Calvert Hall became the first team to win a fifth consecutive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A-Conference championship Wednesday night when it out-dueled Cardinal Gibbons, 4-3, scratching out the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
Pinch hitter Sean LaMarre got the inning going with a single. After Patrick Blair and Evan Cain loaded the bases, Scott Merkel, who was pinch-running for LaMarre, who had pinch hit for him, scored the winning run when sophomore Matt Bosse laid down a perfect bunt between home plate and third base.
"I just wanted to make contact," said Bosse, who had struck out, been hit by a pitch and flied out in his other trips to the plate. "My adrenaline was really pumping. Our pitcher Mike Trionfo deserved to go out on a win and I didn't want to let anyone down. I just wanted to put it in play.
"I'm so excited. It's awesome!"
On the Calvert Hall side of the field it meant a major pile of celebrating players at home plate, a Gatorade bath for the coaches and two whipped cream pies in the face for head coach Lou Eckerl. But none of it would have been possible without the pitching effort of Trionfo.
The senior, who will attend Towson University next year on a baseball scholarship, struck out 12 and gave up three hard-earned runs to Gibbons, but when the situation got really tight, he dug deep to keep coach Lee Schwarzenberg's team from breaking the game open.
After giving up three quick runs to Calvert Hall in the first inning, Gibbons pitcher Eric Drechsler settled down and didn't allow another until the seventh.
"I was nervous at the start," said Drechsler, who gave up just five hits over the last six innings. "We knew we could compete. We knew we could play with them and we did. We left it all on the field."
FRIENDS 6, LUTHERAN 5: : Friends forced a second playoff game when catcher Leland Nislow hit an inside-the-park two-run homer to beat Lutheran in a game with a wild seventh inning.
The Quakers had taken a 4-0 lead into the seventh, when the Saints rallied for five runs.
"In 18 years at this school, I've never seen anything like that," Friends coach Tom Randall said. "I'm so proud of my team."
Friends' Kelly Dayton pitched a strong game, giving up nothing but singles, but four of them came in the seventh. Dayton also had a double, a triple and two RBIs to lead Friends' offensive attack in the third and fourth innings when they scored their first four runs.
"I think we were a little nervous," Lutheran coach Paul Schildwachter said. "It's the first time we've been in the championship [series] in 15 years. Wow. To be flat and then score five runs in the top of the seventh and then lose in the bottom of the inning, it kind of rips your heart out. But we'll see what happens. I think we can come back and win."