MONROE – Perhaps the biggest mistake Evangel’s young bunch of Eagles made this season was showing coach Tim Hulett its potential.
“I told them after we played Calvary (in March) they made a mistake,” Hulett said. “They showed me they could win a state championship.”
The Eagles proved their coach prophetic Saturday, turning two unearned runs and the best start of senior right-hander Scotty Harvill’s career into their third Class 2A state baseball championship in the last five years with a 2-0 victory against University Lab.
Harvill spun a complete-game, one-hit shutout, never allowing a ball out of the infield while stifling a Cubs offense that rolled up 12 runs against top-seeded Calvary in Friday’s semifinals.
Harvill used his power sinker to record 12 groundball outs. Harvill, a submariner, struck out seven batters in the final three innings, clinching the title with his second strikeout of Manny Miles.
Following his final strikeout, Harvill found himself under a pile of teammates.
“I wasn’t able to breathe (in the seventh inning), ” said Harvill, who threw 49 of his 84 pitches for strikes. “I wasn’t able to breathe in the dogpile either. I think I broke some of my ribs, but it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Harvill didn’t need a lot of offensive help, following the trend set forth by Austin McWhiney and Brooks Bryan, who combined to shut out Kinder in the semifinals.
In 12 offensive innings at Warhawk Field, Evangel did not have a run-scoring hit with runners in scoring position and did not record an RBI.
A day after a throwing error scored Evangel’s only run, the Eagles used a two-run, two-base error by University center fielder Gino Marucci to provide the runs it needed.
Marucci’s error came after he slipped in a puddle in shallow center field. The puddle formed as a result of dumping the tarp after overnight rains hit Monroe. The miscue occurred in almost the same spot Friday’s game-turning error had.
“You’ve got to have some fortune in baseball,” Cubs coach Burke Broussard said. “As many games as you play, as many situations and plays that happen … we walked it out before. That’s where they dumped the tarp. It was wet, and his feet came out from under him.”
Given a lead, Harvill turned to his sinker and slider to turn in a rare postseason complete game for the Eagles.
“We’ve used a lot of guys all year, but (Saturday) we had our ace on the mound, Scotty,” said Hulett, who called the title perhaps his most rewarding. “He struggled this year with a little bit of injury, a little bit of arm stuff. Giving him the ball in the championship game, I felt really good, and he proved me right.”
Prior to the fifth, Harvill did not have a strikeout, instead leaning on his defense to keep the Cubs (29-7) from their 30th win.
The biggest defensive play came in the second inning, when James Kern led off with University’s lone hit, an infield single to shortstop. Kern took second on an error and moved to third on a Miles sacrifice bunt.
University played for a run, with Daniel Lockwood laying down a safety squeeze. Harvill fielded it and got Lockwood at first. Miles broke late for home, where Chance DeFriend’s throw to Nate Fielder was on target for the inning-ending out.
“It’s the best (Harvill’s) been all year,” shortstop Miller Parker said. “Great timing for him. It was awesome.”
The Eagles finished the season on a 12-game win streak, steadily pulling away from the .500 mark, as they rebuilt a roster that lost more than half of its starters from last season’s Class 2A semifinal appearance.
Throughout the season, Evangel was called too young, too inexperienced to win a state title. That changed Saturday.
“At the beginning of the season, we struggled a little bit,” said third baseman Blake Buckman, who hit the ball Marucci couldn’t corral in center field. “We didn’t know what was going on. Coach called a couple of guys in and said I know what’s going on. It’s a spiritual void. After that, it started rolling fine and brought us to this point.”