls from Loyola righthander Brad Seiss to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by centerfielde Brayden Marrocco.
Marrocco reached first on an infield hit off Dons’ lefty reliefer Wyatt Mummert leading off the seventh inning and later scored on a throwing error to make it 2-0 Spalding. The Dons outhit the Cavaliers, 6-3. Pitching into the fourth inning Seiss held the Cavs to two hits while Mummert yielded only the infield knock by Morracco in the seventh inning.
Seiss and Mummert pitched well enough to win Friday for Loyola (11-7), but Thomas was a bit better.
”You have to give him (Thomas) credit for the way he pitched,“ said Loyola coach Mike Kelly. “It was a really good game. You don’t like to lose, but if you have to lose, you don’t mind losing a game like that. I think the game showed how good our league really is .“
Thomas pointed out how good his team defense behind him is.
“Our defense gives me a lot of confidence out there,” said Thomas. “They have played really well and have stepped it up since Vegas.“
Spalding played in the prestigious All Faith Tournament in Nevada during the Easter break and went 3-1 with their defense sparkling, according to Thomas.
One of those playing well with the glove is sophomore third baseman Jack McNally. McNally, whose older brother Ethan is the Cavs’ catcher and bats third, had four assists, two of his plays were outstanding on wicked shots off the Loyola bats that prevented the start of any serious rallies.
“Parker was lights out, had great stuff,” said McNally.
Spalding pitching coach, Matt Binder, a 2015 graduate who was a pitcher on the during the Severn school’s run of three consecutive A Conference championships (2014-2016) agreed with McNally and added that Thomas “is so focused and in a zone when he is pitching - had great stuff today.“
“Focus” is what it will take to win the area’s toughest league. Spalding, which host Mount St. Joseph, will be no worse than the No. 2 seed. Curley, which owns the head-to-head tiebreak over the Cavaliers, can lock the No. 1 spot with a win Monday against St. Mary’s in Baltimore City or a Spalding loss.
Three teams - John Carroll , Gilman and Mount St. Joseph are deadlocked for third at 7-6 heading into Monday’s final day of regular season play with Loyola and Calvert Hall each 6-7.
Four of those squads will have the remaining playoff berths after play early Monday evening.
”This is such a competitive league and I wish more people realized it,“ said Loyola coach Mike Kelly.
NO. 1 ARCHBISHOP CURLEY 2, NO. 5 LOYOLA BLAKEFIELD 0
Spalding 001 000 1 - 2 3 0
Loyola 000 000 0 - 0 6 2
Parker Thomas and Ethan McNally; Brad Seiss, Wyatt Mummert (4) and Jake Hauk
2B - Loyola - Gavin Pope, Joey Benckini