O’Connor overcomes early struggles to blank the third-ranked Friars, 8-0

Dan O’Connor worked out of several early jams and then grew stronger as he shutout No. 3 Archbishop Curley.

by Joe DiBlasi

Calvert Hall’s senior right-hander Dan O’Connor threw a six-hit shutout, on Wednesday afternoon at Carlo Crispino Field in Towson, to lead the 10th-ranked Cardinals to an 8-0 when over the visiting and No. 3 Archbishop Curley, in MIAA A Conference baseball.

O’Connor was Houdini in the early going, as pitched out of several jams and forced the Friars to strand six runners. The great escape came in the second inning when, with the bases-loaded, when he fielded a grounder back to the mound off the bat of Curley’s Derek Booker and promptly started a 1-2-3 double play to end the threat and keep the Friars off the board.

He did much the same in the third inning when Curley put runners on first and second with no outs, before O’Connor got the heart of the Curley lineup out 1, 2, 3, on a fielder’s choice, a strikeout, and a pop out to second.

O’Connor said his day changed when he struck out the side in the fourth inning.

“That 1-2-3 inning for me turned the game around and it gave me a lot of momentum,” said O’Connor. “I relied on my fastball today and I was able to command my fastball from that point on.”

Calvert Hall took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of second thanks to a Curley miscue in the infield and an RBI single off the bat of Dom Freeberger. They added another run in the third when on an RBI single from Antonio Barranca.

Ethan Coster (left) broke the game open with a three-run double in the fifth and JP Murphy added a two-run double in the sixth.

The Cardinals picked up three runs in the home half of the fifth, when Parker Landwehr drew a lead-off walk, JP Murphy was hit by a pitch and Jose Torres singled to left to the load the bases with no outs. Curley manager Brooks Norris then summoned Nick Richardson to the mound to take over for starter Jeff Calderson.

It looked like Richardson was also going to slam the door on the Cardinals when he fanned Barranca and Mason Unfried, but West Point bound second baseman Ethan Koster ruined the relief effort when he wrapped a three-run double to deep left-center to give the Cardinals a 6-0 lead.

Koster said he was looking for a curveball because he had already seen a couple of curve-balls early, and he heard his dad call from the crowd, “You’re going to get one.”

“I was looking for that curve and was able to get on it,” said Koster.

The Hall added two more in the sixth when Murphy, who was 3-for-3 on the day for coach Lou Eckerl laced a two-run double.

Murphy said, “I had a green light on a 3-0 count and I drove a fastball.

“That was a good win for us because because Curley
is a great team,” added the High Point (NC)-bound center-fielder. “The ball was traveling better today because we had better weather. When it’s cold in this ballpark the wind blows in toward the hitter, but when the weather warms up the wind comes up behind the hitter and and it helps carry the ball into the gaps.”

Eckerl said it was an awesome win.

“Curley came in at 6-1 with their only loss coming to undefeated John Carroll, but our guys came to play today.”

On the on the complete game shutout from O’Connor,
Eckerl said, “Dan was very composed. We have a lot of confidence in him. I was concerned that I might have to go to the bullpen after he threw 60 pitches in the first three innings, but then he settled down, reached the 90 pitch count to start the last inning, but he got them one, two, three in the top of the seventh on four pitches”.

O’Connor summed things up when he said, “I think this will turn the season around for us after a slow start.
It was a great team win, and my defense played great behind me.”

Calvert Hall (8-5 overall) continues to recover from a slow start and has now improved to 4-3 in the conference, moving up to fourth place. Curley (12-3 overall) lost from the second time in its last three league games after a 5-0 start. The Friars are now 6-2 in league play as they sit in third-place, behind undefeated John Carroll (7-0 in conference) and Archbishop Spalding (5-1).

Curley will return home on Friday to host St. Mary’s and Calvert Hall will host Spalding on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.

Pictured above: Calvert Hall’s Jose Torres (#16) crosses the plate in the Cardinal’s 3-run fifth inning. He is greeted by Patrick Landwehr (#23), JP Murphy and Pete Marchineck (#18).

AC 000 000 0 — 0 6 1
CH 021 032 x — 8 10 0
Calderson, Richardson (5), Peters (6) and
Gast-Woodard; O’Connor and Landwehr
WP-O’Connor LP-Calderson
2B: CH-Koster, Murphy.