Top seed St. Mary's captures its first B Conference crown

Sixth-inning rally tops pesky Chapelgate, 9-5

MIAA baseball

High Schools

May 28, 2004|By Tommy Ventre | Tommy Ventre,SUN STAFF

Things looked bleak for St. Mary's in the middle of the fifth inning of yesterday's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference final.

Facing a Chapelgate team they had barely slipped past in the regular season, the top-seeded Saints let a one-run lead turn into a three-run deficit. They made three errors and their offense was being held in check by pitcher Dave Kwash.

But the Saints scored two runs in the fifth to chase Kwash, then parlayed an error in the sixth into five more runs to notch a 9-5 win at Towson University and wrest the B Conference title from the defending champion Flames.

St. Mary's 15-game league winning streak and chances at the first conference title in program history had looked in jeopardy. But right-hander John Graham-Green knew not to worry.

"We've been on a winning streak for two months," Graham-Green said. "Everybody was up. Everybody knew we would get the hits and come back. Everybody knew we had to, and we did."

As it did a year ago, Chapelgate (14-8) turned heads this postseason with a stirring run through the loser's bracket of this double-elimination tournament. Four times in the past eight days the Flames faced elimination, and four times they staved it off.

But to repeat as champion, they would have had to twice beat the Saints (19-10), who were undefeated in three tournament games before the final.

"It's tough," said Chapelgate coach David Stokes, whose team was trying to win its third title since 1998. "Obviously, you don't want to lose, especially in a championship game ... but it just wasn't our day. St. Mary's is a good team, and we just ran out of gas."

The Saints won after finally solving Kwash in the fifth, loading the bases against him with no outs and scoring twice on sacrifice flies. Scott Moran came on to get the last out, but it was the last batter he'd retire.

Four Saints scored in the sixth before Chapelgate recorded an out, with an error on Alex Cameron's bunt attempt fueling the decisive rally.

"It's the best," said Graham-Green, who earned the win after limiting Chapelgate to one run and three hits in three innings of relief. "We've never done it before, so it's great."

C 003 010 1 - 5 8 4

SM 100 025 x - 9 13 3

Kwash, S. Moran (5), B. Moran (6) and Hein; Hartman, Graham-Green (4), Santoriello (7) and Gardner, Ray (3). 2B: SM-Shriner, Santoriello. 3B: C-B. Moran; SM-O'Donovan.

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