Before this season, Archbishop Curley coach Al Frank's goal was to lead his team out of the Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference cellar.
After a 9-0 start, including yesterday's 2-0 win over third-ranked Mount St. Joseph (7-2) in the A Conference opener for both teams, Frank and No. 7 Curley are in the penthouse.
The host Friars had help from pitcher Brian Bowen, who went the distance, giving up four hits and striking out five on 79 pitches. He had two of the Gaels' three hits and drove in a run. The senior said this was his best outing of the season.
"I was throwing off-speed stuff, then coming back with the fastball to keep them off balance," said Bowen (4-0). "My curve was breaking like a slider, and I think that's what gave them so much trouble. This was my best stuff of the season."
While Bowen was collaring St. Joe, Gaels pitcher Ryan Clark was pitching an equally impressive game, allowing three hits and one earned run. Mount St. Joseph coach David Norton said that bad luck is not new to Clark.
"The first game of the season he pitches a one-hitter and loses, 1-0, and today he throws a three-hitter and loses, 2-0," said Norton. "It may be because our guys know he's good, and I think they ease up a little bit at the plate when he's out there. For him, it's just some bad luck."
The Gaels had been hitting .360 and scoring more than seven runs a game. Yesterday, they had three singles and a double.
Said Norton: "We had trouble with [Bowen's] breaking ball. We were standing in the back of the box, and his pitches were breaking under our swings. I don't think our kids were aggressive enough."
In the Gaels' fourth, they may have been too aggressive. With two out and Clark on first after a single to center, shortstop Brian Dunn hit a line shot past a diving third baseman Ronny Hartman and down the left-field line for a double. Clark tried to score but was gunned down at the plate on the relay from shortstop Jamal Davis to catcher John Petryszak to end the inning.
That base-running error proved costly, as the Friars took the lead in the bottom of the inning. Leadoff hitter Jimmy Libber walked and stole second. With two out, he scored on a Bowen single to left, making it 1-0.