Calvert Hall earned a chance to play for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship at Ripken Stadium.
The Cardinals defeated Archbishop Curley, 6-4, on Sunday night, forcing a deciding title game in the double-elimination tournament Monday at 7 p.m. at Ripken Stadium.
The matchup is one of contrasting teams. The Friars (20-11) are trying to win their first A Conference title since their coach, Brooks Norris, was a senior at the school in 2001. No. 3 Calvert Hall (28-5) has been to the championship game eight consecutive years and won five of them before losing the past two — to Archbishop Spalding last year and Gilman in 2010.
The Cardinals, however, had to play an extra game to make it the finals this year, as Curley knocked them out of the winners' bracket with a 5-4 victory last week. It was the Friars' first win against Calvert Hall this season after losing both regular-season meetings.
"We didn't play our best today, but we earned the opportunity to be here and to play one more game," Norris said. "Our goal from the beginning has been to win the championship and that hasn't changed. We're not looking to lower our goals and we're not interested in a moral victory that comes with making it this far.
"We're here to win and when we got here today we had to win one game to win the title. Nothing has changed. We still have to win one game to win the title."
To do it, they may find themselves up against more than just the Calvert Hall baseball team. Ron Farley, who plays right field for the Cardinals and has a .422 batting average, said he believes he has an angel watching over him.
"I give all the credit to my mom," he said. "Not many people know, but she died of cancer last July. I pray for her every night and before every game and I feel she is with me and has my back."
The junior had a single, a double, one RBI and a run scored Sunday. Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl said Farley, who wears a pink wristband in memory of his mother during games, has been on fire.
"In the last three playoff games he has been 10-for-12 with two home runs and a double," Eckerl said. "Today, Ron hit, the team, overall, got timely hits, our defense didn't make any errors and our experience in the championship round is key."
Curley got eight hits, all singles, and took the lead in the first inning on a run by Rick Warble, who scored on a single by Andrew Shinnick. Calvert Hall rallied for three runs in the second on hits by Farley, Richard Rodriguez and Robert Koski, and Curley tied it in the bottom of the inning.
But the Cardinals went up 5-3 in the third and Curley couldn't answer. When the Friars loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, Calvert Hall pitcher Ben Deaver came in for starting pitcher Garrett Walther and allowed just one run before striking out the last two batters.
"We''e lucky we earned the second game [Monday] by beating them in the semis," said Curley pitcher Zach Salkowski. "[On Monday], we'll have Zack Ridgely on the mound and he's been throwing very well. We have to be sharp, field well and get him some insurance runs."
Calvert Hall - 032 001 0 - 6-8-0
Archbishop Curley - 120 010 0 - 4-8-1
Walther, Deaver (5) and Koski. Salkowski, Davis (7) and Shinnick. 2B: CH - Murphy, Farley, Stokes