Riley Pint, he of the 100 mph fastball, didn’t throw a single pitch in St. Thomas Aquinas’ Kansas Class 5A state championship game on Saturday. But his shot to the warning track, which sent in two runs in the top of the fifth inning, rallied the Saints from a deficit and gave them a 10-9 lead they wouldn’t release.
The Saints took the 5A state title with a 14-9 victory over Shawnee Heights and finished the season at 21-4. Saturday also was the conclusion to one of the best prep baseball careers in Kansas City history.
Pint, an LSU commit, will likely be selected in the top five of the Major League Baseball draft next month. His Aquinas team rallied around him this season, riding his power right arm to a championship.
“He hits the ball, he fields the ball, he just does everything for us,” Aquinas head coach Lorne Parks said. “You get a guy like that, and all the kids focus around that — they’ll all play at that level too.”
That presence at the plate from Pint was the sparkplug for an Aquinas team in trouble on Saturday.
The Saints headed into the bottom of the third inning in good position, up 7-2. But Shawnee Heights rallied for seven runs in the third to take a 9-7 lead.
In the top of the fifth, Pint — who plays second base when he’s not pitching — stepped to the plate and blasted a ball to the center-field warning track for a double. James Cosentino and Blake Lillis peeled around the bases, Lillis jumping on the plate dramatically to re-take the lead for Aquinas.
The Saints piled on four more runs and left no doubt.
Pint now heads into a summer filled with big decisions — college or a Major League contract. But as he sent his glove and hat sailing into the air, and as his teammates mobbed him in the infield, he enjoyed the moment for what it was.
“I’m ready to go now,” he said. “One chapter ends, another one begins. And I’m really, really happy about this one.”
Bishop Ward advances to Class 4A Division II final
Bishop Ward kept up its surprising run in the Kansas 4A Division II state tournament. The Cyclones are still below .500, but are headed for the state championship game.
Bishop Ward topped Topeka Hayden 8-7 on Saturday in Emporia in the semifinals.
The seventh-seeded Cyclones, 11-13, will face No. 1 seed Baxter Springs, 22-2, in Saturday’s final at 11 a.m.