(Council Bluffs) -- For the 12th time in school history, St. Albert is set to play in the state baseball tournament.
The Falcons (32-8) enter their third tournament in the past four seasons as the No. 2 seed and will meet seventh-seeded Lisbon (25-13) in a 1A state quarterfinal Monday at 4:30 on KMA-FM 99.1.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Coach Duncan Patterson said following his team’s extra-inning win over CAM in a substate final. “There’s been a lot of pressure on us and a lot of expectations for this team.”
St. Albert entered the season as the preseason No. 1, according to the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association rankings, largely based on the strength of a seven-person senior class with plenty of state experience.
Cy Patterson (.557/.625/.843) and Isaac Sherrill (.441/.487/.691) have led that class at the plate while sophomores Brendan Monahan (.434/.522/.597) and Colton Brennan (.346/.442/.400) have posted breakout seasons. Seniors Luke Hubbard, Eric Matthai, Jeff Miller and Brett Klusman, juniors Daniel McGrath and Carter White and freshman Jaxson Lehnen have also been among the regulars for this year’s team, which enters the state tournament with a .391/.470/.498 batting line.
Despite the experience, St. Albert had to claw their way to a state tournament berth, rallying in extra innings after a big three-run seventh from CAM following a come-from-behind walk-off win over Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton in the district championship.
“That’s how it’s been all year,” Patterson said. “Every single game has been a battle. These guys don’t give up. They expect to win. That’s something we preach. They’re going to do whatever they can to get that W.”
That’s especially been true of late for Coach Patterson’s team. They’re rolling into the tournament on a 10-game win streak and have victories in 13 of their past 14.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Sherrill said after the substate final win. “Just being able to do this with my boys for the second year in a row is an amazing feeling.”
While St. Albert plays on Monday, they’re hardly focused on just one victory. The Falcons have aims of joining the 1981, 1996 and 1999 teams in winning a state championship. To do so, they will have to rely on their pitching depth to win three times in four days.
Hubbard leads the team with 53 1/3 innings, a 1.71 ERA and 48 strikeouts while Matthai has 34 strikeouts and a 2.53 ERA over 44 1/3 frames. Miller, who pitched a gem in a tough loss to Newman Catholic at last season’s state tournament, has thrown 35 1/3 innings and has a 3.37 ERA. Sophomore Cael Hobbs is yet another over 20 innings, having tossed 23 2/3 innings with a 3.55 ERA.
Whoever gets the ball first will do so against a youthful Lisbon team making their ninth state tournament appearance, third in the past five years and first since 2018. Regardless of the situation, Miller and the Falcons have probably seen it this year or in the past.
“This team never gives up,” he said. “We keep battling to the final out, and I’m proud of these guys for it.”
Listen to the St. Albert/Lisbon game on KMA-FM 99.1 Monday at 4:30 PM. View our Know the Opponent preview of the Lions linked here.