Calvert Hall had scored 32 runs in two games on April 14, so the last thing anyone expected was a low-scoring game at Mount St. Joseph on Tuesday afternoon.
So, that's exactly what the fans got — yet the result was a 2-1 victory in Irvington that helped the Cardinals improve to 20-2 and 8-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.
Winning pitcher Andrew Witczak got all the runs he needed when Ron Farley and Colin Gimblet hit back-to-back first-pitch home runs leading off the top of the fourth.
"Our guys are just taught to get up there and hit the best pitch they can hit," Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl said.
The two runs were just enough for Witczak who was hitting 83 mile per hour on the radar gun.
"I really had no clue what was going to happen going into this game because the last time they played us tough," Witczak said.
The Gaels lost the first meeting, 6-0.
This one came down to the last out with the tying run on third base.
Josh Beglan's soft fly headed for the Bermuda Triangle in center field was caught on the run by shortstop Rich Rodriguez, who corralled it a blink before colliding with center fielder Troy Stokes.
"It could have easily been dropped," Eckerl said.
It would have been one of the only balls that didn't find a Calvert Hall mitt.
The only Gael run scored in the bottom of the fifth when Jordan Crawford, who singled and stole second to start the inning, scored from second base on a throwing error to first after a grounder by Beglan.
Witczak allowed six hits while striking out four and walking one in six innings.
He was helped by several fine plays from shortstop Rodriguez and a gem by first baseman Lee Lipinski in the sixth inning on a grounder by Colin Targonski.
"My defense did a great job today," Witczak said.
The 6-foot-3 junior southpaw left after a leadoff walk in the seventh and John Mooney came in for the save.
Mooney retired all three batters he faced, but not before getting in some hot sauce when leadoff batter Jordan Crawford (2-for-2) advanced to second on a ground out and third on a wild pitch.
The Gaels (10-10, 4-6 league) got strong pitching from senior southpaw starter Jeff Evans and sophomore right-hander Peter Solomon.
Evans allowed five hits and fanned two in five innings and Solomon yielded two hits and walked two in the final two innings.
His final out was the most impressive when he fanned Stokes with a pair of knee-buckling breaking balls with runners on first and third.
"I'd be lying to say I'm happy with this (loss) because I don't like to lose, but when you look at the bigger picture and what we are trying to do as a team and what we are trying to accomplish, I think we are going in the right direction," Mount St. Joseph coach Dave Norton said.
Norton, whose squad missed the MIAA playoffs last year for the first time in his 30 years as head coach, is trying to earn one of the six coveted playoff berths with a roster that started two freshmen Matt Sniezek (SS) and Andrew Brown (CF) and only three seniors Evans, Nick Payne (C) and Crawford (2B).
"They are always a solid club and they don't make too many fundamental mistakes," Eckerl said. "We had to score some more runs and we didn't, so it was a tight ballgame. We hit some right at them and we hit a lot of fly balls which was unusual."
Catcher Alex Murphy, who hit two grand slams in a 10-1 triumph over McDonogh on April 13, had three hits to lead the Cardinals, who moved into a tie with Gilman at the top of the A Conference (8-1).
Calvert Hall followed that with a 22-20 victory over Germantown, PA, and a 10-0 whitewash of Notre Dame, NY, on April 14, but scored just two against the Gaels.
"That's high school baseball," Eckerl said.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun