Palumbo guides Spalding to rare perfect run in MIAA A, wins VSN’s Baseball Coach of the Year honor




by Pat O’Malley

After a star studded playing career at DeMatha Catholic and the University of Maryland, Joe Palumbo arrived on the local baseball coaching scene at Archbishop Spalding in 2013 succeeding his father, Jeff Palumbo. His father led the Cavaliers to the MIAA A Conference championship in 2011.

Now 10 years later, Joe Palumbo has established himself and Spalding as the cream of the crop after notching a fourth MIAA A Conference championship this spring. The fourth title surpasses the trio recently retired Calvert Hall College coach Lou Eckerl won during the same 10-year period.

And what a “special 2022 championship” it was considering the Cavaliers (27-4 overall) went wire-to-wire as VSN’s No. 1 ranked team and going undefeated in regular season at 14-0, then 3-0 in the double-elimination tournament, becoming the first team to go unblemished through the regular season and postseason in the area’s premier league since Calvert Hall’s juggernaut 38-1 campaign in 2007.

It was the Cavaliers sixth 20-win season and fifth VSN No. 1 ranking. Palumbo is the clear choice for Varsity Sports Network’s Baseball Coach of the Year for 2022.

It’s the second VSN Coach of the Year honor in Palumbo’s productive young coaching career. After going 13-16 in his rookie season in 2013, Palumbo got Spalding rolling with an overall 24-4 record and first MIAA A title in 2014 earning his first Coach of the Year honor.

That 2014 season was the first of three straight league titles for the Severn school which went 76-12 in that period. The Cavaliers were the favorite in 2021, but lost to Gilman School twice in the tournament finals after knocking off the Greyhounds twice in the regular season.

Spalding used the disappointment to fuel its 2022 campaign along with a unique pitching staff.

“We certainly had a special pitching staff,” said Palumbo. “We might have to start referring to it as a deck because we have so many aces on the staff. When you have guys like Parker Thomas (VSN Pitcher of the Year), Eddie Sargent and Cody Sharman starting on the mound each game in the league. To have senior Zach Ford as our closer and Beau Haslinger, Kyle Emmons, Jake Yeager, Nate Wines starting non-conference games (7 different pitchers started games this season) and in the bullpen, it did make this the deepest pitching staff I have ever had.”

Foes only scored 58 runs in 31 games against Spalding this year.

“Coming off of last year, I knew we had a great opportunity to contend for the championship,” Palumbo said. “Bringing back an experienced, talented group of players this year, we did have high expectations. There are so many great coaches, players and teams in this league…so for our team to go 17-0 this year is very impressive and yes, even surprising to me as their coach who had high expectations for them.”

Palumbo saw a lot of the comraderie and positive characteristics of his previous three champions in this year’s team. The coach believes that the current edition had the will to win of the 2014 champion, the stellar defense of the 2015 and the brotherhood of 2016 club.

“And one thing all those teams had in common was incredible leadership that made my job easier,” said Palumbo.

Palumbo credits his confidence, coaching demeanor and his approach to helping young guys grow into men to his father Jeff, who turned the reigns to him after leaving to Spalding to become president and principal at St. Vincent Pallotti. 

“I attribute a lot about the way I coach to my father,” Palumbo revealed. “I learned so much from him while he coached at Bowie State University.

“He has been very influential to me and my coaching career and I am fortunate that I was able to learn from him and that we share the same passion for coaching and helping student-athletes. When I see our baseball alumni at playoff games wanting us to win, it makes me genuinely happy to be a part of it.

All of those things are truly what has made Archbishop Spalding a championship high school baseball program.”