FAYETTEVILLE — The St. Joseph baseball team refused to settle for second place in the state title game against Dierks on Friday.
"We had kind of a joke, that little AT&T girl in the commercial who says, ‘We want more,’ and when you want more, you want more," said coach Luke Davis. "And that’s been our attitude. Any time we got one, we wanted more."
The St. Joseph Bulldogs got much more than they needed in their 13-3 run-rule victory against the Dierks Outlaws in the 2A state championship game and brought home the program’s first state title.
"Speechless, excited, overwhelmed, can’t say much more than that," Davis said.
It’s something that’s been 17 years in the making for Davis. He was an eighth grader at St. Joseph when the baseball program was started.
"This is Coach Davis’ dream, and we made it come true for him," senior catcher Andrew Bates said.
Bates finished his high school baseball career with three hits and scored two runs. He caught for tournament MVP Andrew Beck, who pitched all six innings for St. Joseph and earned the win.
"It’s amazing," Beck said. "I’m ecstatic and very happy that we won. Got this W for the coach, and for our team. The first title ever."
Beck had a hard time finding the zone in the first inning and walked three batters, which resulted in one run for Dierks. But Beck turned it around, giving up six hits and striking out six in the game.
"It wasn’t really me," Beck said. "It was these guys behind me. They had a lot of confidence in me to throw strikes and come back, and that’s what I did."
Beck not only impressed on the mound but had two doubles and three RBIs at the plate. He was responsible for the two-run double that ended the game in the bottom of the sixth inning by giving the Bulldogs a 10-run lead.
"That’s the best way to end my career," Beck said. "The only better way would be if it went over the fence."
Sophomore shortstop Britt Stroth also had a successful night, going 3-for-3 and collecting four RBIs. Davis said he couldn’t be more happy to have Stroth for two more years.
"As a freshman, he would have been starting last year, but he rolled his ankle early and came back strong," Davis said. "I’m definitely expecting a lot out of him."
Davis said the close-knit nature of the team played a big role in its success this season.
"We’re a small school, and a lot of these kids have been there since Kindergarten, and they’ve played together in basketball and baseball," he said.
Many of the players on the team actually played for the school’s basketball program as well.
After a disappointing finish in the first round of the state basketball tournament this season, Beck said it was nice to go all the way this time.
"We were really sad that we lost in the first game because our expectations were high to get the finals," Beck said. "We lost, so we were hungry and came out here and got this win. It was great."
Davis said the players who competed for the basketball team were extra encouraged to find success on the field since they couldn’t on the court.
"We talked about that at the very beginning of our season," Davis said. "They had a let down there in the first round of the state basketball tournament, and we used that as fuel and wanted to find a way to do it and they did."
Bates said there’s nothing like being the first team to win a state championship for your school and hopes he and the other players have started a winning tradition for St. Joseph.
"It’s a great feeling," Bates said. "We just made St. Joseph baseball history."