Mount Saint Joseph coach Phil Kraska played all 12 seniors on senior day, and they came out fired up in the first inning and scored nine runs. St. Mary’s rallied, but senior pitcher Lou Clausen closed the door in the top of the seventh in a 10-7 victory.
“A hundred percent [emotion],” Clausen said. “I mean, a lot of these guys, we’ve been on teams together since freshman year and there is a big bond between a lot of us and it is a lot of emotion going into one of these because we all love each other very much and we all want to stay together, but obviously we only have two or three more weeks left.”
Clausen was the fifth senior pitcher of game for the Gaels. He followed Mike Zaccagnino, Brody Wojdon, CJ Petro and Nate Morris with a perfect seventh with two strikeouts.
After the first inning, the chance for a save seemed remote.
“It was senior day, so we are all thinking we are going to get a chance to play today and we all want to win, obviously. This is a tough league, so anyone can beat anyone at this rate,” Clausen said. “I was pretty relaxed the whole game, it didn’t really matter about the situation. I mean, I’ve been put in a lot more worse situations.”
In the bottom of the first inning, after Brennan Moran homered in the top of the first, the Gaels brought 14 batters to the plate and produced seven hits. Senior Keegan Plummer’s double was the only extra-base hit.
Singles by juniors Matt Callahan and Mason Nemec (1-for-2, 3 RBIs) were followed by base hits by seniors Jack Bahouth and Landon Cooley. After a fielder’s choice by senior Nicco Holland, senior Felipe Romo drove in a run with a hit and senior Greg Conley delivered a two-run single.
“The bats are coming alive, the guys are feeling good, playing with a lot of confidence and everybody gets hyped up, especially for games like this,” Kraska said. “So the first inning was a lot. We couldn’t miss a barrel and all that was good and we were aggressive on the base paths and everything was going right, and then that kind of cooled off for us and they got some sporadic runs throughout where they put some things together, but we got the job done.”
Four walks and an error sparked a 4-run second for St. Mary’s, who cut the lead to 9-5. Mount Saint Joseph came back. Senior Eli Shafer walked, stole second and came around to score on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 10-5.
A run-scoring single by Harrison Deloach in the fifth and RBI double by Teagan McDonough in the sixth cut the lead to three.
“Our guys just don’t quit, so they’ve bought into that and having the right mentality and they just try to play one pitch at a time,” St. Mary’s coach Michael Bronakoski said. “So regardless of what happened in the first, they come out like it’s a 0-0 game. We started stringing some good at-bats together and took advantage of a couple mistakes and two big hits from Brennan Moran and a couple of other guys and it put us back in the game and gave us a chance.”
Moran went 3-for-3 with three RBIs for the Saints.
St. Mary’s fell to 0-9 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference and 4-11 overall, but Bronakoski is looking forward to playing a spoiler role.
“We are still young and we are still making some mistakes, but we’re learning and we are getting better every game. We come out and our guys are really trying to buy into playing with a chip on their shoulder,” Bronakoski said. “The odds of us making the playoffs are very grim at this point, but we can play the spoiler. A lot of the teams are bunched up and we come in and somebody takes us for granted and we knock somebody off. That can be detrimental to somebody else.”
The Gaels, who have won four of five, are 12-7 overall and 5-4 in the conference. Before Friday, no team had more than five wins and all six had at least four.
“I think with how we are playing right now, this middle and the second half of the season, I think we are going to make a run in the playoffs and we have a chance to compete for a championship,” Kraska said. “Every game that we’ve played we’ve been in, in one way or another, with the exception of a few, and I don’t think we’re that same team that we lost big early in the year.”