WORCESTER -- In the first minutes after Monument Mountain baseball coach Tom Hankey received the MIAA Division III finalist’s trophy, the Spartans head coach thought about his graduating seniors.
"I’m going to miss these seniors. They came in and took the bull by the horn," said Hankey. "They made my job a lot easier.
"It was a great experience for everybody."
Monument won its first-ever Western Massachusetts baseball title and dropped a 11-6 decision to Bellingham in a game between two teams battling for a first state baseball championship.
Of the two teams, it might be Monument that gets back first. The Blackhawks had seven seniors in its lineup on Saturday while the Spartans had only three.
Bobby Kinne, T.J. Shumsky and Peter Oggiani constituted the middle of the Monument batting order and the heart of the defense. But of the nine players Hankey trotted out on the Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field diamond on Saturday, three were juniors, two were sophomores and one was a freshman.
"I think it was a great experience for our class and especially anybody like Nate [Cormier] who was young. Nate was a freshman this year," sophomore second baseman Dominic DeFelice said. "It’s just been a great experience to be up here and see a lot of great pitching and a lot of different teams we don’t get to face out west."
James Allentuck, who pitched 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief on Saturday, is one of the three juniors who will take the position of Kinne, Oggiani and Shumsky as a leader. Allentuck came on in the fifth inning and struck out Bellingham’s Connor Birch to end the frame. In the sixth, he retired all three hitters he faced. Bellingham’s Anthony Crowley, who was 2 for 3 heading into that at-bat, saw nothing but strikes and looked at strike three.
Allentuck, Trevor McFarland and Henri Morrison will be seniors in the fall, while DeFelice will be a junior and Cormier will be a sophomore.
Morrison had the best offensive day of the Spartans who will be back next year. He singled and doubled and scored a run in Monument’s three-run second inning.
"It was just an awesome experience" to be there, said Morrison. "There’s nothing better than playing baseball here on a great field with great teammates, a family actually.
"Next year, I’m looking forward to playing with the underclassmen."
It was Morrison who made the final out of the state championship game, and the junior continued to run into the outfield as the Bellingham players piled on top of each other by the pitchers mound. It seems like Morrison is already set for next year.
"I really didn’t want to see them pile on," he said. "I wanted to get on base with all my heart on that last one. What can you do? It’s baseball.
"I’ll cherish that. I got the last at-bat this season. It was one of the greatest seasons in Monument history."
To reach Howard Herman:
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On Twitter: @howardherman.