Div. 5 baseball: Hopkins Academy pounds Drury 15-0, sets up quarterfinal rematch with top-seeded Georgetown

Hopkins Academy's Yuuki Ishida is congratulated after he scores the team's fifth run during an MIAA Division 5 Round of 16 game against Drury at Joe Wolfe Field in North Adams on Tuesday.

Hopkins Academy's Yuuki Ishida is congratulated after he scores the team's fifth run during an MIAA Division 5 Round of 16 game against Drury at Joe Wolfe Field in North Adams on Tuesday. PHOTO BY Gillian Jones-Heck/BERKSHIRE EAGLE

Hopkins Academy's James Fitzgibbons hits the ball during an MIAA Division 5 Round of 16 game against Drury at Joe Wolfe Field in North Adams on Tuesday.

Hopkins Academy's James Fitzgibbons hits the ball during an MIAA Division 5 Round of 16 game against Drury at Joe Wolfe Field in North Adams on Tuesday. PHOTO BY Gillian Jones-Heck/BERKSHIRE EAGLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 06-04-2024 9:37 PM

Modified: 06-04-2024 9:42 PM


NORTH ADAMS — The No. 9 Hopkins Academy baseball team put it all together during its MIAA Division 5 Round of 16 battle with No. 8 Drury at Joe Wolfe Field on Tuesday night.

With a roster chock-full of nine seniors compared to Drury’s one, the Golden Hawks used their age and veteran experience – having played in the state title game just last year – to their advantage early and often.

Seniors Liam Flynn (walk), Beau Elson (fielder’s choice) and Cooper Beckwith (walk) reached base in the first inning, and senior James Fitzgibbons stepped to the plate with two outs in the frame.

He ripped a three-run double into the right-center gap, and the party was on.

Hopkins added seven runs in the sixth inning to break the game open on its way to a 15-0 win. The Golden Hawks will face a familiar foe in No. 1 Georgetown on Friday for a trip to the Final Four, looking to punch their ticket for the second consecutive year.

“That first inning came around, we had bases loaded with two outs, and [Fitzgibbons] came up with that huge hit to the gap,” Hopkins head coach Dan Vreeland said. “That cleared the bases and completely changed the mentality of the team. I can’t say enough about that moment. That moment was huge for us. From there, everybody executed and got hits in the spots we needed them to.”

“I was trying to put the ball in play,” Fitzgibbons added. “He threw me a high fastball, which I like to see, so I hit it the other way and got a double out of it.”

Senior southpaw Liam Flynn was thrilled to have an early cushion, and his six innings of shutout pitching – coupled with six strikeouts and only five hits – allowed the Golden Hawks’ offense to continue to tee off at the plate. 

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Flynn worked out of several jams, stranding nine Blue Devils base runners through the first four innings alone. 

“I was just trying to stay within myself, stay comfortable and trust my defense,” Flynn said. “Alex [West] did a great job behind the plate tonight. I tried to find the zone [early] that the umpire [established], and then put the ball where I needed to put it.”

Whether it was Fitzgibbons (2-for-4, four RBIs, walk, run), Flynn (reached base three times, two RBIs), Elson (3-for-5, three RBIs, three runs) or Dom Aloisi (two hits, two runs, RBI), a senior was getting the job done on Tuesday.

Their approach at the plate can be credited for their success, according to their head coach.

“It was just that mentality today, it didn’t matter what the count was, ‘I’m gonna go get it,’” Vreeland said. “Jimmy had two RBI hits, Beau is launching the ball right now, Flynn hit one that was six inches away from being a home run, and I think that might be the farthest ball I’ve ever seen Dom hit. Everybody got involved, and it was not trying to do too much.”

By the fourth inning, Hopkins was ahead 5-0, and at the end of the sixth, the lead ballooned to 12-0 before three more runs in the seventh made it 15-0.

Those runs allowed Flynn to pitch loose and pressure-free. He got better and better as the game progressed, and he fittingly capped his outing off with an emphatic strikeout on Drury’s lead-off hitter Carson Rylander – the second time Flynn fanned him on the night.

“I’m not trying to say I’m not impressed with Liam, because Liam is an absolute dog, but he’s been a dog for me for a really long time at this point,” Vreeland said. “That’s the kind of kid he is... He doesn’t give up. He’s such a strong-minded and strong-willed kid. He showed that tonight. That’s a tremendous hitting team.”

Tuesday’s Hopkins onslaught has earned them a date with the No. 1 seed in the tournament. A season ago, Hopkins knocked off Georgetown on the road in a 9 vs. 1 matchup. Nearly 365 days later, the same situation has presented itself.

The game won’t be Wednesday as both teams played on Tuesday, and it won’t be Thursday due to expected heavy rain. Thus, the anticipated rematch was tentatively scheduled for Friday – meaning Elson, Hopkins’ ace, is eligible to pitch after throwing in the Round of 32 late last Thursday.

“[It’s gonna take] the same thing you saw today,” Vreeland said. “Execution. If we execute and do what we can, we’re gonna give them a competitive game and hopefully come out on top. We gotta do the little things right, because they’re a team who does everything right.”