Calvert 7, Westlake 2
Entering Friday's opening-round game of the Maryland 3A South Region tournament, Calvert's baseball team was not feeling good about itself.
The Cavaliers lost their final four games of the regular season, each time with their opponent scoring the winning run in its final at-bat.
However, Calvert did not let that happen against Westlake. The Cavaliers broke open a tie game with five runs in the top of the sixth inning and held on for a 7-2 victory.
The 10th-seeded Cavaliers (10-11) will host second-seeded Severna Park, which had a first-round bye, in a quarterfinal tomorrow.
The string of late losses was not the fault of Calvert's pitching staff. The Cavaliers' hitters, in fact, took the blame for not supporting their pitchers enough. Junior second baseman James Whitney said he and his teammates were not aggressive enough at the plate, letting counts run deep instead of attacking the first strike.
It was Whitney's slicing single to right-center field on a 1-0 pitch with one out in the sixth that scored pinch hitter David Brookes, who reached when he was hit by a pitch. That gave Calvert the lead for good at 3-2.
"You've got to swing the bat," said Whitney, Calvert's ninth-place batter, who went 2 for 4. "We were talking on the bus ride over that you've got to hit that first" strike.
After a strikeout, Kevin Freeburger reached on a two-out error, and then the Cavaliers' offense took off. Chris Beyer followed with a bloop single to drive in Whitney. Ian Schwalenberg singled in two more runs, and Daniel Bernard capped the scoring with a run-scoring single to left-center that brought Beyer home.
Six of Calvert's seven runs came with two outs.
"It was great that we finally hit the ball consecutively," left fielder Matt Payne said.
It started in practice. All week, Cavaliers Coach Guy Smith pitched batting practice with situational hitting. Each batter came up in a particular scenario -- for example, two strikes, two outs and a runner on second, or one out and the need to move a runner over. Smith awarded points to batters who executed in their situation and deducted points when they didn't.
Smith said it was important to practice that way because his young team has tended to succumb to pressure situations this season. Calvert started one freshman and three sophomores, including right-hander Schwalenberg, who went the distance Friday.
"The more we tell them, the more pressure they put on themselves," Smith said. "We tried reverse psychology. . . . That's what we did all week; it brought excitement to practice."
Westlake, meantime, did not come through in the clutch. The Wolverines (5-14) stranded four runners in scoring position in the first three innings and scored only one run.
"That was our downfall," Westlake Coach Steve Willett said. "We didn't make good pitches with two out. We didn't bear down and get that last out, and our offense has to put some pressure on" the opponent.