Baseball: Alex Calvert’s 10 strikeouts lift No. 4 La Plata over No. 10 Arundel, 3-0

April 19

As the La Plata baseball team’s bus made its way toward Harwood, Md., on Saturday afternoon, senior Alex Calvert spent his time getting in the proper frame of mind.

Calvert knew what the fourth-ranked Warriors were up against. Tenth-ranked Arundel was the only unbeaten team remaining in Anne Arundel County, and it would already have played one game at the four-team tournament at Southern High by the time La Plata arrived.

That mind-set was evident in a dazzling first inning, when Calvert struck out the side with a nasty combination of cutters and curveballs. And it was evident in the seventh, when the right-hander struck out two batters with two runners on base to seal La Plata’s 3-0 victory.

“I knew what I had to do,” said Calvert, who has orally committed to South Carolina. “They’re a good team, and I had to try to shut them down.”

Calvert finished with 10 strikeouts in the shutout, allowing just two hits and two walks on 91 pitches for the Warriors (12-2).

“I had everything working today,” he said. “I could honestly have thrown whatever. I was throwing a lot of cutters, a lot of fastballs. Everything was working.”

Calvert gave up his first hit of the afternoon in the third inning, when center fielder Syeed Mahdi roped a single and was left stranded on first base.

Then Calvert took his already stellar stuff to another level. The Wildcats (11-1) didn’t hit another ball out of the infield until the seventh.

“He was great today,” La Plata third-year Coach John Childers said. “If you’re throwing a cutter, curveball, change-up and you’re throwing them all for strikes in any count, hitters can’t sit on anything. So even good hitters will have a tough time with that.”

Calvert also got his team going at the plate in the second. After Austin Mitchell singled, Calvert hit a double to right-center to put runners on second and third with no outs. Catcher Tyler Stockwell’s sacrifice fly in foul territory put La Plata ahead, 1-0.

The Warriors added runs in the third and sixth, each spurred by an Arundel error. Right-hander Andrew Sharpe struck out six over six innings and allowed just one earned run, but the Wildcats committed three errors. And while Arundel’s defense was sputtering, Calvert was dealing.

“He was working the fastball a lot, popping the mitt, spotting his cutter, curveball,” said Stockwell, who finished with two RBI. “That’s a good team over there. . . . We shut them out, so it’s a big win for us.”

Arundel and La Plata hail from different counties and compete in different state classifications, so they will not meet again when the Maryland playoffs begin next month. But Childers said all games against quality competition have a lesson.

“You find out how good you are,” Childers said. “If you play teams that are as good as you or better all the time, it’s going to make you better.”

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