One rallied in convincing fashion in a quest to defend last year’s state crown; the other invoked the type of comeback only possible on the diamond. But regardless of methods, St. Thomas and St. Pius are moving on in the TAPPS high school baseball playoffs.
Last week, St. Thomas Catholic faced elimination against Addison Trinity Christian Academy in their best-of-three TAPPS playoff series before battling back with a pair of convincing steamrolls by scores of 8-2 and 12-2. Meanwhile, St. Pius X stormed back from an 8-1 deficit in a winner-take-all battle at home, defeating Nolan Catholic 9-8 to advance.
Panthers vanquish the Vikings
Panthers head coach Mike Evans, in his first year at the helm after leaving Waltrip, witnessed his squad take Game 1 but then fall in a hard-fought 5-3 decision in Game 2. The Panthers started the rubber matchup in a nightmarish fashion Thursday night (May 3), falling behind 5-0 in a blink and 8-2 after just four innings of play.
But the faithful who remained were treated to a comeback for the ages. St. Pius X tallied three in the fifth, one in the sixth and two in the seventh inning to force extra innings before rallying for the victory in the eighth to eliminate the Vikings.
Evans and the Panthers will clash with Liberty Christian (14-10-1) in Round 2 of the TAPPS state playoffs beginning Thursday, May 10 at 12 p.m. at Madisonville High School.
Eagles slug their way to victory
The defending champs saw a 1-0 series deficit and two must-win games standing between them and their continued repeat bid.
However, Coach Ryan Lousteau and his squad showed the mettle which accompanied their title run last season, pounding out 20 runs over the series’ final two contests, winning by scores of 8-2 and 12-2.
Facing elimination in Game 2, the Eagles tallied seven runs in their final three turns at the plate, turning a 1-1 tie into a laugher. John Griffin drove in three, while Philip Matulia added a couple of RBIs himself to back Tucker Alch, who hurled a complete game, surrendering only one earned run on six hits.
In the clincher, St. Thomas used two big innings to fuel the blowout. A six-run first inning held up thanks to the dominant pitching performance by junior Josh Wolf until the Eagles broke through for five more runs in the sixth to put away the Trojans.
Wolf dominated into the seventh, punching out eight Trojans and surrendering just two earned runs on four hits.
Going for their 25th state title overall (and their third in five seasons under Lousteau), The Eagles are set for a clash with the Antonian Prep Apaches (19-13), who defeated Prestonwood Christian to advance.
Rams, Bulldogs fall short
Unfortunately, last weekend was not kind to everyone. Waltrip fell in consecutive games to Fort Bend Elkins by scores of 8-1 and 3-1, ending their season with a 16-7 mark.
The Rams finished the season winning 13 of their final 15 games and finished a league-best 13-1 in District 5-6A play.
Meanwhile, Heights found its way back to the postseason with a 19-8-2 regular season mark — including a 12-4 mark in district play — and winning six of their final eight contests to end the season.
However, the Bulldogs ran into a buzz saw in the state-ranked Cy-Ranch Mustangs, falling by a 10-4 final.
The Bulldogs finished 2018 with an overall mark of 19-9-2.