My Pitch

Hawks rolling into second half

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The Bishop Hendricken baseball team will win its first state championship since 2016 this spring.

I would say that this is a bold prediction, but considering how dominant the Hawks have been to this point this spring, it really is far from it.

The Hawks toppled Cranston West 12-2 on the road last week in a shortened five-inning affair. Hendricken’s bats exploded for 11 runs across a two-inning span, and lefty ace Randy Reyes was sharp on the mound once again. The Hawks played solid defense the coaching staff made the appropriate roster moves and decisions, it was just a lopsided win from top to bottom.

Now at a perfect 11-0, the Hawks have emerged as not only the favorites to win the state title, but are one or two dominant wins away from being locks to claim their 22nd overall championship.

To this point, only three of these games have been competitive. If you ask coach Ed Holloway, he would be the typical modest coach that says something to the effect of, “Every game is tough and every game is close,” but let’s face facts here … outside of three games, Hendricken has pretty much been untested.

West battled to a 7-6 loss recently, but the Hawks were off and committed an uncharacteristic four errors in the field. The other two close ones were 4-2 and 2-0 Hendricken wins over East Providence. In case you did not know … West currently sits in second place at 7-5 while the Townies hold third with a 6-5-1 record. Point being, to even have a chance to beat Hendricken, you have to be a playoff team that crosses paths on a day that the Hawks are off … that was the case in the first West matchup, but even still, the Falcons came up short.

When I say that the Hawks are untested this year, I mean it in a good way. Usually when teams are untested, we see that as a vulnerability considering that many of these front-running teams don’t know what it like to be punched in the mouth. This Hendricken team does not appear to be in that group though … they are genuinely that dominant this year and I have a very hard time seeing a team topping them in a best-of-three series.

Let’s dive into what makes this Hendricken team special.

First off, this team can hit … I mean, it can really, really hit.

It doesn’t matter if it’s for contact, power, bunting, or just simply putting the ball in play, this team is extremely difficult to pitch against.

Whether it is guys at the top of the order like UMass-commit Kevin Gower, or Maryland-bound Tucker Flint. Or say guys in the middle of the order like St. Anslem-commit Will Panarello or future Merrimack infielder Braydon Dolbashian. There is also Fairfield-commit Matt Venuto in the back half of the lineup, along with Farleigh Dickinson-bound David Bordieri.

I’m sure that you noticed that every one of these players I mentioned will be playing collegiately, and I did that on purpose to fully hammer the point home that this team is loaded. I didn’t even mention the handful of other big bats in the lineup, but I would need to write a second column to touch on everyone.

My overall point being, from an offensive standpoint, this is essentially a college team. Considering the amount of recruits, me saying that isn’t far fetched at all.

Next up, the Hawks can pitch. Randy Reyes has been a stud on the hill for them, and is a legitimate No. 1 ace this year. He will be attending Central Connecticut State next spring, and is just another college-level player on this club. There is also Hartford-commit Kyle Marrapese, another big lefty arm that has been a staple in the Hawks rotation this year. Just like the offense, the Hawks have a college-level staff, and to go through each one would require a lot more space on the page.

Then beyond that, the Hawks are fundamentally sound on the field. Outside of that one sloppy game against West, the Hawks have been rock solid defensively, and will rarely give teams a fourth out.

Further beyond that, the Hawks roster is among the most experienced in the league with a whopping 16 seniors on board. There will be no surprises this spring, the Hawks will not be caught off guard at any point.

Even further beyond that, Holloway is one of the best coaches in RI baseball history. Like his senior core, he has seen it all, done it all, and will head into this year’s postseason at the top of the list.

Hendricken is essentially playing with a college lineup, and that is why the Hawks have gotten off to this ridiculous 11-0 start, and will absolutely win the state championship. Will they go undefeated the rest of the way? I would say no, at some point a team has to break through. But could they? Definitely.

Usually when someone crowns a team the champion midway through the season, we call that a hot take or premature. When reflecting on the insane amount of talent and experience on this Hendricken roster, I struggle to see it ending any other way.

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