St. Martin baseball has emotional end to season
DeSoto Central continued to build on what appears to be a Class 6A baseball dynasty on Friday at Trustmark Park.
The Jaguars won their second consecutive state championship with a 5-0 win to earn a series sweep of St. Martin and claim their third title trophy since 2015.
DeSoto Central head coach Mark Monaghan has built a powerhouse at the Southaven school, leading the program to all three of the school’s state titles, but he shies away from the title of “Dynasty.”
“I don’t think of stuff like that,” Monaghan said. “I think of Oak Grove and a lot of those guys have built dynasties. It’s very humbling and we’re very blessed. We have a lot of great players that come from great families. It’s a great school district so there’s a lot of components that make this thing happen. I’m for sure a small part of it, but these players and their love of the game and of each other, that’s special.”
The DeSoto Central players gathered for a dog pile after the final out while the Yellow Jackets were left to ponder their missed chances in Game 2 of the series.
It was a frustrating night at the plate for St. Martin, stranding a total of 13 runners on base.
“That was the story of the game, but I choose not to dwell on our mistakes,” St. Martin coach Kary Bridges said. “I’m going to dwell on (DeSoto Central) is a really good team and (St. Martin’s) 27 wins and a South State championship.”
A dream season for St. Martin came up just shy of the program’s first state title, ending the 2019 campaign with a record 27-8 after claiming the school’s first South State championship.
DeSoto Central finished 33-3, losing only one game to a squad from Mississippi and that one defeat came in the North State series against Northwest Rankin.
Three different pitchers combined to shutout St. Martin with starter Gabe Moore picking up the win in a four-inning outing. He struck out four and walked one, giving up five hits.
“They competed,” Monaghan said of his pitching staff. “That’s what we’ve tried to do all year. A lot of times if you don’t have your best stuff, competing is what you fall back on. We had seniors on the mound today and they knew it could potentially be their last game. That’s the way they approached it.”
DeSoto Central produced five runs, all in the first four innings, on nine hits. Kyle Booker, Blaze Jordan and Kamren James each had a pair of hits to lead the way.
St. Martin was limited to five hits with senior third baseman Brennen Study again proving to be the most potent bat. He was 2-of-3 at the plate on Friday and finished the series 3-of-6 with St. Martin’s lone RBI of the series.
Study’s three hits matched the production of the rest of the St. Martin lineup in the series.
“He swung the bat well. He showed up this series,” Bridges said. “We’ve had guys show up in other series.”
St. Martin starting pitcher Leo Harris played a key role in leading his team to the 6A state title series, but he had one of his shorter outings of the season on Friday. He gave up four runs on six hits, walking two and striking out none before being removed without retiring the first four batters of the second inning.
Matthew Thompson, a senior left-hander, did a better job of keeping the Jaguars in check. He tossed four innings in relief, holding the Jaguars scoreless over four innings, striking out four and walking one.
Harris and Study are part of what had to be the most talented group of seniors in the history of the St. Martin program.
“It’s tough to have a dream that you want to win a state championship after they struggled the way they struggled, even as freshmen,” Bridges said. “But they never wavered from that dream and they were real close. Their resiliency, what they gave to me. They had a new coach and I came in and I expect a lot. I’m not easy to play for. I expect a lot. They expected it out of themselves, held their teammates accountable and they turned this program around.”