Hopkins Academy baseball defeats Douglas to reach MIAA Div. 5 quarterfinals

By HANNAH BEVIS

Staff Writer

Published: 06-08-2023 8:58 PM

DOUGLAS — No. 9 Hopkins Academy had the confidence it needed against No. 8 Douglas on Thursday afternoon’s Round of 16 game — but the Golden Hawks were going to make head coach Dan Vreeland sweat a little bit along the way.

Hopkins came back from a 2-0 deficit to upset the Tigers 6-3 at historic Soldiers Field in Douglas to punch its ticket back to the quarterfinals, helped along by a four-run fifth inning that lit a fire under the Golden Hawks.

“It’s a second game in a row we’ve been down two runs early in the game. It’s good that they battled back, it shows that they’re a mature team,” Vreeland said. “But it’s always a little bit more nerve-wracking, a little scarier. Luckily Cody (West) was throwing really well today and helped me put those nerves at ease, especially after we started putting some on the board.”

Pitcher West threw all seven innings for the Golden Hawks, needing just 98 pitches to secure the win. He struck out four batters and allowed just four hits. They’ll need to pull off another upset in the quarterfinals to advance — they’ll travel to face No. 1 Georgetown on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Though the Golden Hawks have just two seniors this year, the experience needed for a deep playoff run is there. Many of the upperclassmen, including the team’s two seniors, West and Patrick Fitzgibbons, were a part of the team’s state championship run in 2021, the team’s first title in 36 years. This year, they’re looking to repeat that success.

“We were on the state championship team as freshmen so we’ve been in big games,” junior Liam Flynn said. “So we don’t really get nervous. We’ve been here before.”

The veteran players might not get nervous anymore, but Vreeland will tell you that he’s ‘always nervous,’ especially when Douglas looked like it might take a hold of the game early.

After a scoreless first inning, Hopkins couldn’t get a hit against starter Ethan Vassar in the top of the second and Douglas went to work in the bottom of the inning. Griffin Berard walked and Josh Farrell got a hit to get on base before both were driven in by a blast to left field from Colton Howard to give the home team a 2-0 lead.

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Hopkins narrowed the lead in the fourth when Flynn doubled and scored on a hit from Chase Earle to make it 2-1. But though the Golden Hawks loaded the bases with one out, Vassar got a strikeout and the Tigers’ defense kept the visitors from scoring again.

The Golden Hawks carried that offensive energy into the fifth inning and unloaded at the plate. Starting with the top of the lineup, all six of the first batters got on base for the Golden Hawks with either a hit or an error from Douglas. West scored first to tie the game, and then Fitzgibbons and Flynn both scored on a single from Earle, prompting a chorus of Hopkins’ trademark “Yes, yes, yes!” chant as they took their first lead of the game.

“I think our older guys like Pat and Cody really helped our energy and really pushed us along, got us going,” junior Cooper Beckwith said. “That just boosts our confidence, boosts everything.

Douglas made a pitching change after Hopkins scored its fifth run, bringing in Owen Gray. Gray struck out one batter and got the second out needed to get the home team out of the inning, but the damage was already done.

Douglas got just one more run in the bottom of the fifth off a wild throw that allowed them to score, though they tried to get more. Right fielder Alex West, Cody’s younger brother, made one of the plays of the game in the bottom of the sixth, sprinting towards center field and stretching out to make a backhanded catch that prevented the Tigers from getting back on base.

The Golden Hawks loaded the bases again in the top of the seventh but Douglas slammed the door on them. The home team couldn’t get a runner on base to attempt a late comeback and Hopkins took home the win.

Boys lacrosse

Div. 4 Round of 16

No. 1 Cohasset 19, No. 17 South Hadley 8 – Ethan Roy powered the upset-minded Tigers with four goals and two assists.

The Skippers outscored South Hadley 5-0 in the first and. built a 10-3 lead at halftime. 

The Tigers (6-14) pulled within 11-6 early in the third, but Cohasset put away five goals in a row to put the game out of reach.

South Hadley’s Charlie Anischik added three assists, and Owen Dawson (assist), Avery Haber, Eddie Wykowski  and Jack Sullivan found the net once each. 

Bennett Allen saved 11 shots for the Tigers.

 Hannah Bevis can be reached at hbevis@g azettenet.com. Follow her on Twitter @Hannah_Bevis1.]]>