Defending MIAA A Conference champion Archbishop Spalding has been sprinting up the league's baseball standings, overcoming a 7-13 start to earn the No. 3 seed in the double-elimination conference tournament, which begins Friday.
Spalding (17-13) is riding a 10-game winning streak and will host No. 6 seed Loyola, a team it split two games with during the regular season, Friday at 4 p.m.
In Friday's other first-round game, No. 5 St. Paul's plays at No. 4 Archbishop Curley at 3:30.
"We're on a late season tear," Spalding athletic director Lee Dove said. "I don't know why, unless maybe it's the will of the seniors. They want to finish strong and they certainly have the talent to repeat as champions."
Among the team leaders is senior right-hander Austin Clark. Clark anchored the team's run to the championship last year and was the winning pitcher Wednesday against Calvert Hall. The 5-4 victory clinched Spalding the third seed.
"Our pitching and defense has been good all year," coach Jeff Palumbo said. "But now we're swinging the bats and getting contributions from the younger kids who needed a little while to mature. We're starting to come together at the right time."
No. 1 Gilman and No. 2 Calvert Hall have first round byes. Gilman (24-6) will host the winner of the St. Paul's-Archbishop Curley game. Calvert Hall (25-5) will host the Archbishop Spalding-Loyola winner. Both games will be Monday at 3:30 p.m.
The MIAA final is scheduled for May 20 at 5 p.m. (with the possibility of a second game May 21) at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
The B Conference tournament also begins Friday, and the C Conference begins today.