No. 1 Calvert Hall's junior pitcher Garrett Walther wore a look of satisfaction Wednesday evening, and his smile told much of the story, as he recorded his last strikeout and put away an 11-2 victory over Gilman, the team that had roughed him up in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A conference title game last year and ended the Cardinals' conference championship streak at five.
"They hit me around in the championship game," said Walther, Calvert Hall's No. 1 pitcher, who is now 4-0 after holding the No. 5 Greyhounds to six hits in a complete-game effort. "After a sleepless night, I thought about them this entire year until today. I was ready to get revenge."
Though this game at Gilman didn't have the same meaning as a championship game, it carried a lot of significance for the Cardinals. They had beaten Archbishop Spalding on Monday and followed it with Wednesday's victory to put a little distance between themselves and the Greyhounds, their closest rivals in the race for the top seed in next month's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs. Calvert Hall is now 9-1 in league play and 16-7 overall.
For Gilman, the game was also meaningful in that it highlighted the concerns that have prevented the Greyhounds from producing the same kind of error-free performances that set them apart a year ago. There were five official errors and a number of mental ones that cost the team during two big innings for Calvert Hall.
Gilman (12-7, 3-6) started the season with a six-game winning streak, but since then it has been a .500 ballclub.
"I don't know where to start," Gilman coach Larry Sheets said of his team's performance. "We haven't played well all year, and now we have seven games to go to figure it out. Today was not one of our better efforts. We had a good pitcher on the mound, but they put the ball in play and created problems for us."
Among those giving Gilman's starting pitcher Brandon Casas trouble were senior first baseman Spencer Sutton and sophomore catcher Alex Murphy. Sutton went 2-for-5 and reached base a third time on an error.
"I was seeing the ball so well today," Sutton said. "I thought it looked like a beach ball. This is a huge win for us. They beat us for the championship last year, and we've wanted this ever since the schedule came out. When Murphy hit the double over the left fielder's head and drove in two runs, I think we knew then we were going to get this win."
Murphy went 3-for-3, including a double in the fifth inning, in which Calvert Hall scored five of its 11 runs. The Cardinals also scored four in the first inning and their final two in the sixth.
"We're playing well," Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl said. "Gilman is a good, well-coached team. But today we were helped by their mental and physical errors. But that's high school baseball."