Dons claim share of second place in MIAA A baseball as postseason looms

by Joe DiBlasi

Two top notch pitchers went head-to-head in Owings Mills on Saturday afternoon, when Loyola ace Matt Wyatt squared off against McDonogh’s Matt Spind in an MIAA A Conference baseball tilt that was played at McDonogh after the the wet field at Blakefield was deemed unplayable earlier in the day. The teams battled into extra-innings before the Dons pulled out a key 4-3 victory.

Wyatt went 6.2 strong innings before giving way to sophomore Stephen Schenning with two on and two out, with the game tied 3-3 in the top of the 7th. Schenning got the Eagles’ Ben Smith on strikes to end the threat.

Spind held the Dons to three runs on three hits in six full innings of work for 12th-ranked McDonogh coach Matt Tuneski.

Emmettt Reynolds was 3-for-4 with two RBI’s, including the game-winning run with a walk-off single with the bases loaded in bottom 9th-inning.

Kyle Whitaker took over for Spind in bottom of the 7th. He pitched two scoreless innings, but left in the bottom of the ninth when he walked Owen Reynolds to start the frame. Whitaker, who was charged with the loss, had a double and a single the plate, and he scored on a wild pitch in the 5th-inning to tie game 2-2 at the time.

Ironically, the first two Loyola runs on Saturday were registered on wild pitches by the Eagles in the second inning.

In the end, the old baseball adage that walks will hurt you, proved true. Tuneski summoned Logan Lach to mound with one on and no one out in the bottom of the ninth and Dom Dinoto greeted him with a double, to put runners on second and third. The Eagles then intentionally walked Jeff Snider to load the bases, to play for a force at the plate.

The strategy backfired when Emmett Reynolds blasted one to deep right that would have been good for extra bases, and Emmett’s brother Owen scored the winning run for the Dons. Emmett was credited with a single, his third hit of the day for Coach Mike Kelly. Emmett Reynolds had put the Dons ahead 3-2 with a run scoring single back in the fifth, but Spind tied the game at 3-3 with a solo homer off of Wyatt, to deep left in the seventh.

“Emmett continues to play like an MVP,” said Kelly. “He is hitting over .500, hits everybody, every game, and gets big hits.”

On the effort from Wyatt and Schilling, Kelly said, “Our pitching was set up for today. They both had a lot of rest and they were both ready. Schenning is only a sophomore, and he came through today.”

“It’s a big win for us,” said Emmett Reynolds. “It’s our second to last conference game, and we want to keep our momentum going into the playoffs. We had the bases loaded, and there was nowhere to put me when I came up in the bottom of the ninth, and I was looking for a fastball, and I got one.”

The Dons catcher praised the work of Wyatt and Schenning.

“They both were really good; they both were around the plate a lot. Matt did a good job of setting the tone, and Stephen finished it up.”

Spind pitched well enough to win.

Matt Spind threw six strong innings and hit a solo home run for McDonogh.

“We needed one more hit at the end,” said Spind. “We had runners on in every inning; we just couldn’t get the big hit. We will probably see them in less than a week in the playoffs, so we’ll have to get ready for that.”

Tuneski praised Spind.

“He is a big-time player for us. He is very competitive and he’s clutch. For him to come back and hit that home run, that gave our guys a chance to win.”

“We had some chances in the late Innings, but we just couldn’t cash in. On the day, we walked too many batters, and gave them too many opportunities, but I’m happy with the way our team is playing down the stretch.”

Loyola (17-8 overall) is now 12-5 in the league and tied for second place with Gilman. Both teams have one game to play, as the Dons host St. Mary’s on Tuesday and the Greyhounds host McDonogh, also on Tuesday. Loyola needs to win and have McDonogh beat Gilman to claim the second seed, which comes with a first round playoff bye in the double-elimination playoffs which get underway next Friday. If both teams win or both teams lose, Gilman will get the second seed by virtue of winning both head-to-head battles with Loyola.

In addition to the game with Gilman, McDonogh (14-11, 9-7) also plays at St. Mary’s on Wednesday. The Eagles are currently in fifth place and in the playoffs. They have an outside shot of climbing up to the fourth slot, currently held by Mount St. Joseph (11-6) and the could also fall back to the sixth slot, currently held by Archbishop Spalding (9-8).

Pictured above: Matt Wyatt (left) and Stephen Schenning held McDonogh to just four hits in nine innings, helping the Dons prevail, 4-3.

MCD 010 001 010 — 3 4 1
L.OY 020 010 001 — 4 5 0
Spind, Whitaker (7), Lach and Hertzberg; Wyatt, Schenning, and E. Reynolds
2B: LOY—Dinoto; MCD-Whitaker.
HR: MCD—Spind.
WP—Schenning LP—Whitaker