Kinkaid outduels Episcopal for SPC baseball title
The Kinkaid baseball team called on Stone Simmons with one out and two runners on in the seventh inning of the Southwest Preparatory Conference championship game May 4 at St. John’s School’s Randall Field.
The senior right-hander had just pitched a complete the night before to get the Falcons past the semifinal of the conference tournament. But he responded with two strikeouts, clinching a 1-0 victory against two-time defending champion Episcopal and breaking the school record for strikeouts in the process.
“Stone does what Stone does,” Kinkaid coach Steve Maas said. “How fitting was it that he set the Kinkaid record in strikeouts right there? He got his 100th and 101st to break the record. His good friend Drake Greenwood, he graduated a couple years ago. He was kind of his mentor. Drake said he would love for him to break it if it meant we won a game.”
Three Kinkaid pitchers combined for a one-hit shutout, enough to overcome Tanner Witt’s one-hit performance for Episcopal. Senior right-hander Cade Mouton struck out two and allowed four baserunners in 4 1/3 innings.
“Cade stepped up,” Maas said. “He’s had command problems in the past few years. He was a different coming in. This year he just came in with confidence and got better and better as the year went on. I knew down in the bullpen he was going to be dominant. It was the best bullpen he’s ever thrown.”
Sophomore left-hander David Shaw worked two innings, retiring seven consecutive batters and striking out two with a running in scoring position in the fifth. He credited the work of Moulton and Simmons, as well as their leadership throughout the season.
“I think going into this tournament, the whole team had the mindset of just whatever it took to win,” Shaw said. “That kind of alleviates some of the stress I normally had. Even if that run scores, we’re still in that ballgame. It’s a team effort. Whatever happens, I know they got my back.”
The Falcons needed every pitch against Witt, who struck out six, walked three and pitched around three errors.
The lone run involved a bit of small ball. Bruce Behr singled the Kinkaid’s only hit to lead off the second, followed by a walk to Kamal Nader and a sacrifice bunt by Christian Limon.
Tyler Doan fought off two-strike pitches to send a sacrifice fly to left field, with Behr sliding around the catcher for a 1-0 lead.
“I saw the catcher drop the ball,” Behr said. “I actually missed the plate at first. He didn’t try and tag me so I had to dive back on top of it. I thought I was out when I was running in.”
The Knights’ only hit came from Colton Rathjen in the top of the second. They got a runner to second three times and had a few deep fly balls fall short of the wall, but could not crack the Falcons’ pitching.
“They’ve had a great season,” Behr said. “In all our SPC games we’ve held them to one run or less and they did their job today again. It’s just awesome seeing them go out there and shut Episcopal down in the championship game.”
It was the third consecutive SPC final between the rivals. Episcopal won 5-4 in 2017 and 6-5 in 2018.
The Knights (23-8-1) defeated Houston Christian 4-0 and St. John’s 4-3 to reach this year’s final. Max Madison and Jake Tanner both homered to support 6 1/3 scoreless innings by Marco Gutierrez.
Bennett Hanks went the distance in the semifinal and even singled home the game-winning run. Tanner Witt homered, while Preston Witt’s RBI single tied the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Kinkaid routed Dallas Greenhill 15-0 in the quarterfinals, highlighted by Michael Duncan’s four-inning no-hitter. Limon and Chris Stallings homered, while Carlos Abello and Doan both had three hits.
The Falcons edged John Cooper 6-5 in the final as Simmons struck out seven and escaped with the bases loaded in the seventh. Wyatt Young homered, joining Abello with two RBIs. Ryan Erickson doubled and walked twice.
The Falcons completed a stellar 31-2 season in the final, winning their eighth SPC title and first since 2015. They fell in the championship game three straight years, including an 11-6 loss to St. Mark’s in 2016.
“This senior class, I cannot say enough about them … I had players on senior night telling me ‘you don’t have to give me an at-bat coach, I don’t want to ruin what we have going,’” Maas said. “From top to bottom, this was a program win. I can’t be more excited for them.”