Cardinal Gibbons competes on the same field where Babe Ruth once played, and the sense of history is not lost on the Crusaders.
On Monday, host and sixth-ranked Cardinal Gibbons (18-8) notched a monumental win by qualifying for its first trip to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship with a 7-6 victory over No. 5 Loyola. The win also sets up what Cardinal Gibbons coach Lee Schwarzenberg said is a "David vs. Goliath" title matchup against Calvert Hall on Wednesday at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
"We knew at the beginning of the season that if the kids came out and played ball the way we knew they could ... we could fight in every game," Schwarzenberg said.
Frank DiVincenzo was 2-for-4 with four RBIs for Cardinal Gibbons. Eric Drechsler also had a big day for the Crusaders, collecting two hits, the game-winning RBI and a save.
The Crusaders, however, have to beat Calvert Hall twice to win the title, whereas the Cardinals need just one victory.
DiVincenzo gave Cardinal Gibbons a 3-0 lead in the first inning when he cleared the bases on a triple. The Crusaders added another run in the fourth before the Dons rallied in the fifth with three runs helped by Ian Sedney's RBI triple and a single by Ryan Cullen.
In the sixth, the Dons' Drew Hoppes hit a 400-foot home run that was later followed by a run-scoring bunt by Ryan Taylor, which gave Loyola (17-8) its first lead, 6-5. However, Cardinal Gibbons fought back in the bottom half of that inning with two runs.
"We knew both of our teams were going to be in the [championship] hunt the whole way," Loyola coach Paul Schiminger said.