H.S. Notebook: Hadley backs Hopkins Academy baseball in state title run

  • Andrew Ciaglo hugs his parents after winning the MIAA Div. 4 State Championship game at Springfield College. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Hopkins fans celebrate winning the MIAA Division 4 state championship game against Abington on Saturday at Springfield College. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Monday, July 12, 2021

SPRINGFIELD – On a state bracket, Hopkins Academy can look deceiving, like a small, private school crashing the state’s smallest division. It’s functionally Hadley High School, among the smallest public schools in the state with an enrollment of 250.

While originally founded as a private school in 1664, the academy incorporated in 1816. It’s situated right next to cornfields that can be seen beyond the baseball field’s fence. That’s the community that Hopkins kids come from: hard working, small-town farmers. And they just won the Division 4 baseball state championship, beating Abington 3-0 at Springfield College on Saturday.

While certainly the entire population of Hadley – 5,250 at the last census – didn’t show up to support the Golden Hawks, it felt like it at times. Players chatted with friends and parents in the batter’s box. Coaches and former coaches from other sports showed up. Little league players pushed through the ferns to stand at the net behind home plate.

Saturday’s victory was for Hopkins Academy, but it was more for Hadley.

“It shows what type of people Hadley is made of. This community is so great,” Hopkins senior Braeden Tudryn said. “That’s what produces all the great guys you see here and all the great fans. It’s a tight-knit community that’s amazing to be a part of.”

Hopkins coach Dan Vreeland credited the town of Hadley and its baseball pipeline for the Golden Hawks’ breakthrough title run.

“It’s the only reason why we’re here. To have a successful varsity program you need the community to be involved,” he said.

“Having a youth league that brings me kids that I just need to polish a little bit instead of build up from scratch. You can see it on the field. This is the reason we won this game: the community is here to support us.”

Hopkins senior Jack Feltovic, the winning pitcher who threw a shutout, plans to pay the support forward down the line.

“It’s one big family. The people care. Hopefully when I’m old enough they’ll be in the state championship and I’ll have the opportunity to cheer them on,” he said. “We’re really living the dream right now.”

FAMILY TIES — Hopkins Academy last won the state baseball championship in 1985 when it beat Bishop Fenwick, 7-6. John Earle was a freshman on the bench for that team. He watched his son Colin Earle fill a similar role on this year’s squad. Earle’s nephew, shortstop Andrew Ciaglo, also had another uncle on the team: pitcher Paul Ciaglo.

“Probably about the fifth inning I started to get the flashbacks. Thirty-six years ago, that was a long time ago. I remember how exciting it was then and those feelings came back,” John Earle said. “To watch those kids and see all the hard work they put in, all the coaches that put time into these kids, and the hard work they put in, it was surreal.”

Earle said he remembers the excitement and some of the big hits. Pitcher Bobby McKay winning the game sticks out in his mind.

“It was pretty amazing,” he said. “Very exciting. It’s exciting for the kids, it’s exciting for Hopkins, it’s exciting for Hadley – little town of Hadley with 30 some kids in a class. It truly is amazing.”

WAR PAINT – Hopkins sophomore Cody West draws his eye black in the shape of cat whiskers before every game. It’s part of a tradition passed down in the Hopkins program. Andrew Ciaglo wore it in 2019 and bestowed it upon West.

“I like wearing it. I’m the only one with it, so it feels a little special to me,” West said. “I’ll feel a little more special when I pass it down to someone else that can use it.”

Liam Flynn draws a smiley face on his right cheek. His nickname is “Funny Guy” because he’s always smiling, so he went with it.

“We always do it every game,” Flynn said. “It’s kind of a superstition we have.”

BACK IN THE BLACK – The Golden Hawks moved to 2-1 all time in baseball state championship games with wins in 2021 and 1985 and a loss in 2014.

Hopkins has also lost four other state final appearances: 1-0 in Division 3 girls soccer against Marian in 1985, 9-8 against Lynnfield in the 1985 Division 3 softball final, 77-75 in the Division 3 boys basketball against North Cambridge Catholic in 1999 and 65-36 in the 2019 Division 4 girls basketball championship against Cathedral.

RARE BAGEL – Feltovic’s shutout is just the third in Division 4 state championship history. The division began in 2010, but only Lowell Catholic in 2013 and St. John Paul III in 2014 kept their opponents off the board.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.