No. 1 Calvert Hall could simply play it's Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference schedule and be considered great in the greater Baltimore area.
But Cardinal's coach Lou Eckerl says that's not enough.
"I don't think that's where Calvert Hall wants to be," Eckerl said Tuesday. "We want to represent our school and our state on a bigger level. We want national recognition."
Calvert Hall is no stranger to national rankings. For much of the decade that began in 2000, the team was ranked in the top 10 by one national organization or another. USA Today had the Cardinals at No. 4 nationally in 2007 and No. 1 in the East in 2005.
Sunday, the Cards took a big step in the desired direction, beating Don Bosco Prep of New Jersey, 9-8. Don Bosco was ranked No. 4 at the time by MaxPreps.
The Cardinals recovered from a 5-1 fourth-inning deficit. Ron Farley got them started with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth. By the time the teams entered the seventh inning, Calvert Hall had taken a one-run lead.
But Don Bosco tied it in the top of that last inning, leaving it to Calvert Hall to manufacture the winning run in its last at-bat.
With two outs, designated hitter Zach Rowe singled home the winning run. Farley, who had singled earlier in the inning for the second of his two hits of the afternoon, advanced to third on a fielder's choice and a steal to be in position to score.
"It was like playing for a championship," Eckerl said. "It was one of the most exciting and competitive games we've ever had, and I feel lucky. And I feel good our guys raised their level of competitiveness."
That win came after a long week of competitive games. Calvert Hall lost, 7-1, to Gilman and then squeaked past Archbishop Curley, 3-2, before meeting Don Bosco.
"Gilman deserves credit, they came ready to play," Eckerl said. "But we laid an egg. We had five errors. With a tough schedule, we're going to slip up once in a while.
"But I think the win over Bosco saves us. I think it should push us into the national [rankings]. We beat them, we're 10-1 and losing to Gilman won't hurt bad because they're a good team."
After host Loyola on Tuesday, the Cardinals leave Wednesday for a spring break trip to Florida where they will start a four-game road trip against Archbishop McCarthy. McCarthy was Baseball America's No. 1 team last season and is coached by Rich Bielski, an Essex native who played for Calvert Hall.
McCarthy is also Baseball America's preseason pick to repeat at No. 1.
"That's going to be a tough game," said Eckerl. "And it'll be exciting. But all four Florida teams are very good. Hopefully, we'll come back having taken care of business."
Calvert Hall will follow the McCarthy game with ones against Florida Christian, LaSalle and St. Thomas Aquinas before returning for an April 10 game at John Carroll.