SULPHUR — St. Charles Catholic baseball coach Wayne Stein summed up his emotions in just a few words.
“We’re going to win one someday — just not today,” he said.
Top-seeded St. Thomas Aquinas rode the pitching of Alex Egan and a two-run triple by Champ Artigues to claim a 3-1 victory over St. Charles in the Class 2A title game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA state baseball tournament Saturday.
“The plan was not to go up there and take, but that’s what we did,” Stein said. “(Egan) threw strike one and got ahead. Once he got strike one, we had to try and hit his pitch. I don’t think we were able to turn the page from yesterday’s game plan to today’s game plan. We practiced it so much. It’s tough to come back 24 hours later and do it again.”
Stein was referencing the Comets’ 3-0 semifinal win over rival Riverside Academy in Friday’s semifinals. Saturday’s focal point was the two pitchers.
Egan allowed just four hits and struck out eight. The sophomore right-hander played it close to the vest and the scouting report, inducing eight fly outs by second-seeded St. Charles (32-10). Brennan Gilberti of St. Charles also was impressive, allowing just five hits and striking out two in the game played at McMurry Park.
“I thought Brennan pitched well enough to win,” Stein said. “But it wasn’t meant to be.”
It marked the sixth time SCHS has finished as a state runner-up. St. Thomas Aquinas (32-3) won its first state title in baseball.
“I was confident because I knew I had my guys behind my back on every pitch,” Egan said. “I just tried to command the zone. It didn’t matter where they hit it; these guys were everywhere.”
St. Charles took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Nick Scioneaux singled to center and took second on an error. He scored on a single by Lloyd Nash.
The Comets couldn’t maintain the momentum. STA came right back to tie it in the bottom of the third. Kyle King singled and moved to second on an infield single by Reed Bolton. Artigues walked before King scored on a fielder’s choice by Hunter Stanley.
After trading outs for another inning, the Falcons took the lead in the fifth. King reached on an error and Bolton was hit by a pitch before Artigues stepped to the plate.
STA coach Barrett Morgan called for a hit and run, and Artigues smashed a 3-2 pitch into the right-field corner, easily scoring both runners.
“We have lived and died by the hit and run, and it’s made some people timid to pitch to us with certain counts,” Morgan said. “On that at-bat, we had guys at first and second and I saw (St. Charles) had a pitch out called and we scrapped it.
“And they threw a ball and took a mound visit, so I put it on again. That turned into everybody moving, and we were able to score enough to win the ballgame.”
From there, the going got even tougher for St. Charles. The Comets had just one hit — a single by Zack Weber in the sixth — after the Falcons took the lead. Egan retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced, striking out two in the final inning.