WORCESTER — Top-seeded Milton and No. 3 King Philip entered Saturday with little baseball experience on a state championship stage. Neither school had won a state title, nor reached a final in nearly 20 years. Milton pitching coach Ryan Stoller’s father, David, was a member of the last Wildcat state finalist team — in 1974.
This year’s Wildcats finally ended the drought. Milton exhibited the poise of champions, using an aggressive approach on the base paths and another gem from ace Charlie Walker to win its first Division 2 title, 4-2, at Hanover Park.
“We went on a run last year and these guys felt like they left something on the table,” coach Brendan Morrissey said. “They weren’t going to let anybody get in their way.”
Walker kept the Wildcats (22-3) settled with his composure. The Northeastern-bound senior, without his best fastball, struck out seven hitters in his final high school game behind lethal curveballs, and was unfazed in the face of gusting winds and impending rain.
“I didn’t have the best stuff today; I just tried to work with what I had,” he said. “My boys picked it up in the field, so it worked out fine.”
Milton never scored multiple runs in an inning, but stockpiled baserunners as the Warriors (16-9) struggled with four fielding errors. Junior Owen McHugh knocked an RBI single that scored Jimmy Fallon in the first. Ryan Kelley came home on a fielder’s choice in the second and Marcus Ollivierre added a third run on a passed ball in the fourth. Fallon crushed a triple to the warning track in left-center field that sent Kelley home again in the sixth.
“They’re a fast team; they play the game hard,” Morrissey said. “That was our motto all year: To take it to the other team, and live and die aggressively.”
King Philip tried to mount a comeback in the final frame. Brendan Sencaj slashed a triple down the right field line and scored on a groundout, but Walker stayed stoic and finished out his complete game.
“Pressure is a privilege,” Walker said. “We all live for that. We want that pressure. It just motivated us.”
Morrrissey said Walker is a bulldog every day.
“It doesn’t matter what he has working,” added the coach, moments after being drenched in Gatorade. “He finds the pitches that are working for him and he gets out for his teammates.”
Though the King Philip players were disappointed, coach Jeff Plympton noted that a state final berth represents a culture shift for the Warriors, who had not made it this far since 2002.
“This program wasn’t in a great place a few years back, and I think these past couple years, we built it back up,” he said. “There’s not a better place to be than a state championship game.”