Seton Catholic’s approach Saturday was no different than the rest of this baseball season.
The Cardinals put nine on the diamond, and play ball.
Seton made its third Class A regional appearance in four years, falling 5-1 to Monroe Central in a semifinal at Carroll.
The Cardinals carry a roster of 10, much smaller than the other three teams in the Carroll field, and had one player unavailable for Saturday’s semifinal.
Didn’t stop them from putting up a fight against the Golden Bears — just like it didn’t stop them from winning 16 games and repeating as a sectional champion.
“We had no sectional titles coming in, and I’ve got four leaving,” said senior Adam Dolesh, who was also part of Seton’s boys basketball sectional championship this past winter. “It’s pretty special to take this program off the ground and hopefully it will continue to be successful.”
Dolesh drove in the Cardinals’ regional run, plating Rhett Butler with an RBI single in the third inning.
That cut Seton’s deficit to 2-1, though the Golden Bears responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Monroe Central right-hander Jake Combs went the distance on the mound, limiting the Cardinals to four hits.
Combs also scored a run and doubled for the Golden Bears, who avenged a 5-2 loss to Seton in the regular season.
“They put a lot of pressure on us early on,” said first-year Seton coach Jake Carr. “Trying to get the top couple of hitters out was a little bit of a struggle. It’s baseball, some of those little flares get down, and then we didn’t execute a little bit.
“Overall they played a good game and they were coming for us after we beat them earlier in the season, but we played well.”
Monroe Central also eliminated Seton from last year’s regional tournament.
The Golden Bears struck for two against Seton ace Brady Gray in the first inning.
Two of Monroe Central’s first three hitters laid down bunts, and Beau Combs and Jake Combs scored on an error and a sacrifice fly to center field.
“That’s huge for the pitcher to get a breath and realize he’s got a cushion,” said Monroe Central coach Blake Turner.
Both runs were unearned.
Gray responded by striking out the side in the second inning.
“They (the Golden Bears) were really aggressive early on. Brady threw 75 pitches in seven innings, and usually that means he mows people down,” Carr said. “They were just aggressive early, the way it’s supposed to be played.”
Craig Heyob led off the top of the second with a single for Seton’s first hit. Dolesh, Cliff Dickman and Adam Reimsnyder also had base hits for the Cardinals.
Heyob, Seton’s catcher, threw out a runner at second base after a swinging strikeout to end the fourth inning, and also recorded an out on a play at the plate from a throw by Reimsnyder at third base.
“One thing coach has been saying all year is just to have fun, stay in it, even when we’re down,” Heyob said. “That showed in our sectional championship game against Tri.
“Anything’s possible in tournament ball. We tried to pull one out today. It just didn’t happen.”
Seton rallied from a 7-1 deficit earlier this week to defeat Tri High in extra innings for the sectional championship.
Heyob, Adam Dolesh, Tyler Dolesh, Butler, Gray and Reimsnyder are seniors. Freshmen Vince Mosey and Jake Leverton and sophomores Dickman and Colten Pipenger also played Saturday for Seton.
“I wouldn’t want to play for any other team besides these guys,” Heyob said.
Added Adam Dolesh: “My guys fought pretty hard. We had no bench players today, so it was just kind of special to have the group of guys I had the season with.”
Jesse Reum led off the sixth with a double, and Cody Woolf brought him home with an RBI single to complete the scoring.
Beau Combs scored twice, Brady Jones had two hits and Jake Combs struck out eight.
“We put a lot of hard work in. Seton did (too). You can tell both teams have gotten better since the last time we played,” Turner said.
“Jake did a good job getting ahead. Top of the order really got things going for us. It was good to see that.”
Seton finished 16-10.
“The kids, they really worked hard,” Carr said.
“Our kids have the attitude of, you can only play nine, and our nine is better than your nine. They had that attitude all year, even today. Just fell a little bit short.”
Sports editor Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI