Loyola Blakefield coach Mike Kelly joked that he was "minus 21" the last time the Dons won a championship in baseball. Fortunately for him, he won't have to wait any longer.
The No. 9 Dons (13-14, 10-10) rallied from a two-run deficit in the middle innings to score seven runs in the top of the sixth inning and defeat top-ranked Calvert Hall, 8-3, to win the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference baseball championship at Harford Community College on Monday.
The victory ends a 71-year championship drought for the Dons, who last won the title in the former Maryland Scholastic Association — the forerunner to the MIAA — in 1946.
"We kept it close, and I could see us gaining confidence as we went," Kelly said. "Our pitching was holding up, and I think [the team] felt we had a chance if we could just score."
And score the Dons did. The sixth started routinely for Calvert Hall pitcher Andrew Rosso, who got the first out of the inning on a ground ball. After that, the Dons' Will Glock walked. Then A.J. Holcomb doubled, moving Glock to third. That chased Rosso, and the Cardinals (27-4, 20-4) replaced him with Brennan Maher.
After a walk to Hunter Spalt to load the bases, Chris MacDonald singled, scoring Glock and cutting the lead to 3-2. With the bases still loaded, Maher walked in Holcomb to tie the game.
Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl pulled Maher, replacing him with Daniel O'Connor. He fared little better, walking Dom Dinoto and scoring Spalt to give Loyola a 4-3 lead.
Then the wheels came off for the Cardinals. Jack Glock singled deep to left field, but the ball got by outfielder Brendan Webster. His two-base error cleared the bases, scoring MacDonald, Brent Peterson and Dinoto to run the lead to 7-3.
"I was looking for a fastball, because that's what he'd been trying to get over," Jack Glock said. "I knew we were up, which took some of the pressure off. I didn't really think too much about it, and the ball dropped in."
The final run scored on a double by Jack Reinhardt that scored Jack Glock.
"We've been down all year, and I think a lot of people overlooked us," said Will Glock, who pitched six innings of three-hit ball as the starter. "We knew we could make up the deficit, and then hand the ball to Matt [Wyatt] to close it out."
Wyatt allowed only one hit in the final two innings. He recorded the final out when Trevor Daugherty popped up to right fielder Miguel Mateo, touching off a wild celebration near the mound.
"We believed in ourselves," Jack Glock said. "We got stronger in the playoffs, and we knew we could do this, and we went out and did it. The [71-year drought] couldn't have ended any better than this, beating Calvert Hall to win the title. There's no better feeling than this."