FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For Billy Sittig, this morning's slate of baseball was a trip down memory lane.
The first-year Foxborough skipper watched as another loss pile up, as his Warriors lost 11-3 to Catholic Memorial at Payson Field. But today's matchup, dubbed the first annual "Hits For Hope" charity game on the MIAA's cutoff scheduling date, was about so much more. And at that, it was all good.
"The season went below our expectations, but we wanted to finish with something positive and have a great event," Sittig said. "It turned out we had a great weather and played a great team, and we did a great job fundraising, so this was a good thing."
Sittig and his team came away from today's festivities having raised some $5,200 towards Curt Schilling's Curt's Pitch For ALS foundation, between donations, raffles, and pledges for a certain amount of money donated per hit in the game. He also found time to catch up with his old mates at CM; Sittig is a close friend of Knights coach Hal Carey, and coached the Knights' freshman basketball team for four years before taking his current job at Foxborough.
"I know a lot of these guys well," Sittig said. "Those three aces they've got, I know them very well, especially Matt Goreham. It was good and bad to see him have a good game against us... But no, it was a great experience, me and Hal are great friends, so it's a great experience to go through this fundraising with him."
Indeed, this was a monster game for the Northeastern-bound senior Goreham, who launched two 1-0 fastballs deep over centerfield for four RBI in his first two at bats, helping spot the Knights a 6-3 lead through three innings that stuck, and finishing the day 3 for 4 with three runs. Goreham also struck out four batters in the first three innings from the mound, before giving way to UMass commit John Mildner (4 IP, 7 K's, one hit allowed).
"I was just waiting for fastball, and was able to put a good swing on it," Goreham said, adding with a laugh, "Any other park that might have been out of here, but it's not bad running for a while."
As for Sittig, Goreham said, "I've known him since the eighth grade, he was always around with basketball and stuff. It's fun to see him, and I'm glad he's doing what he wants, you know, coaching."
He added, laughing, "If you ask him, he was the best freshman coach in the state."
Foxborough centerfielder Steve Fitzmaurice was awarded the the game's Most Valuable Player in a post-game ceremony, and received an autographed Curt Schilling baseball from the 2007 Red Sox World Series championship season. He finished 2 for 3 with an RBI.
"Our guys responded well," Carey said. "I told the kids, 'I want to make a donation'. Most of the guys came through. Our players themselves came up with $200 combined, and he (Sittig) made a ton of money for the game, I'm sure.
"His guys gave a lot of money, too, and got a lot of donations. So it was great to be a part of it, and hopefully we can do it again next year."
TAKING CENTER STAGE
It's not Fenway, McCoy, or even Campanelli, but taking the hill in front of a few hundred spectators this morning still gave Mike Paladino a few jitters.
"I was so nervous," he laughed. "And I didn't even do that well, made the catcher work for it. Initially, Billy said I might be catching, but throwing out a first pitch is nerve-wracking no matter what."
Flanked by Boston Park League president Walt Bentson, who is suffering from ALS, the 2004 CM graduate and friend of Sittig threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the game. Paladino's father, Bill, was principal at Foxborough's Ahern Middle School from 1984 to 2000, before passing away from ALS in April of 2000.
"Honestly, it's been a great honor to me," said Mike Paldino. "Because my father had spent so much time in this community in Foxborough, and my history in Foxborough has been nothing but good to me and my family, since we went through the tough times with my father's sickness and all of that.
"You know, anything for this cause, I'm glad to go out there and give everything I got for it."