Mount St. Joseph starter Ben Daniels throttled host Calvert Hall on four hits yesterday.
But there was one thing standing between the Gaels' ace and a win in the opening round of the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference Tournament.
As sharp as Daniels was, Matz proved even sharper. The left-hander struck out 12, including two to end threats in the fourth and fifth innings, en route to a 2-0 win.
The Calvert Hall ace went the distance, allowing just four hits -- including two on infield singles by Buddy Edmond -- and struck out two hitters in five of his seven innings. Twice he called on his popping fastball to escape jams.
St. Joe put runners on second and third in the fourth and first and second in the fifth, both with two outs, before Matz slammed the door with a strikeout.
"When you have two outs you have a little more focus," said Matz, who relied mostly on his fastball after having control problems with his curve. "When I got two strikes on [a batter] I just tried to pump it in there as hard as I could."
Calvert Hall (18-3) is 1-0 in the double-elimination tournament and will travel to top-seeded and defending champion McDonogh, a 5-2 winner over fourth-seeded Loyola yesterday, in the second round today.
Third-seeded St. Joe (15-4) faces possible elimination today when it plays host to Loyola.
For several innings yesterday, however, it seemed as if the Gaels and Daniels were headed toward a better fate.
Daniels handled the Cardinals on one hit through four innings, and escaped trouble in the third by striking out No. 3 hitter Larry Marino with runners on the corners and two outs.
But Calvert Hall broke through in the fifth, scoring two runs with a little bit of power and a little bit of luck.
Jason Reinhart provided the big blow, leading off the inning with a bases-empty home run over the fence in left-center field.
"It was a fastball, high and right down the middle," said Reinhart. "I had an idea it was going out."
Then came the luck, as leadoff hitter Josh Itzoe blooped a two-out double to center and Paul Barabasz followed with a blooper to right, scoring Itzoe to make it 2-0.
"We had that one inning and that was the difference," said Calvert Hall coach Joe Binder. "We were struggling. Daniels was mixing his pitches well, and he certainly pitched well enough to win.
"This was just a big win for us."
For St. Joe, it was a day of frustration.
After catcher Dominic Steward -- one of the Gaels' best hitters -- injured his left ankle tripping over first base on a first-inning groundout, St. Joe's missed chances overshadowed a fine mound effort.
"In a game like this where both pitchers are throwing well, you have to come through on the opportunities you have," said Gaels coach Dave Norton. "We didn't come through.
"Now we have to play like there's no tomorrow."