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High School sports

No. 11 John Carroll baseball knocks out No. 8 Curley, 10-2, in MIAA A playoffs to set up matchup vs. No. 2 Calvert Hall

Win or lose this season, the John Carroll baseball team has stayed consistent. The No. 11 Patriots are aggressive in all phases and remain confident, no matter the score.

So when they trailed by two runs late in Thursday’s playoff elimination game at Archbishop Curley, the Patriots stayed true to form before breaking through in the top of the fifth inning.

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They got clutch hits, took some walks, were active on the bases and made the Friars pay for errors. It added up to a six-run fifth inning for John Carroll, which sparked a 10-2 win over the No. 8 Friars in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference double-elimination playoffs.

William Rhine and Austin Hofmann provided the big hits in the pivotal inning and pitchers Kyle McCracken, Griffin Shirk and Ben Pierce combined to limit the Friars to two hits. Shirk earned the win, pitching one inning and allowing one run on one hit while striking out two and walking one. Pierce pitched the final 2 2/3 innings to register the save.

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John Carroll (15-11) travels to No. 2 Calvert Hall — a 7-2 loser to No. 1 Archbishop Spalding in the winners’ bracket on Thursday — on Friday at 4:30 p.m. to try to keep its championship hopes alive. Friday’s winner will have to beat undefeated Spalding twice in the championship round, which opens Monday with an “if necessary” game set for Tuesday.

First, the Patriots had to rally to beat the Friars for their second straight come-from-behind playoff win.

“For us, our key motto is selfless, relentless, pride. So everything we do, whether it’s a practice or in games, everything we try to focus on is dealing with those three pillars,” John Carroll coach Darrion Siler said. “And relentlessness is something that we really try to coach them up and talk to them a lot about. If somebody throws a haymaker, we want to throw two. So we’re going to focus on our process and take things from there.”

Curley senior starter Ryan Edmonds did well to pitch out of jams in the second, third and fourth innings, while the Friars took a 2-0 lead on an RBI single from senior catcher Zack Gaeta in the third. A second run came across in the fourth on a wild pitch from McCracken.

But the Patriots worked the counts and made Edmonds labor each inning after he retired the side in the first. In John Carroll’s big fifth inning, Matt Bishop opened with a single and Shirk followed with a walk. One out later, Ethan Ruiz walked to lead the bases. Frank Adamski’s fielder’s choice scored Bishop and Shirk scampered home on a throwing error. Rhine delivered a run-scoring triple to deep center to give the Patriots their first lead, 3-2.

Later in the inning, Hofmann made it 6-2 with a sharp two-out, two-run single up the middle off Curley reliever James Gladden. The Patriots added two runs in the sixth and seventh — with Ruiz and Shirk both producing run-scoring doubles — to cap the win.

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After a tough 1-0 loss to Spalding in Monday’s playoff opener, the Patriots came back Tuesday and rallied from a four-run deficit to beat Loyola Blakefield, 6-5.

“It just has to do with us trusting the process, trusting who we are and the things we talk about,” Siler said. “It has to go beyond lip service and they have to be able to do it. And the boys are owning those things and taking care of business.”

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Thursday’s loss put an end to a special season for Curley, which had a talented senior class that included Edmonds, Gaeta and Gladden. Under Joe Gaeta, Zach’s father, the Friars finished with a 17-13 mark.

“This is my first group I’ve had for four years to work with, so it’s tough, and my son is a part of it, too,” the senior Gaeta said. “So this will be the last time I’ll coach him. We’ll look back at it and not exchange it for anything — just have great memories from it.”

JC 0 0 0 0 6 2 2 — 10 9 1

C 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 — 2 2 3

McCracken, Shirk (4), Pierce (5) and Brooks; Edmonds, Gladden (5), Nemec (6), Eddy (6), Layhew (7) and Gaeta, Poole (6). 2B: JC — Archibald, Ruiz, Shirk. 3B: JC — Rhine


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