When Calvert Hall right-hander Brent Gossman's low-and-outside fastball got socked 415 feet over the center-field fence by Brent Weiss for a one-run lead in the fourth inning, it seemed a good omen for visiting St. Paul's.
But by the sixth inning, when Gossman struck out Weiss on a 2-2 count with the same pitch, his teammates had given him a three-run lead en route to a 7-1 first-round victory in yesterday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference double-elimination tournament.
The No. 2-seeded Cardinals (16-11), winners of seven of their past eight games, today will play at No. 1 seed Mount St. Joseph. St. Paul's will play host to Curley.
Calvert Hall likely will start ace All-Metro left-hander Ryan Kyle (7-1) today.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Gossman got stronger as the game went on, finishing with seven strikeouts and no walks and yielding only three hits on 95 pitches against 25 batters.
Gossman, who improved to 4-3 overall (2-0 against St. Paul's), retired the side in the seventh inning, with two batters grounding out on nice grabs by shortstop Dustin Sparks.
Gossman's fastball clocked consistently between 86 and 88 mph, with a 90-mph fastball on his final pitch to strike out the last batter looking."First pitch, he [Weiss] got around on a good swing. Give him credit, but I thought I could get him the next time, so I went with the same pitch," said Gossman, who had beaten the Crusaders, 23-1, earlier this season. "When their best hitter goes down looking, I think it gets in their team's heads a little bit."
The Cardinals' offense, and six errors by the Crusaders, had something to do with that, too, as Calvert Hall scored twice in each of the fourth and fifth innings, and three times in the sixth.
Mount St. Joseph 4, Curley 2: Pinch-hit for in the seventh inning, Todd Plajzer re-entered as a runner and then belted a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to lift Mount St. Joseph in the first round of the MIAA playoffs.
The top seeded and No.4-ranked Gaels (21-8) got a clutch two-out single by winning pitcher Gavin Floyd in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 2.
Floyd (0.85 ERA) ran his record to an area best 11-1 on a four-hitter with nine strikeouts to end a hex with the Friars.
With two playoff wins over the Gaels last year on the way to the title and earning the fourth seed a second straight year with an 8-6 victory over the Mount last Monday, the Friars had a six-game winning streak vs. the Gaels.