With nine sophomores on a 13-player roster, a first-time head coach and a four-win season the previous year, Cardinal Gibbons couldn't have entered 1999 with many more bleak prospects.
Two months, endless practice and 17 wins later, the Crusaders stand a win away from the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship after knocking off defending champion Chapelgate, 10-1, yesterday in the second round at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
They have a bye into Thursday's championship round against the winner of today's game between St. Mary's and Chapelgate. Also yesterday, Archbishop Curley stayed alive in the MIAA A Conference with a 10-6 victory over Loyola.
First-year coach Lou Holcomb drilled the Crusaders (17-10) relentlessly in practice and saw his young team mature when it faced a tough early schedule. The structure and competition has paid off.
"We had a regimented practice schedule, and it really helped," Holcomb said. "We also played some really tough games, and it helped us in conference play. Facing a high level of pitching day in andday out you get used to seeing that competition."
Chapelgate (10-8), coming off a 12-4 rout of top-seeded Boys' Latin on Monday, scored its run in the first and was blanked the rest of the way on three hits by Craig King (2-2) and Nick Hoffman.
The Crusaders took the lead for good with two runs in their half of the first. They led 3-1 entering the fifth, but Hoffman, one of two seniors on the team, popped a two-run home run to help them build a 7-1 lead. They added three runs in the sixth to cap a 12-hit attack.
St. Mary's 8, Boys' Latin 3: Left-hander George Chmiel (7-0) went the distance, giving up three runs, six hits, seven walks and striking out seven as the Saints (16-3) handled the Lakers in MIAA B Conference semifinal action.
St. Mary's faces Chapelgate today at 4 p.m. at Joe Cannon Stadium to determine who will face Gibbons for the B conference title.
Archbishop Curley 10, Loyola 6: Scott Kosmicky's three-run homer broke a 6-6 tie and highlighted a five-run sixth inning as the Friars (21-9) stayed alive.
Curley, which dropped a 7-6 decision to Calvert Hall in Monday's opening round, trailed 6-3 after three innings, but single runs in the fourth and fifth set up Kosmicky's heroics and helped bail out a shaky day by the defense.
Pub Date: 5/19/99