This was a team with potential that worked to fulfill it.
Cathedral High School baseball did just that with a solid, consistent 2023 season that ended with a run into the postseason.
“We were really pleased with our body of work throughout the season,” Irish baseball coach Ed Freije said.
The Irish, a traditional city and state power, followed a 2022 state runner-up season with a strong ’23 season in which they went 20-4 in the regular season and finished No. 4 in the final Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 4A rankings.
“We played a good schedule, competed well throughout the season, played consistently and we had some really good wins,” Freije said. “We had some close losses that we competed well in and just didn't finish.”
The Irish in 2023 won a third consecutive sectional title, beating Pike 8-1 in a semifinal and beating North Central, 7-3, in the Class 4A, Section 10 championship game. They lost to New Palestine, 4-2, in the regional playoff.
“It boiled down to offensive execution,” Freije said. “There are always things we could have done a little better, but for the most part we played a clean game and competed well. They executed that much better than us offensively when they needed to and we didn't execute in a few spots offensively and throughout the game.”
The ’23 Irish’s three regular-season losses to Indiana teams were by one run or in extra innings. They won eight consecutive games before their season-ending postseason loss, and also won the City Tournament, the Carmel Invitational and the Lake Central Invitational.
“We had questions like we do every season of how things would fall into place,” Freije said. “For the most part, we thought our players responded and answered a lot of those questions. That allowed us to compete well throughout the entirety of the season.
“I really liked the way we consistently competed throughout the year. Our guys did a really good job. It was about as consistent a team as we’ve had.”
The ’23 Irish baseball team featured a strong core, including:
*Kyuss Gargett. A senior switch-hitting shortstop, Gargett hit .474 with four home runs, 41 runs and 20 runs batted in. He was named City and District Player of the Year. “He just had an all-around phenomenal year,” Freije said.
*Carson Johnson. A senior and two-year starting center fielder, Johnson hit .289 with 31 runs and 10 RBI. “He stayed the course and played really even keeled,” Freije said. “He was a quiet leader and just did a great job.”
*Patrick Mazur. A junior leftfielder, Mazur hit .341 with 28 runs, six doubles and 20 RBI.
*David Ayers. A senior third baseman who was also key as a pitcher, Ayers hit .307 with 19 runs and 18 RBI.
*Eli Bennett. A sophomore first baseman/pitcher, Bennett hit .311 with 14 runs and 18 RBI.
*J.T. Stiner. A junior catcher, Stiner hit .267 with 24 RBI and 16 runs.
Key for the ’23 Irish: A strong performance by a pitching staff that developed and improved throughout the season – a group that featured Ayers (4-0, .21 earned run average), Bennett (6-1, 3.64), junior Neal Parrish (5-0, 1.22) and junior Jackson Reeves (4-3, 2.73).
“We had some other guys mix up on the mound as well,” Freije said, “but a few weeks into the season, the way they were throwing, we felt really confident with any of those four guys on the mound and just their efficiency.
“We weren't sure what our pitching would look like, but we were really pleased with how it came about and how guys stepped up on the mound and allowed us to do what we try to do, which is pitch and defense and then give ourselves a chance.
“Those four guys were really impressive and, and we’re fortunate to be able to return three of them with a lot of experience from this year going into next year.”
Also key for the Irish in ’23: Senior corner infielder Tommy Davey, sophomore catcher/utility Bo Cooper, senior second baseman Griffin Sinsabaugh, sophomore pitcher/outfielder Zander Carnahan and freshman infielder Eli Sinsabaugh.
“We were just pleased with the body of work,” Freije said. “You always want to keep playing, but it's not always possible. It was a good group. Our seniors did a really good job. Our underclassmen competed really well and we’re looking forward to continuing to build on what we want to build on.
“We've been fortunate in the last few years to have a good balance of older guys returning with varsity experience, some older guys that didn't have as much varsity experience stepping into roles and still have a mix of guys able to crack into the lineup and get some good experience and play really well for us. That gives us returning experience to continue to build on.”