No. 2 Calvert Hall (27-3) rode the shoulders of its largest and smallest players to yesterday's 4-1, Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship victory over No. McDonogh.
On the mound at Catonsville Community College, there was 6-foot-2, 220-pound left-hander Andy Bair (11-0) continuing his dominance of the Eagles (18-5), yielding just two hits and two walks and striking out seven in his third victory of the year over McDonogh.
At the plate, there was leadoff hitter Dom Liberto (5-foot-9, 145 pounds) going 2-for-4 with two doubles -- one for two RBIs and the other for one RBI. Not bad for a guy whose coach, Joe Binder, chides him for having a bark that is better than his batting average.
"Dom likes to talk, but that comes with being small, and at 5-8, I can relate to that," said Binder. "He's had a great year, but sometimes I feel like I've got to put a muzzle on him."
Liberto's bat made plenty of noise against Eagles starter Mike Ginsberg (8-2), who struck out three and scattered seven hits and also gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead on a run-scoring double in the first inning.
Ginsberg struck out nine to beat Calvert Hall, 10-5, Friday, but the Cardinals remained alive in the tournament's double-elimination format by beating Mount St. Joseph on Monday, and the Eagles, 8-1, Wednesday.
Sixth-year coach Al Poklemba, whose Eagles beat Calvert Hall for the Maryland Scholastic Association crown two years ago and were runners-up to the Cardinals last year, said "Everybody has their day and [Liberto] had his day."
Did he ever.
"I felt good. I felt like I was in a zone," said Liberto, a center fielder. "I was 0-for-4 against their other pitcher, Mike Stellar, and my two hits against Ginsberg the last time were cheesy. So this was a payback."
Liberto cashed in, giving the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, on his second-inning double, and putting them up, 3-1, with another run-scoring double in the fourth. Kevin Olkowski's fifth-inning single scored Rusty Brown, who had reached on McDonogh's only error before taking second on a wild pitch.
"I didn't have my fastball and Liberto killed me with those two clutch doubles," said Ginsberg.
Ginsberg, in fact, watched the Cardinals get doubles on four of their first five hits, with Liam Healy and Jason Dean getting doubles before Liberto stole the show.
"Collectively, we played OK as a team, but we just didn't hit the ball," Ginsberg said. "And I don't know why, because Bair wasn't throwing as well as I've seen him throw."
In his three victories over McDonogh, Bair has allowed just three hits against 29 strikeouts.
Bair's other victories over McDonogh came in a one-hit, 10-0 shutout via the 10-run rule on March 31, and by a 3-0, 14-strikeout perfect game on April 21.
In the latter, Bair was in on 18 of the 21 strikeouts.
"I wouldn't say I have their number because they hit me pretty hard today," said Bair.