Gilman pitcher Matt Collins helped himself at the plate when he led off the third inning of Monday's showdown between No. 1 Calvert Hall and No. 2 Gilman by walking. When senior Malcolm Powers came in to run for him, the move didn't seem like a big deal — courtesy runners are used all the time.
But in this case it was because Powers is a speedster. He stole second base and then, when Calvert Hall's catcher couldn't secure a low pitch , Powers sped to third to be in perfect position to score when Gavin Sheets hit a long fly into deep left-center field.
It was the first run, but it was all Collins needed to nail down a 4-0 victory for Gilman on its home field. The win clinched the No. 1 seed in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference playoffs that will begin May 11 weekend.
"Malcolm is our stud speedster," said Collins, after improving his record to 5-0 and his team's to 23-5, 13-1 in the league. "He's the fastest kid I've seen in my life. It was huge having him in there and knowing his role.
"And this win is huge. Now we get to be at home throughout the playoffs."
It was just a one-run lead after three innings and that doesn't sound like much against Calvert Hall, a team that's scored 100 runs more than its opponents this season.
"It was a bad day," Calvert Hall coach Lou Eckerl said. "We made five errors and had no runs. Our pitcher pitched well, but even he had an error. If we hadn't made those mistakes, we'd have been out of every inning without giving up a run and it would be 0-0 and we'd still be playing."
Calvert Hall loaded the bases twice and had nothing to show for it, as Collins with the help of his Gilman teammates, worked his way out of every problem.
When the Greyhounds' Matt Slodzinski, Ben Grace and Ryan Ripken turned a double play in the fifth with the bases loaded, the inning was over.
When Dustin Rothschild, Richard Rodriguez and Lee Lipinski turned one in the bottom of the same inning, they still needed an out. Before they could get it Gilman's Danny Blair (single), Sheets (single), and Tom O'Neill (double) all scored.
"This is hard to take," Calvert Hall pitcher Garrett Walther, now 5-1, said, after his team lost for only the fourth time in 27 games overall and fell to 9-3 in the conference. "But their pitcher did a really good job."
Each pitcher went the distance and each one scattered six hits.