Marauders Enter Spring Playoffs With A Pair Of Belmont Favorites At Division 1 North Track Championships

Photo: Belmont High athletes and teams are in playoff and championship action this weekend

A pair of Belmont High field performers and a powerhouse Marauder team will be headlining the return this weekend of sports tournaments and championship meets sponsored by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Senior pole vaulter Sarah Firth will attempt to take the Division 1 North title while junior Sofia Hospodar has the co-longest triple jump in the division this outdoor season at 36-feet, 6-inches. Firth, who won both the All-State and New England titles in 2019, has the best height in the state of 11 feet, 6-inches. Firth will also run the 100-meter hurdles at the meet held in North Andover.

This season marks the return to the pitch of Belmont High Rugby, out to defend its 2019 Division 1 state title. The 4-0 Marauders is the second seed by way of a coin flip with fellow undefeated Milton, the two-time state Division 2 champions who were promoted into the top league this year.

Belmont will host three-seed Boston College High, whose only loss this season was to Belmont, in a semifinal match on Wednesday, June 23 at 6:30 p.m. on Harris Field.

Belmont Boys’ Lacrosse (5-7) will take on hosts North Attleborough High (6-7) in an 8-9 match-up on Friday, June 18 art 4 p.m., with the winner having the tall task of visiting first ranked Medfield High School (14-1) on Monday.

Belmont High Baseball, ranked 21 (3-8), will have a long trek on Friday, June 18, as they hike up to Haverhill to play 12th ranked Whittier Regional Vocational Tech (7-6) at 1 p.m.

Belmont Boys’ Tennis travels to Concord Carlisle at Noon, Friday, June 18, as the hosts, ranked 6th, will challenge number 11 Marauders.

In competition in the D1N meet completed on Thursday, June 17, Belmont junior Jackson Coelho took 4th in the 800 meters in 1-minute, 57.04 seconds while senior Colby Woo cleared 11-feet, 6-inches in the pole vault for 5th.

At the D1N outdoor track championship meet, Belmont Girls’ will be represented by seniors Leya El-Chanati (100, 200 and long jump); Isabel Burger (1 mile), Rachel November (400 hurdles), the 4×800 relay; while seniors Samantha Lim and Knar Krafian joins Firth in the 100 hurdles.

Solid Pitching, Timely Hitting Propels Belmont Baseball Past Masco in Playoff Opener

Photo: David Pergamo (front) and Martin Marintchev score on Mike Brown’s single in the first inning.

With solid defense and riding the steady right arm of senior Martin Marintchev, Belmont High School secured a 7-1 victory over Masconomet Regional in the first round of the MIAA Division 2 North sectional playoffs on Thursday, June 6.

Marintchev held the Chieftains (11-10) to six singles and one earned run while striking out four as he went the distance for the complete game victory. Marintchev helped his own cause by driving in a pair of runs, joining teammates junior DH Mike Brown and third base Dave Pergamo who totaled two RBIs each.

Belmont High’s Martin Marintchev.

Belmont, the tournament’s 7th seed, will next play second seed St. Mary’s School of Lynn on Monday, June 10, at 4 p.m. at Fraser Field in Lynn.

“We got out on front early and that made a great deal of difference,” said long-time Belmont Head Coach Jim Brown. “That let our pitcher throw strikes and when [Masco] started hitting, our fielders did a great job.”

Evidence of Belmont’s defensive prowess started early in the top half of the first when a base on balls and a bloop single resulted in Chieftains on second and third and no outs. But Masco couldn’t push a run across the plate as first shortstop Joe Carey and then second base Matt Brody cut down runners at the plate before third base Pergamo got the final out on a long throw from third to first.

For its part, Belmont did not waste its first opportunity, putting two up in the bottom of the inning. A walk to Pergamo followed by a deep double from Marintchev set up Brown who whacked a two-run single to give the Marauders the early lead.

After the fast start, the pitchers took over for the next four innings. And while Masco was hitting the ball, Marintchev was forcing the Chieftains to lift the ball, keeping center fielder Joe LaFaudi and right fielder Joe Destefano busy during that stretch.

Belmont finally got the insurance runs it had been barking about since the first inning in the bottom of the sixth, coming from the bottom of the lineup. With one out, number 6 batter catcher Mike Giangregorio was hit by a pitch followed by left fielder Justin Rocha lacing a single down the third base line.

