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      Seven hours you'll never forget

      Fatima claimed the Class 3 State Baseball Title with a 2-0 win over Springfield Catholic Friday afternoon.

      O'FALLON --- The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in 2011. Remember?Something tells me you do.|What do you remember most about it? Something tells me it wasn't Game 7, the championship-clincher, but Game 6.The David Freese game. The game when the Cardinals had more comebacks than Freddy Krueger.The "We will see you ... tomorrow night!" game, when Freese's game-winning home run plopped safely into the grass beyond the center field wall to win it in extra innings..

      Friday morning's semifinal game between Fatima and Hallsville ended more than 14 hours after it started. And before the coffee was cold Friday morning, the Comets scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to stun the Hallsville Indians, 3-2, and advance to Friday afternoon's Class 3 title game at T.R. Hughes Ballpark.


      With one more win, the Comets would have been penning the same script as the Cardinals. On a much smaller stage, of course --- but you couldn't top that, could you?

      Yes. Fatima 2, Springfield Catholic 0, in eight, edge-of-your-seat innings in the state championship game.


      "It's absolutely amazing," Comets coach Scott Kilgore said. "This is just an awesome group. They have great chemistry, I've said that many times, and they really displayed it again Friday.

      "We didn't know when, or even if, we were going to play. They just kept fighting. Under the circumstances, it makes it even more special."

      The semifinal game stalled shortly before 10 p.m. Thursday. Oddly enough, by rain.

      It resumed Friday morning in the bottom of the seventh with the Comets trailing 2-1 (more on this game to come), but two runs won it at around 10 a.m.

      Then, two nail-biting hours of baseball ended around 5 p.m. Friday.

      Seven hours you'll never forget.

      "To win it like we did," Kilgore said, "it couldn't have played out any better."

      The championship bout was dominated by a pair of championship pitchers. Tyler Ast of the Fighting Irish (23-5) was splendid, going all eight innings in the losing cause.

      "You have to hand it to that kid, that was a great performance from him," Kilgore said.

      But Patrick Schnieders for the Comets (23-5) was even better --- just when you thought he couldn't get any better. Schnieders went the distance in a 128-pitch gem, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out 11 for his third straight shutout.

      "We've seen him throw that type of game all season," Kilgore said. "He's been absolutely amazing. A kid like that, you can just hand him the baseball and let him go to work."

      Fatima pitchers, i.e. Schnieders and Lehman, made Kilgore's job a lot easier.

      "I haven't made a pitching change in six games; they're thrown six straight complete games," Kilgore said. "There aren't many high school coaches walking who can say that."

      Neither team could break through until the top of the eighth. Brady Weber led off with a bunt single and move to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nolan Bax. Up came Reid Kesel, who delivered the breakthrough RBI single to make it 1-0.

      "How clutch was that? Huge," Kilgore said. "He's been so good for us all year in pressure situations."

      After a two-out error, Seth Lehman singled home Kesel to give Schnieders one more run than he actually needed.

      "Once we got the one run, we could breathe a little bit," Kilgore said. "But once we got that second one, you could really take a sigh of relief."

      The Comets finish the season with a school-record 23 wins and Schnieders broke the single-season school-record for hits previously held by Joe Crede --- all while winning the school's second baseball state championship.

      The Comets are the Kings of Class 3.

      "Unbelievable," Kilgore said. "What a great experience."


      IF YOU HADN'T NOTICED, it's been raining.

      The start of Thursday night's semifinal game was delayed by rain at the outset, it had another rain delay during the game, before they called it at 9:56 p.m. in the bottom of the seventh.

      Hallsville (14-12) scored single runs in the second and fourth innings to build a 2-0 lead, and still led 2-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth.

      The Comets --- after the first rain delay --- shaved the lead to 2-1 on sacrifice fly by Ryan Mebruer. The Indians went quietly in the top of the seventh against Lehman, setting up the bottom of the seventh, which lasted roughly 12 hours.

      Thursday night, freshman Hunter Hennier singled, was sacrificed to second and moved to third on a wild pitch, when the game was postponed.

      Time to sleep on it.

      "Sleep? What sleep?" Kilgore said. "I didn't get any sleep."

      Friday morning, the Comets had Hennier on third, one out and a 3-2 count on Bax when the game resumed.

      "It doesn't matter how long you're involved in the game of baseball," Hallsville coach Barry Koeneke said, "something new will come along. This was something new."

      Hallsville ace Brendan Beatty, who entered the game with a 0.50 ERA, was back on the mound Friday morning --- despite throwing 115 pitches Thursday night.

      "I was sure concerned coming back with him, but he talked me into it," Koeneke said. "I can't think of another time like this situation, where somebody had to talk me into letting them pitch."

      Bax hit the first pitch of the day to Hallsville shortstop Tracy Fulton, who booted it, allowing Hennier to score. After a single by Kesel, Lehman produced the game-winning, walk-off single to score Bax.

      "It shows you the magnitude of what this team can accomplish," Kilgore said. "Amazing."

      Not just this team, but this school. In the last nine months, Fatima sports teams have advanced to four Final Fours and won two state championships.

      "It's an outstanding time to be a Comet; it was an unbelievable year," Kilgore said. "We've just got a lot of great, outstanding athletes and kids.

      "You couldn't ask for anything more."

      No, you couldn't --- especially these seven, unforgettable hours.