In two well-played games, Gilman and Mount St. Joseph advanced to the President's Cup final at Camden Yards for a second straight year
Defending tournament champion and No. 3 Gilman (16-4) had the harder time getting back to next Saturday's final. The Greyhounds needed three pitchers and a two-run double from sophomore Matt Slodzinski in the fourth inning to get past Digital Harbor, 3-2, in Saturday's first semifinal at Johns Hopkins.
In the second game, Mount St. Joseph overcame a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the third inning with four runs on five hits and then blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth to take a 7-1 victory over No. 9 Archbishop Curley, which had already beaten the Gaels twice this season.
The Gilman and Digital Harbor game pitted a Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A conference team against a Baltimore City, the type of matchup City Council PresidentBernard C. "Jack" Younghad in mind when he hatched the idea for the President's Cup last year.
With Young, Baltimore City schools CEO Andrés Alonso and Baltimore city coordinator of athletics Bob Wade among the crowd, the teams played a game both sides could be proud of.
"This would have been really terrific if this was the championship game," Gilman coach Larry Sheets said. "We wanted to win and they wanted to win and we battled. And we got one more run than they did. They're a very good team."
Digital Harbor (8-2) got six strong innings from pitcher John Wheelton, and the Rams got off to a strong start with three first inning hits by Mike Payne, Devin Parlier and Mike Corn. Corn's hit was a double that drove in Digital's two runs. The senior added a single in the fourth inning.
"We did a lot of mental preparation for this game," Corn said. "Like last night, we envisioned what we were going to do today. I was seeing what I was going to do at the plate before it happened. I don't think we're really disappointed. We played a great game. We'll learn from it. We already know we can play with the best."
Gilman got a run back in the third inning when senior designated hitter Andrew Burton hit a double and scored. Tom O'Neill and Matt Tilley came around when Slodzinski doubled in the fourth.
"My swing felt better," Slodzinski said. "I kept my hands inside the ball, and I've been working on getting my hips through. This was a very good game. I'd heard they were a good team. We all knew we'd have to play well to win."
Mount St. Joseph (10-9) knew it would have to play well too. The Gaels had lost 8-0 to Curley earlier this season and 12-2 in five innings on Friday.
"This is not the way we expected this to go," Curley junior first baseman Mitch Sutton said. "I thought our bats would stay lively. But we hit the ball right to them. Their pitcher [Paul Delisa] got out in front of our hitters with two strikes and all you can do at that point is swing at a curve and hope to get a hit."
Delisa went the distance and allowed just five hits. When Curley looked like it might get something going in the fourth inning, after Sutton had one of his two hits to lead off, Mount St. Joseph freshman shortstop Matt Sniezek turned a double play.
"I made two errors against them yesterday," Sniezek said. "It was because my new glove wasn't broken in properly yet. This morning, six of my teammates brought gloves for me to try. I liked [sophomore] Joe Kearney's. I don't know if it was his old glove or the one he likes to play with now, but it worked well for me.
"This tournament is a great experience. I've never been on this big a stage before. I took a deep breath and played my heart out. And the double-play, that was big because they were starting a rally. Now, it's going to be awesome playing at Oriole Park."
No.8 Gilman 3, Digital Harbor 2
Digital Harbor – 200 000 0 – 2-5-0
Gilman - 001 200 x – 3-6-0
Wheelton and Corn; Llanio, Cross (5), Dunbar (7) and Slodzinski. 2B: DH – Corn; G – Slodzinski, Burton.
Mount St. Joseph 7, 9Archbishop Curley 1
Archbishop Curley – 001 000 0 – 1-5-0
Mount St. Joseph - 004 003 x – 7-10-2
Caulkins, Merkley (6) and Shinnick. Delisa and Payne.