Greyhounds’ Ace strikes out 15 and overcomes adversity in the seventh; Updated bracket here
by Joe DiBlasi
Gilman right-handed pitcher Peter Heubeck has been an ace’s ace throughout his career with the Greyhounds. Having already led Gilman to a pair of conference finals, with a mid-90’s fastball that has him in line to possibly hear his named called in July’s Major League Baseball Draft, Heubeck may have been at his career best in Thursday’s winners’ bracket final of the 2021 MIAA A Conference double-elimination tournament.
Heubeck blanked 5th-seeded John Carroll on just one hit over the first six innings, retiring 16 consecutive batters at one point. In the seventh, he did give up a couple of singles and was victimized for a pair of unearned runs, caused by an untimely error, but the poised senior still managed to strike out the side in the seventh, to finish with 15 K’s, and close out a 3-2 win over the Patriots.
The win advances the 2nd-seeded Greyhounds (15-8) into the tournament finals and the driver’s seat in this double-elimination event. Only the cancellation of the 2020 season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has kept Gilman out of the finals during Heubeck’s career. This time, however, Gilman, which lost to Archbishop Curley in 2018 and Calvert Hall in 2019, will go into the finals with two chances to win one game and the title. The Greyhounds will also have home field advantage for the first game, hosting the winner of Friday’s final elimination game between top-seeded Archbishop Spalding and John Carroll.
“That’s the best I’ve seen him throw all year,” said Gilman coach Larry Sheets. “He had a good curveball to go along with great fastball and he commanded both sides of the plate. He is a great competitor and he always wants the ball.”
Gilman broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. The frame started with three straight singles from Casey Bishop, Ben Weiner and Adam Hicks, to load the bases. Colin McPherson then added a fourth consecutive hit, driving in two runs to break the deadlock.
After a steal of second by McPherson and a strikeout, for the first out of the inning, things got interesting and a little controversial.
Matthew Wills was next to the plate for Gilman and ripped a liner into left-center, but John Carroll centerfielder Cody Kurek made a spectacular diving catch and then threw to second to double off McPherson. While that was happening, Hicks tagged up at third and scored the Greyhounds’ third run of the inning. As it turned out, it was also the winning run.
John Carroll (12-8) disputed whether the run scored before the third out was recorded and, after the game, the Patriots lodged a protest with the umpires. Shortly thereafter, the MIAA disallowed the protest and upheld the result of the game.
“There is no protest,” said MIAA Executive Director Lee Dove. “After conferring with the officials group, the protest did not occur at the time of the play, which it must be. Also, the protest was over a judgement call, which is not allowed.”
In the John Carroll seventh, Frank Adamski reached with a lead-off single. After Heubeck struck out Ethan Ruiz for the first out, Matt Archibald collected the third JC hit of the day, putting runners on first and second with one out. Heubeck followed with another strikeout before Matt Bishop hit a pop fly to short which was misplayed for an error. Both John Carroll runners raced around to score on the play. Heubeck responded calmly, however, collecting his 15th punch-out to close the door.
“Coming in I knew it probably could be my last outing here a Gilman so I wanted to leave on a good note and get a win for the team,” said Heubeck. “The 15 strikeouts is the most I’ve had in one game. I relied on my fastball and my curveball and I was in the zone.”
With the start of the finals four days away, it is possible the Heubeck could make that start as well. If not, he wants his coach to know he’ll be ready to help capture that elusive championship.
“I will be ready on Monday if Coach Sheets lets me throw,” added Heubeck.
Overshadowed by Heubeck’s performance was the strong work of John Carroll sophomore sensation Frank Adamski. Adamski had allowed no runs and just four hits over the first five innings, before being driven from the game with Gilman’s four consecutive singles to start the sixth. He also allowed a pair of singles and a walk in the fifth, but worked out of the jam with a strikeout and two pop outs.
“We couldn’t seem to break through until the 5th or 6th inning,” said McPherson. A lot of balls were just not dropping in.
“I just shortened up to get the ball in play and it went through,” added McPherson on his two run single.
John Carroll will now go back to top-seeded Archbishop Spalding on Friday. The Patriots defeated the Cavaliers on Monday to push them into the elimination bracket where they have won two straight, including an 8-2 win over 4th-seeded Calvert Hall on Thursday, eliminating the defending champs. The winner of Friday’s contest will reach the finals and travel to Gilman on Monday. Should the finals need a second game, the winner of Friday’s game (John Carroll or Spalding) will host it.
John Carroll coach Darrion Siler knows his club faces a difficult challenge, needing three straight wins to claim the championship, but believes the Patriots are ready to face it.
“I am happy with my team,” said Siler. “I tip my cap to Pete Heubeck on an outstanding performance. Coach Sheets always does a great job with his guys. Gilman is a great ball club. We were right in the game all the way to the end, and I am proud of my team.”
MIAA A CONFERENCE BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
WINNERS’ BRACKET FINAL
GILMAN 3, JOHN CARROLL 2
JC 000 000 2 — 2 3 1
GIL 000 003 x — 3 8 1
WP-Heubeck LP-Adamski2021 B Baseball Bracket FINAL1