LOWELL — When the Bridgewater-Raynham baseball team shut out Nashoba Regional, 4-0, last Saturday afternoon, two of the program’s most talented recent graduates, Mike Connolly and Eddie Campbell , also relished in the team’s state championship glory — a celebration they never experienced during their decorated careers.
“I’m so happy for them,” said Connolly, whose brother, Jack , a sophomore righthander, was an integral member of the team’s pitching staff.
“It was good to see Mike Bruemmel [complete-game shutout] go out with a bang. It’s his last hurrah, and he goes and shoves it like that? I have to give props to these guys. It’s great to be here for it.”
Connolly went to all of the team’s postseason games after wrapping up his junior season on the diamond at the University of Maine, and the Division 1 final was no different.
Campbell, however, selected by Seattle in the 15th round of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft, signed with the Mariners two days before the championship game, so he was not in attendance at LeLacheur Park.
Instead, the Globe’s 2010 Division 1 Player of the Year bugged Connolly for near-constant text updates.
“This is unreal,” Campbell tweeted shortly after the final out. “Couldn’t be more proud of those guys #BRbaseballalumni.”
Connolly, a former Globe all-scholastic, was also drafted, by the Giants in the 27th round, and said he expects to sign soon.
In the meantime, he was particularly invested in his alma mater’s run. Aside from his brother, his first cousin, Joe Freiday , was an Old Colony League all-star catcher and big bat in the meat of the Trojans’ order. The elder Connolly also coached junior Corey Dinunno and sophomore Cory Wasylow when they were younger.
“It’s so great to see what these guys have developed into,” Connolly said.
The soon-to-be-former Black Bear had one more side role in B-R’s postseason: cutting Freiday’s hair.
All season long, the junior backstop wore curls, a la Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia , that flowed out from under his catcher’s helmet. But he did away with his signature look two days before the final game in an effort to buck a trend.
Athletes often refuse to shave or cut their hair during a given season or tournament in fear of ruining their team’s mojo.
“It’s a little bit of a message to show I’m not really a superstitious guy,” he said. “It’s to show hair doesn’t define a person. It doesn’t really make a difference. I’m still the same ballplayer, we’re still the same team.”
The Trojans are generally a superstitious team, according to coach John Kearney . So he was surprised when he heard his squad broke another unwritten rule — talking about a developing no-hitter.
Bruemmel, a senior captain, held Nashoba hitless through the first four innings. Then five. Then six. Then seven.
All the while, his teammates were apparently busting his chops.
“The guys were bugging me the hole time,” the 6-foot-2 lefty said shortly after the win, his teammates still screaming in celebration behind him. “It kept my adrenaline up the whole time. It was awesome.”
The no-hit bid ended in the eighth, but that was fine with Bruemmel. He ended his day with 12 strikeouts and an even greater accomplishment — hoisting the state championship trophy.
Patriot League shows strength in tourneys
In the days after the Middleborough baseball team captured the Division 3 state title last week, coach Bill Lawrence’s in-box was loaded.
He received congratulatory e-mails from people throughout the community. He could not put faces to a number of the names.
A handful of the messages, however, came from people outside the town — namely, other Patriot League coaches.
The Sachems (Division 3) and Hingham (Division 2) each claimed MIAA crowns, generating a small sense of conference pride for the Patriot League, according to Lawrence.
“[Hingham is] really good and I’m really happy for the Patriot League,” Lawrence said, mentioning Harborman ace Evan Flanagan in particular. “I’ve gotten e-mails from almost every PL coach.”
PL members Middleborough, Hingham, Duxbury, and Silver Lake all earned berths in the state tourney. Duxbury fell to Plymouth North in the Division 2 South first round.
At Silver Lake, Ken Tocci’s squad, armed with seniors Mike Lundin and Tucker Bouchard and a couple other young hurlers, seemed primed to make a run in the Division 1 South bracket, but ended up running into a tough Boston College High team in the quarterfinals.
Nonetheless, Tocci, who works with Lawrence at Middleborough High and was able to congratulate him in person, is proud of Hingham and Middleborough.
“If you don’t bring your A-game in the Patriot League, you don’t win,” said Tocci, whose club went 2-1 against Hingham and Middleborough. “Some of the games we struggled the most in were against [sub-.500] Patriot League teams. . . . Everybody in our league is good.”
Lawrence echoed that sentiment, adding that the Sachems’ tough conference schedule helped them survive during tight postseason games.
“A lot of the teams in our league are very well-coached,” Lawrence said. “That’s one of the reasons we did so well. We’ve played a lot of close games.”
The Sachems, the Fisher Division champions, went 6-1 in games decided by two or fewer runs. In the playoffs, Middleborough won its last five games by an average margin of four runs, toppling two of the top three seeds, No. 1 Abington and No. 3 Ashland, in the process.
Hingham cut it even closer.
After finishing second behind Silver Lake in the Keenan Division, the Harbormen had a narrow 1.6-run margin of victory in their final five, with senior Cody Clifford solidifying a pair of those with game-winning hits for two of his five RBIs on the season.
“We’ve been in that spot before,” Lawrence said, referring to the down-to-the-wire title game, a 4-3 win over Hopedale. “Down by a run, up by a run trying to protect it. It definitely helped us in the tourney.”