Third-inning grounder turns game Calvert Hall's way, 9-7

`Biggest play' produces 4-3 lead over Mt. St. Joe

Cardinals lead conference

High Schools

April 17, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Sometimes, one play proves pivotal in the outcome of a game. Such was the case yesterday in the baseball showdown between Calvert Hall and Mount St. Joseph.

That play occurred in the third inning of Calvert Hall's 9-7 victory, one that catapulted the No. 2-ranked Cardinals into first place in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association's A Conference over the No. 4 Gaels.

With Calvert Hall's Scott Krieger on second base after a two-out single and a stolen base, and Gavin Swanson on first after walking, Pat Nolan grounded sharply toward shortstop Steve Clevenger.

Krieger hesitated and hopped into the air directly in front of Clevenger, and the ball rolled into the outfield untouched.

"I tried to make something happen, and I shielded the ball so he [Clevenger] couldn't see it," said Krieger, a junior third baseman who went 3-for-4.

The ball continued rolling almost to the fence as left fielder Matt Staso misplayed it. Two runs scored, giving the Cardinals a 4-3 lead.

"That was the biggest play of the game," said Nolan, who finished 3-for-3 with three RBIs. "Scott was perfectly positioned. It was a big play to us because Clevenger is the player they built their team around, and if you knock him down, you knock the rest of them down."

Clevenger also went 0-for-3.

Mount St. Joseph coach Dave Norton also said the play changed the game. "It was a routine play by our shortstop," he said. "We didn't play good defense. You have to make those plays."

Calvert Hall (11-5 overall, 6-1 league) actually won the game with a four-run rally in the sixth inning. Krieger also started that surge with a one-out single. After a wild pitch, Swanson drove him home with a single. Swanson later stole second and scored on Nolan's single.

With two outs, Joe Velleggia, who had half of a kidney removed in an operation three weeks ago, doubled home Nolan. Then Steve Morton, who hit a bases-empty home run in the second inning, singled in Velleggia, who finished 2-for-3 with two doubles.

"Velleggia has been hitting well for us," said Cardinals coach Lou Eckerl. "We're relying on hitting and fielding right now while waiting for our pitching to come around. This was an awesome win for us."

Mount St. Joseph (14-2, 7-2) was led offensively by Marc Preis' two-run single by in the second inning, Jimmy Drury's bases-empty home run in the third, Mike Bianca's two-run single in the fifth and Kirk Hines' RBI single in the seventh.

The Gaels had beaten another conference contender, No. 7 St. Paul's, on Thursday, 2-1.

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