BELTON - Let the record show that the 2005 St. Paul baseball season ended with a hug.
The 2005 TAPPS 2A State Champions: The St. Paul Cardinals baseball team. photo by The Shiner Gazette
Actually, there were lots of hugs as the Cardinals celebrated their TAPPS Class 2A championship Saturday at Red Murff Field.
The hugs followed a remarkable catch by second baseman Jordan Schaefer to end the game and seal the Cardinals' 3-0 win over The Woodlands Christian Academy in the title game at a glistening new athletic complex on the campus of the University of Mary Hardin- Baylor.
Schaefer made the catch despite colliding with St. Paul shortstop Dagan Hybner and both fell to the ground. Hybner rose to one knee and looked over to see if Schaefer had the ball. He did and Hybner hugged him.
Winning pitcher Nick Loving watched the collision from the mound.
"I just said, please, please, please," recalled Loving, who then ran to join the celebration and the rest of the Cardinals rushed to join in.
"That was a great way to end the season in a pile of all of us together," Loving added. "This is my first state championship and it feels good to be the best team in 2A TAPPS. This was the goal we worked to accomplish all season."
And the oddest thing about the collision was that Schaefer wasn't supposed to be there.
"I hear him (Hybner) call for it," Schaefer said. "But I thought I was closer and I went for it.
"It hurt," Schaefer added and smiled. "But when you have the last out, you don't feel it."
Seniors (from left) Nick Loving, Dagen Hybner, James Picha, and Cody Mraz show off the 2005 TAPPS 2A State Baseball Championship Trophy. photo by The Shiner Gazette
Hybner was all smiles, too.
"When you have an adrenaline rush like that play, you don't feel any pain," Hybner said. "I didn't. I was happy."
That play was the closest thing to a misstep produced by the Cardinals, who were poised throughout the game. That was important early as the Warriors mounted serious threats that the Cardinals handled, defusing the situation and moving on.
That was just what they were supposed to do, according to St. Paul coach Sammy Burnett, who won his second state title in five years at the helm. The other title was in 2003.
"I told them we have a chance if we control our emotions," he said. "If you control your emotions, you can do what you need to do. And when the opportunities finally come, you'll be able to take advantage.
Loving was unruffled on the mound. He allowed six hits and struck out two. He didn't issue a walk but hit three Warriors. He just kept making the pitches and the Cardinals kept making the plays behind him, including turning three double plays.
The first came in the first inning after Warrior centerfielder Mark Jordan hit a liner to left for a single. Sean McDermott followed with a grounder to first that Trevor Hybner fielded. Hybner stepped on the bag before firing a shot to his brother Dagan Hybner, who applied the tag to the sliding Jordan to complete the double play. Loving then got Colin McConnell to hit a grounder back to the mound to end the inning.
In the third inning with one out, McDermott and McConnell got back-to-back hits. Grant Caddell hit a grounder up the middle that Dagan Hybner fielded. He stepped on second for the forceout and then returned his brother's favor with a shot to first to beat the sprinting Caddell.
In the sixth with one out, Caddell lined a single to right and took second when Chad Kloesel misplayed the ball. Stephen Callender hit a grounder to Dagen Hybner, who fired to Jeremy Petru at third to trap Caddell. Petru forced Caddell back toward second and then returned the ball to Dagan Hybner, who applied the tag. Hybner then shot the ball to Schaefer, who tagged out Callender as the Warrior tried to sneak in behind the play and take the extra base.
Perhaps the worst play for The Woodlands came in the fourth. Callender reached on a bad-hop single that hit the third-base bag and nearly took the head off of Petru. Whitman Jackson then hit a grounder to Petru that took a big hop. The hop confused Callender, who stopped halfway between first and second. Petru paused to look the situation over and calmly threw to second for the out. The second and third outs quickly followed on a popup to catcher Derek Kovalcik and a routine groundout to Petru.
St. Paul was held hitless for the first three innings by McConnell, who worked six innings, allowed five hits, two earned runs, walked four, hit three batters and struck out six.
McConnell gave up a two-out single to Dagen Hybner then issued two walks before fanning Trevor Hybner.
In the fifth, McConnell continued to flirt with danger and St. Paul capitalized. Kloesel led off with a single and McConnell hit Schaefer before Loving singled to load the bases. After striking out James Picha, McConnell walked Dagen Hybner to bring in the first run of the game.
St. Paul added two more runs in the seventh. Kloesel walked and later moved to second on a single by Loving, who was 2-for-4. After McConnell got his second strikeout of the inning, Kloesel took third on a wild pitch and came home when catcher Trevor Peterson's throw went into left field. Dagan Hybner, who was 2-for-3 with two RBIs, then brought Loving home with a single on a liner to left.
GAME SUMMARY Game of May 14, 2005 SCORE: F St. Paul 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 -- 3 Woodlands Christian 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -- 0 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS: St. Paul Name AB H R RBI Dagen Hybner 3 2 0 2 Trevor Hybner 3 0 0 0 Chad Kloesel 1 1 2 0 Derek Kovalcik 3 0 0 0 Nick Loving 4 2 1 0 Cody Mraz 2 0 0 0 Jeremy Petru 3 0 0 0 James Picha 4 0 0 0 Jordan Schaefer 2 0 0 0 Team 0 0 3 0 TOTALS 25 5 6 2 HIGHLIGHTS: Nick Loving and Derek Kovalcik; Colin McConnell and Trevor Peterson. WP: Loving. LP: McConnell. Highlights: (SP) Nick Loving 2-for-4, run and 7 IP, 6 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts; Dagen Hybner 2-for-3, 2 RBIs; Chad Kloesel 1-for-1, 2 runs; (WC) Grant Caddell 2-for-3.