Since 2008, Plymouth North’s varsity baseball team has played in the Division 2 state championship game four times, winning twice. And just last season, Plymouth North was the first Division 2 team ever selected for the Super 8 tournament, so the 9th seeded Hopkinton varsity baseball team was facing a tall task in traveling to face the number 8 Eagles in round one of this year’s MIAA baseball tourney. But a seventh inning rally keyed by senior Ryan Wolfe helped senior Chris Burdick’s pitching gem stand up in a 3-1 win for the Hillers.
Burdick was outstanding all day on the mound, yielding only 3 hits to Plymouth North, which rolled out a veteran roster filled with 15 seniors. The Hillers stellar defense was led by catcher Alex Reynolds who teamed with Burdick to keep Eagle hitters off balance all day. Plymouth North starter Curtis Bennett matched the zeroes put up by Burdick, retiring 8 straight hitters entering the top of the seventh innning.
After the first two Hiller batters made outs to start the seventh, Wolfe quickly fell behind 0-2 against the hard throwing Plymouth North lefthander. Then, like they’ve done so many times throughout this season, the Hiller bats came alive when it mattered the most. Wolfe hit a high and outside fastball the other way, looping the line drive over the first baseman’s head for single. Leadoff hitter Ben McKenzie was up next, looking for his first hit of the day, and Bennett quickly fell behind him 2-0. McKenzie then drove the next pitch, a fastball, over the head of the left fielder to the base of the wall, knocking in Wolfe with the game’s first run. Next up was Stephen Simoes. Simoes, who leads planet Earth in being hit by pitches, got hit for the second time in the game and trotted to first base.
Plymouth North coach Dwayne Follett had seen enough and brought in third baseman Donnie Cohoon to stop the Hopkinton rally. Senior captain Alex Reynolds stepped to the plate and ripped Cohoon’s first pitch over the left fielder’s head for a double, knocking in both McKenzie and Simoes and giving the Hillers a 3-0 lead.
Burdick took the mound for the bottom of the seventh, looking to close out the game. After the leadoff batter reached on an error, Burdick worked around a hit and a sacrifice fly to secure the 3-1 win for the Hillers. Hopkinton (14-8) moves on to face the winner of today’s game between top-seeded Middleboro and 17th-seeded Falmouth, location and date TBD.
In their first year leading the Hillers, this group of coaches led by Steve Simoes has made a difference with this team every day. Whether it’s managing a large roster with many young, inexperienced players in big roles, or navigating the many hassles brought on by this Spring’s fickle weather, the coaching staff has been exemplary. And it was never more evident than yesterday, as they kept the team loose and prepared during an hour-long rain and lighting delay in the second inning, and especially as Simoes directed the infield to neutralize a late-game trick play called by the Plymouth North coach in hopes of scoring a run without getting a hit. Simoes directed his infielders to make a quick decisive play before the runner could score from third, and they executed to perfection, as Burdick threw to McKenzie at short, who ran the runner down and tagged him out before the other runner crossed the plate.