O'FALLON, Mo. — Things were a little tense.
The St. Elizabeth Hornets were just three outs away from the Class 1 state championship Wednesday afternoon, taking a 2-1 lead against the La Plata Bulldogs into the top of the seventh inning.
But La Plata used a walk, a bloop single and another walk to load the bases with nobody out.
OK, things were more than a little tense.
"I was extremely nervous," St. Elizabeth senior third baseman Aaron Blomberg said. "But I had complete faith in our pitcher. I knew he was going to execute pitches and get us out of it."
Brock Lucas did indeed get the Hornets out of it. Turns out it was as simple as 1-2-3, followed by strike three.
The freshman right-hander started a home-to-first double play on a grounder back to the mound, then closed the game with a strikeout as the Hornets held off the Bulldogs to win the third state title in program history.
"As a freshman, he manned up," St. Elizabeth coach Caleb Heckemeyer said. "He did a great job."
Lucas came on to start the seventh inning in relief of starter Nolan Heckemeyer, who allowed one run on two hits and one walk through six innings.
"I kind of wanted to go out there, but I trust the coach's decision," Heckemeyer said. "It worked out, that's all that matters."
Ryan Jackson led off La Plata's seventh with a five-pitch walk. Tanner Pipes then blooped a single to short center to put runners at first and second.
After Caleb Heckemeyer made a visit to the mound, Tristan Lynch walked to load the bases.
"I was very nervous," Lucas said.
Justin Wood then hit a grounder back to the mound and Lucas, St. Elizabeth's smooth fielding starting shortstop, snared the come-backer.
"It got to my glove and I looked at it and thought, 'Make a good throw,'" Lucas said.
Lucas threw home to catcher Coltin Green to get the force out at the plate. Green then threw to first baseman Brady Heckemeyer to get Wood to complete the 1-2-3 double play.
"Being an infielder, (Lucas) knows to set himself and make a good throw," Heckemeyer said. "Coltin then gathered himself and made a great throw down the line.
"It was great baseball IQ from those two."
But there were still La Plata runners at second and third and St. Elizabeth needed one more out to end it.
Heckemeyer could tell Lucas was a little too excited.
"We just told him to breathe and relax," Heckemeyer said. "Just get the next batter."
Lucas did just that, striking out Riley Case swinging to set off a St. Elizabeth celebration of its first state baseball title since claiming the Class 1A championship in 1997.
"This is amazing," Lucas said. "This is the best feeling of my life."
The win was a bit of redemption for the Hornets, who fell in the title game last season.
"This feels awesome to get the job done this time," Blomberg said. "We finally accomplished a goal we set at the start of last season."
"Happy tears this time," Heckemeyer said.
St. Elizabeth scored its two runs in the first inning.
After Nolan Heckemeyer set down La Plata in order in the top of the inning, he led off the bottom of the frame with a double.
Blomberg followed with a double to give the Hornets the lead.
"It was good to get something started and get a run on the board," Heckemeyer said.
After a pair of strikeouts, Lucas dropped a single in front of the La Plata right fielder to make it 2-0.
"It was great to get up two," Caleb Heckemeyer said. "We didn't have timely hitting today, but we did just enough in that first inning."
Nolan Heckemeyer was dominating on the mound, retiring the first 10 La Plata batters before Gunnar McHenry beat out an infield single with one out in the fourth. Jackson then walked before Lucas fielded a grounder at the bag at second to start at 6-3 double play to end the inning.
La Plata (18-2) scored its run in the fifth. Lynch led off with a triple to center and scored on a grounder to second by Wood.
"La Plata is a great team that fought hard and never gave up," Caleb Heckemeyer said.
St. Elizabeth stranded six runners in the game, three in scoring position.
"We squared up some balls, unfortunately, they went right at them," Blomberg said.
Nolan Heckemeyer finished with eight strikeouts to finish his junior season with a record of 7-1. It was the first save of the season for Lucas.
"Our pitching did a great job of getting the job done," Caleb Heckemeyer said.
Blomberg and Hayden Irwin are the only two seniors for the Hornets.
"The future looks bright, we've got a good core coming back," Heckemeyer said.
St. Elizabeth ends its season at 18-4.
Cooter, which fell 6-1 to St. Elizabeth in Tuesday's semifinal, took an 8-5 decision from Weaubleau in Wednesday's third-place game.