Calvert Hall's baseball team was shocked Monday by an opening-round loss to archrival Loyola Blakefield in the double-elimination Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs.
Matt Hentschel was just what the doctor ordered for the No. 1 Cardinals on Tuesday.
The senior pitched a four-hitter to lead host Calvert Hall to an 8-1 win over No. 8 Gilman (23-11, 13-6). The loss ended the Greyhounds' season.
Calvert Hall (24-3, 17-3) will host Archbishop Curley on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. with its season on the line again.
"He did a great job for us," Calvert Hall manager Lou Eckerl said of Hentschel. "He threw 81 pitches, 58 of them were strikes, and he didn't walk anyone. He gave us just what we needed."
The Cardinals wasted little time helping Hentschel. After a three-batter top of the first, Calvert Hall took advantage of Gabe Nieto's double and singles by Joseph Murphy and Garrett Matheny for a 3-0 lead. The Cardinals also chased Gilman starter Mike Willis.
In the top of the second, the Cardinals' Brendan Webster made the play of the day. After Gilman's Pierce Bennett reached on a throwing error, Hentschel made one of his few mistakes to the Greyhounds' Drew Ehrlich. Ehrlich crushed the ball to left field, but Webster leaped against the wall and brought the ball back into the park to rob Ehrlich of a two-run homer.
"That really pumped me up," Hentschel said. "One of the things we tell each other on this team is that we have each others' backs. I was starting to struggling a little, and Brendan bailed me out."
Calvert Hall added to the lead in the bottom of the second with most of the Gilman damage self-inflicted. Reliever Ryan Williamson hit a batter and walked another before another walk to James Elmore with the bases loaded ran the score to 4-0. The Cardinals got another run when Nieto's fly out scored Austin Chavis from third.
The Greyhounds manufactured a run in the top of the third for their only score. Joe Melancon's single got the inning started and ground outs to Tyler Martinez and Brian Nelson moved Melancon to third. Gilman got its only extra-base hit on a double by Charlie Darby, which scored Melancon and cut the score to 5-1.
Calvert Hall added three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to put the game away.
"We got good pitching against Loyola, but our hitting and our defense let us down. We try to preach to them that they need to win the inning, and we did a good job of that," Eckerl said. "If we can continue to do that, then we will continue to do well."
The Cardinals face the Friars in the next round, a team they beat twice in the regular season.
"I think [the Loyola game] was a wake-up call for us," Hentschel said. "It's not easy to win in this league, and we found that out. I don't think [taking an opponent for granted] will happen to us again."