McDonogh coach Al Poklemba said pitcher Kenny Cloude is not the whole team.
But he's definitely an important part of it.
Cloude overcame a shaky start to go the distance with a four-hitter, and No. 5 McDonogh broke the game open with a four-run third inning on the way to its fourth straight victory, a 6-1 decision over visiting and No. 2 Calvert Hall in a Maryland Scholastic Association Armstrong Conference A League game yesterday.
The game, a rematch of last year's A Conference title series won by McDonogh (6-2, 5-1), and a battle between two of the three teams tied for first in the A League, looked good for Calvert Hall early.
Cloude (2-2) said he often struggles at the start, and this day was was no exception. Josh Itzoe and Paul Barabasz started the first with singles to put runners on first and third.
Cloude then knocked down a Larry Marino liner and forced Barabasz at home. Jason Dean popped to the pitcher, and Kevin Brooks grounded back to Cloude to end the inning.
Calvert Hall (9-2 overall, 4-2 in the league) got only two hits the rest of the way. Cloude retired seven in a row at one point and 10 of the final 11 batters.
"I always have trouble in the first inning until I get the first out," said Cloude. "Once I get the first out everything clicks."
Cloude stayed busy, with four putouts and two assists. He struck out only three, but grew stronger as the game progressed. Calvert Hall hit only one ball out of the infield in the final three innings.
After the early innings, Calvert Hall had few chances. The Cardinals advanced runners to third base three times in the first three innings but came up empty. "We hit the ball pretty well in the first two innings," said Calvert Hall coach Joe Binder. "[We] didn't get anything out of it."
Calvert Hall starter Jason Reinhart, who entered the game 5-0, struggled from the start. Guy Robertson led off the first for McDonogh with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. Ian Hendricks then dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line, putting runners at first and third.
Cloude lined a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Robertson. Andrew Osborne then singled, but center fielder Dominic Liberto threw out Hendricks at third.
Dennis Badham followed with an apparently routine fly to center, but Liberto dropped it. Osborne scored all the way from first, and Badham wound up at third.
McDonogh struck again in the third. Osborne and Badham both singled to right, and Richie Levin reached on a bunt single to load the bases. One batter later, Mike Ginsberg scored Osborne with a sacrifice fly for a 3-0 lead.
Jeremy Seipel followed with a bloop double to left, bringing in Badham and Levin for a 5-0 lead. Robertson then singled to left, scoring Seipel for a 6-0 lead.
Calvert Hall scored its only run in the fourth. Brian Matz belted a one-out triple to right and Rob German scored him with a sacrifice fly.