FREDERICK • Eaton’s baseball players descended on the pitcher’s mound, diving on top of one another in celebration of a record 12th state championship.
The Classical Academy watched from the dugout, underdogs to the final day of the season. The Titans needed to win twice Saturday to wrest the 3A title from Eaton, but fell 4-1 in the first game at Frederick High School.
“Obviously Eaton has been here a lot, so we get an opportunity to see what it looks like to own something that you’ve had for so many years,” coach Bart Jennings said. “It’s a first look for us.
“I’m certainly proud of what our guys did today. The way that they fought at the end is the way it’s been going all year. That’s who they are.”
Trailing 4-0, something stirred in the sixth inning when Kobe Katayama took the mound and retired his first batter. He was next up to the plate for TCA but was stranded at third base as the inning ended.
“It's just the way that things rolled. We didn’t get hits when we needed them,” Katayama said.
“We never really went on a solid run.”
With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Josh Dunn ran one in. The Titans couldn’t erase the rest of the deficit.
Nate Ward had the most success against Logan Moser, who pitched the full game for Eaton. Ward finished with TCA's only two hits.
“When you see a guy that’s throwing upper 80s, and he’s got a nice slider and he throws a lot of strikes, that kind of takes you off of your game a little bit," Jennings said.
“We've never seen a pitcher like him all season long, even through this tournament.”
Jennings said it was TCA’s longest playoff run to date.
Making it to the finale was a far cry from the previous year when Katayama missed the Titans’ only game, a 9-4 win over Palmer Ridge. Before he heads off to play at Master’s University (Calif.), Katayama and his seven fellow seniors – many of whom have played together for seven or more years – made a notable addition to TCA’s trophy case.
“Their bar has been raised,” Jennings said of his returners.
“These guys know what it takes now to go win a game and how we’re never counted out until the last out. That’s what they’re going to take with them, and that’s what we’re going to need to actually fill some roles next year.”