Archbishop Spalding wanted to make a statement in its MIAA A Conference opener at No. 1 Calvert Hall. When it was done, it was Jonathan Lane's arm that spoke the loudest.
Lane, a senior, threw out Calvert Hall's Mike Finn at the plate following a pop-up to right field in the bottom of the seventh. The throw preserved a 4-4 tie before the No. 7 Cavaliers responded with a run in the top of the eighth to defeat Calvert Hall, 5-4, in the league opener for both teams.
Spalding (8-0, 1-0) dominated the first six innings, building a 4-0 lead before the Cardinals (4-1, 0-1) rallied for four runs in the seventh to tie the game and set up Lane's heroics.
"In pregame fielding, I didn't think we were playing well. I told the outfielders that they didn't respect our arms, so you better be ready to throw," said Cavaliers coach Joe Palumbo. "Jon has a great arm, and he made a great play."
Spalding built its ead behind the bat of third baseman Aaron Barclay. The junior hit a double in his second at-bat to score Kevin Heiss for the Cavaliers' second run in the third inning. He followed it up in his next at-bat, hitting a triple down the right field line. After Paul Diven singled, Spalding had a 3-0 lead in the fifth.
After getting another run on a fielder's choice in the sixth, Palumbo changed pitchers for the bottom of the inning and brought in Darien Ragins. The senior was perfect in the sixth, but not so much in the seventh.
Calvert Hall led off the inning with a walk by Manny Rodriguez and a double by Brandon Dorsey. Greg Carter's single scored Rodriguez, and moved Dorsey to third. Another single, by Jack Finn, cut the margin to 4-3 when both Dorsey and Carter scored. The next batter, Justin O'Neill, walked and Palumbo replaced Ragins with Andrew Kitzman.
Kitzman loaded the bases, and Calvert Hall scored to tie the game, 4-4, on a wild pitch. Mike Finn advanced to third on the play, so the Cardinals had runners on the corners with one out. Calvert Hall's David Gately then hit a high pop-up to Lane, who caught the ball in stride and threw a perfect strike to the plate to get Mike Finn.
In the top of the eighth, Calvert Hall pitcher Bradley Weber hit Spalding's William Godrick to start the inning; Godrick moved to second on a passed ball. A single by Carter Sears moved him to third before a bunt by David Hunt down the first base line scored him with the winning run.
Palumbo admitted that he was surprised by his team's 8-0 start, but was pleased with the way his team responded to adversity.
"That's why they're the champs," said Palumbo of the defending conference champion Cardinals. "I challenged [my team] and told them if they wanted to compete with the champs, they need to respond right now. In the end, they did."