If trying to beat Calvert Hall for an unprecedented fourth time in a single season were not a formidable enough task for the Archbishop Curley baseball team, Saturday afternoon in the MIAA A Conference playoffs, the No. 7 Friars had to go to battle with their third starter and play at Calvert Hall, after Friday’s heavy rain left Curley’s home field unplayable.
With the second-ranked Cardinals (22-6) swinging hot bats, it all added up to a little too much for Curley (17-12) to overcome, as Calvert Hall built a big early lead and cruised to an 8-1 win, advancing to the MIAA A Conference finals at Ripken Stadium for the 10th consecutive year.
The Cardinals, who have won the last two league titles and seven of the last nine, will have to beat top-ranked Archbishop Spalding twice to score a three-peat. The Cardinals and Cavaliers, who split their two regular season meetings, will get underway at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, following the 1:00 p.m. MIAA B Conference final between St. Mary’s and Annapolis Area Christian. If necessary, one or both conferences will play again at Ripken Stadium on Monday.
David Gately was the hero for the Hall. The senior righty went five solid innings on the mound to earn the win, and he hit a three-run homer in the second inning that gave the Hall a 5-0 lead. In the same inning, Brandon Dorsey added a two-run blast and the Cardinals established a commanding 7-0 advantage.
Of his three-run shot to right, Gately said, “I was just looking for a pitch to drive. He (Jordan Menfee) gave me a hittters’ count, and threw it right down the middle.”
Gately said that he located with his fastball and was able to get his curve ball and splitter over when he needed to. “I really had to go out there and battle. Curley is a really good team, I knew that coming in.”
Manny Rodriguez, who took over for Gately on the mound in the sixth had three hits on the day.
Rodriguez said, “It was a great game. The intensity was very high. We knew that this was do or die, [and] everybody was up; everybody was excited.”
Curley’s only run of the game came on a solo homer by senior Zack Ridgely off of Gately in the fifth. Rodriguez was sharp in relief.
“My two seamer was working pretty good. It was running away from the hitters, and my change up was where I wanted it to be.”
The Hall grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the first on a two-run double by Tyler Webster, before adding five runs in the second, when Gately and Dorsey homered.
Of his homer, Dorsey said, “I was seeing a lot of fastballs up, and I just wanted to hit it good, and it just went over.”
Andrew Dikes and Nick Carroll each had two hits for the Friars, and Jimmy Cassidy reached base in all three of his trips to the plate, with two walks and a single. Andrew Davis also gave Curley three scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit and striking out three.
The Friars defeated the Hall 9-3 earlier in the tournament and they won both regular season games against the Cardinals. They became the first team since St. Paul’s in 2002 to defeat Calvert Hall three times in a single season. But on Saturday, the Friars just couldn’t get a clutch hit with men on base.
The Friars stranded eight men against Gately in their first four at-bats, and had two on with no outs in the sixth, when Rodriguez closed the door on their season.
Going to Aberdeen and winning twice to capture the title is not a foreign task for Calvert Hall. In 2012, the Cardinals defeated Curely twice for the crown and last spring they double-dipped Gilman to win again.
The Cardinals will be aiming for their 11th MIAA A Conference crown in the 18 year history of the league. Spalding won its only championship in 2011.
NO. 2 CALVERT HALL 8, NO. 7 ARCHBISHOP CURLEY 1
CH 251 000 0 — 8 10 0
AC 000 001 0 — 1 7 2
Gatley, Rodriguez (6) and J. Finn; Menfee, Davis (5) and Hamel
2B: CH-Rodriguez, Webster; AC-Hamel.
HR: CH-Gatley, Dorsey; AC-Ridgely.