Only one MIAA A Conference regular season baseball game remains on the 2016 slate, but when Loyola visits St. Mary’s on Wednesday, it will determine the playoff faits of two teams and final post-season seeds for five clubs.
That was set in motion by Tuesday’s results which saw Archbishop Spalding eliminate Archbishop Curley from playoff contention with an 11-3 win and Loyola clinch a post-season spot with a 5-4 win over John Carroll, while St. Mary’s and Mount St. Joseph both captured big wins to keep their playoff hopes alive.
St. Mary’s has the most at stake in its battle with Loyola after defeating Calvert Hall, 3-2, in 10 innings at Joe Cannon on Tuesday evening. If the Saints can defeat the Dons they will improve to 8-10 in the conference and finish in a three-way tie with St. Joe and Curley. The Saints swept their head-to-head meetings with the Gaels and split with Curley, thus they would grab the sixth seed. If Loyola defeats St. Mary’s, the Saints would be eliminated while St. Joe would remain tied for sixth with Curley. The two split in the regular season, but the Gaels own a win over first-place Spalding, while Curley was swept by the Cavaliers.
Loyola also has much to play for on Wednesday. If the Dons prevail they would finish in a three way tie for third with Gilman and St. Paul’s all at 10-8. All three teams split their head-to-head meetings, but Loyola would own the tie-break, and claim the third seed, because it is the only team which defeated first-place Spalding. If the Dons lose they will finish 9-9 and have sole possession of fifth place.
In a two-way or three-way tie, St. Paul’s owns the tie-break edge on Gilman because the Crusaders have a win over second-place Calvert Hall. Thus, St. Paul’s will be seeded as high as third and no lower than fourth. Gilman will be seeded either fourth or fifth, depending on Loyola.
At Curley, Spalding’s Tyler Bloom pitched six brilliant innings, striking out 15 Friars and allowing just 2 hits in a 11-3 win for the Cavaliers. It was a 1-0 game into the fifth, but the Cavs scored 10 times over the final three innings.
Evan Fochtman hit two home runs and drove in 4 runs for Spalding, while Lavale Hodges, Brendan Foley and Barrett Smith (3-for-4) all doubled. Brian Smith got Curley on the board in the bottom of the seventh with a 3-run home run off reliever Drew Hunt.
At Blakefield, Loyola defeated John Carroll, 5-4, as Andrew Fava hit a two-out, 2-run single in the bottom of the sixth to push the Dons in front and they hung on for the key victory.
In Brooklandville, St. Joe scored 5 runs in the top of the fifth and went on to finish off a 9-1 victory over St. Paul’s. Jake Wyandt had 3 hits and drove in 3 runs and Jack Stilling also had 3 RBI for the Gaels on 2 hits. St. Paul’s got its only run on a RBI single by Kevin Madden, which plated Ricardo Duncan, who had doubled in the bottom of the fifth.
Finally, at Joe Cannon Stadium, St. Mary’s outlasted Calvert Hall, winning on a two-out rally in the 10th. With two down, Tre D’Amico singled and Brady O’Neil followed with a RBI double to center. O’Neil also scored in the Saints’ 2-run first and Calvert Hall tied it with 2 in the third.
Two St. Mary’s pitchers also put on an incredible display as starter Elliot Zoellner and Steven Pelli combined to strikeout 21 Cardinals. Zoellner went the fist six innings, allowing just 3 hits and 2 unearned runs, while striking out 13. Pelli went the final four innings, blanking the Cardinals on 2 hits while striking out 8.