The athletic awards banquet at school could wait. The Cardinals of Calvert Hall lingered near the dugout at Towson State University, savoring their fourth straight MSA A Conference baseball championship.
In Hollywood style, the Cardinals had rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning again, scoring two runs without the ball leaving the infield, to defeat Archbishop Curley, 6-5.
No Maryland Scholastic Association baseball team had won four straight titles since Mount St. Joseph earned No. 4 in 1953, the year Hall of Famer Al Kaline starred at Southern High.
In many ways, yesterday's victory mirrored the Cardinals' season. Their final record of 25-8 did not come easily.
"We did it all season," said Calvert Hall senior catcher Ken Konopacki. "We stuck together, just like in this game."
Konopacki -- who previously had beaten Mount St. Joe with a seventh-inning grand slam and Curley with a two-run home run in the final inning -- had a run-scoring triple yesterday, but it was his surprising bunt single plus two walks and two Curley errors in the final inning that helped pull out yesterday's victory.
The winning pitcher was Andy Weltlinger (11-2), who scattered four hits and struck out four. He was removed for two batters in the top of the seventh, and Larry Marino walked both in relief. Weltlinger, a junior lefthander, returned and kept the Friars from a big inning, although Ron Hartman's RBI single did put Curley ahead 5-4.
"The heat wore me down," said Weltlinger, "but I was more angry when I came back. Everyone had put so much effort into this season, I just had to do my best."
"I don't think the kids wanted to go back to the banquet with their heads hanging," said Calvert Hall coach Joe Binder. "Now they can walk in as four-time champions."
For Archbishop Curley (18-6), it might have been the last game for coach Al Frank, who has 291 career victories in 29 seasons. He has hinted he may not coach next season.
The state baseball finals are tomorrow, and the team with the toughest task is probably Hammond. The Bears (19-4) play No. 1-ranked Northeast-AA (23-0) in Class 2A.
Hammond can brag of strong pitching and defense, but Northeast just clubs rivals into submission. In 23 games, it has scored fewer than 10 runs only five times.