The first time Archbishop Spalding played Calvert Hall this season, the Cardinals' bats caught fire en route to a 10-run victory.
On Wednesday, in the rematch between the two teams, Spalding left-handed pitcher Joey Benitez was determined to make sure the outcome was different.
Benitez, a senior who will attend Old Dominion, led the Cavaliers to a 3-2 upset of the No. 1 Cardinals. Despite rolling his right ankle in the top of the fourth inning on an errant pitch, Benitez managed to throw five scoreless innings, striking out four and allowing two hits.
"They beat us earlier in the season, 15-5. They put up some big runs on me," said Benitez, who celebrated his 18th birthday Wednesday. "I pounded myself about it afterwards. I made sure today was going to be different. It was sweet redemption today."
Spalding (9-9) was dominant throughout the first six innings. But Calvert Hall (13-6) managed to make things interesting late, scoring two runs in the seventh off a two-RBI double from second baseman Manny Rodriguez. After Darrien Ragins retired the next two batters, the Cardinals loaded the bases. But a grounder on the game's final play was easily handled by third baseman Aaron Barclay, who jogged over and tapped third before being swarmed by his teammates.
"I knew Calvert Hall would make a run," Spalding coach Joe Palumbo said. "They've done that many times this season and won a lot of games like that. They're a great team. They're well coached. They have experience. You know they're never going down without a fight. I told our pitcher, I said, 'Darrien, if you don't want the ball tell me.' He said, 'I want the ball. I want to get us out of this.' He did just that."
Beating the reigning MIAA 'A' Conference champions marked a significant upset for Spalding. More importantly, it gave the Cavaliers some confidence heading into the latter portion of their schedule and the playoffs, according to Palumbo.
"It was fun to see these guys reactions after a win like that," Palumbo said. "This is a big win for us, not only for standings but for a confidence boost to show that we can play with these guys. Come playoff time, we'll have confidence against anyone."
Archbishop Spalding – 3, No. 1 Calvert Hall – 2
CH: 000 000 2 – 2 5 0
AS: 110 100 X – 3 8 0
Benitez and Owens. Witczak and Murphy.
2B: CH – M. Rodriguez, AS – Owens, Laskey. 3B: None. HR: None.