It's difficult beating a dynasty.
The Gerstell baseball team learned that lesson Thursday afternoon against St. John's Catholic Prep of Frederick in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association C Conference final.
Junior left-handed pitcher A.J. Javitt ended Gerstell's championship hopes by throwing a two-hitter and striking out 11 batters in St. John's 5-0 victory over the Falcons at St. Paul's School.
That performance powered the Vikings (17-4) to their fourth straight title.
Javitt (5-2, 1.47 ERA) kept the hard-hitting Falcons, making their first title game appearance in the program's three-year history, off-balance with his curve ball.
"That was the difference today," Gerstell coach Cap Poklemba said. "He beat us earlier in the year [4-0] and I think we had a couple of more hits off of him. He didn't locate it as nearly as well as he did today. He throws hard, but when he is breaking the curve ball off, he is really tough."
Sophomore right-hander Reece Early (6-3, 2.11 ERA) took the loss, but was effective. He gave up four hits and three unearned runs in five innings while striking out three and walking three.
Early even stayed in the game after taking a line drive off his right shin in the bottom of the first inning.
"He threw a great game and well enough to win," said Poklemba, whose team committed three errors. "He really fought. You can't ask much more of him than that.
"We dropped two fly balls. That hurts. When you give up runs like that, you are not going to win too many games."
St. John's jumped on the Falcons (16-5) for two runs in the first.
Early retired the first two batters before Javitt singled to center field. Then Alex Morgan (2-for-3, RBI, run scored) got aboard on an infield single after Early was clipped by the line drive. On Morgan's hit, Javitt advanced to third. The next batter, Seth McRoberts, reached on an error.
The miscue allowed courtesy runner Ricky Streett to score, and Morgan later came home on a passed ball.
Gerstell freshman Chris Hagan led off the second with a single and stole second. Hagan, however, was stranded after Javitt retired the next three batters and he struck out the final two.
The Falcons' other hit came in the third. Max Friedman singled to center field.
The Vikings went ahead 3-0 in the third. Leadoff batter Zach Barberich reached on a fly ball to left that seemingly got lost in the sun, and he advanced to second on the play. Javitt grounded out to third, which moved Barberich to third. Morgan's single to right field scored the shortstop.
Javitt issued a one-out walk to Hagan in the fourth, but the pitcher picked him off after he broke for second base. Hagan moved to catcher an inning earlier when the starter, senior Taylor Hodges, suffered a thumb injury.
Javitt retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.
"He was incredible," St. John's coach Omar Enriquez said. "In the second inning, when his curveball was working, I just knew that Gerstell might have a hard time hitting him."
The Falcons will remember Javitt's performance, but also advancing to the championship game.
"It's been a great season and we were stronger than ever before," Gerstell senior first baseman Blake Bissen said. "It was a great experience to be able to play in a championship."
Gerstell 000 000 0 — 0 2 3
St. John's Catholic Prep 201 002 x— 5 6 1
G-Reece Early, Brennan Sedney (2) and Taylor Hodges, Chris Hagan (3); SJ-A.J. Javitt, and Seth McRoberts. 2B: SJ-Reagan Mills. WP: Javitt. LP: Early.