No. 1 Patriots best No. 13 St. Mary’s to remain undefeated

by Pat O’Malley

Playing its first game since being named to its first No. 1 ranking in high school baseball, unbeaten John Carroll out-hit No. 13 St. Mary’s to post a 6-3 victory in MIAA A Conference action at Bestgate Park in Annapolis on Monday.

All but one batter in the visiting Patriots’ starting lineup had at least one hit and four of them had two hits each as the Patriots totaled 12 knocks, doubled the six accumulated by the Saints.

John Carroll batters don’t get cheated out of taking their swings at the plate. They are up there hacking and determined to avoid called strikes. They boast one of the metro area’s top free swinging clubs and St. Mary’s was their latest victim.

Junior catcher Stelio Stakias was 2-for-4 with a crucial bases-clearing two-bagger in a four-run third inning and blue-chipper Ryan Archibald had a double and triple, and scored a run, in four trips to the plate as the Pats ran their A Conference leading record to 6-0 and their overall mark to 10-0. St. Mary’s slipped to 3-3 in the league and 6-4 overall.

“Our confidence keeps building up,” said Archibald, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound left-hand hitting third baseman, who has committed to Arizona and is a pro-prospect. A preseason MSABC All-State player, who transferred from Santa Margarita High school in California after his freshman year when his dad, David, moved because of his real estate job. He has fit in well at the Bel Air school.

“Our team has a lot of comaraderie and has really come together since we lost Josh,” added Archibald. “We will never forget him (Josh Hamer, former teammate who had a tragic death in an auto accident prior to the 2017 season). This is a great group of guys.”

And it has showed since day one as the Patriots have emerged as the team to beat in the MIAA A Conference, which from top to bottom might be the most balanced the league has been in recent memory.

“Our guys are exuding a lot of confidence and you can see it on them,” said third-year head coach Darrion Siler, a John Carroll alumnus who played at Maryland’s St. Mary’s College before playing pro ball internationally in Belgium.

“We have a great group of four seniors in Ryan (Archibald), Brad Hock (strong armed center-fielder), Grant Astle (2nd baseman) and Nick Collier (ace left-hander). Ryan is really dialed in and sets the tone. The approach of our entire team has us going.”

And John Carroll got going early, scoring all of their runs in the first four inning, keyed by a four-run third. The big inning came after they squandered a three-hit first inning against Saints’ starter Randy Hood with no runs to show for it. Pats’ starting pitcher Hunter Tipton singled in a second inning run and in the decisive third, Stakias lined a shot into the left-field corner with the sacks full to put three runs on the board as Johnny Galant scored all the way from first base.

“I got a fast ball inside where I like it and got the hit for us,” said Stakias, who would later cross on a fielder’s choice by Tipton after taking third on a single by Hock, who joined Archibald, Stakias and cleanup batter Tyler Blittersdorf with two hits each.

The Saints scored once in the second and twice in the third to cut their deficit to 5-3, on RBI knocks by Chase Hilliard and Sam Daniels, who was 2-for-3. John Carroll tallied its final run in the fourth when Archibald raced home on a wild pitch after his triple.

John Carroll right-handers Tipton and Ben Pika limited the home team to just a half dozen hits. Tipton worked the first four innings on 79 pitches to get the win, striking out three, walking two and giving up the three runs.

Pika went the last three innings yielding only one hit, fanning one and walking one.

“Our staff is focused and Hunter and Ben pitched well today,” said Stakias, who calls pitches for the Patriot hurlers. “They don’t walk people, usually throw strikes.”

St. Mary’s rookie head coach Mike Bronakoski was impressed with John Carroll.

“They are an outstanding team, lived up to their reviews,” said Bronakoski, a former North County (2009 grad) and Towson University pitcher who had been a pitching and JV coach for the Saints. “We have been playing well, but miss our No. 3 hitter and second baseman in Nick Hopkins.”

Hopkins, who has committed to LaSalle, is nursing a bum knee, but is expected back soon.

JC 014 100 0 – 6 12 4
SM 012 000 0 – 3 6 1
Hunter Tipton, Ben Pika (5) and Stelion Stakias; Randy Hood, Brandon Cook (6) and Logan Scully
WP-Tipton SM-Hood
2B: JC-Ryan Archibald, Stakias
3B: JC-Archibald