BY PAUL HINES
JOLIET — No team wants its trip to the state final to end with anything other than a championship.
Ultimately, only one team can have that satisfaction.
The Rams watched their titles hopes end with a 4-0 loss to Joliet Catholic on Friday in the semifinal.
Now comes the tricky task of trying to refocus and finish the season with a win in the third-place game at 9 a.m. today against Grayslake.
If any team can do it, the Rams can.
Mt. Vernon is loaded with experienced seniors who have led this version of Mt. Vernon baseball to unparallelled accomplishments.
Mt. Vernon will face a solid Grayslake team that tried to battle back against Wheaton St. Francis.
The two teams locked in a 1-1 tie after three innings before St. Francis opened up the game with five runs in the fourth and fifth innings only to see Grayslake closed the gap to 6-3 late.
A win in today's third-place game wouldn't be the perfect end to the team's baseball season, but it would be the perfect way to show what fans have seen all season long.
This group of Rams will fight and scrap and claw for any and everything. Rams players knew just by advancing to this year's state final that they would be a part of the most successful team in school history.
A win in the third-place game would put an additional stamp on that claim.
They also have a bit of history on their side. This season's Mt. Vernon Rams didn't do much losing during the regular season and when they did the defeats never came in bunches.
Mt. Vernon lost back-to-back games just twice this year. The first came at the hands of Waterloo and Triad in late March. Breese Mater Dei and Belleville West also dealt the Rams back-to-back losses in the middle of May.
Sure the competition in the state finals reaches into the stratosphere, but don't be surprised if the Rams do what they've done most of the season after a loss.
Paul Hines is the sports editor for the Register-News.