AUSTIN — Sweeny saved ace Caden Homniok for Thursday night’s Class 4A state championship game against Argyle. But even Homniok, a Texas A&M commit with an 11-2 record on the season, couldn’t contain the Eagles’ high-powered offense.
One day after using a 13-run fourth inning to blow past La Vernia, Argyle scored three in the fourth to fuel a 6-3 win over the Bulldogs at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
The win capped an unprecedented two-year run for the Eagles, who improved to 77-1-1 over the last two seasons and claimed their second consecutive state championship.
“That game really defined our team,” Argyle coach Ricky Griffin said. “There were so many chances for them to tighten up or lay down, and they just won’t. They’ve been here enough – there was no panic, they just knew they were going to win. I was panicked, of course, but I’m very proud of them. I’m fortunate to be their coach.”
Texas Tech signee Dillon Carter, who was named the state championship game MVP, showed a tremendous amount of composure after entering the game out of the bullpen with a 5-3 lead, one out and a runner on second base in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Carter had thrown just three innings in the playoffs but came up big after walking Braden Norris. He allowed just one hit in 1 2/3 innings to hold off a potential Sweeny rally, securing his fifth save of the year.
“I’ve been waiting on that moment all postseason,” Carter said. “I came out a little shaky with my first batter, but I got the next guy to strikeout. I just knew that if I pounded the zone and forced them to hit ground balls or fly balls, they were going to be out. It’s pretty automatic with this defense.”
Carter’s MVP award didn’t overshadow a strong effort from Utah signee Sean Bolin, who got his ninth win of the year. Argyle felt like Bolin was squeezed with a tight strike zone, but he went 5 1/3 innings and allowed six hits and three runs before Carter finished it out in relief.
Argyle, the No. 2 team in the USA Today Super 25 Rankings, became the first team in UIL baseball history to follow up an undefeated state title season with another state championship. The Eagles are just the third team win back-to-back titles at the 4A level.
Argyle’s star-studded senior class, featuring seven future Division I players, closed out its career with a 130-10-2 record in four years with the program.
“We don’t like losing,” catcher Austin King, a Texas-Rio Grande Valley signee, said. “We lost our freshman and sophomore years, and we told ourselves we were going to work hard, we weren’t going to lose, and we were going to play every game to the last inning and the last pitch.
“That’s what we’ve done, and the younger guys have caught on. It worked.”
Argyle took an early lead in the first inning when Carter reached base on an infield single by diving into first base. He came around to score on an RBI single from Hayden Clearman (Abilene Christian), but Sweeny pitcher Caden Homniok went on to hold the Eagles scoreless until the big fourth inning.
Cade Merka (Texas A&M) had an RBI double, Bo Hogeboom (Houston) had an RBI single and Brenden Dixon (Texas) added an RBI single to make it 4-0 Argyle. The Eagles added another run in the fifth when Preston King (UTRGV) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, but Sweeny made things interesting in the bottom half of the inning.
Coker drew a leadoff walk, Filipp was hit by a pitch, Joe Effenberger had a 2-RBI triple to center field and Homniok added an RBI groundout. The Eagles never panicked, though, and stopped the bleeding.
Riley Hartman, a courtesy runner for Austin King, later scored on a wild pitch to add an insurance run in the seventh.
“They kept making big plays, but I thought we saw the slider well tonight,” Griffin said. “That’s something that a lot of the teams that didn’t beat Sweeny struggled with. I was really proud of the way we let the ball get deep, giving us a chance to see it.”
While Argyle will be without its talented seniors next year, the Eagles do return a solid core in Merka, Hogeboom and Baylor commit Alex Gonzales. Junior pitcher Tate Van Poppel, the son of former MLB pitcher Todd Van Poppel, will also return after going 8-0 with a 1.77 ERA.
“The juniors are something special,” Austin King said. “I love all of them. They’re going to make a deep run next year – they have a good team coming back. Who knows, they might three-peat.”
Argyle 6, Sweeny 3
WP — Sean Bolin (9-1). LP — Caden Homniok (11-3). 2B — Argyle: Austin King, Cade Merka, Sweeny: Effenberger, Folse, Benavides, Coker. 3B — Sweeny: Effenberger. Records: Argyle (40-1-1), Sweeny (31-10).