Hoffman pitches, bats Gibbons to B title

Crusaders top St. Mary's

Curley edges Mt. St. Joe to force A Conf. finale today

MIAA baseball


Cardinal Gibbons senior Nick Hoffman shut down St. Mary's in relief, then hit a game-winning, two-run triple to secure a 5-3 victory in yesterday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference title game at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.

One of only two senior starters on a 13-player roster that includes nine sophomores, Hoffman was clutch on the mound as Gibbons (18-10) made St. Mary's (17-4) a runner-up for the second straight year.

With two on, two out, and the game tied at 3 in the bottom of the sixth innning, first-year coach Lou Holcomb replaced Justin King with Hoffman. Hoffman walked the first batter to load the bases before getting the last out on a fly to right fielder Corey Whittington.

In the bottom of the seventh, Hoffman walked the first batter before retiring the last three on a pop-up, a grounder and a drifting fly ball to center fielder Doug Summers.

"It was a pressure situation. But if he had to call on someone, I'm glad it was me," said Hoffman, who broke a 3-3 tie with his two-out triple in the top of the seventh inning.

Gibbons won its first title since the Crusaders of coach Rod Cameron -- now an assistant at Mount St. Joseph -- beat Calvert Hall, 4-0, for the Maryland Scholastic Association title in 1985. Holcomb was named All-Metro as an Old Mill senior on that championship team.

Holcomb said he "challenged" the Crusaders (4-13 last season) with a tough early season schedule that included wins over Calvert Hall, Curley and public school 4A East region finalist Glen Burnie -- teams ranked Nos. 3, 6 and 17 by The Sun.

Sean Callahan went 1-for-3, including an RBI single that gave Gibbons a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Down 2-1 with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the sixth inning, sophomore Matt Foster's two-run single put the Crusaders up, 3-2.

Foster, like Hoffman, had gone 0-for-2 in his previous at-bats. Gibbons' Craig King tripled and scored once, Mike Cromer walked twice and scored twice, and Mark Meyer had a hit and scored once.

St. Mary's played error-less ball and had seven hits, including Mark Kastantin's double, and triples by Kevin Corradini and Jeff Griffin, whose extra-base hit made it 3-all in the bottom of the sixth.

"My curve ball was getting over. We had more hits, made no errors," St. Mary's starter Tony Magnolia said. "This might be the best we've played, so it's tough to lose."

A Conference

In a game of missed opportunities for both sides, Archbishop Curley wasn't about to let its best one get away.

The Friars, foiled three other times after getting runners to third, broke a tie with four runs in the seventh en route to a 5-1 win over Mount St. Joseph last night in a do-or-die game at the A Conference championships.

"I had to come through," said Adam Schisler, whose two-run single broke a 1-1 tie and gave his team a lead it wouldn't relinquish. "I was just waiting for my pitch."

The victory forces a winner-take-all final between the same two teams this afternoon at 4 at Joe Cannon.

For Mount St. Joe coach Dave Norton, the need for another game is no big surprise.

"All four teams here have been so close in talent, and all the games so far have been close," said Norton, whose team had been unbeaten in the double-elimination tournament. "To expect to come out and win it in three straight would've been unrealistic."

Pub Date: 5/21/99

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