St. Xavier defeats Mason 11-2 for sectional title

CINCINNATI -- Trevor Kuncl stood near the dugout of the Panther Athletic Complex Thursday night and reflected on how rewarding this season has been for the St. Xavier baseball team.

The shortstop is one of 14 seniors on this year’s roster. The Bombers experienced ups and downs the past few seasons. But, this spring has been a much different story.

Thursday was the prime example for that confidence blended with sheer talent in a postseason game played at Elder’s PAC.

St. X defeated Mason 11-2 for the Bombers’ first sectional title since 2008. 

“It’s awesome,” said Kuncl, who is signed with George Washington University. “I don’t remember the last time our school got to that point. I can't even put it into words.”

The Bombers (20-3) advanced to Saturday’s Division I district final against Lebanon (20-6) at Western Hills High School. The game is scheduled for 11 a.m., but will likely be moved much later because Lebanon has graduation scheduled for that day.

St. X, which won the Greater Catholic League South division outright for the first time since 1999, found itself trailing 2-0 entering the bottom of the second inning Thursday. But the Bombers remained confident and relaxed at the plate.

St. X scored eight runs overall in the third and fourth innings to build a significant lead.

“It certainly means a lot because the last couple of years we haven’t been able to get past this game,” St. X coach Bob Sherlock said. “So to get past it is a big feather in our cap.”

St. X scored five runs in the bottom of the third including a two-RBI double from senior Michael Cleary that tied the game at 2.

Senior Alex Markley’s RBI single scored Cleary to make it 3-2 and the Bombers added two additional runs on an outfield error.

In the fourth, Kuncl, who was 2-for-4 on the day, hit a double to left center to score two runs to make it 7-2. Senior Jon Brus, who was also 2-for-4, followed that up with a triple to score Kuncl.

The Bombers added three more runs in the sixth to make it 11-2.

“It’s been awesome,” Kuncl said of the season. “Our guys put in a ton of work this offseason whether it was staying late to hit or getting to the weight room early. It’s really paid off for us.”

Junior Nathan Kappers settled down after allowing a 370-foot home run to Mason senior Jace Robinson (Northwood University) and another RBI single from junior Nick Northcut (Vanderbilt) in the second.

Kappers (7-1) allowed just five hits and had solid defense behind him too.

“He’s great,” Sherlock said. “He made a nice adjustment to a smaller strike zone. A lot of guys can’t do that. He’s a very mature kid. He’s got a great mound presence. Nothing rattles him.”

Senior Alex Markley was also 2-for-4 with two RBI for the Bombers. Seniors Andy Mills and Nick Meyer each had two RBI.

Mason (19-9), a team that was ranked nationally in the preseason, left everything it had on the field. The postgame emotion said it all.

The Comets graduate 11 seniors and coach Curt Bly told them all how much he enjoyed coaching them. Mason won seven of its past eight games at one point in late April into early May.

“They are all good kids – every single one of them,” Bly said. “These young men are representative of our program.”

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