Top-ranked Calvert Hall scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Friday, erasing a 3-2 deficit and going on to defeat second-ranked Archbishop Spalding, 7-5, in the MIAA A Conference Baseball Tournament.
The win advances the Cardinals (26-3) into the MIAA finals where they will have to defeat arch-rival Loyola twice to win the title. The loss ends Spading’s run of consecutive league championships at three.
Calvert Hall took an early 1-0 lead on a solo home run by JP Murphy in the bottom of the first inning, but Spalding responded with three runs in the top of the second. Alex Green doubled in the first run for the Cavaliers, the second one scored on an error and Green scored the third when Matt Palumbo drew a bases loaded walk.
Calvert Hall moved within one run of the lead, in the fourth, when Gabe Nieto hit a leadoff double, moved to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a squeeze bunt by AC Chavis.
In the sixth, Nieto again ignited the rally with a single and, later, Jose Torres pushed the Cardinals in front with a two-run double. Murphy followed the double with a walk and catcher Garrett Matheny crushed a three-run home run.
Spalding (20-8) tried to answer in the seventh, as Justin Caesar hit a two-run home run with no one out to bring the Cavaliers within two. But, Matthew Hentschel, who pitched the final two innings to earn the win for Calvert Hall, struck out the next two batters and got a fly ball out to end the game.
Loyola, which pushed both Calvert Hall and Spalding into the elimination bracket, will be well rested for Sunday’s battle at Harford Community College (4:00 p.m.). Calvert Hall needs to win on Sunday to force a decisive “if game” on Monday. Loyola can win its first championship since 1946 with just one win.