With severe storms and a tornado watch in the forecast, junior hurlers Joel Kenney, of Mount St. Joseph, and Keifer Rawlings, of St. Paul’s, pitched with superb efficiency in a key Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game Friday afternoon.
Kenney’s Gaels prevailed in the brisk 90-minute game that finished just before showers arrived.
It was the fourth straight conference win for the host Gaels.
Kenney allowed just three hits and walked two in the route-going performance.
“He’s going to throw the strikes and you are going to have to beat him,” Mount St. Joe coach Dave Norton said. “You have to play good defense behind him and we did.”
The Gaels made just one error and got some outstanding glovework from shortstop Kirk Haynes, center fielder Clark Clatchey and left fielder Josh Beglan.
Haynes made a fine play up the middle to take a hit away from Bennett Briante in the fourth inning and he charged a roller and threw out Jake Sebastian in the seventh.
Clatchey made a shoestring catch of Briante’s liner to center field to end the sixth.
“I got a pretty good jump,” said the Catonsville resident.
Beglan caught Jamal Wade’s long drive up against the fence, between the 280 and 366-feet signs, in the fifth inning.
Kenney (8 strikeouts) did his nifty work on the mound in 97 pitches.
He started each of the final nine hitters with a strike and retired 14 of the final 15 hitters.
Rawlings was almost as good — retiring 11 of the first 12 Gaels — with the only base runner coming via a walk.
He allowed seven hits and one walk and fanned four.
But, with two outs in the fourth, Sam Rowan took the first pitch into right center field for a double that broke up the no-hitter.
Peter Crawford hit the next pitch on the right field chalk line for another double and the Gaels had a 1-0 lead.
“I saw he was throwing first pitch fast ball and I wanted to jump on him early and I saw the fastball and just went the other way with it,” Crawford said.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Gaels made it 2-0 when sophomore Clatchey drilled an opposite field double to left center field.
“Coach said he was throwing a good first-pitch fastball so get on it, move up in the box and get ready for it,” Clatchey said.
He scored two batters later on Ed Nottingham’s single.
The Gaels added their final run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single by Rowan that plated Peter Solomon, after he doubled to the opposite field with one out.
Six of the seven Gael hits went the opposite way.
“We made adjustments,” Norton said. “Our strategy we had at the beginning wasn’t working so we said 'take the ball where it’s pitched' and that’s what they did.”
The victory kept the Gaels (10-8 overall, 5-4 conference) tied in the loss column with Spalding (6-4) and Loyola Blakefield (4-4), in the battle for the third spot in the standings, behind Gilman (9-2) and Calvert Hall (8-2).
They are two games clear of Curley (4-6) and St. Paul’s (4-6).
“We’ve set our sights a little bit higher than what we did,” said Norton, whose squad just hoped to be one of the top six in the playoffs when they started 1-4 in league play.