MANHATTAN — Following Friday’s Class 3A state title game at Tointon Family Stadium, Thomas More Prep-Marian second-year head coach Dustin Washburn and his staff took the time to shake each players’ hands as they broke the left field huddle.
He wanted to make sure each of them had their head held high as they walked to the dugout to greet waiting fans.
The tears, though, seemingly were hard to hold back as the Monarchs just didn’t have enough in the tank after the way things started against Sabetha.
The result was a 10-5 win for the Bluejays, ending the Monarchs’ season at 24-2, a win short of the school’s first state baseball title since 1981.
“As a coaching staff, we’re super proud of them,” Washburn said has he held back tears of his own as he spoke. “The ball bounced the wrong way a couple times today.
“We picked a bad game to kick a couple balls and we left the bases loaded a couple times.”
Some key mistakes early coupled with Sabetha’s hot bat and things just went the Bluejays’ way too early and too often.
Sabetha (23-3) seemed the team of destiny early on as it jumped out to a 3-0 lead after an error to start the game on the Monarchs.
"This team I think has known since day one that we have the talent and ability to do this," Sabetha coach Aaron Frey said. "And the entire season has been building to this. They bought into the team-first, we-greater-than-me mentality, and that's what it's been. They've just been fantastic."
The Bluejays certainly were that early — especially sophomore Gabe Garber. He had Monarch senior pitcher Tate Garcia’s number early on. He hit a pair of triples in the first two innings, the second of which cleared the bases for a 6-1 Sabetha lead.
“Mad props to them for the way they swung the bat,” Washburn said. “You’ve almost got to play a perfect game on defense when your pitcher doesn’t have his best stuff.
“We didn’t do that tonight.”
Garcia made it just 1.1 innings, surrendering seven runs (just four earned) with a walk and a strikeout. Fellow senior Trenton Mayo finished the game, and minimized the best he could.
Meanwhile, the Monarchs waited a little too long to find any offensive rhythm.
Trailing 10-1, TMP plated two runs in the fifth when Adam Gottschalk hit a grounder to right field to drive home Creighton Renz. Later Cole Zimmerman walked with the bases loaded to drive in a run. Then in the sixth, senior Luke Ruder hit a triple to center field that scored Renz. It turned out to be the last score.
“If that’s a nine-inning game, I like our chances,” Washburn said. “Unfortunately it’s seven and we didn’t come alive until the fifth.”
Gottschalk and Zimmerman each collected a pair of hits and drove in a run. Brady Kreutzer also drove in a pair of runs.
The big game, though, belonged to Garber, who was 3-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored and the pair of early triples.
In the huddle Washburn told his team to “walk away with their heads held high. It was a great season,” he said. “There’s only one team that ends their season happy in every class every year.
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t us.”