Given a 4-0 lead after the first two innings, starting pitcher Brian Perkins took over against No. 10 Cardinal Gibbons, helping the No. 11 St. Paul's baseball team pick up an important 5-2 road win in the tightly packed Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference yesterday in southwest Baltimore.
Perkins scattered five hits, struck out nine and walked four on 109 pitches.
In running his record to 6-4, Perkins bested Gibbons right-hander D. J. Steirer (5-5), who pitched well despite control problems. Steirer also gave up five hits and struck out seven, but hit two batters in the second inning that led to two runs.
Notre Dame-bound catcher Brent Weiss doubled in a first-inning run for St. Paul's and scored himself on Walter Hill's single. In the second, Weiss lofted a sacrifice fly to increase the margin to 4-0.
Gibbons finally got to Perkins in the seventh for two runs to spoil his shutout bid, but the pitcher ended the game in style by striking out All-Metro infielder Craig King.
"Earlier in the year, I was worrying too much about strikeouts and my ERA, but I've realized that I just need to make the hitters put it in play and let my fielders take care of it," said Perkins, who in his previous game Thursday threw a no-hitter against Loyola.
St. Paul's (14-10) and Gibbons (13-9) are two of seven teams battling for one of the four playoff berths in the well-balanced 10-team conference.
Both teams are now 8-5 in the conference. If they would end up tied for any of the four playoff berths, the nod would go to St. Paul's by virtue of head-to-head play. St. Paul's has taken both games over Gibbons this season.
"This was a big win for us because there is so much balance in the league this year," said St. Paul's coach Paul Bernstorf.
Mount St. Joseph leads the conference at 10-2 after yesterday's 7-1 win over second-place Curley (8-4). Calvert Hall, a 13-5 winner over Spalding, joins St. Paul's and Gibbons at 8-5 while John Carroll is 7-6 and Gilman 6-7.
For Gibbons, its A Conference record is all the more remarkable considering the team was promoted from the B Conference this season.
Said Gibbons coach Lou Holcomb, "We're very pleased to be competing at this level, no doubt about it."