Hopkinton’s wild ride ends with win over Pittsfield for D-IV baseball title

  • Still holding the ball he caught to end the game, Hopkinton's Dustin Rose (center) celebrates with teammates Caleb Yianakopolos (left), Ben McManus (top) and Sam Crawford (right) at the end of the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton's Ben McManus (9) throws to Mike Baer (15) before Pittsfield's Noah MacGlashing (11) reaches second base during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Pittsfield's Cam Darrah (1) steals second base as the ball flies by Hopkinton's Ben McManus (9) in the third inning during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Pittsfield's Casey Clark (2) celebrates as he crosses home plate during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3, during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3, during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Pittsfield's Casey Clark (2) makes a catch for a third out in the 6th inning during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton's Tucker Windhurst (3) makes a catch for an out during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Pittsfield's Kyle Stockman (3) strikes out during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton's Sam Crawford (8) makes a catch for an out during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Pittsfield's Garrett Guerrero-Hadley (24) fields the ball during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3, during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3, during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3, during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3, during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • The Hopkinton baseball team celebrates a 5-3 win over Pittsfield in the Division IV championship game in Manchester on Saturday. BELOW: Pittsfield’s Casey Clark celebrates a three-run, inside-the-park home run as he crosses the plate in the fifth inning. ELIZABETH FRANTZ photos / Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3, during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3, during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Pittsfield's Noah MacGlashing (11) throws a pitch during the Division IV boys' baseball championship game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Hopkinton defeated Pittsfield, 5-3. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Published: 6/10/2017 11:32:18 PM

MANCHESTER – The plan all along for the Hopkinton baseball team was to rotate its top two starters – senior Ben McManus and freshman Sam Crawford – through the postseason and see how things shaped out.

It just so happened that Saturday was the young hurler’s turn to pitch. And it was no accident.

“I said to (Crawford), ‘You know we’re saving that championship game for you,’ and a big smile came across his face,” Hopkinton Coach Dave Chase said. “We kind of relived that yesterday when we were taking about coming down here. I said, ‘I promised you this, now what are you going to do?’ And he said, ‘I’m going to go out and get the win for you.’ ”

Crawford made good on his word.

Backed by a pair of first-inning runs, Crawford didn’t allow his first hit until the fourth inning, going the distance for the sixth-seeded Hawks in a 5-3 triumph over No. 5 Pittsfield during the Division IV championship tilt at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

“I was nervous. I couldn’t sleep last night,” said Crawford, who surrendered just three hits to Pittsfield over seven innings with seven strikeouts. “Coming on the bus, I had a lot of time to think about what was going to happen today. But since we got here and got on the field, all those worries kind of melted away.”

It was the first state title for Hopkinton (15-5) since the Hawks won it all in D-III in 2012. (It was their first year in Division IV.) It was also one of the most enjoyable ride through the postseason that Chase could remember in his 21 years coaching.

“When you win baseball games coming back in the seventh to win 3-2, then beat a Groveton team, 3-2, and come back a couple times against a Littleton team and win, 7-5 – I’m not a big superstitious guy, but I have to think there’s some karma there. Maybe it’s our time,” Chase said.

Pittsfield (16-5) felt the same way.

The Panthers were rolling entering Saturday’s matchup against the Hawks – a team they beat twice during the regular season. But got off to a slow start when Hopkinton plated two runs off Casey Clark (six innings pitched, six hits, five runs) in the first, and led 4-0 in the fourth following Kayl Murdough’s RBI single.

“I think that the moment got to our kids at the beginning. I really do,” Pittsfield Coach Rob Stockman said. “There were a couple of plays that we should have made and we didn’t and I felt like the moment was just a little bit bigger for our guys to start the game, which was my fear.”

Unable to generate anything offensively off Crawford through four frames, Pittsfield finally caught a break in the fifth to get back in the game.

With two runners on, Clark laced a shot into the right-field corner that eventually got trapped underneath some chairs right on the foul line. The Hopkinton outfielder threw his hand up, gesturing to the umpire that the ball had gone out of play. But the play was never called dead, and Clark never stopped running.

It ended up being an inside-the-park, three-run home run. And one that brought the players in Pittsfield’s dugout to their feet as Hopkinton’s lead shrank to 4-3.

“That was my bad,” Chase said. “The last thing set for ground rules was if it goes under the chairs, it’s in play. We were so pressed for time because the game started late ... I just spaced on telling my right fielder.”

But even a play as strange as that wasn’t going to rattle Crawford.

He forced Devin Bedell to pop out to end the inning, received an insurance run from his offense in the sixth thanks to Sam Rawson and set down the final six Pittsfield batters in order.

“They deserved to win that game. They played better than we did. Bottom line,” Stockman said. “We just couldn’t get enough together, get enough momentum and enough guys on base to do anything today. You got to tip your cap to the pitcher (Crawford), he did a really good job.”

(Jay McAree can be reached at 369-3371, jmcaree@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @JayMcAree.)




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