After Calvert Hall's Brent Gossman struck out the game's final batter in yesterday's 10-1 championship rout of No.4 Mount St. Joseph, Cardinals coach Joe Binder almost reverted to his childhood.
The 61-year-old grandfather nicknamed "Snookie" ran out and jumped into a pile of players celebrating their Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title. He rolled around, and, later, delighted in being doused with a cooler of water.
"I still enjoy this. It's all about getting the kids to play to their abilities," Binder said. "At 18-11, our record is average by Calvert Hall standards, but with everything we've gone through, this is special - right up there with the best teams I've had."
For Binder, who has coached 21 years at Calvert Hall, the championship wasn't just his 11th crown in 15 title-game berths. Neither was it just career win No.448 against 135 losses, a mark that ranks him fourth among Maryland's active winning coaches.
This year's third-ranked Cardinals (18-11) recovered from a six-game slide to win nine of their final 11 games, sending St. Joe into its fourth straight runner-up finish.
Gossman (7-3) won his fifth straight game, striking out 10 of the 25 batters he faced while giving up four hits and a walk on 102 pitches.
Gossman also hit a two-run home run in the first inning, part of Calvert Hall's nine-hit attack, and his pinch runner, Marco Muscella, also scored once.
Brian Anecharico and Mike Santmyer also had home runs for the Cardinals. Anecharico went 1-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and two RBIs, and Santmyer was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs.
Stuart Kimmel (2-for-2, two runs) was hit twice by losing pitcher David Byroade. Rory Cernick was 2-for-4, and Joe DiChiara had an RBI.
Only Chris McAndrew's seventh-inning home run prevented the Gaels (22-10) from being shut out.
So Binder's actions were a release, and his team's victory, the culmination of a season that was nearly the worst in his tenure: One that has him considering retirement. "Sometimes, when you try as a coach to do what you think should be done, it's not understood, and you upset people unintentionally," Binder said. "I want to savor this a while, and then start thinking about next year."
The 6-foot-3 Gossman's story involved losing 25 pounds to his present 210 pounds.
"I was a little fat boy, but losing weight helped me a lot throwing fastball strikes, with my curveball, and slider," he said.
Over the first five innings, Gossman faced 17 batters (two over minimum), struck out eight, walked one, retired six others, stranding on third base one of the two players who reached on singles. The other batter who singled was caught stealing.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, went up 4-0 in their four-hit bottom of the first inning, with Gossman's two-run home run scoring Dustin Sparks (two runs scored) for a 2-0 lead.