St. Charles Catholic repeats as champion in Wayne Stein’s final game as baseball coach

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SCC Comets wins 2023 baseball state title

It is a Daily Double. Make it a double Daily Double.

If it were a horse race, the challengers were left up the track, way up the track and did not challenge.

The incredible two-year run of St. Charles Catholic and Wayne Stein continued Friday. It’s ending in baseball came in triumphant fashion in Sulphur.

The top-seeded Comets parlayed a six-run fifth inning into a convincing 9-1 victory over seventh-seeded Holy Savior Menard to win the Select Division III state championship at McMurry Park.

Stein has now coached St. Charles Catholic to back-to-back football state championships and back-to-back baseball state titles in 2022 and 2023, an incredible feat.

The steep challenge and time consumption has been incredible.

The result is the end of Stein’s brilliant tenure as head coach of the Comets, who have won three state championships in the last four seasons. Stein made the announcement following the game as he will now concentrate on serving as football coach of the Comets.

“This is my last season in baseball,” Stein said. “I’m stepping down as baseball coach. Our kids knew that. I didn’t make an announcement. I didn’t want it to be about me. It was about those seniors. I wanted it to be for them and I am so happy to see them go out this way.”

Long-time St. Charles Catholic head softball coach and assistant football coach Ty Monica will replace Stein.

Stein joins a short, rare list of coaches who have won state championships in both football and baseball, which includes Jerry Baldwin, J.T. Curtis and Sid Edwards. He has done it in the same calendar years, an even more amazing feat.

The Comets took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first before the Eagles tied it with a run in the top of the second. That was the last gasp for the challenger.

St. Charles Catholic (32-7-1) scored two in the bottom of the second to take the lead for good at 3-1.

Then came the huge six-run fifth inning to put the game away.

After failing to get on base in Thursday’s semifinal win over Dunham, leadoff hitter Ayden Authement was huge Friday with three hits and three RBI and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the game.

“He’s just a winner,” Stein said. “He knew we needed him. He’s going to go down as one of the best players in St. Charles history.”

Authement backed up his Most Valuable Player effort in the football state championship game as the Comets quarterback with the same honor in baseball, completing another rare Daily Double.

“I just come out here and play baseball,” Authement said. “I just want to be here for my teammates and be a clutch guy. It’s all personal to me. Coach Stein watched me grow up. He coached all my brothers. He’s always hard on me but he’s like a father to me. I can trust him all the time.”

Brady St. Pierre doubled and drove in two runs. Hudson Heltz also doubled and drove in a run while Brayden Bertucci, Jackson Monica and Michael Hotard each drove in a run for the Comets.

Brandon Kragle pitched 6.1 innings to pick up the win. Kragle allowed just an unearned run on four hits. He walked just one and struck out eight. Michael Hotard finished it for the Comets.

“I knew Kragle was on,” Stein said. “I knew if we played well, we would win. He’s that kind of kid. He always responds.”

Coen Laroux started and took the loss for Holy Savior Menard (29-8), going four innings, allowing seven runs (five earned) on five hits. Laroux walked four and struck out three. Laroux had two hits and drove in the lone run for the Eagles.

“I expect us to be better next year. We just set a school record for wins. We have won back-to-back state titles. I will be excited to watch it from a different seat.”

Monica is a great coach with a great reputation and an incredible family tree of coaches, including Hall of Fame coach and father Frank Monica and Nick Monica of Archbishop Rummel. He is richly qualified to handle the job at hand.

It will be hard to replicate the success Stein, who led the Comet programs through the tragic, difficult time of Hurricane Ida, which tore through LaPlace area, doing tremendous damage, including to the school and to families of the school. His legacy in baseball is secure as he continues to build his legacy in football.

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