Calvert Hall holds off Gilman, 4-2, to win its 12th MIAA A baseball championship; Marchineck earns the title clinching win on the mound and homers for the Cardinals
by Gary Adornato and Joe DiBlasi
After a six-year hiatus, Calvert Hall is back on top of the MIAA A Conference in baseball.
The Cardinals, who took over the top spot in this week’s VSN Baseball Top 20, claimed its MIAA-best 12th league crown and its first since winning back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, with a 4-2 win over fourth-ranked and second-seeded Gilman, Monday evening at Harford Community College.
Senior left-handed pitcher Pete Marchineck was one of the biggest heroes for Calvert Hall, as he pitched 6.1 innings and earned the victory with a nerve-wracking assist from fellow senior Jose Torres.
Leading 4-1 entering the top of the seventh, Marchineck allowed a leadoff single to Gilman sophomore Ryan Martinez, setting the stage for one of the most pivotal plays of the night. Gilman’s Michael Mallas hit a sinking liner into center-field that forced Martinez to freeze between first and second base. Calvert Hall center-fielder Garrett McIlhenney, another of the Cardinals’ brightest stars in this game, streaked towards the ball, but instead of diving for a difficult catch, he short-hopped it and fired to second for a force-out of Martinez.
The rally continued, but the play deprived Gilman of an out and a much-needed base runner.
Ryan Williamson then drew a walk and that prompted Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl to pull Marchineck in favor of Torres, who earned a save against Gilman, in a playoff game last Wednesday with a three-pitch strikeout.
Torres walked the first batter he faced to load the bases with one down. The next batter hit a come-backer to the mound which looked like it could be a game-ending double-play, as Torres threw home for one out and catcher Parker Landwehr threw to first. Landwehr’s throw, however, ended up rolling down the right-field line, allowing Williamson to score the second Gilman run, now with two down. Tyler Martinez drew yet another walk and the bases were loaded once again, this time with the tying runs in scoring position.
Unfortunately for Gilman, which also lost in last year’s finals to Archbishop Curley, Torres was able to get the next batter, Tripp Myers, to hit a routine fly-ball to left for the game’s final out and another Calvert Hall championship.
It was the eighth crown for Eckerl at the Hall and his ninth overall. He also lead now closed Cardinal Gibbons School to a championship in 1982.
“He has been tough all year, and we got another excellent performance tonight,” said Eckerl of Marchineck, who blasted a 380-foot home run off Gilman starter and sophomore ace Peter Heubeck, in the second to give Calvert Hall a 2-1 lead. “He is our captain and leader.”
McIlhenney was just as important.
In addition to his defensive gem, the speedy center-fielder manufactured a couple of runs with his work on the base paths.
Marchineck singled to center to start the Calvert Hall first, stole second and scored on an RBI double by Landwehr. With two down in the second, after Marchineck’s home run, McIlhenny stole second to initiate a double-steal that resulted in Sami Kahn racing home with the Cardinals’ second run.
McIlhenney finished with three hits and scored twice.
“Great offense, and great defense,” Eckerl lauded McIlhenney.
Marchineck thanked the Calvert Hall fans for their support.
“They came out for us and it helped,” said Marchineck. “A great game. Gilman is a great team. It means a lot to be able to beat them.”
McIlhenney, who will play at Division 3 Misericordia University in Pennsylvsnia next season concurred.
“Gilman is great,” he said. “They fought back again. Each game that we played against them this season was close.”
Huebeck was tough as well. Touching the low 90’s with his fast-ball, he limited the potent Cardinal attack to just five hits, but was undone by a few defensive lapses. He went 4.1 innings, struck out five and walked only one. Only three of the four runs he allowed were earned.
MIAA A CONFERENCE BASEBALL FINALS
(at Harford Community College)
NO. 1 CALVERT HALL 4, NO. 4 GILMAN 2
GIL 100 000 1 — 2 5 1
CH 120 010 x — 4 5 1
Heubeck, Rosenfeld and Mallas; Marchineck, Torress (7) and Landwehr
2B: GIL-T. Martinez; CH-Wright, Landwehr.