Staffed with youngsters, East Bridgewater baseball out in Final Four


WORCESTER — Prior to Tuesday, the East Bridgewater High baseball team last appeared as one of the final four teams standing in 2016.

Jeff Ghiloni was a first-year coach and that team was predominantly staffed with juniors in the prime of their high school careers.

It was a much different look on Tuesday as the No. 10 Vikings suited up at Fitton Field on Holy Cross’ campus in Worcester. A sophomore pitcher played catch with a sophomore catcher, meanwhile a collection of freshmen settled in at shortstop, second base, first base and center field.

But after a veteran-ladened No. 6 Pittsfield team walked it off, 1-0, in the seventh with an extra-base hit to left-center field from one of its youngsters, sophomore catcher Jackson Almeida, Ghiloni gathered his team and commended its composure.

His Vikings had just finished their second consecutive one-run thriller. This one happened to end in heartbreak.

The win sends Pittsfield (18-5) to the Division 4 state final to play No. 4 Seekonk (21-3) at Polar Park on Saturday at noon.

“Be proud,” Ghiloni shared his message to the team. “This was a heck of a baseball game. We had a great season, a great run. Thank the seniors for everything they’ve done for me and the program, and you hope the underclassmen use this as motivation so we can use this to our advantage next season.”

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Sophomore left-hander Devon Blair took the mound in the biggest game of his young career and did not disappoint, striking out six and bailing the Vikings out of three jams in which Pittsfield had a runner at third base and multiple runners aboard.

“He was doing what he’s done all season — fastball, curveball, fading away, down and out from guys. Just a heck of a game,” Ghiloni said. “His composure has been awesome all year. He doesn’t get fazed. If he does, you don’t notice.”

“I had to come in and just shove, do the best I can,” Blair said. “All season, I had to keep my composure because you can’t let it loose, or else you’ll fall apart.”

EB’s freshman shortstop John King reached on an infield single with two outs in the seventh to salvage a rally but a ground-out stranded him there as the bottom half of the Pittsfield order stepped to bat next with an opportunity at a walk-off, and capitalized.

Pittsfield junior Jack Abel tripled to lead off the frame, then junior Jack Reed (single) and sophomore Jason Codey (intentional walk) loaded the bases for Almeida to end it. Pittsfield totaled five hits to EB’s two.

“Unfortunately somebody had to win this, somebody had to lose this. We could’ve played for a while longer,” Ghiloni said. “They came up with some big hits in the seventh. That’s baseball, really.”

The Vikings’ best scoring chance came in the fourth inning as freshman first baseman Collin Meserve (walk) reached third with one out after Joey Foley’s sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch. But Pittsfield’s senior pitcher Roshan Warriar (2 hits allowed, 4 strikeouts in 7 innings) baited a fly-out and a 4-3 ground-out to break up the opportunity.

“We had a great season. It came down to the wire. We couldn’t get the bats on today,” said senior third baseman Jaden Lovell, a Rhode Island College commit. “We couldn’t help out Devon.”

Lovell departs as graduation’s biggest claim from the Vikings, along with outfielder Nick Capocci, infielder Connor Egan, pitcher/outfielder Connor Kohl, outfielder Matt Werra and outfielder Nate Clark.

Blair, Meserve, Foley, King, second baseman Brody Lovell and pitcher Jared Hardiman will make up the core of next year’s team.

“The future’s really bright,” Ghiloni said. “We’ve got a great group of young guys. … Jaden, we’re definitely going to have big shoes to fill there but we’ve got some more guys chomping at the bit. I expect we’ll have a good team next year, too.”

“They’re going to have a young team next year, but I think they’ll be good,” Jaden Lovell said. “Maybe a little rebuild year next year, but after that, they’ll be perfect.”


Ghiloni getting to the Final Four as a No. 10 seed: “We hit our stride at the right time at the end of the season, put some good wins together heading into the tournament. Then, winning tournament baseball, it was (about) close one-run, two-run games and doing all the little things right.”

Ghiloni on his favorite part of the tournament run: “Just watching these guys play in close games and watching them come through for each other.”

Lovell on his favorite part of the tournament run: “The run was my favorite part. I’ll just remember the team, all the funny jokes, and how we kept going.”

Lovell on his takeaway from the loss: “There’s nothing to hang our heads on in this game. It was a great battle.”


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