Jalen March homers for a third straight game as No. 2 Curley defeats MSJ for the second time this week
by Joe DiBlasi
Second-ranked Archbishop Curley (18-3 overall, 10-2 MIAA A) picked up its third win of the week, taking a second straight squeaker over Mount St. Joseph, 3-2, in East Baltimore on Saturday afternoon.
Curley, which edged St. Joe, 2-1, on Tuesday in Irvington, jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a two-run first inning home run by senior center-fielder Jalen March, who has now gone deep in three straight games. In addition, Curley reliever Nick Richardson threw two solid innings in relief of starter Cory Burton, who normally finishes for coach Brooks Norris.
Burton got win with five solid innings of work in only his second start of the year, yielding two runs and six hits. The senior righty struck out the side twice, and he fanned eight Gaels on the day.
“I struggled a little today with my command and I really couldn’t get a feel for my curveball, so I had to rely on my fastball,” said Burton.
The Gaels threatened in the second inning when Burton walked two hitters, but he was able to retire left fielder Luke Williams and second baseman Cullen Dillow on strikes, to keep the Mount off the board.
The first two pitches of the game from St. Joe starter Brandon Munoz however, proved to be very consequential.
On the first pitch of the game, Curley’s Tyler Locklear was nicked by an inside pitch and he scampered down to first. On the second delivery of the game from Munoz, March poked a two-run homer to give the Friars a lightning quick 2-0 lead.
March said, “He threw a fastball down the middle, a good pitch and I made good contact.”
St. Joe answered with two runs in the third off of Burton to tie the game.
Justin Looney opened the inning with a smash down the third-base line that was speared and knocked down by Curly’s third-sacker Gavin Evans, which allowed the Friars to hold Looney to a single.
After Burton got Connor Rudel (who had two hits on the day) on strikes, Connor Feustle got a ground single to right moving Looney to third.
Cleanup hitter Naite Reese followed and whacked a ground single to center, scoring Looney. Feustle went to third on an errant throw to the infield, and Reese took second. Feustle would then cross the plate, when Burton tossed a wild pitch that skipped to the backstop.
Curley answered in the bottom of third, when Paul Nixon drew a walk with one away. He would advance all the way around to third after two wild pitches from from Munoz.
Munoz retired Trent Gast-Woodard on a fly to center, and the Nick Brown walked. With runners on first and third, Dom Owens hit a line drive single to left, plating Nixon for what proved to be the winning run.
Owen said, “I was going up there looking to hit something hard. His first pitch was a fastball and on the next pitch I expected something off-speed, and he gave me another fastball, which I was able to hit inside- out over the shortstop (for the RBI).”
Burton and Richardson made the lead hold up from there. Richardson said, “I had everything working today. I felt good with the slider and the curve and I got ahead of the hitters and was able to keep them off balance.”
Coach Norris said, “Both pitchers did a good job, and we played a very solid game defensively.”
Curley left-fielder Derrick Booker made two sparkling catches in the top of the seventh to keep St. Joe from tying the game.
“Booker shows up every day and plays hard and he always makes good things happen,” said Norris.
Norris had kind words for St. Joe. “They played us well twice this week and they’re a tough team. Luckily we came up on the good side of both games.”
The Mount (9-12, 4-8) under their steady, veteran skipper Rod Cameron, are still not out of contention for a playoff spot, but the two losses to the Friars this week make things more difficult, as the Gaels are in eighth place, two games back (in the loss column) of the last playoff spot.
Curley is in second place in the conference, seeking to hold off fast charging Calvert Hall and Archbishop Spalding for a top two seed along with first place John Carroll (11-0).
The Friars have three league games this week as they visit St. Paul’s on Monday, host Spading on Wednesday and travel to Gilman on Friday. St. Joe is at Calvert Hall, a team it defeated earlier this year, on Monday. It then hosts McDonogh on Wednesday and goes to St. Paul’s on Friday.
NO. 2 ARCHBISHOP CURLEY 3, MOUNT ST. JOSEPH 2
MSJ 002 000 0 — 2 7 1
AC 201 000 x — 3 5 0
Munoz, Crumbacker (4), and Looney; Burton, Richardson (6), and Gast-Woodard
2B: MSJ-Rudel; AC-Gast-Woodard.