Golden Hawks baseball run ends at Div. 5 state final


Staff Writer

Published: 06-21-2023 7:45 PM

WORCESTER — Bourne’s bats built a bridge too far for Hopkins Academy.

The No. 9 seed Golden Hawks rallied in nearly every game of the state tournament but couldn’t make it all the way back against the No. 2 Canalmen in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Sunday at Polar Park.

Hopkins Academy fell 10-5 after Bourne amassed 13 hits and put together two massive innings.

“We know we’re capable of anything. We know we can come back against anybody. We know that it takes a great team to come back. We are a great team. We had a hell of a year,” Hopkins Academy senior Cody West said.

“It’s just fighting. It’s like, who wants it? And by the looks, they really wanted it more than us at some point in the game.”

Bourne (20-7) broke the game open with five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, turning the tide of a 4-4 game. No. 8 hitter Griffin Kelly walked after going down 0-2, and No. 9 hitter Tobin Johnston, the hero of Bourne’s semifinal win over Ayer-Shirley, walked behind him. Leadoff hitter Damon White loaded the bases with a single to set up Jacob Lewis, who smoked a two-run double that chased Hopkins Academy starter Liam Flynn and gave the Canalmen the lead for good.

“[Flynn’s] been tough all year. This is the first time he started a game we didn’t win, which I think is all you really need to know about him. They swung better than anybody we faced. It’s not even close,” Hopkins Academy coach Dan Vreeland said. “It’s tough to see him have those moments and to struggle and to be frustrated in there because, as good as he’s been, he really has no reason to hang his head. He’s one of the biggest reasons we’re here.”

The Canalmen kept swinging. Luca Finton, who picked up the win in relief, added a two-run triple to make it 8-4, and Jack Ferreira added another run with a single. Ferreira finished 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.

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That surge was part of nine unanswered Bourne runs after Hopkins Academy took a 4-0 lead early. The first four Golden Hawks (18-5) reached safely, as they built a 3-0 lead and chased Bourne starter Ryan Sullivan.

Hopkins Academy leadoff hitter Cooper Beckwith was hit by a pitch between his numbers, and West launched a double over the right fielder’s head. Patrick Fitzgibbons brought them both home with a mammoth triple to center field, and Flynn stretched the lead to 3-0 with an RBI double.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a miracle that we’re here because we’ve had people believe in us, the community has believed in us since minute one. Without the community and all the people that came to [the games], we wouldn’t be able to do it,” Fitzgibbons said. “I thought we put up a pretty good fight towards the end of it all. Taking that early lead was big for us.”

The Golden Hawks extended it to 4-0 with a Liam Flynn RBI single in the top of the second.

Bourne loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning with two singles and a hit batter, then Sullivan exacted some revenge with a two-run single. Hopkins Academy picked up an out at third, then Flynn struck out the next batter.

The Canalmen kept the inning going with two outs after Flynn slipped fielding a grounder that allowed Johnston to reach first. White tied the game with a two-run triple that set the ample Bourne section off.

As Bourne surged, the Golden Hawks struggled to solve Finton. He struck out seven batters and allowed just one run.

“The next guy mixed it up a little better. He had a short arm action, he was quicker. He definitely liked to work at his own pace. He worked fast, and I think that threw us off a little bit,” Vreeland said.

Hopkins Academy pulled one run back in the top of the fifth when Chace Earle reached on an error. Two ground outs moved him to third, and he scored on a passed ball to make it 9-5.

But the rally ended there when Ferreira added an insurance RBI double in the sixth to settle the final score.

“We began to chip away, but just a couple bad ABs here and there, including myself,” Fitzgibbons said. “You have the big hits and you hit with runners in scoring position, that’s how you win ball games. We had six hits, but it didn’t match up to the 13 they had. You’ve just got to tip their hats to those guys.”

West and Fitzgibbons are the only two seniors on Hopkins Academy’s roster. They were playing in their second state final after winning a title as sophomores in 2021.

“They’ve been consistency personified not just on the field, but energy wise, their energy is unmatched,” Vreeland said. “Without it, a lot of these kids would have not even just learned the game of baseball as well as they did but learn how to be baseball player, and that’s a truly a testament to the type of kids they are and the type of players they are.”

The pair lingered in the empty dugout after their younger teammates cleaned up the gear and made the hard walk up the Polar Park steps to the concourse. Fitzgibbons and West chatted with an MIAA official while Abington, the team they beat for the state championship in 2021, filed in for the Division 4 final against Seekonk. Once they stepped off the field, their Hopkins Academy careers ended.

“Ever since I was little, I was planning on coming here, growing up playing through Hopkins and obviously winning a state title, which we did in 2021 was nice. Getting back here my senior year was really nice,” West said. “Being able to compete in a state championship again, not many people get to do a one time. We got to do it twice. I’m pretty thankful for everything.”