Cardinals and Greyhounds will meet in the winners’ bracket final on Wednesday

by Joe DiBlasi

Despite heavy rain through most the day on Monday both winner’s bracket games in the MIAA A Conference double-elimination baseball playoffs were completed, with top-seeded Calvert Hall defeating visiting Mount St. Joseph, 9-5, in Towson and second-seeded Gilman downing McDonogh, 7-3, on the turf at Johns Hopkins University’s baseball field.

This sets up a winner’s bracket final game on Wednesday at Calvert Hall between the Cardinals and Greyhounds, with the winner advancing directly to Monday’s final at Harford Community College. The tournament’s first elimination game between third-seeded Loyola (13-9) and fifth-seeded Archbishop Spalding (18-12) was postponed and will be played on Tuesday at Hopkins.

By game time at Calvert Hall it was cloudy and cool, but it only rained in the bottom of the first inning, despite the all day downpours that drenched Towson for a second consecutive day. The lights came on at the start of the game, with a game time temperature of 52 degrees.

The host Cardinals (22-6) broke on top in bottom of the first, plating two runs off of St. Joe starter Matt McManus. Fleet-footed Garrett McIlhenney walked to start the inning, and he moved to third on double off the bat of Jose Torres. McIllhenney scored on a wild pitch, with Torres moving to third. Torres then scored on a sac-fly to center from Parker Landwehr.

The Gaels (19-9) cut the lead in half in top of the third when Justin Looney hit a 365-foot solo homer to left, but the Hall got three in the third and three more in the fourth to take a commanding lead.

Antonio Barranca lead the way with a single, double, triple and three RBI’s, Torres had two hits and scored two runs, and McIlhenney reached base three times on a walk, single and fielders choice, scoring three runs and he drove in one.

Barranca said he was just looking for good pitches to hit.

“I was hunting fastballs,” said Barranca. “I was just trying to make contact.”

Calvert Hall ace Pete Marchineck went the distance. The big lefty cruised through six innings, before Looney, who lead the Gaels with three hits smashed his second round- tripper off of him, this time a 3-run blast in the top of the seventh.

Marchineck said he added a new pitch for this outing and it was very effective.

“I didn’t use my change up all season, until today,” said Marchineck. “My fastball was working as well. This was a great win at home to start the playoffs. We played great defense and we hIt the ball really well today.”

Calvert Hall skipper Lou Eckerl praised Marchineck.

“I can’t say enough about Pete,” said Eckerl. “He brings a toughness to our team, a football mentality. He was a tight end on the football team, and he’s a leader on our team. He’s a team captain and he did an outstanding job for us today.”

Barranca heaped praise on Eckerl.

“He brings so much experience,” Barranca said of his veteran coach. “We just follow his lead. He has done this so well for so many years, we follow him.”

Looney complimented the Cards.

“They have great extra-base hit power from 1 through 9, and their top four guys can really hit. They are a good ball club.”

St. Joe’s Justin Looney hit two home runs and drove in four in a losing cause on Monday.

St. Joe now drops into the elimination bracket, but will get a couple of days to prepare for its next game. After the Spalding/Loyola game is completed on Tuesday, the winner will play McDonogh on Wednesday and that winner will play St. Joe on Thursday.

In sending McDonogh to the elimination bracket, Gilman (21-9) scored a pair of runs in the first, third and fifth innings, before adding a single run in the sixth to build a 7-0 lead. McDonogh (15-14) rallied for three in the seventh, but it was not enough.

Brothers Tyler and Ryan Martinez each had two hits and an RBI to lead Gilman. Ryan Williamson, Jackson McCarmbrdge and Trevor Weiner each had an RBI, while Pierce Bennett and Tripp Myers scored twice each.

Gilman sophomore ace Peter Heubeck made the start and worked six scoreless innings, allowing only one hit while striking out 10. Myers finished up in the seventh and was touched up for three hits and all three McDonogh runs.

Cory Kowitz led the Eagles with two RBI’s and a run scored.

Pictured above: Pete Marchineck (left) went the distance on the mound, and Antonio Barranca lead a 9-hit attack with a single, double and a triple and three RBI’s.