Archbishop Spalding's Aaron Barclay celebrated his 17th birthday in a big way at Ripken Stadium.
Barclay hit a 3-1 pitch down the left-field line for a three-run home run Sunday in the bottom of the third inning to help the No. 2 Cavaliers (24-4), the top seed, to a 5-2 win over No. 3 Calvert Hall (22-7) in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game.
"It was a 3-1 count, and I thought about not swinging because we had a steal on," Barclay said. "I backed off the plate a little, and [Calvert Hall pitcher Nick Delp] threw it inside middle, and I got around on it. It was a great 17th birthday present to myself."
The Cavaliers held the lead throughout the game, but the victory was not easy for Spalding, which won its first title since 2011. Cavaliers pitcher Jordan Carr battled through all seven innings to record a complete-game win.
Spalding took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, and some of the damage was self-induced for Calvert Hall. The Cardinals had two throwing errors in the inning, and the Cavaliers scored their first run on a double by River Laskey. The second error allowed Laskey to score.
Carr loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the second inning, then walked Calvert Hall's Alex Kriss to force in a run. The next batter, Manny Rodriguez, grounded back to the pitcher to end the threat, and Spalding kept a 2-1 lead.
"I got a little shaky in the second, but I knew I had to calm down," Carr said. "We have a great team, and I knew the run support would be there, and in the end it was."
The Cavaliers began the third with a single by David Harding, but he was retired on a fielder's choice by Laskey. After Laskey stole both second and third bases, Delp walked Paul Diven to set up Barclay's three-run homer.
"I knew he had it in him," Spalding coach Joe Palumbo said of Barclay's home run. "He was one of our hot hitters early in the year, so I knew he was capable. He got his pitch, and he didn't miss it."
Carr, who had four strikeouts in the game, gave up an unearned run in the fourth to account for the final margin, but he only scattered four hits after the third inning.
Delp, a junior, scattered six hits in a complete-game loss for Calvert Hall, but he made one major mistake — the pitch to Barclay. Delp finished with six strikeouts, including three in the fifth inning.
"This is a great day for our program, and I'm ecstatic for our seniors," Palumbo said. "This team has really changed the culture for our program with their team-first attitude. I challenged them all year, and they rose up to the challenge today; like they have all season."
In the MIAA B Conference championship, Devin Patrick hit a two-run homer in the sixth, and Michael Abbott went 2-for-3 at the plate as St. Mary's (27-1) defeated Annapolis Area Christian (16-12), 11-1, in a six innings. The victory gives the Saints their first B Conference title since 2007.
In addition to the run production, Chase Gorski surrendered only one run and three hits to earn the win.
"He's a special kid; a real bulldog," Saints coach Johnny Poss said. "We've had an incredible season, and I can think of no better way to end it than with this group of seniors. It's been an exciting ride."
MIAA Baseball Championships
(at Ripken Stadium)
Archbishop Spalding 5, Calvert Hall 2
CH 010 100 0 -- 2 6 2
AS 203 000 x -- 5 6 1
Delp and J. Finn; Carr and Sears. HR: AS – Barclay. 2B: CH – Dorsey; AS – Laskey.
St. Mary's 11, Annapolis Area Christian 1
AAC 010 000 1 4 3
SM 411 113 11 12 1
Taylor, Gast (1), O'Ferrall (5) and Blucher; Gorski, Davis (6) and O'Neil. HR: SM – Patrick. 2B: AAC – O'Ferrall; SM – Slotterback.