Nixon out-duels Glock in Curley’s 3-2 win; Gast-Woodward drives in two with a home run

by Joe DiBlasi

When Archbishop Curley’s big right-hander Paul Nixon took his home mound on Monday afternoon against the 14th-ranked Loyola Blakefield Dons, the temperature at game time was 41 degrees and the wind chill was 37.

It was football weather in East Baltimore when the third-ranked Friars took on the defending MIAA A Conference champs, and to say that most line drives off the bats of both teams were frozen ropes would be an understatement.

The Friars prevailed, 3-2, behind Nixon, who improved to 4-1 on the year for Coach Brooks Norris. Nixon held the Dons hitless for 5.2 innings before Loyola’s AJ Holcomb homered in the sixth to plate the Dons’ runs. Nixon then settled back in and finished off the complete game effort.

Nixon thrived in the cold weather, just as he did in a recent outing at Archbishop Spalding when he notched a win over the Cavaliers in similar conditions.

“My two-seamer and my slider were working today, and I’ve put more emphasis on my change-up, which I used to get a couple of strikeouts,” said Nixon. “I work harder in cold weather, so it kind of helps me. I had a good feel for the ball today.”

Nixon’s battery-mate Trent Gast-Woodard put the Friars on top when he walloped a two-run homer in the bottom of the third, and they picked up what proved to be the winning run by playing small-ball in the fourth frame.

Second baseman Nick Richardson drew a walk off of Loyola starter Will Glock to start the fourth, and when Curley shortstop Gavin Evans laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt, Richardson sped all the way to third, as the Dons left the base unguarded. Left-fielder Derek Booker then hit a sacrifice fly to center to plate Richardson on what proved to be the winning run.

Holcomb’s two-run homer for the Dons came after second baseman Jeff Snider reached first on an infield error to start the sixth inning, cutting the Curley lead to 3-2.

Nixon retired the Dons one, two, three in the seventh.

“Paul threw a great game,” said Gast-Woodward, a stong-armed backstop who play at Towson University next year. “He was throwing his two-seamer and his slider pretty good today, and our defense made some real good plays behind him.”

On his two-run four bagger, the Curley catcher said, “I was just trying to put the ball in play and be productive. He gave me a fastball and I jumped on it.

“We needed this win to get our momentum going again (after our recent loss to John Carroll).”

Coach Norris concurred.

“We played well today,” said Norris. “John Carroll’s Collier had a good game against us, but we got enough hits today and Paul (Nixon) was outstanding, as he has been all season.

“He only needed 90 pitches against a good team and he did a very efficient job.”

The Friars improved to 12-2 on the year, and they are 6-1 in the conference, where they trail undefeated John Carroll by a half game. John Carroll stayed hot on Monday with a 6-3 win at St. Mary’s. The Friars will travel to Towson on Wednesday afternoon to take on Calvert Hall.

The defending champion Don fell to 5-6 overall and 2-4 in the A Conference, where they are tied for seventh place.

LOY 000 002 0 — 2 1 0
AC 002 100 x — 3 5 1
Glock, Mumaw (4) and Reynolds; Nixon and Gast-Woodard
WP- Nixon LP Glock
2B: AC-March
HR: AC-Gast-Woodard, LOY-Holcomb