COLUMBUS — Newark Catholic won its third title in four years with a 5-4 victory over Triad in the Division IV state final on Saturday.
The Cardinals threatened with the bases loaded in the top of the first, but couldn’t score. Then, they allowed four runs in the bottom of the frame, mostly coming on wild pitches and sloppy throws.
“I didn’t have my stuff today. I wasn’t feeling it,” starter Trent McIntyre said. He was replaced in the second inning by Dalton Holycross. “Things weren’t going our way and we needed a change and Dalton did a great job.”
In the top of the second, Triad struck for three runs of their own after again loading the bases. McIntyre doubled down the right field line and drove in all three runners, giving Triad new life and atoning for his issues on the mound.
In the innings that followed, Holycross was able to work around some control issues of his own with an overpowering fastball and strikeouts, giving the Cardinals hope.
Newark Catholic was able to put another run on the board in the fourth, scoring the Green Wave’s fourth run via wild pitch or passed ball – one of which was officially ruled a steal of home.
Shane Ford was able to come in to relieve Holycross and pin the defending champs down for 2-1/3 innings – hitting his limit after the sixth.
The Cardinals were able to threaten with the bases loaded once more in the sixth inning and only one out, but a squeeze play for the tie failed when Ford’s bunt was fielded by the pitcher and Isaiah Bruce was cut down at the plate.
“I thought the guy got under (the tag),” Nichols said. “But that was from my angle. The umpire saw it differently.”
McIntyre flew out to end the scoring chance.
“We had opportunities and we just missed out on some situations,” Nichols said. “We left too many guys on base, is what happened.”
Triad had one more chance in the seventh, putting runners on with just one out. But a swinging strikeout by Bruce seemed to confuse Timmy Marsalis, who was on second and saw the ball dive into the dirt. Before Marsalis knew it, he was caught in a rundown that ended the game.
“I wouldn’t want to play with any other group of guys,” an emotional Marsalis said. “It was a pretty special senior year.”
That sentiment was echoed by fellow seniors McIntyre and Holycross, but summed up best by Shem Pond, who did not see playing time in the game but was the loudest of the reserve players cheering from the dugout.
“I just love baseball. I’ve loved it my entire life and I love this program and every person on this team,” Pond said.
Triad finishes the season at 26-8 as the state runner-up.
“I’m proud of my kids. They represented our community very well and I’m very proud of them. It’s going to hurt a little bit. It’s going to hurt for a while, but we’ll come back,” Nichols said.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.