Jon Morrison, bats deliver Hopkins Academy Western Mass Division 4 title

  • Hopkins Academy's Jonathan Morrison, center, celebrates with teammates June 16, 2018 after winning the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game 8-3 over St. Mary's at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Jonathan Morrison pitches June 16, 2018 against St. Mary's during the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy baseball players celebrate June 16, 2018 after winning the Western Massachusetts Division 4 championship game 8-3 over St. Mary's at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Jonathan Morrison, center, hoists the winning trophy alongside teammate Nathan Kelley June 16, 2018 after defeating St. Mary's 8-3 in the Western Massachusetts Division 4 championship game at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Jonathan Morrison, left, congratulates teammate Nathan Kelley as he crosses home plate to score June 16, 2018 over St. Mary's during the Western Massachusetts Division 4 championship game at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Justin Butterfield leaps to home plate to score June 16, 2018 against St. Mary's during the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Michael Curran, center, is congratulated by teammates after scoring June 16, 2018 against St. Mary's during the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's John Earle, right, eyes the ball while St. Mary's catcher Hunter Authier looks to make the catch June 16, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Kouji Ishida rounds third base under pressure from St. Mary's June 16, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Michael Curran swings at the ball while St. Mary's Hunter Authier looks to make the catch June 16, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Matthew Hanscom, center, celebrates with teammates June 16, 2018 after winning the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game 8-3 over St. Mary's at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Nathan Kelley, front, and Justin Ciaglo hug June 16, 2018 after winning the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game 8-3 over St. Mary's at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Liam Higgins, back, and Nathan Kelley hug June 16, 2018 after winning the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game 8-3 over St. Mary's at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Noah Scanlon Dean, left, Justin Butterfield and John Earle hug June 16, 2018 after winning the Western Massachusetts Division 4 baseball championship game 8-3 over St. Mary's at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy baseball players show off their winning trophy June 16, 2018 after defeating St. Mary's 8-3 in the Western Massachusetts Division 4 championship game at Earl Lorden Field in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

For the Gazette
Published: 6/16/2018 7:17:14 PM

AMHERST — Hopkins Academy rode a 16-strikeout performance from Jon Morrison to win its first Western Massachusetts Division 4 Tournament baseball title since 2014 in an 8-3 win over St. Mary’s at UMass’ Earl Lorden Field, Saturday.

Morrison, a senior who has played on the team since he was in middle school, allowed two earned runs and four walks. St. Mary’s took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but Morrison struck out nine of the next 10 batters from the last out of the second inning to the fifth. The one St. Mary’s batter not struck out by Morrison in that span was eighth-grader Andrew Florek, who hit a single in the fourth inning but was stranded on-base.

“There’s something about him that knows the game is bigger,” Hopkins coach Dan Vreeland said of his ace pitcher. “It doesn’t shake him; he just responds by throwing the best game he possible can.”

Down 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Hopkins responded by scoring two runs to pull itself back in front. The Golden Hawks took advantage of defensive mistakes. On the first run Justin Butterfield jogged in from third on a passed ball, then three consecutive walks from St. Mary’s pitcher Quinn Powers scored Mike Curran for a second run.

Vreeland said it is typical of his team to go down early and then have to fight their way back to win, just as they were in this game and in the semifinals against Ware, when they went down 4-0 in the first inning, Vreeland cited several other opponents, such as Belchertown and Greenfield, that had his team down early but were beaten.

“It’s a team that is willing to battle back and doesn’t get down on themselves and I think that is a huge difference-maker,” Vreeland said.

One hit was all it took for Hopkins to extend its lead to 5-1 in the fourth inning. Jack Feltovic drilled one into right-center field and the ball continued to roll almost to the wall. The distance was enough to bring in Nate Kelley, Braeden Tudryn and Liam Higgins. Feltovic rounded second in an attempt to reach third, but was thrown out, making his hit a three-run double.

In the fifth, Morrison uncharacteristically allowed four straight singles, which brought back two runs for St. Mary’s to make the score 5-3, but Hopkins answered in the bottom half of the inning when Noah Scanlon-Dean hit a lead-off triple and was brought in by an RBI single from Nate Kelley.

Morrison was asked after the game what it takes for an opponent to put together a strong game against him. Morrison said falling behind in the count makes a difference for him.

“It’s pretty much just getting up on me in the beginning of the count,” Morrison said. “When I get ahead in the count I have them at my disposal, I have a couple pitches I can get them out with.”

As the team celebrated its win, Vreeland said the difference between this year’s team and the teams that lost in the semifinals three years in a row comes down to hitting.

“This team hits like no team I’ve ever coached before,” Vreeland said.

Hopkins will return to Lorden Field on Tuesday to face Central Massachusetts champion Oxford (22-1).

Hopkins Academy 8, St. Mary’s 3

St. Mary’s       010 020 0 — 3 6 2

Hopkins          020 312 x — 8 8 1

WP—Morrison LP—Powers

Records: Hopkins (17-4) St. Mary’s (15-8)




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