Archbishop Spalding was unsuccessful in its first three attempts at defeating Calvert Hall's No. 4 ranked baseball team.
So, yesterday's 13-0 loss to the Cardinals in the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference tournament shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise to the visiting Cavaliers.
Though the outcome was predictable, Spalding's defensive performance was anything but expected. The Cavaliers committed eight errors, including five in the first inning that enabled the hosts to take a 5-0 lead.
"We just collapsed," said Spalding coach Tom Lind, whose team upset then-top-ranked Mount St. Joseph, 7-6, last week to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament. "We just didn't rise to the occasion.
"If we stayed in the game, something might have happened. All we wanted to do was keep it tight. All the pressure was on them to beat us."
And the pressure is still on the Cardinals (18-6), who face the same McDonogh squad that knocked them into the losers' bracket last week. The two teams meet at 3:45 p.m. tomorrow at Towson State. If Calvert Hall wins, the schools would meet at the same time and site Thursday to determine who is the champ.
"We want to beat McDonogh real bad," said Calvert Hall pitcher Brian Matz, who struck out four in the four-hit shutout, raising his record to 8-2. "I really don't think they're as solid as us, but they always come out motivated and ready to play."
From the outset yesterday, it was apparent who the aggressor was. The Cardinals built on their 5-0 lead in the third inning by adding three unearned runs. Senior right fielder Chris Lamon singled in shortstop Justin Kaminski, who had reached when Spalding's catcher dropped a third strike and threw the ball over the head of his first baseman. Sophomore Adam Roberts followed with a two-run homer.
Spalding loaded the bases in the third and had runners on first and third with one out in fourth, but failed to score.
Fifth-inning singles by Josh Itsoe, Mike Hemling, Matz and Kaminski, combined with some alert base running, helped Calvert Hall score four more runs.
Matz helped himself, going 3-for-4, and Itsoe and Paul Barabasz had two hits each for the victors.
"We had a tough loss to McDonogh, but we regrouped a little bit and got it done," said Calvert Hall coach Joe Binder. "Brian HTC [Matz] has been our most consistent thrower this year. He threw against McDonogh and had a rough second inning, but I certainly think he has a nice live arm, and when he's throwing strikes and mixing up his pitches, he's tough to beat."