Div. 5 baseball: Defending state champion Hopkins Academy falls to No. 1 Hopedale (PHOTOS)

  • Hopklins Academy’s Dom Aloisi, right, runs the basepaths as Hopedale’s Zach Frohn fields a grounder against Hopedale during the Division 5 baseball state tournament Round of 16 on Wednesday in Hopedale. The Golden Hawks fell 5-0. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hopkins Academy second baseman Dom Aloisi flips the ball to first against Hopedale during the Division 5 baseball state tournament Round of 16 on Wednesday in Hopedale. The Golden Hawks fell 5-0. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hopkins Academy first baseman Liam Flynn watches the ball into his glove against Hopedale during the Division 5 baseball state tournament Round of 16 on Wednesday in Hopedale. The Golden Hawks fell 5-0. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hopkins Academy pitcher Cody West delivers against Hopedale during the Division 5 baseball state tournament Round of 16 on Wednesday in Hopedale. The Golden Hawks fell 5-0. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hopkins Academy senior Andrew Ciaglo watches a seventh-inning at bat with the Golden Hawks’ sacred playoff giraffe against Hopedale during the Division 5 baseball state tournament Round of 16 on Wednesday in Hopedale. The Golden Hawks fell 5-0. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hopkins Academy pitcher Patrick Fitzgibbons delivers against Hopedale during the Division 5 baseball state tournament Round of 16 on Wednesday in Hopedale. The Golden Hawks fell 5-0. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Hopkins Academy coach Dan Vreeland, standing, speaks to the Golden Hawks after their 5-0 loss against Hopedale in the Division 5 state tournament Round of 16. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 6/8/2022 8:08:25 PM
Modified: 6/8/2022 8:06:17 PM

HOPEDALE –  The bottom of the Hopkins Academy lineup gave the defending state champions a chance. The No. 1 overall seed just wouldn’t crack.

The No. 17 Golden Hawks fell 5-0 against No. 1 Hopedale in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 16 at Hopedale Town Park. The Blue Raiders will host No. 8 Carver in the quarterfinals.

Hopkins faced that five-run deficit as it came up to bat in the top of the seventh inning with its No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 hitters slated to bat. Junior Patrick Fitzgibbons struck out to lead off the inning, but Cody West legged out an infield single for Hopkins Academy’s first hit of the game. He wouldn’t have reached safely had Hopedale pitcher Ryan Reynolds covered first base after first baseman Jacob Smith fielded the ball. But no one was home for him to throw to.

Then Reynolds drilled Liam Flynn square in the back to put two Golden Hawks on base for the first time all game. Dom Aloisi popped out, then eighth grader Chace Earle dropped in a single to load the bases.

“That was really rewarding to me because one of our biggest issues in the beginning of the year was we really felt like we had a top of the order and then nothing after it,” Hopkins Academy coach Dan Vreeland said.

Hopkins Academy sent pinch hitter Alex West to the plate with a chance to inflict some damage. He stroked the ball to a place that would have been a hit against most teams. Instead Hopedale shortstop Will Parker, an Army commit, yanked it out of the air at full stretch, ending the game. It was the third time all game a Blue Raider infielder robbed a Hopkins hit with a vertical display.

“Those are tough as a hitter. It kills your mood, kills your momentum, especially when you got the bases loaded like that,” West said. “Credit to them, great plays. Sometimes the defense gets the better of them.”

Hopedale (16-6) scored all five runs in the third inning. Parker led off the inning with an infield single, then Ollie Radcliffe blooped a single. Hopedale scored its first run after Smith hit into a fielder’s choice at shortstop, bringing Parker around. Radcliffe was initially called out, but Hopkins Academy shortstop Andrew Ciaglo dropped the ball. So technically Radcliffe was safe and started walking toward the dugout. Ciaglo sprinted toward Radcliffe to tag him out, so Radcliffe ran toward third. Eventually Ciaglo threw to third baseman James Fitzgibbons for the first out.

A walk brought up Tyler Wilke, who delivered an RBI double. Patrick Fitzgibbons struck out the next batter, but back to back walks made it 3-0. That ended Fitzgibbons’ day on the mound.

Vreeland put in West – a lefty – which allowed Fitzgibbons to catch.

“The goal was to not give them the same look four times through the lineup,” Vreeland said. 

Brayden Lewis sent West’s first pitch down the third base line for a two-run single and a five-run lead. After a walk, West ended the inning with a pop up.

He only allowed three more base runners and no hits the rest of the way.

“As a pitcher, sometimes you’ve got your stuff going. I threw my off speed very well, played a lot with my fastball and mixing up with my curve threw them off balance,” West said. “A lot of weak contact.”

Hopedale benefited from an error in the bottom of the fourth, but Hopkins Academy didn’t let anyone get to second following a fielder’s choice. Then Patrick Fitzgibbons threw out a runner attempting to steal second. That was it other than a walk in the bottom of the sixth.

“They very clearly wanted to swing early in counts. They attack early in counts and go after the first strike,” Vreeland said. “He was throwing strikes early in counts and just not in super hittable places.”

While the Golden Hawks defense clamped down on Hopedale after the early surge, its own offense couldn’t establish a rhythm. Hopedale starter Reynolds threw a no-hitter through six innings.

Earle became the Golden Hawks’ first baserunner when he was hit by a pitch in the top of the third inning. But that threat ended early when Reynolds picked him off first. 

“The first mistake. you almost excuse it because he’s never seen a lefty pickoff move and it wasn’t just a lefty pickoff move but it was a really good lefty pickoff move,” Vreeland said.

Jack Dyjach reached on an error but couldn’t get past first. 

Cooper Beckwith led off the fourth with a walk, but he fell victim to Reynolds’ move, too.

“We do have to make the adjustments. A little bit frustrating that we were showing our youth a little bit there, more than we have in past games,” Vreeland said.

Hopkins Academy only had one senior and one junior on the roster. The rest are underclassmen and one middle schooler.

“Going into the season, I had no idea who was gonna play where, what the order was gonna look like,” Ciaglo, the team’s lone senior, said. “We knew we were going to be the underdogs, and we kind of liked being the underdogs. We got off to a slow start, and we figured it out. We knew we just had to keep battling.”

It is noteworthy that the graduating senior is Ciaglo, one of the two or three most important players in program history. He played his final game for Hopkins Academy after five years across three sports. The Golden Hawks won two Western Massachusetts baseball championships and the state title last year. He also led Hopkins Academy to the state quarterfinals in basketball and the sectional final in soccer.

“It’s not just the dominant pitching performances. It's not just that the fact that his batting average went from being low .200s to .400 this year,” Vreeland said. “It’s what he means mentally to the team. He makes you want to be better around him. So yeah, the only senior we're losing but it's a massive hole. No replacing somebody like that.”

Ciaglo unbuttoned his Hopkins Academy baseball jersey and pulled it over his head after the final out, kneeling with his teammates to hear Vreeland’s postgame speech. He didn’t think about the fact that it was the last time he’d wear his hometown blue and gold.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better. People throughout the years have said, ‘you gotta go somewhere else bigger, get recruited’ and stuff like that. No, me and my family were like ‘we’re staying home.’ We’re home people,” Ciaglo said. “It’s probably going to hit me on the ride back. I haven’t really wrapped my head around it. I’ve had a blast playing for Hopkins.”

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

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