Archbishop Spalding pitcher Tyler Blohm knew his team needed him in their opening round playoff game against visiting Archbishop Curley. Except for one bad inning, he didn't disappoint.
Blohm gave up his only two runs in the third inning, then buckled down to shut out the Friars the rest of the way as Spalding defeated Curley, 3-2, in a pivotal playoff game. His complete-game win included eight strikeouts.
The No. 2 Cavaliers (22-4) will advance to the MIAA title game at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen Sunday, where they will face an undetermined opponent.
"Usually I struggle early, but I was determined today," Blohm said. "As the game went on, I just got more dialed in. The crowd support was incredible, and the offense played well enough to win. I kind of got chills after the final out. It was a great feeling."
No. 8 Curley (17-11) provided the early offense, as the Friars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the third. After a strikeout to start the inning, Blohm gave up singles to Andrew Dikes and and Zack Ridgely, before a Marty Costes single over second base plated Dikes for a 1-0 lead. Following another strikeout, Andrew Davis singled. That drove in Dikes, but also ended the inning when Costes was tagged out at home plate trying to score.
Spalding responded in the bottom half of the inning with a flurry of doubles off of Curley's Michael Remeikis. Ryan Hunt led the inning off with a double. After a sacrifice bunt by Kevin Heiss moved him to third, Hunt scored on a double off the centerfield wall by Jon Lane. David Harding then doubled to score Lane and tie the game. Two batters later Paul Diven popped out to left field, but the fly ball was deep enough to score Harding, giving Spalding a lead it would never relinquish.
"I thought it would be a low scoring game, so I knew that run was huge," said Harding, who finished with three hits. "He threw it inside, and I turned on it and hit it down the left-field line. Three runs were all we needed for Tyler."
The Friars mounted one last challenge in the top of the seventh. Jimmy Cassidy singled to begin the inning, but the Spalding defense threw him out at second when he tried to extend the single into a double. After the second out was recorded, Nick Carroll singled to keep the inning alive. Blohm settled down after the single, and forced a Dikes pop-up to second base to end the game.
The Friars loss means they will host either Mount St. Joseph or Calvert Hall in another playoff game in the double-elimination tournament. That game is scheduled for Friday at Archbishop Curley.
Spalding coach Joe Palumbo said Blohm was the reason for the victory.
"All you need to do is score one more run than your opponent, and we did," said Palumbo. "Pitching was the difference. Tyler was the story today. He put us in a great position to fulfill our goal on Sunday, and that is to win a title."
MIAA A Conference
Archbishop Spalding 3, Archbishop Curley 2
AC 002 000 0 – 2 9 1
AS 003 000 x – 3 5 1
Remeikis and Hamel; Blohm and Sears. 2B: AS - Will, Lane, Harding.