HOUSTON – After a tournament in Pensacola, Florida, Rayner Noble knew he had a “scrappy” bunch.
After a come-from-behind run-rule victory over Fort Bend Christian Academy after trailing 9-0 after the first inning, Turner Murdock (’24) knew this team was “different”.
After an 11-5 victory over The Brook Hill School on Thursday afternoon in Arlington, Luke Pettitte (’23) knew this team – the 2022 version of Second Baptist School baseball – were State Champions.
“It feels amazing and sounds amazing,” Pettitte said.
Second Baptist School completed the magical season, capturing the TAPPS Division II State Championship with the six-run win. It was the sixth title in program history and the 32nd overall for Second Baptist School.
“It was early in the year where I saw that we could do some special things,” Noble said.
Every team goes through adversity in a season.
Second Baptist School had to fight its way back from early deficits and fend off injuries throughout the year. One of the biggest ones early was Texas A&M-commit Ty Baker (’23) going down.
Step in Murdock.
“When he went down it was an opportunity for me to step up,” Murdock said. “Everyone stepped up, Leighton Reddy (’22) especially. He’s been an elite closer for us.”
Noble added: “He was huge. When Ty went down and missed almost half the season, Turner just picked up the slack and threw the ball extremely well. He did a great job.”
Being called upon on a big stage wasn’t new for Murdock.
In the fall, the sophomore led the Second Baptist School football team to the TAPPS Division II State Championship game in Waco. In the spring, he’s pitched the baseball team to ultimate glory.
“It’s definitely been a fun year,” Murdock said. “It’s been a lot of big stages. It is preparing me for the future.”
Mid-way through the season, Baker did make a comeback and “bolstered” the pitching staff to make a difference down the stretch. As for the closer, Reddy was on the mound on Thursday when the final out was recorded with a throw across the diamond from Pettitte to first base.
That moment was a “blur” for the Second Baptist School junior. It was a “routine” ground ball that he has fielded hundreds of times in his career. He caught it and then “threw it as hard as I could” to make sure the championship was clinched.
Next, Pettitte threw his glove and hat in the air, rushed the mound, hugged Reddy and was jumping around as his teammates joined in.
The State Championship is special for the Pettitte family. In 2016, when the Eagles last won a baseball crown, older brother Jared, who is now in the Miami Marlins organization, was a part of that team as a senior. His father Andy – a World Series Champion himself – was the pitching coach for that team.
In 2022, Andy was back on the staff with Luke chasing a title.
“It’s pretty cool, especially since my dad was able to be the pitching coach for both of us,” Pettitte said. “He was there right by our side. He went through the thick and thin with us and the ups and downs. It’s pretty cool.”
Noble was a part of that coaching staff in 2016 when Second Baptist School last won it. He was an assistant on the staff led then by current Houston Baptist University baseball coach Lance Berkman.
Since 2012, Noble has been at Second Baptist School, and this was his third year leading the program as the head coach. Winning this title as the lead man in charge is special for the longtime baseball coach.
“It’s always nice when you’re the head coach, there’s some strong satisfaction just knowing what you did throughout the course of the year was good enough and it held up,” Noble said. “Any State Championship is good whether you are the head coach or an assistant coach but it’s really gratifying when you feel like the leadership you provided was enough to get it done.”
Finishing off a season as a State Champion is just a “testament to everyone’s hard work”, Murdock said, and they worked their “tails off” to get here.
In the end, this wasn’t Murdock’s last time to pull on a Second Baptist School jersey. For the seniors though, it was. To send them off as champions – not a better feeling in the world.
“It means a lot to these seniors,” Murdock said. “They’ve been working for the last four years. To finally get one, it’s nice to send them off with a happy ending.”