It was here Brown relied on “small ball” tactics with a bunt laid down by LaFauci scoring Giangregorio. A second bunt by Destefano loaded the bases after an attempted putout at third saw Rocha scrambling back to the bag. A pair of singles from Pergamo and Marintchev scored a pair each and that was the game as Belmont ran off to a 7-0 lead.

Brown said St. Mary’s which had a bye in the opening round, has all star pitcher Lee Pacheco waiting in the wings while Belmont will likely send out its top dog, Mike Brown.

“We’ll have to have a similar game in the field, with no errors, to stay in the game,” said Brown.

Belmont Playoff Teams Include Baseball At Home (Sort Of) And A Rugby Twofor

Photo: Playoffs in Belmont for the next week.

Baseball will be playing in Belmont, just not where you hoped they would and both Rugby squads are hosting their semifinals as a doubleheader as Belmont High School sports teams are the the midst of tournament action.

On Thursday, June 6, the Belmont High School Baseball Team will host  Masconomet Regional in the MIAA Division 2 North Tournament. But the home game will not take place at Brendan Grant Field. Rather, the game will be played at the Belmont Hill School varsity baseball diamond off Marsh Street. The game begins at 3:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, June 12, Harris Field will be the location of a rare rugby doubleheader as Boys’ and Girls’ Rugby host respective state Division 1 semifinals as both Marauders squads are second seeds in the MIAA playoffs.

The Boys’ will take on Lincoln Sudbury Regional at 5:30 p.m. while the Girls’ hosts Needham at 7:30 p.m.

Belmont Baseball Captures Third Middlesex Title After Outpitching Lexington

Photo: Belmont High Marauders; 2019 Middlesex League co-champions.

Third times a charm as Belmont High Baseball used another outstanding pitching performance by junior Mike Brown who outdueled Lexington High ace Grahan Seed for a 2-1 victory and secured a third consecutive Middlesex League Liberty title for the Marauders on Saturday, June 1.

Belmont shares the league crown (the first time Belmont has strung three in a row) with Woburn by winning the final regular season game vs the Minutemen in what was likely the last high school game ever played at Brendan Grant Field which will become part of the construction site of the new Belmont Middle and High School.

“I’m proud of you guys. You guys are freaking awesome today. The bench, the starters, everything,” said long-time Belmont head coach Jim Brown to his charges after the game.

Belmont, at 12-8, waits until Tuesday, June 4 to see when and where they’ll be playing in the Division 2 North Sectionals. And Brown has high hopes for his team this postseason.

“Yeah, they’re a scrappy team,” said Brown about the Marauders. “They’ve won games one to nothing, two to one, two to nothing. They back up their two starters [Brown and senior Martin Marintchev] in the field better as the season went on.”

And Saturday’s matinee kept to Belmont’s season-long script as the Marauders dug up a pair of runs in the fourth and relied on Brown’s dominating performance on the mound to take home the win. The junior southpaw struck out 15, gave up more hit batsmen (2) than hits (a lone single) with the only run against him unearned.

Mike Brown on the mound.

After both teams could do little the first time through the line up against each pitcher – Brown struck out 10 and Seed K’d four in the first four innings – before Belmont struck for their two in the bottom of the fourth.

A hard-earned walk by leadoff batter David Pergamo was followed by a deep double to center right by Marintchev. After an intentional walk to Brown to load the bases, Matt Brody ripped an RBI single up the middle to score Pergamo. After a fly out to the outfield, Justin Rocha hit a hard grounder to third that drove in Marintchev on the fielders choice.

Lexington scored in the top of the sixth without the benefit of a hit and seeing a mere four batters come to the plate. With one out, the number 8 hitter second base Noah Sevigny walked, stole second and while attempting to steal third came home on a throwing error. Belmont got out of the inning as Brody threw out Minuteman’s Matt Favazzo heading to third during the play.

Lexington made it interesting in the top of the 7th when Brown hit two batters who ended up in scoring position. But a lazy fly to Joe DeStefano playing right ended both the threat and the game.

With two pitchers – Brown and Marintchev – who Brown call’s league all-star caliber and just enough offense when it counts, “you guys can do some damage in the tournament,” Brown told the team.

One Run Playoff: Belmont High Baseball Bows Out To Arlington In First Round

Photo: Senior Steve Rizzuto crossing the plate after hitting a home run in the bottom of the 10th against Arlington.

The playoffs ended way too soon for Belmont High baseball.

