Gavin Floyd was not to be denied yesterday, pitching 10 shutout innings and delivering the game-winning hit for the No. 5-ranked Mount St. Joseph baseball team for a 1-0 victory over No. 15 Calvert Hall in Irvington.
In the opening round of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs, Floyd (8-2) secured his 30th career pitching victory by lining a shot off the base of the center-field fence, easily scoring Steve Clevenger with the game's only run.
In three varsity seasons, Floyd is 30-5, but four of the losses have been to Calvert Hall, including a 9-2 defeat earlier this season. The Gaels have been the A Conference runners-up for the past four seasons.
Nemesis Calvert Hall (13-15) won the title a third time in four years last season after coming back a pitiful start, a scenario it seemed to be following again.
On Thursday, Calvert Hall humbled the top-seeded Gaels, 10-0, to earn the fourth seed.
"I wanted this very bad, especially after last week because everything was going bad for us," said Floyd, who is now 3-4 against the Cardinals.
"This game, everybody was pumped, nobody was scared. I had a lot of confidence, which kinda brought the team up."
A huge crowd watched a well-pitched game by Floyd, who had command of his fastball and curve, and his Calvert Hall counterpart, Mike Santmyer, who confounded the Gaels' hitters by changing speeds.
In a game with no room for mistakes, and with the pressure mounting each inning, neither team committed an error.
"It was incredible, one of the best high school baseball games I've seen, from a pitching and defensive standpoint," said St. Joe coach Dave Norton, whose Gaels (19-7) meet Archbishop Curley at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
Floyd retired the first nine batters he faced before giving up a leadoff walk in the fourth inning. He took a no-hit bid into the seventh, but the Cards' Brian Anecharico led off with a single. Anecharico, however, was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.
Left fielder Ryan Doggett barehanded Anecharico's sharp grounder down the left-field line and nailed him at second base.
Floyd, who is expected to go high in the first round of the June major-league baseball draft, finished with a two-hitter. He struck out 13 and walked just two on 110 pitches.
The two walks came in the fourth. It marked the only time that the Cardinals had two on base, but Floyd was his typical self, consistently throwing in the mid-90s to get out of such jams.
The only other hit Floyd gave up was a topped ball off the plate by Marco Muscella leading off the ninth. The ball settled in the dirt just a couple of feet in front of home plate. With dirt flying into his eyes, catcher Brian Bent was unable to make a play.
Not to be overlooked was the performance of Santmyer, who gave up six hits, struck out six and walked three on 121 pitches. Santmyer will play the outfield at Seton Hall next year, and has only been pitching out of necessity.
He survived the game's most serious threat in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and no one out, Santmyer started a home-to-first double play. But six innings later, Floyd struck last.
"I didn't think Gavin could hit a curveball, but I hung that one [game-winner]," Santmyer said. "It was by far my best-pitched game, but I'm disappointed. Hopefully next time we can get 'em."