Baseball

Brookline High School baseball season ends on a positive note

Brookline High School baseball season ends on a positive note

While the past 18 months have been a tough stretch for all high school coaches and athletes, Brookline High’s Brendan O’Connor must have felt his journey was rougher than most.

Shorty after being named to take over the BHS baseball program by AD Pete Rittenburg, O’Connor’s coaching debut was put on hold when the 2020 schedule was cancelled due to COVID. When this spring’s season was given the green light, O’Connor learned a few seniors wouldn’t be returning. Finally, senior Aidan Chin underwent surgery on his left shoulder shortly, eliminating the Warriors’ top hitter and potential ace pitcher.

“We have a much younger roster than I anticipated,” said O’Connor, who was a three-time all-star for BHS. “Only five seniors were left, including Aidan. We were asking a lot of unproven young kids who hadn’t played much for two years.

What followed was predicable. The Warriors dropped their first nine before finally defeating Natick in extra innings, 8-7. Despite losing their three final regular season games, including a 2-1 defeat to league champion Milton, O’Connor saw significant improvement as his team gained confidence. Momentum kept building during the BSC’s round-robin playoff, when Brookline won two of three. The Warriors avenged previous defeats to Weymouth and Needham before losing in extra innings to Framingham.

Early in the season, one mistake led to another and next thing you knew, we’re down five or six runs,” said O’Connor. “We’ve not only won four of our last eight, but we’ve been in every game, including a couple against top 20 teams.”

When the Warriors traveled to Cape Cod on Friday, June 18, it wasn’t for a weekend pleasure trip. BHS drew Barnstable as a preliminary round opponent. The visitors got a big boost when Chin took the mound for the first time.

The senior right-hander, who is still unable to swing a bat, responded with an ace performance. Chin blanked the home team, 6-0, surrendering only five hits in a complete game effort. Rocco Schorge and Ryan Kravitz supplied the key hits for the Warriors.

“Aidan’s been at the park every day, keeping everyone upbeat, along with our other seniors.” said O’Connor. “We had a long ride, so I wasn’t sure how the guys would respond getting off the bus. But we came out ready to go. The Barnstable coach said his team didn’t seem as prepared. It was nice to hear that for the first time.

The victory advanced the Warriors to a first-round date Monday nigh against a familiar foe, Norwood, who were members of the BSC until 2018. The Mustangs were also impressive in their opener, defeating Marshfield, 10-0. O’Connor sent out freshman James Dyalchand-Ericson to face an aggressive Norwood club. Dyalchand-Ericson began the year on the freshmen squad, but wound up the Warriors’ most effective starter down the stretch. Norwood’s ace, sophomore Jonathan Demarais, took the mound for the home team.

The Northeastern commit didn’t disappoint, shutting out the visitors, 4-0, thanks in part to a 350- foot HR by Robbie Wladkowski in the second inning that turned out to be the final score. A BHS error on a potential double-play ball opened the door for Norwood to score twice in the first inning. That put the Warriors in a quick hole that Wladkowski doubled with his two-run blast. Demaris made those early runs stand up by allowing five hits.

“James did a nice job of settling down and our hitters had good at-bats, one-through-nine,” said O’Connor. “A couple of hard hit balls were the difference. Give a lot of credit to our seniors, Aidan Chin, Ramsey Anis, Rocco Schorge, Owen Roche and Jasper Reed for great leadership. They never gave up on themselves or the team. We have a lot of work to do, but they have shown the underclassmen how to prepare and play the game the right way.

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