Cardinal Gibbons repeated as the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference champion with a 5-4 victory over Mount Carmel yesterday at Joe Cannon Stadium in Harmans.
The Crusaders ruled because of the team's two unrelated Kings - pitcher Justin King and the hitting of junior third baseman Craig King.
Gibbons (24-6, 13-0 conference) completed its season with an 18-game winning streak, including three straight in the double-elimination conference tournament.
Mount Carmel advanced to the finals by eliminating Severn, 8-6, but had to beat Gibbons twice to win the title. Gibbons dealt the Lions a 15-0 loss in the tournament's second game, but Mount Carmel came to play yesterday.
"It was the fourth time we beat them, and they played well in the final," said Gibbons coach Lou Holcomb, who has led the Crusaders to an overall record of 42-16 in his two seasons at the southwest Baltimore school.
"We have a bunch of hard-nosed kids from Arbutus and Anne Arundel County. I told our parents that these guys are tenacious, and I'm very proud of them."
Justin King (10-3) certainly made the coach and Crusaders faithful proud in going the distance, spreading out eight Lions hits, striking out six and walking two.
Mount Carmel scored twice in the top of the sixth to make it 5-4 game but left a man in scoring position when King got the final out on a fly ball to right.
The Lions' leadoff batter in the seventh reached on an error, but when the next man up missed a sacrifice bunt attempt, Gibbons junior catcher Matt Foster picked the runner off first for a big out.
King struck out a batter, yielded a single and ended the game with a strikeout.
Craig King provided most of the offense for Gibbons, going 3-for-4 with a double, triple, two RBIs and his 36th stolen base of the season.
Mount Carmel took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth, but the Crusaders answered with four runs in the bottom half off Lions starter Andrew Ganzzermiller. Gibbons added what proved to be the winning run in the fifth.
King's two-run double highlighted the four-run fourth, and left fielder Doug Summers, who was 2-for-3 with his 31st and 32nd stolen bases of the year, scored the winning run in the fifth.
The second banner year for the Crusaders in the B Conference has the local high school baseball fraternity asking whether Gibbons will move back up to the A Conference, where they were in the 1980s.
"That's up to our principal, " said Holcomb, the former Old Mill High and University of Maryland left-handed pitcher/outfielder.
"Our numbers could keep us from moving up because we only have an enrollment of 200 kids. We're a small school with good baseball players, kind of like Brooklyn Park was at one time.
"People said we snuck up on them last year and said everybody would be after us this year. They were, and our kids responded.