Boston High School: Hopkins Academy

D4 Baseball Final: Pope John Paul II 3, Hopkins 0

June, 14, 2014
Jun 14
10:41
PM ET


WORCESTER, Mass. -– For the first time in the infantile history of their program, the Pope John Paul II Lions are state champions.

One year after a heartbreaking loss to Lowell Catholic in the MIAA Division 4 State Championship game, the Lions came back to complete an incredible 26-1 season, knocking off Western Mass. champion Hopkins Academy 3-0 on Saturday at Fitton Field in Worcester.

The Lions were led on the mound by senior righthander Austin Houlihan, who gave up just a lone hit while pitching a complete game shutout. He struggled with his control early on, surrendering three walks in the in the top of the first inning, but quickly found his comfort zone after PJP jumped out to an early lead.

[+] EnlargeAustin Houlihan
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.com Austin Houlihan pitched a shutout for Pope John Paul II, which won a state title in just its fourth season of varsity.
“I didn’t really happen to have my best stuff today, but I just knew that if I threw strikes that the defense would make all the plays," Houlihan said. "I definitely give all the credit to the defense today, they did it all. This is the greatest feeling that an 18 year-old kid can have...It’s just the best feeling that I’ve ever had."

PJP got a quick lead in the top of the first, Matt Santos smashed a double deep to left field and Colin Russell drove him in two batters later on an RBI single.

“The double down the line was big and then Colin Russell had a big two-out hit. I think once we got that and Houlihan started pitching with a lead that that made all the difference in the world,” Pope John Paul coach Mark Santos said, “We were so close a couple times, it wasn’t our cleanest game offensively, but I don’t think were ever really in doubt -– I thought the game was in control most of the way.”

The Lions added to the lead in the third inning, when Santos came in for his second run of the game. Senior Ben Gibson started off the fifth inning with a base hit and came around to score on an RBI single by Mike Young, which proved to be all the insurance that Pope John Paul would need.

“I felt pretty comfortable, my first couple at bats they were trying to pitch to me away -– nothing I could hit," Gibson said. "Then I had two strikes on me in that third at bat, I fought one off at two strikes and luckily it found its way through on the ground."

The Lions slammed the door shut from there, as Houlihan and the defense were untouchable the rest of the way– retiring the side in each inning after the third.

“Once you get a lead it’s so much easier to pitch with a lead so I give the credit to our lineup, and of course our fielding,” Houlihan said. “Our fielding is up there with the best in the state. We knew we had the caliber to compete in any division, and personally I think we could compete in any division state championship that was going on.”

A historic season: The Lions finish their season at 26-1, bringing home a state championship trophy in just the fourth year of the program. Pope John Paul was considered a serious contender to qualify for the inaugural Division 1A "Super 8" tournament, until a 5-2 loss to Barnstable in mid-May took them down a peg. Still, the Lions managed to get one vote in the first round of nominations at selection time, which has to be a considered a victory considering the school's status.

Despite the disappointment of not getting into the tournament, Santos reiterated to his team to control what they can control.

“They were disappointed, I told them ‘listen, to even be nominated is such an honor.’ We’ve got 135 boys in our school," Santos said. "They just looked at it like you know what? Now we have a chance to go out and win a state championship so let’s go do it. They worked so hard, they took it to another level when we got to the tournament -– their focus was just incredible. It was great to see, this is a great group of guys."

“I would credit this to our hard work and our work ethic,” Gibson said, “We work the hardest that I’ve ever seen, everyone’s doing what they have to do to be a better player – everyone has that ethic all the time.”

Our MIAA Baseball All-State Team

June, 29, 2011
6/29/11
9:19
AM ET
THE STARTING ROTATION

All-StateAdam Ravenelle, Sr. RHP, Lincoln-Sudbury
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound fireballer was an integral part of the Warriors' run to the Division 1 state championship this season, going 8-0 with 93 strikeouts in 56 innings -- including a career-high 18 in a win over Arlington. He also batted .481 with 44 RBIs. Earlier this month, the Vanderbilt-bound Ravenelle was drafted in the 44th round by the New York Yankees.

