Junior catcher Jack Tinsley connects with the baseball at the plate during the Bears home game. Tinsley is among a strong junior class that has pushed San Marcos Academy towards their first home playoff game in 20 years.
Photos provided by San Marcos Academy
Nick Graham delivers the pitch in the Bears baseball game. Graham has been a force on the mound leading San Marcos Academy to their first home playoff game in nearly 20 years.
Photo provided by San Marcos Academy
San Marcos Academy to host first home playoff game in 20 years
It will be a historic day for San Marcos Academy as the Bears will host their first playoff game in nearly 20 years in the Area Round of the TAPPS Division IV Playoffs against First Baptist Christian Academy in Pasadena.
Breaking a 20 year drought, starting pitcher Nick Graham is happy to be a part of the team that broke the streak.
“It means a lot to us,” Graham said. “I have been here for three years and I’ve seen teams come through here. This is probably one of the best teams I have been on. We definitely deserve it considering the amount of energy and effort we have put into this season. Even though it’s a shared title, it’s a district title in the end. To bring a home playoff game to SMA for the first time in 20 years is definitely a highlight in my career here.”
Though Head Coach Toby Wade was proud of his team for breaking though the drought, he also knew this year’s team was going to be the ones to do it.
“It was honestly my expectation all along,” Wade said. “We felt so good about the guys we have. The shared part doesn’t bother me because when you get down to it, we took care of business. It means the world to me.”
But the road to the district championship wasn’t an easy one.
SMA was placed in a three team district along with Lutheran High School in San Antonio and New Braunfels Christian Academy.
Opting to play their opponents three times over the course of the district schedule, the Bears ended up in a unique predicament.
“We only have three teams in our district,” Wade said. “We decided to do a triple round robin only to end up in a three way tie for first place.”
In their second to last district game and with it being senior night, the Bears hosted Lutheran who had beaten SMA twice.
With Lutheran having lost to New Braunfels Academy twice, SMA needed just one win over the Mustangs to clinch a share of the district title having beat NBCA twice already.
“Going into the game, we all just sat down and talked about the importance of winning this game,” Graham said. “It was a must win for us in order to win the district title. Everyone just supported each other and we came together as a team. Even though there were some mistakes, we didn’t try to bring each other down. We picked each other up.”
With Graham on the mound, the Bears on Senior Night defeated the Mustangs 10-4 to clinch a share of the title behind a strong home crowd.
“On the mound it was pretty much the same,” Graham said. “It was sticking to what I do best and focusing on my pitches while the defense supports me the best way they can. I was confident on the mound and having the home crowd there helped us tremendously. Their noise helped keep our energy up.”
As the Bears dropped their next district game against NBCA, the district was shared between all three teams.
In order to determine the seeds for the playoffs, the tiebreaker was decided by a run differential.
The results made SMA the number one seed, NBCA the two seed, and Lutheran the three seed.
Now the Bears turn their focus on the playoffs where Wade said he believes SMA has the chance to make a deep run.
“We are where we want to be,” Wade said. “This was our goal at the beginning of the year. It would have been great to win the district title outright but our goal was to get the one seed because we felt like that gave us the best chance to make a deep run in the playoffs. I’m really excited about that.”
Though the Bears are excited about making history, the tantalizing aspect of making a run at a championship is far greater.
“We don’t want to be one and done in the playoffs,” Wade said. “We believe we can make a deep run in the playoffs. We have the arms to do it. It’s an exciting time around here and that home playoff game means the world to me.”
cmcwilliams @sanmarcosrecord.com Twitter: @ColtonBMc