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High School sports

‘Unfinished business to do’: Archbishop Spalding baseball returns to MIAA A Conference championship after 7-2 win over Calvert Hall

Junior Parker Thomas and every returning Archbishop Spalding baseball player has had a sour taste in their mouths for nearly a year. Now, they’re a step away from doing what couldn’t be done last year — winning the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference crown.

With a 7-2 win over Calvert Hall on Thursday, No. 1 seed Spalding will enjoy the fruits of its labor through the weekend, awaiting the winner of Calvert Hall and John Carroll in the MIAA A Conference championship on Monday.

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The Cardinals have a chance to redeem themselves Friday in the consolation bracket.

“It still feels like we have unfinished business to do,” Spalding coach Joe Palumbo said. “Last year, we fell short and we’ve done a lot of hard work between then and now to put us into position to finish this year.”

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The Cavaliers (26-4) beat John Carroll, 1-0, on Tuesday. According to Palumbo, a rematch against either the Patriots or Cardinals comes down to whether his players make good decisions between now and then.

“We’re going to prepare to win a championship the way we know how,” the coach said. “And that’s with good hard practices and taking care of the small details.”

Thomas unloaded 99 pitches and 11 strikeouts on the Cardinals in 5⅔ innings, holding Calvert Hall to six hits. This came after a difficult first inning.

“I knew I had to dial in, start focusing on trying to get more strikes, see if I could get out of the inning,” Thomas said. “Which, I did.”

After Thomas walked in a run he snapped into his command. The Spalding right-hander struck down the next two Cardinals and got the third to fly out to center field.

Then, he helped himself out.

Thomas hammered the first pitch he saw from Cardinals starter Ryan Siefert for a three-run home run that sailed somewhere into the woods behind Spalding’s 340-foot fence.

The Cavaliers poured from the dugout, screaming in joy as two other runners and Thomas crossed home.

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“With his level of preparation, I think he dug deep there and probably used some of those experiences from last year to stay composed and get some big outs in the first inning to get us the momentum back,” Palumbo said. “And getting himself three runs with a home run showed a lot of maturity and a lot of growth.”

Calvert Hall tried to respond In the second, but Spalding had fire pumping through its veins. Thomas picked off Brendan Kastanaras, a potential tying run, at first base. He closed the inning with a strikeout.

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But Calvert Hall was not rattled. Lamar King’s hit slipped past third base and skittered deep into the outfield, scoring one and closing the deficit to 3-2.

But Spalding senior Eddie Sargent (2-for-3) scored on an errant throw on a pickoff attempt, pushing the lead back to 4-2.

Now, the Cardinals were truly muted. Calvert Hall went quietly through the fourth inning; Spalding didn’t.

Spalding junior Ethan McNally clapped a solo home run over the wall in left-center to start a profitable frame for the Cavaliers.

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Tyler Smith (2-for-3), crushed a pitch to right field for a three-run home run, pushing the score to 7-2.

It was then Thomas reached another level. The trick, he said, was to stop attacking the Cardinals batters dead-on. The ace delivered four consecutive strikeouts, ultimately surrendering the ball to his coach at 99 pitches and loud applause. Senior Zach Ford took the mound after, shutting down two Cardinals at the plate and limiting them to one hit.

“As the game went on, I got better,” Thomas said. “I did what my game plan was: go out there, do the best I can and give my team the best opportunity to win.”


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