The team most directly responsible for preventing No. 1 Calvert Hall from adding a 28th baseball championship to its healthy collection of titles visited Carlo Crispino Stadium yesterday, and second-ranked Archbishop Spalding continued to frustrate the Cardinals by beating them in a key Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference showdown Tuesday afternoon in Towson.
The three-time defending champs from Severn exploded for four runs in the fourth inning and added three more on one swing of the bat in the sixth while starting pitcher Jordan Geber mostly silenced Calvert Hall's bats in a 7-2 Spalding victory that snapped the Cardinals' 12-game winning streak and catapulted the Cavaliers into first place in the A Conference.
The right-hander allowed only a bad-hop single to Jose Torres through the first four innings, although he quickly picked off the sophomore shortstop.
Geber threw 108 pitches before Justin Caesar relieved him with one out in the seventh after allowing one run and three hits in 6.1 innings. The senior also walked three, hit two other batters and struck out four Cardinals.
Geber said that he was willing to pitch to contact, mainly because Calvert Hall hitters were often off balance because of his assortment of effective curve balls and well-placed fastballs.
"I was trying to hump it up there early in the game, but if they put it in play, they put it in play," he said. "It's always a big game when we play Calvert Hall, but we try not to make it any bigger than any other game."
Spalding (12-2, 8-1 league) jumped on Calvert Hall starter Matt Hentschel after designated hitter Matt Palumbo ignited the rally with a stinging triple to left-center and scored on third baseman Nick Vermillion's single to left.
Hentschel then hit first baseman Kris Burkowski with a pitch and both runners were moved up on catcher Jack Triolo's sacrifice bunt.
Vermillion came home on a single by center fielder Peter Goodrich that knocked Hentschel from the game in favor of senior left-hander Brennan Maher, who was touched for a two-run single by second baseman Nick Benitez to give the Cavaliers a 4-0 advantage.
Calvert Hall (14-2, 7-2) plated its first run after senior center fielder Michael Poling singled, Torres was hit by a pitch, senior left fielder Brendan Webster singled the bases loaded and junior right fielder Joseph Murphy walked.
That run was more than countered in the sixth when Spalding's Evan Fochtman clocked a long home run over the left field fence off senior reliever Andrew Rosso to score Triolo, who doubled, and Godrick.
"He got a strike on the first pitch and I didn't want to go down 0-2," the senior left fielder said. "He hung a curve ball and I didn't think I swung that hard, but it got up into the wind and carried. "I definitely felt it."
The Cardinals had a couple of chances to score more in the fifth with the bases loaded until Geber retired senior second baseman Austin Chavis on a fly to shallow right and induced sophomore pinch hitter Parker Landwehr to pop out to first.
After scoring its second run on an error in the seventh, Caesar escaped from another bases-loaded jam by getting senior first baseman Jimmy Elmore to fly out to center.
"We had our chances," Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerd said. "They capitalized on their chances and we just didn't get any timely hits. And their pitcher did a great job. He was getting his curve over and Hentschel was struggling a little with his. And in this league, if you have to throw mostly fastballs the hitters will make you pay."
AS 000 403 0 — 7
CH 000 010 2 — 2
Pitching: AS-Geber, Caesar (6) and Triolo; Ch-Henschel, Maher (4), Rosso (6) and Matheny.