A pair of errors on fly balls in the outfield proved the difference as Belmont walked off Brendan Grant Field as 12-ranked and Middlesex League rival Arlington (12-9) celebrating a 5-4 upset victory over the fifth-seed Marauders (15-6) in the first round of the Division 2 North sectional playoffs on Thursday, June 7.

“It’s a tough one,” said Head Coach Jim Brown after the game. “We were winning those lately.” 

The senior-heavy team nearly made off with another last inning victory, scoring three runs with two outs in the bottom of the 7th off Arlington reliever Jay Masci on four consecutive singles by seniors Dennis Crowley, Ryan Noone, Connor Dacey and Steve Rizzuto to tie the score at three. 

“That’s what is great about this senior class and these kids. They don’t panic and fight to the very end, to the last out. They never quit,” Brown. 

After allowing two runs to score on a two-out dropped fly ball in the top of the 10th off hard-luck loser Martin Marintchev who relieved senior starter Nate Espelin, Belmont quickly reduced the lead to one with a home run by the game’s hitting star Rizzuto, who went 4 for 4 with a double and the dinger, scored a run and drove in a pair. 

But with a man on second, a line drive to the Arlington shortstop started a 6-3 double play and an easy fly to right field ended the season which saw Belmont win consecutive Middlesex League championships, the first time since 1961 Belmont captured the league two seasons running. 

The one-run defeat was apropos for the team; in 21 games the Marauders played this season, 10 were decided by a single run.

“I love playing with this team. It was awesome,” said Espelin, Belmont’s ace southpaw who struck out 17 SpyPonders over nine innings while giving up two earned runs on five hits. “It was frustrating how it ended. It’s memorable the character that they all showed, how we stayed together no matter what.”

On Espelin’s first pitch of the game, leadoff hitter Brendan Jones sent the ball to deep center where the Marauder center fielder stumbles, recovers but then stumbles a second time to see the ball fall beyond his glove. Jones scored on Dara Conneely’s double.  

In the hole by a run after half an inning, the Marauders’ had its chances against Arlington starter Adam Bowler including leaving the bases loaded in the 2nd and 4th innings and stranding 12 men on base, 8 in scoring position. 

The SpyPonders increased its lead scoring twice in the top of the 4th with two singles and a double off Espelin.

It didn’t appear Belmont had anything in the tank offensively until the 7th when the bench erupted with each clutch hit by the middle of the order. But the team could not muster the one extra run to take the game.

Brown said despite the early exit, “it was definitely a good season. Obviously, these seniors, many who were three-year starters, wanted to go further in the playoffs. But I’m proud of them,” he said. 


Belmont Track’s Krafian, Calvin, Relays Shine At Coaches’ Invitational Meet

Photo: MSTCA State Coaches Meet director Mike Miller and the field of an athlete of the meet Shira Stoller (left) and the Overall athlete of the meet Anoush Krafian (right). (photo credit: MSTCA)

In a warm-up for the league, division and state championships upcoming in the next three weeks, Belmont High top track athletes are hinting at some big results after putting forth some outstanding performances at the Massachusetts State Track Coaches’ Association Invitational on Saturday, May 12.

At the boys’ events held at Durfee High in Fall River, senior Calvin Perkins destroyed a talented field in the 400 meters, powering home to win in 48.98 seconds, a full second and a half in front of Boston College High sophomore Shawn Carter. Perkins then anchored Belmont’s 4×400 relay to his second victory of the day, again in impressive fashion as the quartet finished in 3 minutes and 27.95 seconds, two seconds clear of the second place squad.

Also showing his talent in two events, junior Merrill Barnes finished in fifth in the long jump (19 feet, 2 and a quarter inches) and tied for eighth in the high jump (5 feet, 10 inches). Senior Mike Pomer raced to 10th in the 400-meter hurdles in 1:00.64.

As for a glimpse into the future, Belmont freshman Preston Jackson-Stephen won the freshman 100 meters in 11.88 seconds, the Marauders’ sophomore 4×100 placed fifth and sophomore Stephen Carvalho dipped under 10 minutes in the two miles in a time of 9:56.77 to place 10th.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Belmont senior star Anoush Krafian came away with her share of silverware as she strode to an easy victory in her specialty, the 100 meter hurdles, in 15.31 second (she qualified for the finals in 15.17) while finishing second in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches) and a tie for ninth in the long jump with a leap of 16 feet and a half inch. At the end of the competition held a Sharon High School, despite some outstanding performances – including Natick junior Grace Connolly breaking Olympic bronze medalist and New York City marathon winner Shalene Flannigan’s state two-mile record set in 1999 – Krafian left with the Outstanding Overall Athlete of the Meet.

