BROCKTON — Greater New Bedford baseball coach Rick Avila, drenched in water from his team’s championship celebration, reached into his pocket for his personal talisman. He pulled out a small button that had a photo of Andrew McCann, a former player whom Avila coached and taught in plumbing shop at school.
McCann was tragically killed in a 2012 car accident.
“I woke up at 5 a.m. this morning and went to the cemetery early in the morning for Andrew, and at 11 during my lunch shift I went back,” Avila said, fighting back tears. “I have been doing this for the five years [since] that person has left my program.
“I keep this button in my pocket every game, every practice I go out.”
On Thursday at Campanelli Stadium, with the date representing the same number McCann wore on his baseball jersey (15), and three days after the one year anniversary of teammate AJ DaSilva’s passing due to cancer, the Bears made history.
Senior pitcher Tylor Arruda spun a complete-game gem as Greater New Bedford (19-6) took home the program’s first ever state championship with a 6-2 victory over Danvers in the Division 2 final.
Danvers captalized on some of the problems the righthanded Arruda has had early in his outings to take a 2-0 lead.
After sophomore Loic Dowd hit a leadoff single, Arruda allowed a walk to put two men aboard for senior Matt Andreas, who cleared the bases with his 2-RBI triple to the left field gap.
Arruda managed to escape the inning without further damage, and kept the Falcons (20-5) scoreless the rest of the game.
“My offense, I have trusted them all year,” Arruda said. “They have bailed me out many times.”
Greater New Bedford chipped away at its two-run deficit on Andrew Mattos’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first and Cameron Massa’s two-out single that tied it, 2-2, in the second inning.
A run-scoring base hit by senior Jared Methia gave the Bears a 3-2 lead and knocked Danvers’ starting junior Justin Roberto out of the game.
Junior Justin Nadeau settled things down for Danvers, but four errors proved too much to overcome.
The Bears made Danvers, which for the third year in row lost in the state championship, pay for its mistakes, scoring on a wild pitch that made it 4-2 in the fourth. Later in the inning, senior Kevin Santigo punched a two-run single up the middle, making it 6-2.
The Bears stormed the field when Arruda got junior Thomas Mento to fly out with a runner on third to end the game, triggering an emotional reaction from Greater New Bedford’s tearful coach.