|St. John's Prep||2|
BROCKTON — One of the toughest accomplishments to achieve in any level of athletics is to repeat as champions.
With an almost completely new group of players on the field, the result for the Braintree Wamps was the same: a Division 1A championship win over St. John’s Prep, 3-2.
Sophomore Alex Kennedy walked it off in the ninth for the Wamps with his single up the middle that scored senior Erik MacDonald.
“I am kind of speechless,” Braintree coach Bill O’Connell said.
“Last year’s group was very talented. This year’s group was really more of a blue-collar team, a scrappy team, and a gritty team. There was a point where I don’t think many people believed we had a chance.”
A common denominator between both championship teams was senior righthander Scott Creedon.
Creedon pitched a complete game in last year’s winner-take-all game against Prep, and he delivered again this year. He struck out six while walking two. The only runs against him were solo shots from seniors Jacob Yish and Mike LaRovere.
St. John’s Prep (20-8) opened up the scoring when Yish took Creedon deep with a line drive to left field in the fourth inning.
The Eagles struck again with LaRovere’s towering home run that the wind seemed to have helped carry into the Prep bullpen.
The righthanded combo senior pitching staff that St. John’s Prep used the past four games seemed to limit Braintree’s bats again.
At least until the seventh inning.
A couple of singles and a walk allowed MacDonald to come to the plate, and his sacrifice fly to center field cut the Prep lead in half.
Braintree (19-6) came back in the eighth inning with a leadoff single by Kennedy, and after he was thrown out at second base on a bunt, O’Connell elected to run senior Steven Whalen for senior Sean Casey at first base.
Prep’s Nolan Webb got the next batter to fly out, but with Joe Vannelli at the plate, Whalen stole second and Vannelli drove him in on the next pitch with a double to left.
Casey Bussone took over on the mound and got out of the inning, but in the ninth he issued a two-out walk to MacDonald and junior Justin Files followed with a single to right to put the winning run 90 feet away.
“I went up there just trying to stay calm,” Kennedy said. “[Bussone] threw me a curveball that was breaking right down the middle, and I just took advantage of it.”
Since the baseball Super 8’s inaugural season in 2014, Braintree has appeared in all three finals, winning two of them.
Braintree ended the season winning 14 of its last 15 games.