Belmont Girls’ 4×400 relay took home fourth in 4:15.81 while freshman Victoria Meringer finished sixth in the freshman mile in 5:34.23.

Season-Ending Heartbreak: Belmont Baseball Falls in 10 to Braintree

Photo: Belmont High Baseball 


It appeared that eight-seed Belmont High Baseball would finally do what no team could in the past two years; knock out two-time defending champions Braintree High School from the Super Eight baseball tournament.

Leading 4-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, Belmont took the field having just scored a pair of what appeared to be insurance runs and surviving a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the eighth and now were three outs away from the monumental upset.

But a one-out three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning by Braintree’s centerfielder Jackson Duffy off Belmont reliever/catcher Cal Christofori tied the score at 4. 

And a single off Belmont’s righthander Max Meier by third base/reliever Brennan Quigley brought home catcher Alex Kennedy in the bottom of the 10th saw Braintree walk off with a dramatic 5-4 victory at Brockton’s Campanelli Stadium Wednesday night, June 7.

Before the ninth inning, everything appeared to have fallen into place for the Marauders to upend the Division 1 powerhouse. Just as it had done in the first game of the double-elimination playoffs for the elite eight baseball teams in the state against number 1 ranked St. John’s of Shrewsbury, Belmont kept the game close into the late innings against the Wamps.

For the second straight game, Belmont’s junior southpaw Nate Espelin started and kept the Marauders in the game through five innings. Espelin got out of tight spots in the first – bases loaded with one out – and second innings with a pair of strikeouts in each frame.

Braintree finally caught up to Espelin in the third on a sacrifice fly to grab a 1-0 lead.

Braintree’s pitcher Jack Andrews needed some good fielding plays to keep the game scoreless for the Marauders.

Espelin left the game with one out in the fifth with a man on second, giving the ball to his fellow junior Meier so escaped a bases-loaded predicament in the sixth. Belmont’s best shot at scoring came in the top of the 7th with Meier and Ryan Noone on second and third with one out. But Andrews got a strikeout and a ground out to end the threat.

Tailing 1-0 in the top of the eighth inning, Belmont finally broke into the scoring column. Left fielder Connor Dacey singled, shortstop Steve Rizzuto sacrificed, and Christofori earned a walk. 

After cleanup batter first base Dennis Crowley drew a free pass, an exhausted Andrews left to be replaced by Quigley who got Meier to strikeout after 11 pitches.

Controversy soon erupted when pitch hitter Noah Riley was hit by a pitch, sending Dacey home. The Wamps players and coaches felt that Riley leaned into the pitch, but to no avail. Then an error by Braintree third base saw Christofori waltz in to give Belmont a 2-1 lead.

But Braintree nearly scored in the bottom of the inning as Meier hit two batters and walked the third. In came Christofori who struck out a pair and saw Kennedy hit a deep drive that sent right fielder Paul Ramsey to the wall for the third out. 

And when Crowley and Meier stroke back-to-back RBI singles in the top of the ninth, Belmont had a three-run lead, 4-1, ending the last of the 9th. 

But a dream season which saw Belmont come from behind to take its first Middlesex League title in more than a quarter century and be selected to participate in the top playoff tournament in the state came to an end sooner than anyone wanted it.

Belmont High Baseball Battles #1 St. John’s (S) Before Falling 3-1

 Photo: Steve Rizzuto scoring Belmont’s lone run in a 3-1 defeat by number one St. John’s of Shrewsbury. 

