Calvert Hall baseball coach Lou Eckerl didn’t worry much when his team fell behind this season. With eight seniors in the lineup committed to play college baseball, the Cardinals (24-8) often scored runs in bunches.
That’s exactly what happened Monday in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference baseball championship against Gilman (25-12) at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
No. 1 Calvert Hall rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to score a 4-2 victory over the No. 2 Greyhounds to win its second straight title and seventh in the last nine years under Eckerl.
Manny Rodriguez, who pitched the Cardinals to a 7-0 victory over Gilman Sunday in the first final of the double-elimination tournament, had two singles and scored a run to lead the offense.
“We knew as soon as we scored a run, we were going to pile them on and win,” Cardinals’ senior pitcher Ben Deaver said. ”It’s like the Orioles’ magic. It’s the magic of Calvert Hall. We always come out strong in the playoffs and win.”
Deaver earned the save, retiring all six batters he faced following Matt Boyd, who picked up the win after working two innings in relief of sophomore right-hander Nick Delp in the fourth.
Senior starting pitcher Ben Grace was effective for Gilman, but took the loss after yielding three runs (two earned) on two hits in four innings. He walked four and was replaced by left-hander Joe Smeton after loading the bases in fifth with no outs.
“I left Ben in one batter too long,” Gilman coach Larry Sheets said. “He is a battler, and I trust him.”
Calvert Hall plated its runs on two errors, two walks, two singles and a passed ball.
Junior center field Troy Stokes, a University of Maryland recruit, scored the winning run when Robbie Jones grounded to shortstop. The throw home was high, which allowed Strokes to slide under the tag of catcher Matt Slodzinski.
Ron Farley finished the scoring by driving in Zach Rowe on a sacrifice fly to right field.
“We didn’t make the plays when they put pressure on us,” Sheets said.
Gilman went ahead, 1-0, in the top of the second inning after senior Trevor Wey reached on an error and advanced to second base. He scored on Slodzinski’s single to right-center field.
The Greyhounds pushed their lead to 2-0 in the fourth. Jason King opened with a line drive down the right field line that outfielder Ron Farley thought would bounce off the wall, but it didn’t and got by him for a triple. Slodzinski knocked in King with a sacrifice fly to center field.
The lead didn’t last long.
“We knew we could put some runs together in bunches,” Eckerl said. “The whole year we have done it.”
Calvert Hall 4 Gilman 2
Gilman 0101000 – 2 6 3
Calvert Hall 000040 — 4 4 2
Grace, Smeton and Slodzinski; Delp, Boyd, Deaver and Murphy. 2B: G — Fitzgerald; 3B —King.