Baseball: Offense continues to roll in Hampshire’s 18-7 win over Hopkins (PHOTOS)

Hampshire Regional’s Mikey Thompson hits in the third inning against Hopkins Academy on Thursday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional’s Mikey Thompson hits in the third inning against Hopkins Academy on Thursday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hampshire Regional pitcher Will Hogan (3) throws against Hopkins Academy in the second inning Thursday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional pitcher Will Hogan (3) throws against Hopkins Academy in the second inning Thursday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hopkins Academy batter Beau Elson (11) blasts a home run over the center field fence against Hampshire Regional in the second inning Thursday in Westhampton.

Hopkins Academy batter Beau Elson (11) blasts a home run over the center field fence against Hampshire Regional in the second inning Thursday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hopkins Academy batter Chace Earle (7) drives in a run against Hampshire Regional in the second inning Thursday in Westhampton.

Hopkins Academy batter Chace Earle (7) drives in a run against Hampshire Regional in the second inning Thursday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hampshire Regional second baseman Cody Gaida (9) fields a grounder for an out against Hopkins Academy in the second inning Thursday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional second baseman Cody Gaida (9) fields a grounder for an out against Hopkins Academy in the second inning Thursday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hampshire Regional baserunner Cody Gaida scores on a passed ball against Hopkins Academy in the third inning Thursday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional baserunner Cody Gaida scores on a passed ball against Hopkins Academy in the third inning Thursday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hampshire Regional’s Cody Gaida (9) high fives Will Hogan  (3) after scoring on a passed ball against Hopkins Academy in the third inning Thursday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional’s Cody Gaida (9) high fives Will Hogan (3) after scoring on a passed ball against Hopkins Academy in the third inning Thursday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hopkins Academy pitcher Nate Rickles throws against Hampshire Regional in the third inning Thursday in Westhampton.

Hopkins Academy pitcher Nate Rickles throws against Hampshire Regional in the third inning Thursday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hampshire Regional baserunner Will Hogan (3) evades the tag from third Hopkins Academy third baseman James Fitzgibbons (15) in the third inning Thursday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional baserunner Will Hogan (3) evades the tag from third Hopkins Academy third baseman James Fitzgibbons (15) in the third inning Thursday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-02-2024 8:05 PM

WESTHAMPTON — During Wednesday’s batting practice session, Hampshire Regional sluggers Drew and Mikey Thompson didn’t bring their best swings, according to Raiders head coach Mark Baldwin.

After their time was up, they insisted Baldwin let them get another crack at it. The two brothers swung the bat better the second time through, and they certainly benefited from the extra work on Thursday afternoon.

Both players blasted home runs in the first two innings of Hampshire’s battle with Hopkins, and it ultimately propelled the Raiders to an 18-7 win in five innings at Earl Tonet Field.

“They really work at their hitting,” Baldwin said of the Thompson brothers. “[Wednesday] they didn’t have great rounds of batting practice, but they asked to take more and they finished up strong. They carried that into today. They can really hit.”

It wasn’t just the Thompsons who brought their bats to Thursday’s contest. Everyone in the Raiders order reached base safely, and eight of them came around to score runs. Mikey Thompson was a triple shy of the cycle, Phil Morin cracked two doubles and a single, and Will Hogan reached base five times while driving in two runs and scoring three of his own.

For the fifth straight game, Hampshire put up 13 or more runs, all wins – good for a total of 76 runs in that span.

“They feed off of each other,” Baldwin said of his lineup. “We knew our good hitters were gonna hit. We have four or five kids who could all play in college if they wanted to. But the bottom of the order today really chipped in. Phil Morin has been really, really good, and our sophomores and freshmen all put the ball in play. We can do a lot of different things offensively.”

The Raiders jumped out to an 11-0 lead after one and a half innings thanks to the long ball at the top of the order and small ball at the bottom.

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Hopkins skipper Dan Vreeland gathered his team out front of its dugout and voiced his displeasure with the early effort. And it didn’t take long for the Golden Hawks to respond.

James Fitzgibbons, Dom Aloisi and JJ Scanlon-Dean each poked singles to load the bases with no outs. Two batters later, Liam Flynn drew a walk to bring in Fitzgibbons. Jack Dyjach then grounded out to bring home Aloisi and Chace Earle hit an RBI single on a rope, scoring Scanlon-Dean.

Up next was Beau Elson, who stepped to the dish and cranked the ball over the left-center fence for a three-run dinger – making it 11-6 Raiders.

“We were down 11 at one point, then put up a six spot,” Vreeland. “And we’ve been doing that a lot this year. We’re a team that knows we need to get back in it when we’re down. They put up such a gaudy spot here that it was hard to claw back into, but it’s a testament to how we hit under pressure.”

The next half inning was more of the same for Hampshire, as a pair of doubles from Mikey Thompson and Morin started another rally. The Raiders plated four more in the third, giving starting pitcher Will Hogan plenty of run support on the mound.

Hogan’s job was made a lot easier, as he could pitch to contact and rely on the guys behind him. The senior righty tossed all five innings, striking out four on three walks for his third win of the season.

“That helps that he knows he’s got a good cushion to work with,” Baldwin said of Hogan. “He overcame some tough calls, and [Hopkins] is a good hitting team. He pitched to contact and did his job.”

Hopkins added another in the fourth, a solo shot from Elson which carried well over the fence in center field. Elson – a transfer from Phillips-Exeter – hit home runs No. 3 and 4 on the season during Thursday’s game. His bat continues to be one of the hottest in Hampshire County.

“He’s been swinging the bat well all year, a nice welcomed addition,” Vreeland said. “He did a good job looking for his pitch and making sure he didn’t miss it. He made the pitcher work, and I think a lot of our guys did that well today. We hit the ball deep, and they made a lot of plays. Obviously our defense could’ve been better, but I was really happy with how our bats swung.”

In the first and third innings, the Golden Hawks left a combined five base runners on board. With how the Hampshire offense has operated of late, those were must-score situations early on.

On the bump for Hopkins was freshman Harry West for the first time in his varsity career. He tossed 1 1/3 innings, followed by 1 2/3 innings from freshman Nate Rickles. Scanlon-Dean, a sophomore, closed out the final two innings in a true do-it-by-committee effort.

“I put a kid out there today that’s only thrown JV innings in his whole life, and he dealt,” Vreeland said of West. “He probably got us six outs in that second inning, and obviously the scoreboard looks bad at the end of it, but it wasn’t a reflection on him. He was throwing strikes. I was proud of how all three of the young guys threw today. We just have to be better behind them.”

Hopkins (5-4) heads to Frontier, but will be the designated home team, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, while Hampshire (9-3) hosts Wahconah on the same day at 4:30 p.m.