Bishop Carroll baseball ‘finds a way’ one final time to win Kansas high school title
Pitching and timely hitting were the two characteristics that the previous two state championship teams shared coached by Charlie Ebright at Bishop Carroll.
That formula worked again for title No. 3, as this year’s Carroll team leaned on strong pitching and punctual hitting to erase deficits in both games on Friday to lead the Golden Eagles to their first Class 5A state championship since 2012.
After holding on for a 4-3 victory over Goddard Eisenhower in the semifinals, Carroll erased two different deficits in the finals against De Soto to rally for a 7-6 win at Wichita State’s Eck Stadium.
Despite what its 24-1 record might suggest, Carroll had actually been tested several times throughout the season and had to rally for wins earlier in the season against Derby, Wichita West and even Newton in last week’s regional championship game.
“Quite a few of these guys have experience and there was this confidence in them that even when they got down, they knew they could win,” Ebright said. “We always believed we could find a way. And these guys found a way like they have all year.”
After Shane Holman’s complete-game gem on Thursday sent Carroll to the semifinals, Carroll received two quality outings from starters Peyton Newell in Friday’s semifinal and then Braxton Martin in the championship game. Van Haneberg came on in relief to protect the lead and close out both games.
But it was Carroll’s own defensive mistakes that nearly derailed the title run, as five errors against Eisenhower led to an early deficit. With the score tied at 3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Carroll actually took the lead on an Eisenhower error with Cal Purvis scoring the winning run.
After losing to Blue Valley Southwest in last year’s 5A championship game, Ebright was overjoyed to see this year’s class of seniors go out on a win.
“These guys got so close last year and they’re just good kids,” Ebright said. “They come to work every day and their belief in themselves is just amazing to me. We’ve been down a lot, but this team just continued to find a way.”
Carroll would once again fall behind right away in the championship, as De Soto took a 3-0 lead after the first inning. But the Golden Eagles would rally with four runs in the second inning to take the lead, as Purvis delivered an RBI double and Kolby Girrens had an RBI single to begin the rally. With the bases loaded, Reed Haneberg drew a bases-loaded walk and Nathan Tajchman was hit by a pitch to plate two more runs.
De Soto spurted back in front with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning for a 5-4 lead. Carroll immediately answered in the bottom-half of the inning, as Reed Haneberg tied the game on an RBI ground-out and Tajchman was once again hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for the go-ahead run. Purvis tacked on another run for a 7-5 lead with an RBI single to close the inning.
De Soto clawed a run back in the top of the sixth inning, but Van Haneberg limited the damage and did not allow a base runner past first base for the rest of the game.
The championship celebration was a long time coming for Ebright at Carroll, which had previously won titles in 2005 and 2012. The Golden Eagles had also recently lost in the 5A finals in 2022 and 2018.
“It’s validation,” Ebright said. “We’ve been runner-up a couple of times and gotten to the show a lot, but when you don’t bring home the trophy, you question things. Am I doing the right things as a coach? You always try to learn from every year and become better. I’ve got a fantastic coaching staff that I trust and rely on and it makes me feel really good to win this one. It’ll help me sleep a little easier at night, just knowing that we’re doing a good job here.”
McPherson wins second straight Class 4A state title in dominant fashion
McPherson completed a dominant run to its second straight Class 4A state championship, outscoring state tournament competition by a total of 23-5 en route to the title on Saturday.
The Bullpups jumped on Paola right away in the semifinal game, taking a 7-1 lead after two innings and winning 9-2. Gavin Richardson and Brock Richardson both had two hits with five combined RBIs, while Cade Wedel went 3-for-3 at the plate.
In the championship game against Chanute, Jaret Myers threw a dandy in a complete-game shutout to power McPherson to a 6-0 victory. Myers limited Chanute to just two hits with two walks and struck out nine batters to earn the victory in the state final.
McPherson led 6-0 after four innings, which was all the production it would need for a second straight title with a 21-4 final record. Teegan Haines led the way with a pair of RBIs, while Dawson Feil and Gavin Richardson also had RBIs for the Bullpups.
In the 6A state tournament in Lawrence, Derby notched another Final Four appearance. The Panthers dropped a 5-2 game in the semifinals to Blue Valley North, then lost 8-1 in the third-place game to Lawrence Free State to conclude a 15-win season.