Calvert Hall scrambles to repeat as `A' champ

Down 4-0, Cardinals rally for 5th straight win in losers' bracket

Calvert Hall 5 Gilman 4



Joe Velleggia grounded a single with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning to score freshman Pat Blair with the winning run and and give Calvert Hall a 5-4 victory over Gilman in last night's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference final at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.

Down 4-0 after three innings, the No. 3 Cardinals (27-8) pecked away, and Velleggia's hit capped the comeback as the Cardinals repeated as A Conference champs by winning five straight out of the losers' bracket.

"We hung in there and they made a couple mistakes with a couple walks at the end and then we got the hits," said Lou Eckerl, who led the Cardinals to their fourth final in his five years as coach.

"Gilman and [coach] Marty Meloy are a first-class act. They started out 1-6 and turned it around."

It was Calvert Hall's 15th A Conference title since 1963, the most by any school.

Jeff Guthridge drew a bases-loaded walk to send pinch runner Greg Terry home with the tying run, giving Velleggia the chance to win it.

"I was real excited to hit because I needed to redeem myself, " said Velleggia, one of only three returning starters from last year's 31-1 champion.

Velleggia was 1-for-9 with a single and only one RBI in his previous three playoff games before the game-winning hit off reliever Marco Simmons, who entered in the sixth for starter J.B. Cooke.

"I'm glad I got the opportunity in my last game as a senior, " Velleggia said.

Velleggia pointed to Calvert Hall's sophomore relievers. Mike Dillon held the No. 12 Greyhounds (14-11) scoreless from the fourth through the sixth innings, and Kevin Lingerman threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

Will Frew doubled in a run in the first inning, Simmons doubled in another and catcher Grady Lingalis singled one home in a two-run third off Calvert Hall starter Rob Hendry.

Hendry had one-hit Archbishop Spalding Monday, but gave up five hits and Gilman's four runs last night in three innings.

Cooke's slow stuff baffled the Cardinals through three innings before Reid Chenworth wrapped a homer around the right-field foul pole.

"Reid's homer was a mentality booster, " said Lingerman, who doubled in one of two runs in the fifth, the other scoring on Pat Carmen's fielder's choice.

Still, Gilman held its head high.

"We are really proud of our seniors who took us to the play-offs the last two years, " said third base coach Tim Holley.

"We hadn't been here since '96. So what they've done as a baseball class ... is probably unprecedented in our history."

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