MANHATTAN – Even after Bishop Carroll rebounded from its seventh-inning semifinal disappointment Friday to defeat old nemesis Topeka Seaman 5-0 for third place in the Class 5A baseball tournament, the pain was still evident in Bryce Fischer’s voice.
Fischer, part of a talented group of Carroll seniors, wasn’t able to help to provide the relief help that could have helped the Golden Eagles reach their third consecutive championship game. Instead, he walked two batters, then hit another, which allowed Blue Valley Southwest to score the tying run on its way to a 7-6 victory at Tointon Family Stadium.
“I was confident,” Fischer said. “I just didn’t get it done.”
Fischer displayed the talent that opposing coaches won’t miss in his final game, belting a two-run, ground-rule double against Seaman for Carroll’s first runs. With fellow senior Malik Bieberle yielding only a bunt single in six innings, Carroll coach Charlie Ebright used the third-place game as an opportunity to remove his seniors one by one for a final curtain call.
“We told them you know you’ve got an opportunity to leave this with a win,” Ebright said. “And they came out and Bieberle threw a gem.
“Getting those guys just a little bit of love coming off the field was good for them, good for us and it allowed us to heal a little bit.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, which was one out away from quarterfinal elimination on Thursday, defeated Blue Valley Southwest 6-0 for its second 5A championship. That left Carroll, which finished 22-3, and last year’s champion Seaman to play for third.
It was the teams’ seventh meeting in 11 years at state, but the first in which the winner didn’t go on to be crowned a champion.
“It was almost an exhibition game, so to speak,” Seaman coach Steve Bushnell said. “Guys were getting curtain calls and it was justified. They have a great senior class.”
Bieberle was sensational for his final start, taking a perfect game into the sixth. Seaman’s Hunter Williams broke it up with a bunt single. After Bieberle stranded Williams at third, Ebright replaced his right-hander with Patrick Henning for the final inning.
“It’s hard to play, especially right after you lose,” Bieberle said. “You’re hoping you’re going to play for that state championship on the way up here.
“All you can do is let it go because it’s over, and then you’ve got to focus on the next one.”
Seaman (12-13), which defeated Carroll 10-3 in the 2013 title game, finished with two hits. Carroll finished with seven, including two by another senior, catcher Taylor Sanagorski.
The Eagles’ seniors ended the day with their 80th career victory and seventh in state competition. But there was also the bittersweet feeling of giving up the lead that cost them a shot at their third state title.
“When it comes down to it, execution is key in these games,” Ebright said. “There were a couple instances where we didn’t, and at a high level of baseball, it will get you.”
Carroll 5, T. Seaman 0
|T. Seaman||000||000||0||—||0 2 2|
|Carroll||003||200||x||—||5 7 0|
W – Bieberle. L – Johnson.
BV Southwest 7, Carroll 6
|BVSW||102||001||3||—||7 6 1|
|Carroll||030||300||0||—||6 4 2|
W – Tudhope. L – Fischer.