The Boston Herald’s Danny Ventura‏, the region’s most prominent writer of high school sports, tweeted this week that it was “Too bad Belmont [Baseball] had to play the top-seed [St. John’s Shrewsbury in the first round of the MIAA Super Eight baseball playoffs], they should not have been the eighth seed in the first place.”
On Thursday, Belmont High Baseball proved Ventura correct when the Marauders kept the state’s consensus number 1 team in check for nearly the entire game, coming up just short in a 3-1 loss in the opening game of the elite eight tournament held in Shrewsbury, Thursday, June 1.
“It was a great game,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Jim Brown. “We knew it would be close; they had their D1 (Division 1 college prospect Ian Seymour), and we had our best [southpaw Nate Espelin] going. While [Espelin] was little shaky in the first inning, he settled down and [junior righthander Max Meier] closed out a strong game pitching.”
The nine-inning game (as opposed to the seven innings played during the regular high school season) was a tight affair. Espelin got the first two batters out in the first but three singles on top of a hit batsman resulted in two runs (RBIs to St. John’s’ Tom Mochella and Jack Fields) crossing the plate.
But if the Pioneers were expecting to walk over the eight seed, they would end up disappointed as Espelin, and Belmont found its bearings and kept the game within two through the middle innings. 
While the Marauders did make contact with some hard hit balls as second base Steve Rizzuto – going 2-4 as he continues with the hot late season bat – got to  Seymour in the first for a single while leadoff batter left fielder Connor Dacey flew deep to right, Belmont would have to wait to get their next two hits; in the fourth, a senior catcher Cal Christofori single (that was whipped out on a double play) and the fifth on a two-out single from designated hitter Ryan Noone.

“We just didn’t get enough timely hits when we needed them. But we swung a good bat and played great defense,” said Brown, noting the play from senior center fielder Bryan Goodwin who expertly handled the wide open range of the field’s outfield as its nearly 400 feet to the deep center field fence.

Belmont finally took the measure of Seymour in the top of the 6th as Rizzuto scored from first on a monster one-out gap double to deep center field by Christofori (2-4 in the game) who is batting a spectacular .750 in his last five games, cutting the deficit to 2-1.

But the Pioneers rallied in the bottom frame, scoring on a single, a walk and then a one-out single from right fielder Bailey Mikule to give the home squad a two-run cushion and to end Espelin’s standout performance with three strikeouts while giving three earned runs on seven singles. Meier finished the game with two scoreless innings striking out four of the seven batters he faced.

Seymour (eight strikeouts, one earned run on five hits) got out of his final jam in the eighth as he struck out Christofori for the final out with Rizzuto on first.

Next up for Belmont is a losers bracket game vs. Braintree which has been pushed back from Monday to Thursday due to the rainy weather. The game is now scheduled at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, home of the Brockton Rox of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League of New England, on Thursday, June 8 at 7 p.m. The stadium’s address is 700 Belmont St. (easy to remember).

Braintree is the two-time defending state champion that narrowly lost to Boston College High, 3-2, in its opening round game.

“Anyone you play in this tournament is going to be great. [Braintree] could have their number one pitcher come back so we get a scouting report on them and get ready,” said Brown.

Super Belmont: Marauder Baseball in Elite Eight State Finals

Photo: The Marauders with the silverware.

After defeating one-loss Lynnfield High, 5-2, to defend its Brendan Grant Tournament title on Saturday, May 27, the 17-3 Belmont High Baseball team was eager to discover Tuesday what seed they would receive in the upcoming Division 2 North sectional playoffs.

But the call they got from the MIAA – the organization that oversees high school sports in Massachusetts – came a day early with news that came as a surprise not just to the Marauders but to many highly touted Bay State teams.

On Monday, the selection committee of the Baseball “Super 8” playoffs made Belmont the eighth and final squad selected to compete in the elite tournament with seven of the best teams in the state.

“I’m very happy for the seniors, they’ve earned it,” said Belmont’s long-time head coach Jim Brown in the Boston Herald.

The reward for Belmont being selected to play with the big kids is a first-round meeting Wednesday, May 31 against the consensus number one team in the state, 19-3 St. John’s Shrewsbury. The game will be played in the central Massachusetts town that straddles Worcester at 4 p.m.

Belmont leapfrogged over teams such as 19-1 Lynn Classical as well as Methuen and Andover which pundits believed had the edge over the Marauders, a Division 2 squad which has not faced any of the other seven teams in the playoffs this season.

While familiar to hockey, the double-elimination Super Eight playoff is a recent addition to the state tournament, first introduced in 2014 with Newton North taking the title. The past two years Braintree has won the crown.

26 Years In The Making: Belmont Baseball Captures League Title With Victory Over Reading

Photo: Belmont High’s Max Meier strikes out the final batter of the game for Belmont’s 6-4 victory over Reading.

The wait is over.

Twenty-six years since winning its last league title, Belmont High Baseball will hoist the 2017 Middlesex League Liberty Division championship banner on the wall of the Wenner Field House after the Marauders captured its first league pennant since 1991 with a hard-fought 6-4 victory over defending champions Reading Memorial High with a combination of clutch late-inning hitting and a gutsy pitching performance by the team’s lefthanded ace.

