There are defining moments in sports, ones that are sealed in history. For the Jesuit Tigers’ baseball team, their improbable trip to a title deserves its own trophy case.
The Tigers returned home Thursday night with the school's first state baseball championship in the last 14 years. How they managed to earn it is truly amazing.
Jesuit survived some serious setbacks, including the loss of nine varsity players to suspensions. They had to fill holes in the lineup with backups and underclassmen.
Those were obstacles that could have overwhelmed most teams. Credit the goes to the coach for keeping up their will to win.
"There was something special about this group,” said Coach Richie Warren. “They played for each other. They played for their school. They played for their coaches. They just refused to lose."
Waiting and watching from the dugout during the championship game against Clay was agonizing for Warren, who now has two state championships -- one as a player with the Tigers in 2000, and now as their coach.
"I would be lying if I didn't tell you I was counting down them [outs] in my head, each one,” Warren said. “As we got closer, you start to think about all the stuff you put into the season. All the effort the kids have given. To look out to the field and watch the kids have all the joy -- as a coach, that was the pinnacle."
For Warren, having his family in the stands to watch and celebrate the special time added to the crowning moment.
"As a player, maybe you don't realize what goes into every day of planning a practice and organizing everything. You just get to go out and play and have fun playing the game. Anytime you’re the last team standing, that's a special moment."
With only three seniors in the lineup, the future looks promising for another run to the Final Four. But Warren warns his team not to take anything for granted.
"The fact that we've been there five years in a row and only won once, losing probably with better talented teams, shows a lot that it's not automatic,” Warren said. “Just because we won it this year, we might not make it back next year. Enjoy the moment, embrace it, take it all in. Just go out and seize the opportunity."
The Tigers seized their day. They followed a winning direction, learning valuable lessons from a coach who galvanized their will to win.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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