All-StatePat Connaughton, Sr. RHP, St. John’s Prep
The 6-foot-4 Connaughton, who was also a starter on ESPNBoston's inaugural All-State basketball squad, strung together some dominant performances this season, including a no-hitter against his hometown Arlington High. On the mound, he went 2-2 with one save, with 86 strikeouts in 50 innings for an ERA of 1.83. At the plate, he also hit .400 with four home runs, a .547 on-base percentage and .750 slugging percentage. Earlier this month, Connaughton was drafted in the 38th round by the San Diego Padres

All-StateJohn Gorman, Sr. RHP, Catholic Memorial
The Boston College-bound Gorman was named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year last month, and was also named the Catholic Conference MVP, after a stellar senior season with the Knights. As the No. 1 ace, Gorman went 6-2 with 80 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.24. At the plate, he also hit .354 with 11 RBI, 14 runs scored an a home run. Earlier this month, the Norwood resident was drafted in the 50th round by the Boston Red Sox.

All-StateSteve Moyers, Jr. LHP, East Longmeadow
One of the state's most elusive lefties, Moyers turned in another strong campaign on the mound as the Spartans advanced to the Division 1 West Final. He went 8-1 this season, with 88 strikeouts in 64 innings with an ERA of 0.44. For his career, Moyers is 23-2 and has averaged better than a strikeout per inning. He is receiving various interest from Division 1 schools in the Atlantic-10, Patriot League and Big East conferences.

All-StateGarrison Banas, Sr. LHP, Hopkins Academy
Stats-wise, there isn't another pitcher in the state who can lay claim to the numbers Banas put up this season. He went 9-2 this season for the Golden Hawks, with 173 strikeouts in 87.2 innings for an ERA of 0.48, before bowing out in the Division 3 West final. For his career, Banas was 26-6 with five no-hitters and a perfect game, and is in the state's ever-exclusive 400-strikeout club with 415 career K's. He will pursue a post-graduate season next year at Salisbury School, in Connecticut.

STARTING NINE

Matt Walsh, Sr. C, Plymouth North
The Franklin Pierce-bound Walsh was one of the more intimidating hitters in the region this season, as he led the Eagles to their second Division 2 state title in four years by hitting over .530 with 36 RBIs. But the most outstanding stat on Walsh has to be the respect he commands behind the plate. Counting the playoffs, only five runners attempted to steal on Walsh, and four were thrown out.

Chris McCarthy, Jr. C, Everett
Equipped with a live arm, the junior backstop was as efficient at the plate as he was at throwing out runners, batting over .585 with 28 RBIs and an on-base percentage close to .700. McCarthy is receiving varied degrees of interest from Division 1 schools in the Big East, Atlantic Coast and Atlantic 10 conferences.

Mike Barry, Sr. C/OF, Lincoln-Sudbury
The 6-foot-2 Barry was one of the most prolific hitters on arguably the state's most dangerous lineup, as the Warriors captured their third state title in seven seasons. For the season, he hit .437 with 38 RBIs and seven home runs,

Matt O'Neil, Jr. SS, East Longmeadow
As one of the premier position players in Western Mass, O'Neil turned in a solid junior season for the Spartans, batting .447 with six home runs and stealing 15 bases. He was also efficient on the mound, going 6-1 and striking out 69 batters in 43 innings. O'Neil is verbally committed to UConn.

Chris Shaw, Jr. 1B, Lexington
As the Middlesex League co-MVP alongside teammate Will Marcal, Shaw put on a clinic at the plate, with the numbers to show. He batted over .490 with eight home runs, and plated 41 runs. Shaw is verbally committed to Boston College.

Ryan Summers, Jr. C, Westfield
The junior got off to an explosive start to the season for the Bombers, with 21 RBIs and six home runs through the first three weeks of the season. He finished the year with 27 RBIs and six home runs.

