Jordan Geber didn’t have his best stuff, but when you know how to pitch, you can get the job done. And Geber got it done Monday in Severn tossing a four-hitter with seven strikeouts and one walk as second seeded and VSN’s No. 2 ranked Archbishop Spalding sent sixth seeded and No. 18 ranked Archbishop Curley to the elimination bracket with a 6-1 victory in the MIAA A Conference double elimination tournament.
Senior third-baseman/pitcher Nick Vermillion had a sac-fly and single with one RBI and first baseman Kris Burkowski and catcher Justin Pelletreau each had an RBI while second baseman Matt Palumbo reached base four times on three walks and a double, with one run driven home. Two other runs scored on errors.
Three-time defending A Conference champion Spalding (21-6) advanced to Wednesday’s final clincher-game at home versus fourth-seeded Loyola (11-13), a huge upset winner by 2-1 over top-seeded and No. 1 ranked Calvert Hall (23-3) that took a 9-game winning streak into the contest.
Calvert Hall and Spalding drew first round byes as the top two seeds and only the Cavaliers survived the second round undefeated with a chance to reach in the final(s) with a victory in Wednesday’s game. The victor of Wednesday’s game will move to Sunday’s finals at Harford Community College and will have to be beaten twice to be denied the championship. The “if necessary” game would be on Monday.
Vermillion is expected to pitch against the Dons on Wednesday.
Geber (7-1) put the Cavs in position by throwing only 70 pitches through six innings of shutout ball before giving up two hits and the Friars’ only run when he threw 26 pitches for a total of 96 for the game in the seventh. Paul Nixon led-off the Curley seventh with a single and was doubled to third by Jalen March’s second two-bagger of the game. Geber set down the next three batters to close it out, but lost his shutout on Wesley Meadowcroft’s fielder’s choice to shortstop Justin Caesar.
“I was getting a little tired in the last inning, but my curve ball was working,” said Geber afterwards while icing down his right arm. “Those guys (Friars) know me because I beat them a couple of weeks ago (by identical 6-1 score) but we got it done.”
Curley coach Brooks Norris whose team was coming off a 3-2 upset in 10 innings of third-seeded and 8th-ranked Gilman gave credit where it was due.
“They’re a really good team and their pitcher (Geber) did a good job,” said Norris.
Geber had really good command and pitched in and out, up and down getting the Friars to hit his pitch in most cases. He picked off Curley’s leadoff man, Zeke Maldonado in the first inning after he issued his only walk on four straight balls.
The Spalding defense behind Geber was flawless not committing an error while the Friars made four costly miscues that led to runs. Their first error came during a decisive three-run second inning that gave the Cavaliers a 4-0 cushion behind Geber.
“’It was big to get on top early to take away their momentum (from their big win over Gilman),” said coach Joe Palumbo. “I had a lot of confidence with Geber going today and he did the job. Now it’s up to Nick (to pitch the big game) on Wednesday.”
While he only scored once, left-hand swinging Palumbo, still another in a long line of Palumbo brothers, cousins and family members who could hit the baseball, was on base in each of the four innings that the Cavaliers put runs on the scoreboard. He doubled in the sixth and final run, before being thrown out on a close play at third. trying to stretch it to a triple.
“Coach Palumbo (his cousin) put me in that second spot in the batting order and I’m up there trying to get on base,” said Palumbo who was 4-for-4 in that department. “I’m just happy to be a part of this team.”
With two more wins in a row, Palumbo and his teammates can be a part of the first team to win four consecutive MIAA A Conference titles since Calvert Hall turned the trick in winning five in a row from 2005 through 2009. The Hall also won four in a row from 1988 to 1991 in the old Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA).
Curley will get Tuesday off before facing the winner of the elimination game between Calvert Hall and Gilman at that winner’s home field. Gilman won, 2-0, over fifth-seeded John Carroll in the tournament’s first elimination game, on Monday. The Greyhounds will visit Calvert Hall, where they won back in the season’s opening week. Curley gets the extra-day because tournament rules stipulate that a team cannot get two byes in the tournament.
Pictured above: Matt Palumbo
MIAA A CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
WINNERS BRACK GAME 3
NO. 2 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 6, No. 18 ARCHBISHOP CURLEY 1
AC 000 000 1 — 1 4 4
AS 130 101 x — 6 8 0
AC – Colton Knoble, Lo Barkley (4) and Trent Gast-Woodard
AS – Jordan Geber (7-1) and Justin Pelletreau.
2B: AC-alen March (2); AS-Justin Pelletreau, Alex Green and Matt Palumbo.