St. Paul’s scores early, late to tame Rummel for Division I state baseball title
Start fast and finish well. That was the formula for No. 3 seed St. Paul’s in Sulphur on Tuesday afternoon.
It was a case of experience prevailing over youth.
With seven senior starters who had been to the state title game a year ago, a seasoned St. Paul’s team proved to be too much for a youthful Archbishop Rummel squad in the Division I state championship game Tuesday afternoon.
Senior Jacob Boudreaux capped off an unbeaten season with a solid pitching performance as the Wolves downed No. 4 seed Rummel 7-1 at McMurry Park.
Boudreaux went 5 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits. He walked five and struck out five to improve to 7-0 and earned Most Outstanding Player honors.
“Jacob did way more than we expected,” St. Paul’s coach Mick Nunez said. “I don’t mean that in an ugly way. I wanted three innings from him. I didn’t know what we’d get and he really laid it down today. I’m super proud and happy for him.”
After falling a run short in the championship game a year ago, St. Paul’s was not going to be denied this time around.
While the experience edge was huge on the side of the Wolves, a pair of sophomores came up big for St. Paul’s as well.
Southern Miss commit Matthew Russo 2 for 2 with two RBI while LSU commit Connor Simon drove in a run and picked up the save in relief of Boudreaux.
St. Paul’s (27-6) jumped all over Rummel starter Matt Villa, who was wild, in the bottom of the first. Villa walked Kyle McLaughlin, allowed a single to Nick Vitale and William Duncan was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Russo then singled to center, plating McLaughlin and Vitale to make it 2-0. A wild pitch scored Duncan and it was 3-0.
Rummel (22-13) got on the board in the top of the second as Kyle Walker doubled, Tyler Cook and Jackson Dennies walked and Logan Bertucci singled home Cook to make it 3-1 but the Raiders lost two runners on the bases to kill what could have been a bigger inning.
The Wolves took advantage of more mistakes by Rummel in the bottom of the third to expand the lead. Duncan reached on an error and Russo walked. Nick Wright grounded into a fielder’s choice and the throw home was late, scoring Duncan to make it 4-1.
That ended the day for Villa with Hayden Elwell taking over on the mound. Simon drove home Russo with a successful safety squeeze bunt to make it 5-1.
The Raiders had their chance in the top of the sixth inning. With one out Boudreaux walked Ron Franklin and Walker. Simon came on to relieve Boudreaux and yielded a single to Chandler Fields to load the bases but Simon struck out Cook and Dennies to end the threat.
St. Paul’s then tackled on a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth against Elwell on a triple to Kyle Conigliaro and an RBI double by Beau Neelis to make it 6-1. McLaughlin then walked and the runners advanced to second and third on a throwing error. Vitale then drove in Neelis with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-1.
Villa, a junior, took the loss, lasting just two innings. He allowed five runs (three earned) on two hits. He walked three and hit a batter. Elwell pitched four solid innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits. He walked just one and struck out three.
Simon went the final 1 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on two hits and he struck out five Raiders for his sixth save of the season, just two days after throwing 30 pitches in relief and pitches out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 4-3 semifinal win over No. 2 Brother Martin.
“They worked hard all season, they had a good run, they battled the whole year,” Nunez said. “I like how we came out today. We attacked it, went after it, that was kind of what we were working on. Connor just did his thing. That’s what he does.”
It was a very good season for the Raiders, who saw their seven-game win streak end. On this day, they looked like the young team that they are, losing two runners on the bases, committing a pair of errors and struggling to throw strikes initially. Rummel will have many key players returning next season.
The title is the second overall for St. Paul’s as the Wolves won a Class 4A state championship in 1999. The Raiders, who were seeking their first state crown since 1997 and their sixth overall, finished as runner-up for the sixth time in school history.
Nunez was an assistant on the 1999 state championship team under Rick Mauldin, who was on hand Tuesday.
“It is absolutely incredible to bring it back into Covington, I learned a lot coaching with him and I still talk to Rick to this day,” Nunez said.
RUM 010 000 0 — 1 6 2, 8 LOB
SPS 302 002 x — 7 6 0, 7 LOB
WP—Jacob Boudreaux (7-0)
LP—Matt Villa (5-3)
SAVE—Connor Simon (6)
Time of Game: 2:00
2B—Kyle Walker, Beau Neelis, Stephen Powers
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