WORCESTER — The Archbishop Williams baseball team finished 3-7 in the Catholic Central Large. At 11-9 overall, the Bishops were the 12th seed in the Division 4 South tournament.
But in the tourney, the Bishops started to believe.
And in Saturday’s state final at Holy Cross, Archbishop Williams produced its third thrilling extra-inning win of the postseason, storming back for a 4-3 victory over Oxford on a hard-hit RBI single to left by David Ryan, a sophomore center fielder from Quincy who had delivered the game-tying, two-out RBI hit in the seventh.
“I went over to coach [James Dolan] and he said, ‘Just don’t think about the moment,’ ” said Ryan, who finished with three RBIs.
“Knowing he had trust in me gave me the boost to do it. It’s crazy. This is the best feeling ever.”
Ryan’s heroics lifted the Archies (18-9), who lost last year’s final, 5-3, to St. Mary’s of Westfield, to the program’s first state championship since 1995. Senior Sam Hamer (Pembroke) earned the victory with four innings of one-run relief, fanning three on 44 pitches.
“We were a 3-7 [Catholic Central] team,” Dolan said. “But we got to the state tournament, good things started to happen. All the kids believe in each other. Couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. I love these guys.”
The Bishops struck first when Oxford catcher Michael Bordeaux, attempting to pick off Kyle Strojny at third, overthrew the play, allowing Strojny to score.
In the fifth inning, the Bishops took a 2-0 lead on a squeeze bunt by Ryan.
But in the sixth, Oxford (20-1) rallied for a 3-2 lead.
David Meech, who struck out nine over eight innings in a 145-pitch effort, ripped an RBI triple to trim the deficit to 2-1. Noah Buckley and Joel Erickson followed with run-scoring hits for a 3-2 lead.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Oxford coach Justin Richards said. “We fought and we battled. It’s a really good baseball team. We’re really proud of them.”