August 2nd, 2017

Year in review: Baseball

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor

Year in review: Baseball
The Rocks celebrate after the game / photo by Paul Najjar

The Louisville Catholic Sports Network chronicles the 2016-17 sports year in review. We will bring you every sport, every season, and every team’s season ending results in a capsule until we're finished. Today, we look back at this past baseball season.

DeSales (22-16) – The Colts had another marvelous season but once again was one win away from winning the Sixth Region.

It was the third straight season where DeSales won the 22nd District title and won their first and second round games in the Sixth Region Tournament but Pleasure Ridge Park put a halt with a 1-0 victory in the Sixth Region title game.  

With nine seniors, it was a heartbreaking way to go out as senior Alec Brothers only allowed one run and threw a complete game.

“Alec is just such a great kid and did everything he needed to in order to win that ball game and should have,” head coach T.J. Cataldo said. “Alec works extremely hard, as does everyone on the team. But he is so dedicated in everything he does and that’s why he’s been so successful both on the football field, baseball diamond and in the classroom.”

“Alec is a leader that everyone listens to him when he talks, and if you don’t bring you’re “A” game just look at Alec and he’s always over there working as hard as he possibly can.”

Seniors Dustin Hollenkamp, Brayden Recktenwald, Mitch Sirohman, William Schiess, and Gilly Simpson all had their moments of glory throughout the season.

It was the first group of seniors Cataldo has coached all four years.

“The four years with this group has been a lot of fun despite the fact they are walking out with their heads down,” Cataldo said. “When they look back I’m sure they will admit they enjoyed it and realize the amazing memories they all made together and the accomplishments. I’m sure going to miss each and every one of them.”

Holy Cross (22-13) – For the Cougars, it was a memorable season for many reasons. It was head coach Pat Wiegandt’s 50th and final season of coaching baseball, they won the All “A” Classic Statewide Tournament for the first time, beat DeSales in the regular season, made it to the Sixth Region Tournament for the first time since 2014, and beat eventual state champion Pleasure Ridge Park for the first time in 22 tries.

The win against PRP got the ball moving for the Cougars. It turned out to be a special few weeks. Holy Cross defeated the Panthers 7-6. The last time they had beaten their neighborhood rival had been on June 3, 2004 in the Sixth Region championship game.

“We gave up a couple of tough plays at the beginning of the game that we should have made,” head coach Pat Wiegandt said. “Overall it was a well-played ballgame and they’re a pretty good ball club. They take advantage of our mistakes. It’s a little different this year, we were ready to play, and I told the boys this is our house. They’re starting to understand that this is our house.”

Holy Cross then won the All “A” Classic Statewide Tournament championship for the first time in school history the following weekend.

“I think the main thing about this team is they believe they’re going to win,” Wiegandt said. “They’re going to go into every ballgame believing they’re going to win. That’s a big part of it. Our offense this year has been better than most, we have three good pitchers, they’re our 1A, 1B, and 1C and that keeps us in ball games. But most importantly we believe we’re going to win.”

All this led the Cougars advancing out of the 21st District Tournament for the first time since 2014. DeSales ended their season in the opening round of the Sixth Region Tournament.   

It was a memorable season for seniors Ethan Short, Chase Phillips, Hunter Adams, Gavin Bailes, Matt Wilcher, and Ray Steilberg to close out their careers.

St. Xavier – The Tigers were looking to win their third state title in four years but that didn’t happen as archrival Trinity took them down 7-6 in the Seventh Region  championship game.

“We knew the guys would battle to the end and we just ran out of outs,” head coach Andy Porta said. “I hate this feeling for these guys, these seniors. It’s tough when you have two teams who have been in the top five or top three in the state all season having to play in an elimination game just to get to the state tournament. But we know about these challenges and our seniors have had an incredible run.

“All we could do in the post-game huddle as a coaching staff was thank them from the bottom of our hearts for a wonderful, wonderful career collectively,” Porta said. “One of our coaches told them that they’ve left our program in better shape than when they arrived and that they’ve set the bar awfully high for our underclassmen.”

Nothing can be taken away from seniors Tanner Brown, Connor Holden, Sam Hedges, Stephen Mitchell, and Sam Wilson.

The crew won state titles as freshmen and juniors.

And there were some highlights this past season as the Tigers ended a four game losing streak to Trinity and only lost five games to teams from Kentucky.

Trinity (32-6) – It was a memorable season for the Shamrocks as they won their first Seventh Region title since 2009.

It had been eight long years. The Shamrocks started the season 11-0 and clearly made their case to why they were the state’s No. 1 team throughout most of the regular season.

But winning the Seventh Region wasn’t a cakewalk as the Rocks had to fight with a gritty Manual squad in the semifinals and then had to hold off a comeback from St. X in the regional final.

The Rocks dreams and hopes were to win a state title but McCracken County ended those dreams in the first round of the state tournament with a 1-0 victory.

“You tip your cap to Luke Seed and coach (Geno) Miller, those guys were great today,” Trinity head coach Rick Arnold said. “We just missed getting good contact on a couple of pitches, but I think the credit goes to their pitcher because he was dynamite. I know his (Seed’s) fastball doesn’t light up the radar gun, but you mix it in with that changeup it’s really, really effective.”

While it was heartbreaking, seniors Mike Blair, Price Adams, Brody Heil, Matt Higgins, Clayton Mehlbauer, and Brandon Pfaadt were able to walk out of Lexington’s Whitaker Bank Ballpark with their heads held high.

“We plan on returning,” Arnold continued. “There’s no doubt that their guys having been here four straight years gave them an edge, but it was still a great game on a beautiful day at a beautiful park. The difference was a ground ball with two outs that snuck through between our first and second basemen that wasn’t hit hard enough to give us a chance to throw out the runner at the plate. But it was execution and to their credit they did it. This experience will help us and we will be back here sooner rather than later.”


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