Jarrod Casey, Jr. OF/LHP, Milford
The latest in a line of Caseys to succeed on the diamond at Milford, the 5-foot-11 junior was one of the premier hitters in Central Mass, hitting .530 while also going 8-1 on the mound. Casey was also the Mid-Wach A Most Valuable Player.

Lorenzo Papa, Sr. 1B, Arlington Catholic
The Stoneham resident led the state in home runs last season with 10, and followed up with another solid campaign in 2011, finishing with eight homers for the Cougars. Papa will continue his career at the University of Rhode Island next year.

Sean Amaru, Sr. 1B, Westwood
Also a star on the gridiron, Amaru was a standout in the Tri-Valley League in 2011, turning in a monster season. He batted .515 with 34 RBIs, and also led the state in home runs with 10.

BULLPEN
Will Archibald, Sr. RHP, Milton
Freddy Andujar, Sr. LHP, Holyoke
Dan Dymecki, Sr. RHP, Wellesley
Evan Mackintosh, Sr. LHP, Northbridge
Will Marcal, Sr. LHP, Lexington
Ryan McDonald, Jr. LHP, Acton-Boxborough
Victor Mendez, Sr. RHP, Lawrence
Donny Murray, Sr. RHP, BC High
Matt Tulley, Jr. RHP, Lowell
Brandon Walsh, Jr. RHP, North Andover

UTILITY
Charlie Butler, Jr. IF/RHP, Nashoba
Dan Cellucci, Jr. SS, Lincoln-Sudbury
Aaron Fossas, Sr. SS, Holy Name
Matt Goreham, Sr. 1B, Catholic Memorial
Keith Kelley, Sr. SS, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Dan Light, Sr. 1B, St. John's (Shrewsbury)
Bob Melley, Jr. C, BC High
Rory O'Connor, Jr. OF, Lowell
Tyler Sterner, Sr. SS, Doherty
Ramses Vittini, Sr. OF, Peabody
Alex Witkus, Sr. OF, North Attleborough
Paul Yanakopulos, Sr. SS, Malden Catholic

Updated Baseball Top 25 Poll

May, 25, 2011
5/25/11
12:01
AM ET
We've updated the MIAA Baseball Top 25 poll, and there is little movement at the top once again, but some fresh faces at the bottom.

Lexington holds the top spot in the poll for the third week in a row, while Northbridge maintains the No. 2 spot after winning its state-best 40th consecutive game this past weekend. St. John's Prep, East Longmeadow and Plymouth North round out the top five.

Peabody makes its return to the Top 25 for the first time since the second week of the season, while Hopkins Academy makes its return after a one-week absence. Also say hello to North Attleborough (23), Acton-Boxborough (24) and Burncoat (25), the latter of which stands at 6-0 in the Inter-High League -- including a surprising sweep of intra-city archrival Doherty.

As always, let us know how we're doing in the comments section below, or by emailing Brendan Hall at bhall@espnboston.com or Scott Barboza at sbarboza@espnboston.com.

Hopkins Academy's Banas a hidden gem

May, 21, 2011
5/21/11
7:57
PM ET
ATHOL, Mass. -- With each delivery, the expression on Garrison Banas’ face told the story.

Banas, the senior wunderkind of the Hadley-based Hopkins Academy baseball team, was hit by a pitch a day earlier against Mohawk Regional just below the right knee.
[+] EnlargeGarrison Banas
Brendan Hall for ESPN.comHopkins Academy's Garrison Banas pitched through pain during Saturday's 6-4 win over Athol. But the left-hander has risen above it all, allowing just 19 hits over 60 1/3 innings while posting 132 strikeouts.

The prognosis during the bus ride home from Buckland was not good. Banas could barely put weight on the leg let alone be expected to take the mound for his next scheduled start (Saturday) against Athol.

But a phone conversation between Banas and Hopkins coach Pat Lemieux early yesterday morning told a different story. Banas said he wanted to give it go.

Despite being in constant pain Banas managed to gut out a seven-inning performance, allowing four hits while striking out 15 as the Golden Hawks rallied late to pull out a 6-4 victory. The performance was just another example of the competitive fire that burns inside him.

