After winning back-to-back MIAA B Conference baseball championships, St. Mary’s made the jump to the A Conference this spring with hopes of making a playoff run in the upper circuit. The Saints’ playoff hopes are on life-support in the final week of regular season play, but thanks to Thursday’s 2-1 win over top-ranked Archbishop Spalding, the team which owns back-to-back A Conference crowns, St. Mary’s post-season dreams remain alive.
Virginia Tech bound senior pitcher Stephen Pelli, pitched six strong innings to earn the win for the Saints, out-dueling Spalding’s Zach Thompson, who took the loss in a complete game effort.
Both St. Mary’s runs were scored in the top of the first inning as Brendan Aumiller (2-for-3) had an RBI single and Eric Zoellner plated a run on an infield grounder. The Saints offense managed just 5 hits off Thompson, but the opening flurry was enough for Pelli.
In six innings of work, Pelli allowed just one hit. Spalding scored its run in the fourth when David Harding reached on a two-base error and scored when Nick Vermillion reached an infield error. Pelli, however, pitched out of the jam and pitched two more scoreless frames before turning the ball over to Zoellner, who earned the save with a scoreless seventh.
Vermillion had Spalding’s only hit, a single in the sixth. With the hit, he chased Barrett Smith, who had walked in front of him to third, but Vermillion was cut down at second attempting to leg out a double, ending a potential tying or winning rally.
Spalding (23-4), which will close its regular season at Archbishop Curley on Tuesday, had already locked up first place and the top playoff seed. The Cavaliers are now 14-3 in league play.
St. Mary’s (15-9 overall) improved to 6-9 in the conference. The Saints, who have three games left, still have a lot of work to do to reach the post-season. Currently, they sit in 8th-place with only six teams advancing. Calvert Hall (12-5) and St. Paul’s (10-6) have already locked up their bids and with a 14-6 win over St. Paul’s on Thursday, Gilman (9-8) has put itself in great position.
Also on Thursday, Archbishop Curley (8-9) defeated John Carroll, 3-0, and Mount St. Joseph (7-10) topped Loyola (7-8), 4-1. To get in and get past at least two of the teams in front of them, the Saints need at least two wins and possibly three. They still must play Calvert Hall (Tuesday), Loyola (Wednesday) and McDonogh (TBD).