Duxbury’s Coyne a walk-off hero at college championship game
As a youngster, hitting Wiffleballs in his backyard, Joe Coyne dreamed of being a walk-off hero.
Fantasy became reality for the former baseball captain at Duxbury High in the winner-take-all championship game of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Tournament in late April.
A sophomore catcher at St. Joseph’s College of Maine, Coyne stepped to the plate in the 10th inning of a 6-6 deadlock against Suffolk University, with a runner at second and two outs at Holman Stadium in Nashua.
“I was thinking up the middle or right field, so at least I could advance him, and I was looking for a fastball away, and that’s exactly what I got,’’ said Coyne, a righthanded hitter who laced a single to the opposite field, knocking in Sam Butts with the winning run as the jubilant Monks locked up their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division 3 tournament with the 7-6 comeback.
“That was my biggest moment on a baseball field, no question,’’ said Coyne, “and I was stunned to say the least. My parents were there, I got about 15 text messages from friends, and our team manager posted the at-bat on our baseball Facebook page.’’
A two-time all-GNAC selection, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Coyne was batting .319 through 41 games and second on the team with 32 RBIs, 13 doubles, and 29 runs. As a freshman, he batted .346 and led the Monks in hits.
“Joe has worked hard to do just what he did to win that game — hitting to all fields,” said St. Joseph’s coach Will Sanborn , who first took notice of Coyne’s skills at a summer showcase held at Tufts University.
“He’s a tough competitor and a great defensive catcher who receives and blocks well. He has a fine arm and he’s as good at his position as anyone I’ve seen among our Division 3 opponents.’
Last summer, suiting up for the Waikiki Surfers of the Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League, Coyne hit .392 in the team’s march to the league finals. His parents, Ron and Christine, and his older sister, Amanda, a standout swimmer at Duxbury High, flew in for a two-week visit. He also enjoyed his beach time and was moved by a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
Coyne will play this summer with the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League. “So I guess you could call me an island-hopper,’’ he quipped.
Coyne, who underwent two surgeries on his left knee prior to his arrival at St. Joseph’s, said that it was a “Godsend that coach Sanborn saw me at Tufts that day because that evening, I tore my meniscus playing in a tournament in Connecticut trying to steal third base.’’
“I had the second knee surgery after my senior season in high school, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to catch in college,’’ he said.
“It took me a year to feel comfortable behind the plate again and a lot of that was mental. I don’t even think about it now.’’
Coyne, who has found a niche hitting out of the third spot for the Monks, rooms with Dan Meeken , a lefty reliever from Marshfield who was a former teammate on the Duxbury American Legion team.
Coyne’s father, who coached him as a Little Leaguer, ran cross country at Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High.
“I like to think I inherited dad’s speed. My teammates don’t think I’m that fast. I always challenge them to race me, but no one takes me up on it,’’ said Coyne, who was recipient of the Duxbury High baseball scholarship award his senior year.
“I didn’t have much power to the opposite field back in high school,’’ said the former Patriot League All-Star, “but I’ve done a lot of tinkering with my swing, I’m working out more and I have doubles and triples power to all fields.’’
Against Suffolk, however, a ground ball single was good enough.
The Monks (30-12) will open play in the NCAA tournament Wednesday, likely in the New England Regional in Harwich.
Tennis award for Duxbury’s Bearup
Duxbury resident Jeff Bearup will be presented with the Gardner Ward Chase Memorial Award by the United State Tennis Association/New England for outstanding contributions to the sport.
The ceremony is scheduled for June 8 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., as part of the New England Tennis Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.
A USTA-certified coach and chairman of the organization’s national selection committee that selects the region’s best players for national competition, Bearup also cofounded the New England Academy of Tennis in Natick.
In 2008, he was selected to visit China to help with that country’s player and coaching development and has continued in that capacity.
Local team wins national hockey title
Defenseman John Barry of Hanover and Liam Feeney of Foxborough were teammates on the Foxborough-based Neponset Valley River Rats, who recently won USA Hockey’s 18-and-under Tier 1 national championship in Pittsburgh.
Barry was a junior captain at Thayer Academy last season and Feeney, also a junior, played for the Dexter School in Brookline. Their River Rats teammates included forwards Shamus Maloney of North Attleborough and Zach Sabatini of Johns Creek, Ga., who skated for Tabor Academy in Marion.
“John’s a big, strong kid who’s also a great lacrosse player,’’ said River Rats head coach Jon Hutcheon, whose team captured state and national titles for the first time in program history. “And Liam is a solid defender who can really create offense skating out of our zone. He led us with 32 assists in 38 games.’’