Mount St. Joseph pitcher Ryan Clark was perfect yesterday.
Clark kept McDonogh batters off-balance with a mixture of pitches and retired all 21 he faced for a perfect game, as host Mount St. Joseph defeated the Eagles (9-10), 8-0, in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference playoff game.
Mount St. Joseph (20-3) plays host to Calvert Hall (23-8) today in the A Conference's double-elimination tournament.
Clark used his fastball, knuckler, curve and slider to mystify McDonogh batters. The 6-foot-2 senior left-hander had Eagles batters lunging early and swinging late all day.
"A win was enough for me," said Clark, 6-3 on the season and 5-2 in the MSA. "The defense was there. They had a lot of chances. It's a reflection on the whole team."
Clark achieved perfection by throwing 55 strikes in 72 pitches. He was constantly ahead in the count and went to a three-ball count just once, 3-0 to James Cheng in the fourth. Cheng then grounded to third.
Catcher Pat Young said Clark threw with confidence and kept the ball low. Young said that when Clark gets the ball up, he often finds trouble.
Mount St. Joseph coach Dave Norton said Clark, who was hit hard by McDonogh earlier this season, suffered some tough luck at times. He threw a one-hitter against Centennial but lost, 1-0. He also lost to Curley, 2-0, while throwing a three-hitter.
"He'll throw a knuckleball, [and] he'll throw off-speed pitches," said Norton. "If he gets those over the plate, you're not going to hit him."
McDonogh came close to breaking the Clark spell just once. Jordan Steller led off the seventh with a shot down the third-base line, but third baseman Knoll Axt dived to his right, snared it and threw to first for the out.
Mount St. Joseph took a 1-0 lead in the first when Jeff Mengel scored as part of a double steal. The Gaels added single runs in the fourth and fifth, both scored on wild pitches, but they exploded in the sixth.
McDonogh starter Alex Brown struggled with his control, walking eight but allowing only three hits in five innings plus one batter. When he walked Jaymie Erbe to open the sixth, Tobin Jones replaced him.
Jones then walked Mengel and Bush to load the bases. Clark (2-for-3) then singled to center, scoring two. Axt followed with a two-run single, and Brian Dunn concluded the five-run inning with an RBI double.