St. Paul falls short in bid for state repeat
May 15, 2010 at 12:15 a.m.
BELTON - For the second time in a day, a Shiner St. Paul team came up one win short of a state championship as the Cardinal baseball team lost 5-1 to Kingwood Northeast Christian Academy in the TAPPS 1A/2A State Championship.
Jason Horic pitched five plus innings of no-hit ball leading the Warriors past St. Paul at Red Murff Field on the University of May Hardin Baylor campus.
The Warriors overcame a late rally sparked by catcher/pitcher Blue Hybner and center fielder Brandon Sciba to beat the Cardinals.
Earlier in the day, Kaedy Hermes' Lady Cardinal softball team lost their state championship game to rival Hallettsville Sacred Heart 3-2.
"Kingwood's a good team or else they wouldn't be here," said Cardinal baseball coach Mark Noska.
The Shiner St. Paul Cardinals came into Saturday's TAPPS 1A/2A State Championship game looking for their second straight state title and playing in their third straight championship game.
The Cardinals had their chances early and often.
Horic had problems finding the strike zone in the first, walking leadoff hitter Cole Hybner on four straight pitches to open the game, but St. Paul ended up stranding a runner on third after designated hitter Kyle Wallace struck out to end the inning.
Horic's RBI single gave NCA a much needed 1-0 lead after one inning of play.
Devin Pesek drew a walk to lead off the second and after a stolen base was in scoring position with one out. Horic was able to retire the next two Cardinals to end the threat.
"We got guys on, but we couldn't get them around," Noska said.
The Cardinals left two runners in scoring position in the first two innings. That inability to make Horic pay for his early struggles came back to haunt them as NCA would use a three -run fourth inning to take a commanding 4-0 lead.
From there Horic would settle down, no-hitting St. Paul through five innings and striking out seven of the first 17 batters he faced.
The Cardinals had only six more outs to try and rally, but rally they did as the spark was provided by Sciba.
Sciba led off the sixth by legging out a ground ball to short for a hit that broke up Horic's no-hit bid. Sciba would steal second and reach third on a passed ball.
Sciba's play got the attention of the Cardinal dugout and made them believe a comeback was imminent.
Two batters later, Blue Hybner came to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs.
"We saw him do that and we came alive and got that one run," said Hybner. "We started to make a comeback."
Hybner's RBI double accounted for the only Cardinal run and proved to be the most important play of the game.
Initially it appeared that Hybner's RBI double would cut the Warrior lead in half, but after Sciba scored, Cole Hybner was tagged out at home.
"I thought we were going to bust it open and we only got one across out of it," Noska said.
That tag out may have been the biggest play of the NCA season as Horic had runners on first and third with one out and a three run lead instead of a two run lead with runners on those bases and no outs.
Horic struck out Wallace and Pesek to end the Cardinal threat in the sixth.
The Warriors got an RBI from Cody Pruitt in the home half of the sixth to cap the scoring.
Although the Cardinals would have two on with two out in the top of the seventh, Cole Hybner's strikeout ended the game and the Warriors won the state championship.
"They workied hard, didn't give up and showed a little life in the end, but it wasn't enough," Noska said.
Cole Hybner started for the Cardinals going four and two-thirds innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with a strike out. Blue Hybner went from behind the plate to replace Cole in the fourth. He pitched two and a third innings giving up one run.
Offensively the Cardinals were led by Blue Hybner's RBI double and Sciba who went 1-2 with a single, a stolen base and a run scored.
Cardinal coaches and players won't be surprised if St. Paul makes it to a fourth straight championship game appearance next season since Pesek was the only senior on the team this season.
"Next year we're going to be back pretty strong. We're going to have a lot of the same players and have some people step up. We're going to be back here next year and we're going to take home the trophy hopefully," said Blue Hybner, draped in his runner-up medal after the game.
NCA 5, St. Paul 1
St. Paul 000 001 0 - 1 2 4
NCA 100 031 X - 5 7 1
WP: Horic. LP: C. Hybner, 4 2/3 IP, K, 4 R, 7 H.
Highlights: B. Hybner, 1-3, RBI 2B; Sciba, 1-2, single, SB, RS; C. Hybner, SB; Pesek, SB; Adamek, SB.