Mental mistakes proved costly to Mount St. Joseph in its first meeting with Calvert Hall in the regular season. The second meeting featured strong hitting and pitching by the Cardinals.
The third meeting yesterday provided both and, of course, the same conclusion.
The top-ranked Cardinals took their first step in defending their Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (formerly MSA) A Conference championship, defeating the visiting and No. 7 Gaels, 9-1, in an opening-round game.
Today at 3:45, Calvert Hall (24-2) will play host to No. 3 McDonogh, in the winners' bracket game. The Eagles defeated Gilman, 8-4, in the other first-round game of the double-elimination tournament yesterday. The Cardinals won both regular-season meetings with McDonogh.
In both victories, Andy Bair was unbeatable, pitching a one-hitter in a 10-0 victory March 31 and a perfect game in a 3-0 win on April 21.
Fortunately for the Eagles, Bair won't be pitching today, which was unfortunate for Mount St. Joseph (14-8) yesterday.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior left-hander defeated the Gaels for the second time this season, allowing one run and one hit in six innings. Bair (10-1) struck out five and walked six.
"I was able to get my curveball over," said Bair. "I have a tendency to keep throwing fastball after fastball, but I tried to mix it up, getting my changeup over."
Bair's teammates staked him to a four-run lead after the opening inning, highlighted by a two-run single by Rusty Brown. Calvert Hall added another run in the second when Liam Healy doubled home Dominic Liberto (two hits), who had opened the inning with a double.
In the third, Mount St. Joseph's defense began to collapse. Kevin Olkowski (three hits, one RBI) hit a deep fly ball to center fielder Matt O'Donnell. O'Donnell misplayed the ball, allowing Olkowski to reach third. John McKay (three hits, three RBIs) singled to center, scoring Olkowski. O'Donnell overran the ball and McKay ended up at third.
With two out in the fourth, the Cardinals had runners at second and third when Olkowski hit a pop-up to medium center field, which was misplayed by shortstop Steve Matcuk, allowing two more runs to score. The Gaels, who made a total of eight errors in two games against the Cardinals, had six more yesterday.
"We're definitely on a down cycle," said Mount St. Joseph coach Dave Norton, whose team will play at Gilman today at 3:45.