There is little doubt that Banas has emerged as one of the top pitchers in all of Massachusetts. His numbers are staggering. He has recorded 373 career strikeouts. Last season he tossed three no-hitters, including a perfect game. Earlier this season he combined with teammate Aiden Barrett on a no-no and just this past Monday Banas hurled another no-hitter of his own while striking out 17 against Pioneer Valley Regional. In 60 1/3 innings pitched thus far this season, he has allowed just 19 hits and has tabbed 132 strikeouts to go along with his eight victories. Banas, a lefty who is clocked in the high 80s and throws four different pitches, says he approaches every game with the same mind-set.

“I just try to get better each time out,” said the 5-11 Banas, who has maintained a 3.30 GPA and will prep at the Salisbury School next season. “[Saturday] I couldn’t use the excuse that my knee was hurting because the rest of my teammates look up to me and I didn‘t want to let them down. I’m basically going out there not looking to pitch a perfect game but to just give my best effort. I don’t pre-determine that I’m going to go out there and throw another no-hitter. Sometimes it just happens that way.”

Banas, along with Barrett (10 hits allowed in 31.2 innings, 40 Ks), have become Hopkins’ one-two punch on the mound and both are key reasons as to why the Golden Hawks have staked themselves out to a 14-2 record and sit atop the Hampshire League standings.

“I try to learn from how [Garrison] pitches,” said Barrett, a junior, who drove in the winning run against Athol with a two-out double in his club’s final at bat. “Like him, I’m always working and trying to get better. When I’m on the mound I try to be as good as Garrison but everything is about team here. There’s no animosity between us at all. We all need to work together as a team in order to get better.”

It’s no secret that whenever Banas or Barrett toe the rubber the Golden Hawks like their chances. The goals here are the same as most high school programs -- earn enough victories to qualify for the postseason, win the league title and take your best shot at a state championship.

Last year, Hopkins didn’t win its league but did qualify for the postseason, reaching the Division 3 Western Mass. semifinals before falling to Ware.

Lemieux is smart enough not to look too far into the future in terms of state titles just yet. Instead he adheres to the old adage of taking things one game at time. But it’s hard not to think this team finds itself in a viable position to do something special this year knowing they can give the ball to either Banas or Barrett and not have to worry.

In regards to Banas, Lemieux has had the luxury of coaching him for four seasons and admits his amazement every time he watches him pitch.

“I don’t know where he breaks down into all-time greatness but he’s the best pitcher I’ve every seen,” said Lemieux. “He’s special for us and he’s special for our school. For me personally he’s a great kid. I love him like my own son. Every year he’s just gotten better and better. He does a great job mixing his pitches and hitting his spots. At times he can be overpowering and at times he can be a wizard and just screws you into the ground with his junk. He’s tough and he’s a natural leader on this team and everyone looks up to him.”

Lemieux, who also serves as Hopkins' athletic director, was quick to point out that during the offseason Banas spends much of his time working on improving his game whether it be in the weight room, throwing in the gym, working with private pitching coaches or reading books on pitching fundamentals.

All of that extra work has paid huge dividends not only for the Golden Hawks but for Banas himself, who hopes to play for a Division 1 college program following his stint at the Salisbury School.

It would be easy for Banas, when you consider all of the attention and fanfare he has received, to let it go to his head. But not so. He is a kid without an ego and views himself as just one of the guys on this team. Through a solid upbringing, Banas has made sure to keep both feet planted on the ground. He also isn’t fazed by the fact that some people may cast a bias eye toward him due to the fact that he pitches at the Division 3 level where the talent pool may not be quite as strong as compared to Division 1 baseball in the state.

“To me it doesn’t matter what division you play in,” he said. “If you’re doing very well and throwing your best stuff people are going to come and look at you. It doesn’t matter where you play they’ll come find you.”

It’s a pretty safe bet that some collegiate program will find Garrison Banas soon enough as well.

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