“How about that league championship?!” asked long-time Head Coach Jim Brown to his ecstatic players as the speakers blasted a new version of King Harvest’s 70’s classic “Dancing in the Moonlight.”

“You had a goal right from the beginning of the season. And you accomplished it. You made this town proud,” Brown told the players.

The team – 16-3 overall and 13-3 in the league – will end the regular season taking on one-loss Division 3 leading Lynnfield (17-1) on Friday, May 26 at 3:45 p.m. at “The Grant.” The Marauders will then finish the season hosting The Brendan Grant Tournament later in the week.

The Marauders’ secured the victory with a clutch two-out, two run rally that gave junior starter Nate Espelin the margin he needed to hold on for his sixth win with a herculean 119 pitch performance over 6 1/3 innings.

“I walked too many people, but I didn’t have to worry about striking out people because we made the defensive plays,” said the southpaw, who raised his record to 6-1.

While Espelin could not match his high teen strikeout numbers that he produced against Wilmington, Lexington and Reading the first time he faced them – a 1-0 9-inning loss – he relied on his curveball “which worked a little better today.”

On Wednesday, the Marauders’ bats were working as the top four of the order – junior leftfielder Connor Dacey, junior shortstop Steve Rizzuto, catcher Cal Christofori and junior first base Dennis Crowley – went a collective 8 for 13 with two doubles (both by Christofori) and 5 RBIs.

“I think I’ve seen the ball well lately. It’s just looking bigger and getting a good piece of it and driving it the other way [to right field],” said Crowley.

Belmont got off the mark quickly against Reading’s All-Star starter Corey DiLoreto in the first with a walk, a fielder’s choice and two singles with Crowley punching a single through the infield to bring home Rizzuto. It appeared the Marauders would increase the lead as a sacrifice fly by junior Ryan Noone sent Christofori home, but the plate umpire called the senior captain out for leaving third early.

Espelin had already thrown 40 pitches in the top of the third when he walked Reading’s Joe Bradley to bring up DiLoreto who pulverized an Espelin offering over the deepest part of the center field fence (352 feet) to give Reading its only lead of the game, 2-1. The inning ended with Rizzuto going deep in the hole to throw out the batter by half-a-step.

The Marauders swiftly recaptured the lead in the bottom of the frame, starting with Rizzuto (1-3) waiting on a slow curve to belt it between first and second for a single. Christofori (3-3 with a walk) then smashed a fastball into the gap between center and left that one-hopped the fence for a ground-rule double.

“[Christofori’s] enthusiasm and passion today rubbed off on the entire team,” said Brown. 

Crowley followed by taking a full-count pitch into center for a single, bringing in Rizzuto to tie the score. Junior right fielder/pitcher Max Meier continued the hitting onslaught with his own single to send Christofori across the plate. The Marauders’ final run of the inning came when Crowley scampered home on a Bryan Goodwin sacrifice fly, upping the lead to 4-2.

The title was sealed with two down in the sixth when Reading took out DiLoreto. Belmont quickly pounced on reliever Mike Rainone loading the bases on a Conner Dacey single and walks to Rizzuto and Christofori.

Dennis completed his big day at the plate battling back from a two-stroke deficit to rocket a 2-2 pitch into center to bring in Dacey and Rizzuto to double Belmont’s lead from two to four at 6-2.

“He got me down 0-2 on a pitch I thought was a little low. But what are you going to do? I took the next two pitches to even it up then got a pitch I liked and ripped it,” said Crowley who drove in half the team’s runs and scored once.

“This team knows what to do with the stick [bat] and are selective with their pitches. They work at it,” said Brown.

Those final runs were critical as Reading staged its own late rally in the top of the 7th. DiLoreto walked, and after a sacrifice bunt, consecutive infield errors and a Ben Fischer single that dropped in front of Goodwin saw the Rockets cut the lead in half to 6-4 with the go-ahead run at the plate.

“I was making sure [the athletic trainer] had the heart defibrillator ready because I didn’t know if I could take it,” said Brown.

With nearly 120 pitches in the book, Brown elected to pull Espelin for junior righthander Meier. With Rockets at the corner, Meier relied on his fastball to strikeout the 8 and 9 batters; the final punch out caught the batter looking.

After the celebrations which included running through a “victory tunnel” set up by the Boys’ Rugby team and a bucket of water over Brown’s head, the coach again heaped praise on his team and the eight seniors.

“This is the best group of kids I’ve coached. They know how to battle for the entire game, the entire season,” said Brown.