It took St. Thomas Aquinas less than 90 minutes to put the finishing touches on a 6-0 victory over Blue Valley Southwest on Friday at Tointon Family Stadium that gave the Saints their second Class 5A baseball title.
But Aquinas packed plenty into the rubber match against its fellow Eastern Kansas League member.
Senior Alex Van Pelt pitched a three-hitter, taming the Timberwolves with 11 ground-ball outs. Second baseman Joel Edwards made a diving stop, rolled and threw out BV Southwest’s Blake Shinkle for the first out of the sixth.
“I didn’t know Derek Jeter moved to second base,” Van Pelt said.
Third baseman James Cosentino got into the act as well, circling the bases for Aquinas’ fifth run after Timberwolves left fielder Austin Hoegerl couldn’t corral Cosentino’s fly ball.
It was all plenty for Van Pelt, who also pitched against BV Southwest when the Saints won 10-1 in early April.
“After a few innings, our momentum was going to carry us,” said Van Pelt, who was staked to a 4-0 lead in the second with the help of one of BV Southwest’s three errors. “My defense helped me out a lot.”
It was a nightmare scenario for BV Southwest, which had experienced the euphoria of a three-run, game-winning rally in the top of the seventh of a 7-6 victory over Wichita Bishop Carroll hours earlier in the semifinals. Shinkle, Jordan Yarbrough and Trevor Martin were the only Timberwolves to get a hit off Van Pelt.
“I think we were pretty emotionally drained after that first game,” Martin said. “We came out flat and when they got up, we just never got that juice flowing.”
Meanwhile, Aquinas rode the wave of its big plays all the way to the end. With the Aquinas crowd standing in anticipation of the final out, Saints right fielder Jack Pauley made a sliding catch of Miller Hogan’s line drive to right to secure Aquinas’ first baseball championship since 2007.
Edwards was the first to greet Pauley to start the celebration.
“We had so much team chemistry, it’s unbelievable,” Edwards said. “Everyone on this team has always been high-spirited. It’s not just playing baseball.”