WORCESTER — The tears of joy the Pope John Paul II players shed after winning the Division 4 state baseball title weren’t your average championship tears. They meant so much more.
Last November, Christian Hegarty, a sophomore starter for the Lions last season, was diagnosed with bone cancer. The news was devastating, but the players knew what they wanted to do.
They wanted to win it all for their teammate. And on Saturday afternoon at Holy Cross, that’s what they did.
Senior Austin Houlihan struck out seven in a one-hitter to lift the Lions (27-1) to a 3-0 win over Hopkins Academy (14-10) for their first state title. Hegarty’s No. 9 jersey was front and center during the trophy presentation.
“Our guys, back in November, committed themselves that we’re playing for him. That jersey has come with us all year long,” said Lions coach Mark Santos, his voice moved with emotion. “He’s made a few games and the ones he did we won them all. He couldn’t be here today, because he has chemo treatment. But I talked to him this morning and he said, ‘Coach, go bring it home. Get me a ring.’
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