After exceeding expectations by beating Edison High, of Huntington Beach, Calif., in the opener of the 2013 Hard 9 Classic, Calvert Hall fell, 11-0, to another rival from Southern California, Orange Lutheran High, on Tuesday.
Even so, Calvert Hall has been going places with coach Lou Eckerl. Under the veteran coach's tutelage, the Cardinals have captured six of the last eight Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles.
Moreover, Calvert Hall has played an ambitious schedule during Eckerl's tenure, even going to the Golden State in 2008 for the Anderson Bat National Classic Baseball Tournament.
There, the Cardinals found out that, despite being ranked second in the USA Today Super 25 after posting a 33-0 record in 2007, the competition was a little more than the defending A Conference champs could handle.
To say they didn't fare very well would be accurate, considering the only game they won out of four was on the last day — in the losers' bracket.
However, in a second trek to the Anaheim area, Calvert Hall (9-1, 4-0 conference) started on a positive note Monday with a 1-0 triumph in nine innings.
Senior catcher Alex Murphy knocked in the winning run on a sacrifice fly to back the standout pitching of senior starter Andrew Witczak and classmate Matt Boyd, who picked up the win after two innings of stellar relief work.
Murphy, who defeated 31 other sluggers in the home run derby competition on Sunday, hit the ball just far enough to garner the victory while representing the only school east of the Rocky Mountains in the tourney held at California State University, Fullerton and El Dorado and Eperanza high schools.
"It's really big for us to get that first win," said Eckerl from his cell phone while walking on the Huntington Beach pier. "I think a lot of it has to do with us knowing how to prepare the kids this time. We knew what to expect when we got here."
Had they beaten Orange Lutheran, Calvert Hall would have been playing its next game at Cal State Fullerton.
"The kids really want to play there," Eckerl said before the Orange Lutheran rout. "We went to a game there Friday night, and it's a beautiful stadium. It would be nice to be playing in front of a big crowd with a lot of people cheering for us."