No. 3 Calvert Hall got just enough pitching Tuesday afternoon at No. 2 Archbishop Spalding to make two big innings stand up for a 14-7 victory in the first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference game for both teams this season.
"Being ready to go and being mentally prepared was important," said Calvert Hall starting pitcher Andrew Witczak, a junior left-hander. "There were some nerves coming in, but our hitters were doing well."
The win improved Calvert Hall's overall record to 4-0, while Archbishop Spalding fell to 2-1. Junior right hander Benjamin Deaver, who relieved Witczak with two out in the third and Calvert Hall leading 8-4, got the victory. He went three innings, allowing two hits and three runs.
The Cardinals jumped on Cavaliers' starter Ryan Wagner, who got through just two-third's of an inning. Calvert Hall used two walks and three hits to score five runs in the top of the first. Junior catcher Alex Murphy, who had two singles and a double, scored the first of his three runs and led the offensive attack.
"It was very important to get out on top," Murphy said. "We knew they were good and would come back."
Spalding did rally, making the score8-5, with lefty pitcher Joey Benitez holding the line for four-and-a-third innings. But in the sixth, Calvert Hall rediscovered its offense, scoring six runs , led by senior Dustin Rothschild, who slammed a three-run homer.
"Benitez had a good change-of-speed pitch and a good curveball," Spalding coach Jeff Palumbo said. "It kept them off balance and we were able to battle back. But when you're going to your second pitcher before the end of the first inning, you know you're going to be running out of arms. And in the end we did."
Reaching the sixth inning was an accomplishment for Benitez, who took a hard shot off his pitching hand in the second inning.
"I don't know how he's going to be," Palumbo said. "He pitched more than I wanted him to and I know there was a lot of adrenaline pumping. We'll have to see how he is[Wednesday]."
Still, the Spalding coach and players weren't overly dismayed by the game. A year ago the Cavaliers lost to Calvert Hall twice during the regular season but came back to beat the Cardinals twice and win the A-Conference championship .
"It's disappointing we lost," said centerfielder Jamal Clarke, who led his team with with two doubles and two runs scored. "But good things will come from it. We learned Joey can pitch good and so can Zack (Phillips). You have to think about the end goal. We'll be right there when it comes to playoffs and championship time."
Palumbo agreed. Pointing to a productive offense that had several players filling in for other injured players.
"Ryan Hunt, at second, had a couple nice hits and Buddy Manley had a run-scoring double down the line," Palumbo said. "Offensively, we did pretty well. Pitching? We've got to throw strikes."
[Editor's note: A previous version of this story misidentified Calvert Hall's pitcher of record. The Sun regrets the error.]