No. 12 Spalding upends St. Mary’s, strengthens MIAA A baseball postseason odds
by Pat O’Malley
A recent collapse by MIAA A Conference baseball perennial contender Archbishop Spalding High may be over. At least, the Cavalier seniors have the underclassmen on the team thinking its over. The younger players are crediting the older, more experienced guys for regaining their customary role – playoff team.
Archbishop Spalding greatly improved its chances of a fifth straight MIAA A Conference playoff berth with a 10-5 victory at St. Mary’s in Annapolis Friday and put the latter Saints chances in jeopardy of not making the post season for the first time since they moved up from the B Conference to the A in 2016.
The No. 12 ranked Cavaliers (14-11 overall) got a strong pitching performance from sophomore righthander Ethan McCormick and hot bats from senior centerfielder Peter Godrick and sophomore first baseman Josh Moylan to put away the No. 19 Saints (12-10, 7-8 MIAA A). Spalding is now 8-8 in the conference with two games left – at home on Monday with No. 1 John Carroll School (18-3, 13-3 MIAA A) and at St. Paul’s School on Tuesday.
St. Mary’s has three games to play.
The Cavaliers were ranked No. 2 early in the season with a record of 11-4. They have gone a dismal 3-7 since, losing the seven in succession, including a 6-4 loss to St. Mary’s. The Saints knocked off No. 5 Calvert Hall College, 6-3, the game before the Spalding victory and then out-slugged Gilman School, 17-11, the ensuing game, but lost to John Carroll, 5-2 before Friday’s loss to the Cavaliers.
“I think our senior leadership has been a big deal,” said Josh Moylan. “Peter Godrick, Matt Palumbo (infielder) and Spencer Sherman (relief pitcher) have been real hard on us. They got us going especially when we had that little skid there. They kept telling us that we would break out of it.”
The Cavs were loud, noisy and pumped up when they jumped on Saints’ starter, lefty Brock Goodwin. Godrick led off the game with a two-bagger to center and came home on Matt Palumbo’s single to right. Palumbo scored on Justin Caesar’s sac fly to right for a 2-0 lead that the Cavs upped to 3-o in the fourth on Austin Dillon’s single and an ensuing misplay by the Saints who had three errors on the day, each resulting in a run scored.
St. Mary’s tightened things up at 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth with Brandon Cook and Nick Hopkins each knocking in a run, but the joy in Annapolis for the Saints didn’t last long as the Cavaliers erupted for five runs on five hits in the top of the fifth to take an 8-2 lead. Spalding got RBIs from Josh Moylan, pinch-hitter Cory Blohm, Godrick and Jon Brandt.
Moylan, a lefthand hitting sophomore first baseman, doubled in the first two runs to ignite the rally. It was his second hit of the day .
“We still believe we have a good shot to make the playoffs,’’ said Godrick one of the senior leaders on the team who was 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. “We had a big struggle there for awhile, but we got a big win yesterday (11-1 over McDonogh School) on senior night. We’ve got some momentum now and today we came out and swung it pretty well. And Ethan on the mound did a great job. I think the whole team is playing well right now.”
McCormick (2-1) was the benefactor of the Cavaliers’ batting prowess and he got the win coming out in the sixth inning with two outs. McCormick gave up 7 hits, struck out 4 and walked 3 on 101 pitches over 5 2/3 innings. Spencer Sherman finished the game and gave up a run, two hits, struck out a batter and didn’t walk anybody.
“Our seniors are amazing,’’ said McCormick. “I love the seniors. This team is a lot of fun to play with. We have a fellowship. It’s just like family and it means a lot.’’
As for his personal effort, McCormick added, “It feels great at this time. My change-up was good today and Spencer Sherman helps me so much.”
Spalding coach Joe Palumbo also credited his seniors and said that for awhile there his team “we were in a lot of close games and late in the game we were to not make plays to lose the game, instead of trying to make plays to win the game. I told them I wasn’t going to quit on them, if they didn’t quit on me.
Obviously, they have responded in a huge way with our backs up against the wall with the win yesterday (McDonogh) and coming in here today.”
Spalding won three A Conference titles in a row from 2014 through 2016 under Palumbo before Loyola Blakefield snapped the Cavs’ run last year. Overall, Spalding has won four championships over the last decade matching Calvert Hall during that time.
Spalding’s other title during the last decade came in 2011 under Palumbo’s father, Jeff Palumbo. Joe succeeded his dad in 2013.
Calvert Hall last won in 2012 and 2013 and their 2008 and 2009 A Conference championships were the end of a record run of five straight. The only other champion besides Calvert Hall, Spalding or Loyola during the last 10 years was Gilman in 2010.
The powerful, cohesive and deep Friars of Archbishop Curley may be the favorite heading into the postseason, but it’s been such a wild season that any of the six that finally qualify could win it. It’s down to Spalding, Loyola, Gilman (11-12, 9-8 MIAA A) and St. Mary’s for the last three berths.
St. Mary’s has three games left: home Tuesday vs. defending champion and No. 14 Loyola (11-9, 9-7), Wednesday at St. Paul’s and Thursday with St. Paul’s coming to Bestgate Field in Annapolis.
No. 2 Curley (24-3, 15-2 MIAA A) and John Carroll have the top two seeds locked up with No. 5 Calvert Hall (15-8, 11-6 MIAA A) possibly taking the No. 3 seed and definitely if they win their final game Tuesday at Curley.
If the Cardinals lose to Curley, they would of course finish 11-7 in league play and open the door for a tie with Loyola, and then it would to go to a tiebreaker. The tiebreaker could be in play for Curley and John Carroll if Curley loses to The Hall.
There are all sorts of possible scenarios, but that’s enough for now.
No. 12 ARCHBISHOP SPALDING 10, No. 19 ST. MARY’S 5
Spalding 200 105 2 – 10 11 1
St. Mary’s 000 022 1 – 5 9 3
Ethan McCormick (2-1), Spencer Sherman (6) and Justin Pelletreau; Brock Goodwin, Brandon Cook (6) and Logan Scully.
2B: AS – Peter Godrick, Josh Moylan, Cory Blohm, Jon Brandt and Justin Pelletreau; SM – Nick Quinn (2), Cook and Scully.