WORCESTER — For Bellingham coach T.J. Chiappone and his squad, winning the program’s first state championship was the goal for the 2014 season.
“We never said, ‘Win the state championship,’ ” Chiappone said, “but we all kind of said, ‘We know what we want to do.’ ”
So when the Blackhawks walked off Fitton Field Saturday afternoon with the state title finally in their grasps, each player made sure to take a moment to give the trophy a kiss.
Bellingham churned out 11 runs on 15 hits, and senior David Sampson was spectacular in relief as the Blackhawks pulled away from Monument Mountain, 11-6, in the Division 3 state final on the campus of Holy Cross.
The Blackhawks (23-3) led by a run entering the bottom of the fifth when they exploded for five runs, including a two-run homer by senior captain Kevin Martinis, to blow the game open. Martinis finished 4 for 4 with three RBIs.
“I knew going up there that I wanted to have a nice hit. I saw my fastball and I got it,” Martinis said of the home run. “It’s just such a good team win. Everybody’s bats were alive.”
Six Blackhawks finished the game with at least two hits.
Despite the offensive outburst, it was Sampson’s performance on the mound that was most impressive. Senior starter Connor Birch struggled for the Blackhawks, allowing five runs on five hits and three walks in two innings of work. Chiappone gave the nod to Sampson to begin the third and the senior responded by cooling off the Spartans’ bats.
He pitched the final five innings, allowing just one run while scattering five hits and fanning seven.
“I knew it was a close game so I’d have to go in there, throw strikes, throw outs, and I knew my defense would back me up,” Sampson said.
“We knew we had everybody in the bullpen today,” Chiappone said, “but a lot times, you just need Dave. And he’s done that all year.”
Monument Mountain (19-4) tried to throw off Sampson’s rhythm in the later innings by taking long pauses between pitches before stepping into the batter’s box. But Sampson used it as extra motivation rather than allowing it to affect his play. In the sixth, he struck out the side.
“That was really cool because every single batter that inning took their time getting in,” Sampson said. “And I was like, ‘All right, I’m just going to sit you down if you’re going to take your time.’ ”
The Spartans took a 2-0 lead in the first before the Blackhawks struck back with five runs in the bottom of the frame. Senior Reed Pike’s two-out double brought in a pair to make it 5-2.
Senior Brad Rebello went 2 for 2 with two RBIs for Bellingham, while senior Kyle Goulet went 2 for 2 with a double and three runs scored.