Div. 5 baseball: Top-seeded Georgetown pulls away late, knocks out Hopkins Academy 9-2 in state quarterfinals

Hopkins Academy’s Beau Elson started for the Golden Hawks in their MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal game against top-seeded Georgetown on Friday.

Hopkins Academy’s Beau Elson started for the Golden Hawks in their MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal game against top-seeded Georgetown on Friday. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 06-07-2024 8:04 PM

Modified: 06-07-2024 8:52 PM


GEORGETOWN — The Hopkins Academy baseball team flooded out of the dugout and crowded around home plate. First baseman Liam Flynn had just cranked a two-run bomb over the right-center field fence, and the No. 9 Golden Hawks were now up 3-1 in the fifth inning of the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal against No. 1 Georgetown.

Or so they thought.

Yuuki Ishida, the lead runner, was ruled to have not touched home plate. The run was wiped off the scoreboard and replaced with an out. Instead of a 3-1 lead with one out in the top of the fifth, it was a 2-1 lead with two outs.

“It was a big momentum shift,” Flynn said. “And then we score less runs and it counts as an out, too. It takes all the energy out of the game.” 

Georgetown ended the top half of the inning within a few pitches and then answered with four runs in the bottom half of the fifth to take a 5-2 lead. The Royals built on that lead with four more in the sixth inning to beat Hopkins Academy 9-2 and advance to the state semifinals.

It was the opposite result of last year’s game between the two teams in the same exact round, with the same exact seeds and on the same exact field. After falling behind by five runs after two innings, the Golden Hawks came back to upset the Royals 11-9 and advance all the way to the 2023 state final, where they lost to Bourne.

Ty Gilmore – whose brother Zach started the game for Georgetown last year – allowed just one hit and one walk in the first inning and faced the minimum in the second, third and fourth innings. Hopkins Academy starter Beau Elson retired the first eight batters in order, before an error in right field and a double gave Georgetown a 1-0 lead in the third inning.

Elson loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fourth on a walk, a hit by pitch and an infield single. But the Fordham commit then proceeded to strike out the next three batters, all on high fastballs, to keep the game at 1-0.

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Hopkins Academy finally broke through in the top of the fifth. Dom Aloisi led off the inning with a double down the right field line and then scored the tying run after Gilmore threw away a bunt by Ishida. Flynn’s home run put Hopkins on top.

But Georgetown wasn’t down for long. Almost immediately, they loaded the bases again, and this time, they made Elson pay.

The Royals tied the game on a fielder’s choice and Carter Lucido broke it open with a two-run double. Georgetown scored another run on an error at third base from a ground ball that would have ended the inning.

After the Golden Hawks replaced Elson with Chace Earle, Georgetown quickly added four more runs with no outs in the sixth. Jake Gilbo punctuated the rally with a two-run home run of his own and made sure to stomp his foot on  home plate.

 After the home run call turned a run into the second out of the fifth, Hopkins closed the game just 1-for-8.

“We can blame momentum and the umpire giving the call that he gave, but really, at the end of the day, you’ve got to make the plays in the field,” Hopkins Academy head coach Dan Vreeland said. “We left guys in scoring position, we had some moments at the plate where we didn’t execute. It’s always easy to look for an excuse or look for a reason why the momentum shifted, but at the end of the day, we could have done more today.”

Friday’s result ends a trying season that saw the Golden Hawks play their first 15 games of the season on the road because of renovations to their home field. It also marks the end of the high school careers for Hopkins Academy’s nine seniors, who represent over 20% of the school’s graduating class.

The senior class won the state title as freshmen in 2021 and reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament all four years.

“Obviously it’s pretty sad right now for me because I’ve been playing with these kids, some of them for 14 years,” third baseman James Fitzgibbons said.

The end of the playoffs also brings a close to the Golden Hawks’ playoff traditions. Flynn has spent this year’s postseason transporting the the team’s playoff mascot, a six-foot tall wooden giraffe owned by Hopkins Academy’s custodian. The giraffe has traveled to every Hopkins Academy playoff game game for the past decade and spent Friday’s game tied to the fence in the Golden Hawks’ dugout. 

After years of travel, it’s got a few nicks and its nose is held together with tape after a fall a few years back. Flynn is the only player who can touch the giraffe, and he’ll select a teammate to pass it on to for next season. After the game, he took a moment to reflect on his years with the Golden Hawks.

“It’s really been pretty much my whole baseball career,” Flynn said. “…I found all my best friends through baseball. It’s been the best.”