They call it the “finals” for a reason.
Regardless of the outcome of the Rummel-St. Paul’s of Covington game for the Division I state baseball title it will be the last game for Nick Monica as Raiders coach.
Earlier in the year, Monica was named as the Rummel head football coach for 2019, making this baseball season his last as the school’s head coach.
“Definitely, that would be the perfect finish for me. This has been a great run and I’m enjoying it. I will have mixed emotions about it’s coming to an end. Either way, it will be pretty hard to swallow at the end of the game, but hopefully, it’s at least with a trophy,” said Monica.
Monica and his Raiders (22-12) will attempt to capture that trophy when Rummel takes on St. Paul’s (28-6) at 3 p.m. Tuesday in Lake Charles.
Monica as extended his stay about as long as possible. The state semifinals were originally set for last Thursday and the title game for Saturday. Heavy rain backed up the event with Rummel not capturing its 4-3 semifinal win over Catholic High of Baton Rouge until Sunday.
The weather affect all teams in a similar fashion the Raiders managed to make the best of the situation, according to Monica.
“We haven’t missed a day of practice, which is good. We found a way to get our work done through all these rainy days and the travel and all that stuff. The main thing is you have to try and stay as close to your routine as much as possible. We’ve been able to do that,” Monica said.
The Raiders, the No. 4 seed, won their game over top-seeded Catholic High 4-3 in dramatic fashion.
Rummel jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then had to hold on as the Bears rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seven inning.
St. Paul’s, the No. 3 seed, also won by a 4-3 margin over second-seeded Brother Martin in the other Division I semifinal game. Like Rummel, the Wolves saw a 3-0 lead in the first inning slip away.
After St. Paul’s took a 4-3 lead in the fourth inning, Brother Martin loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh. Connor Simon, working in relief of Wolves starter Jacob Scherer, stuck out the next three batters to send St. Paul’s to the championship game.
“It was a very similar game – going from a comfortable lead to all of a sudden having to make a pitch or come up with a big hit to win you the game. It takes some guts to be able to do that,” said Monica, referring to the two semifinal games.
St. Paul’s features a veteran team that played for the state championship game a year ago, falling to John Curtis in the finals.
“They have a very deep lineup and there’s not much letup in their lineup. There is speed throughout. You have to be able to execute your pitches and if you make a mistake, they will make you pay for it. They have a good combination of power and speed throughout their lineup,” said Monica.
Monica said he expects to see Simon on the mound for the Wolves in the state championship game.
“He threw around 30 pitches and he threw this (state championship) game for them last year,” said Monica.
Monica said he plans to counter with Matt Villa on the mound for the Raiders.
“He’s in his junior year now. He’s had his ups and downs this year but he also has shown how good he can be when he’s on and that’s the kid we expect to see out there (Tuesday),” the Rummel coach said.