WORCESTER, Mass. -- Gerry Lambert immediately gave Alex Person the vote of confidence as the starting pitcher in the biggest game of the season after Xaverian displaced Lowell in the Div. 1 state semis earlier in the week.
Person made good on his coach’s confidence and then some last night as the Hawks grabbed their first state title in eight years with a 7-1 victory over Algonquin last night at Fitton Field.
Person gave up eight hits, struck out nine and only gave one free pass in his nine-inning, 133-pitch effort.
The Hawks starters finished off an impressive run through the Div. 1 tournament on the mound by posting a complete-game victory in five of the six postseason games, and Person battled his way to earn two of those victories.
“I was really excited,” Person said of his feelings when he got the nod from Lambert. “My arm was a little sore, but coming into the game it felt great.”
Things weren’t always smooth for Person in his outing, but he was able to wiggle out of trouble the majority of the times the Tomahawks were able to get men on base.
In the first inning, Malik Daley (3-for-4) singled to leadoff the game and was forced out when Mike Babine hit a ball back to Person. Andrew Elliott then picked off Babine at first and Person got John Friday to fly out to right.
Christian Miller put Algonquin on top 1-0 in the top of the second with a RBI single up the middle thorugh a drawn-in infield, but that would be all the damage the Tomahawks would get off of Person despite getting plenty of opportunities in the middle innings.
Person stranded Daley on third base in the fifth inning and worked around a man on second base with one out in the seventh inning.
“He had to make big pitches,” said Lambert. “The scoreboard is deceptive. They had zeroes in the first, fourth and fifth innings, but they had base runners in all three of those innings. He made pitches in everyone of those innings to get out of jams. That was huge for us.”
Young catcher steps up: Elliott was an inexperienced sophomore catching on junior varsity getting spot starts this season before the tournament.
The young man grew up quickly in the past month.
Elliott was behind the plate for every pitch of the tournament as the Hawks mowed down all the competition on their way to five complete-game victories in nine inning games. Now he's a state champion.
“It’s crazy,” said Elliott. “Coming up halfway through the season and getting the starting spot in the playoffs was so exciting. It’s not even realistic and it hasn’t even sunk in yet.”
Hoyt huge again: Chris Hoyt has been accustomed to playing in big games because of his career in the Catholic Conference. Those tightly contested games have apparently turned him into a big-time player.
Hoyt came up clutch again with a 2-for-5 night with four RBIs to knock in more than half of the Hawks runs.
“With our schedule we are playing tough teams ever single game,” said Hoyt, who will move on to Stonehill next year. “It helps to really bear down in those situations....[The schedule] prepares us for the tournament.”