Devin Patrick’s four RBIs, two in the bottom of the seventh, and Nick Sabatini’s superb relief job enabled Ryan Davis to shoot a flare down the left field line to score a pair and give No. 10 St. Mary’s a thrilling come from behind 6-5 victory over No. 19 Boys’ Latin in a key MIAA B Conference contest played at Bachman Sports Complex in Glen Burnie.
The crucial clash between the top two contenders in the B Conference was played on Wednesday night in front of more fans (about 50 to 60) than the Baltimore Orioles drew at Camden Yards. The Patrick-Davis fireworks capped a four-run rally by the Saints in their final at-bat leaving the two clubs tied in the loss column in their battle for the top seed in the upcoming (May 8) six-team B Conference playoffs.
St. Mary’s (17-2) is 12-1 in conference action while Boys’ Latin (15-2) is a half-game up at 13-1. The Saints have six games left in the final eight days of regular season while the Lakers have five games left and if they end up tied for first, a coin flip will determine the top seed.
“We hope to play them again in the playoffs,” said Sabatini, who notched the win with two and 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. “We were down but had the confidence we would pull it out. We are a family as coach stresses.”
St. Mary’s fourth-year coach John Poss believed his team would come back on the Lakers because of their resilency and winner’s attitude that has them losing only two conference games since 2013, both to the Lakers. Boys’ Latin knocked off St. Mary’s in the 2013 playoffs and then by 4-2 in the first week of April this season. Sandwiched in between was St. Mary’s undefeated 2014 championship season.
“Boys’ Latin has a quality team and knocked us down early but our kids answered the bell two times and came back to win it,” said Poss, who has led his guys to 87 wins over the last four seasons. “We struggled early, but then the bats came alive.”
Boys’ Latin took a 2-0 lead in their first at-bat on a two-run single by cleanup batter and rightfielder Josh Smith off freshman righthander Steve Pelli. St. Mary’s scored single runs in the first and third innings on a pair of sacrifice flys by Patrick to tie the game at two, but in the top of the fourth the Lakers rung up two runs and added another in the fifth for a 5-2 lead.
Mark Lopez, who pitched the first three innings for the Lakers, singled to center off Pelli for a 4-2 lead and Sam Bowen’s second of three singles off reliefer Kade Keys made it 5-2. Sabatini entered with the bases loaded and struck out Lopez to quell the threat and he would keep the Lakers scoreless over the final two innings as the Saints geared up.
St. Mary’s had only two hits through the first five innings off Lopez and his fourth-inning replacement Dom Maggio, but Patrick and Matt Hammond drilled singles to start the bottom of the sixth. Maggio pitched out of the jam on a popped up bunt and two strikeouts, but the Saints were stirring.
Boys’ Latin shortstop/closer Skylar Morris came on to face the Saints in the bottom of the seventh and got the first man he faced before Ben Rankin singled to right to turn on the decisive rally. Patrick doubled to deep right-center to chase two Saints home and make it a 5-4 game.
“I wasn’t trying to hit a home run, just trying to put the ball in play,” said Patrick, the team’s cleanup batter and left fielder. “I’ve been swinging the bat well lately (every ball he hit was to the outfield) and I knew how important this game was and how much we wanted it.”
Morris needed only one more out to end it in the win column for the Lakers when the left-hand hitting Davis strode to the plate. Davis delivered a flare down the left field line to score the tying and winning runs setting off a wild celebration in the home plate area.
“It was a fast ball on the outside corner and I went with it,” said Davis. “I’ve been doing a lot of opposite field hitting lately.”
Poss had gotten some good news before the extremely satisfying victory that only put some icing on the cake. He learned that junior standout pitcher Elliott Zoellner’s MRI revealed positive results and his injured arm is going to be fine and he will be ready for the playoffs.
The Davis and Zoellner combo have been formidable over the last couple seasons and should give the defending B champSaints an edge going into the postseason.
No. 10 St. Mary’s 6, No. 19 Boys Latin School 5
at Bachman Sports Complex
Boys’ Latin 200 210 0 – 5 11 0
St. Mary’s 101 000 4 – 6 7 0
Mark Lopez, Dom Maggio (4), Skylar Morris and Matt Purnell; Steve Pelli, Kade Keys (5), Nick Sabatini (5) and Brady O’Neill.
2B: BL – Maggio; SM – Devin Patrick and Ryan Davis.
WINNING PITCHER – SM – Nick Sabatini
LOSING PITCHER – BL – Skylar Morris