St. Paul slugged out nine hits in the seven innings of its TAPPS Class 2A regional game against Faith Academy, but a 10th hit - the one that didn't come off the bat - mattered the most.
Faith Academy's Jacob DeLaGarza is forced out at second base by St. Paul second baseman Jordan Schaefer in the first inning of their TAPPS Class 2A quarterfinal at Riverside Stadium. Kerri Besio/Advocate Staff Photographer
With the bases loaded and one out, Faith Academy reliever Chase Graves threw a pitch that strayed up and inside to hit St. Paul's Chad Kloesel on the hands, scoring the go-ahead run in the Cardinals' 7-5 come-from-behind victory over Faith Academy on Monday night at Riverside Stadium.
Graves, who entered the game in relief of starter Daniel Seals, pitched a scoreless fifth and sixth before giving up a leadoff hit to James Picha. After Graves hit Dagen Hybner in the arm and a sacrifice bunt moved both runners in scoring position, Derek Kovalcik drilled a single to left to tie the game at 5.
Faith Academy coach Randy Reed put Jeremy Petru on via an intentional walk before Graves' pitch sailed on Kloesel. A wild pitch plated St. Paul's seventh run, and Cardinals starter Nick Loving preserved the win by striking out three of the four batters he faced.
The rally helped the Cardinals (20-7) clinch their fifth straight appearance in the 2A tournament, where they will face the winner of the Colleyville Covenant-Waco Texas Christian regional on Friday at 1 p.m. at Waco ISD Field No. 2. Faith Academy ended its best season ever at 26-6-2.
After Eric Salinas crossed the plate on an error to give the Cougars a 4-2 margin, Loving settled down to retire 10 of the next 11. The one batter he did not retire in that span, Michael Graff, trotted the first after a walk and hustled to third after a Loving throwing error on a pickoff attempt.
Graff then scored on a Daniel Seals one-out grounder to the shortstop to take a 5-4 lead, but St. Paul's offense came alive long enough to extend a chance at a second championship in three seasons.
GAME SUMMARY Game of May 9, 2005 SCORE: F St. Paul 0 2 2 0 0 0 3 -- 7 Faith Academy 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 -- 5 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS: St. Paul Name AB H R RBI HR SB Dagen Hybner 3 1 2 1 0 1 Trevor Hybner 4 1 1 2 0 0 Chad Kloesel 3 0 0 1 0 0 Derek Kovalcik 4 1 2 1 0 0 Nick Loving 4 1 0 0 0 0 Cody Mraz 3 2 0 0 0 0 Jeremy Petru 3 2 0 1 0 0 James Picha 4 2 2 0 0 0 Jordan Schaefer 4 1 0 1 0 0 TOTALS 32 11 7 7 0 1 HIGHLIGHTS: Nick Loving and Derek Kovalcik. Daniel Seals, Chase Graves (5) and Casey Newman. WP: Loving. LP: Graves. Highlights: (SP) James Picha 2-for-3, 2 runs, 2B; Cody Mraz 2-for-2, SB, sac; Loving 11K, 3H, 7IP, 3 BB. Records: St. Paul 20-7; Faith Academy 26-6-2.