EDMOND — The problem, as it turned out, was pretty basic. Carl Albert was just too good. And because the Titans were so good, Noble’s storybook baseball season delivered everything but a storybook ending.
The Bears’ season concluded with an 8-2 defeat Friday afternoon at Edmond Santa Fe in the semifinal round of the Class 5A state baseball tournament.
But for a few entrants in the state track and field meet, the loss concluded a banner year for Noble athletics, one that also included a trip to the boys state basketball tournament and an unbeaten girls soccer season until bowing out in the postseason’s quarterfinal round.
The Bears aside, the story Friday was Carl Albert pitcher Gavin LeValley, who set the Titans’ tone at the plate in the top of the first inning by slugging an opposite field two-run home run, his 20th big fly of the season, before settling in on he mound, where he struck out five, walked one and hit a batter while allowing five hits and two earned runs.
Noble starter Corey Jennings didn’t get out of the first inning. In addition to LeValley’s shot, he allowed three other hits, two of them doubles and a pair of walks. Brady Bradshaw came on in relief and helped to settle the game down, but it wasn’t like Carl Albert was ever fully silenced.
“They played outstanding baseball,” Noble coach Brad Anglin said of the players in the other dugout. “When you give up 11 hits and they get a great outing from their pitcher, it’s hard to compete.”
Not once were the Titans (34-2) retired in order and, beyond the first inning, they collected seven more hits, two more doubles and pushed across two runs in the fourth inning, another in the fifth and another in the sixth.
The lone inning Noble (33-5) had a chance to do major damage was the third, when Casey Harris led off with the first of his two doubles before Jimmy Wood drew a two-out walk.
Next up, Trevor Lester lashed an RBI single to left field and Caleb Peters walked to load the bases. A bases-clearing extra-base hit might have made it a different game, but LeValley got Bradshaw to ground out.
Harris scored Noble’s last run in the seventh inning, reaching on his second double and scoring on Brayden Buol’s infield single when Titan first baseman Cameron Warren threw late and wild to LeValley, who was covering the bag.
So it was a tough day for the Bears, and still it came with a pretty full realization of what had been accomplished.
“Our goal this season was to make it here and I think with this year, we have a good opportunity next year,” Anglin said. “We started the season ranked 20th — not a lot of respect — and I think finally Noble’s perched up there on the map … All the credit goes to my kids. I’m blessed to be able to coach here.”
The Bears might not simply think about returning to the state tournament next season, but about winning it.
Wood, a pretty good running back in the fall, is the squad’s only departing senior.
“It’s the best season in Noble baseball history,” Wood said. “You have to have pride in that. It’s amazing to be a part of it, and these kids behind me? They’re about to go win state next year.”
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