Steve, the head coach, and Stephen, the star catcher, shared a hug and a kiss on the cheek after Hopkinton baseball lost in a state title game.
LOWELL — Steve Simoes and Stephen Simoes had a moment in one of the dugouts at Alumni Field on Saturday.
Steve, the head coach, and Stephen, the star catcher, shared a hug and a kiss on the cheek after the Hopkinton baseball team lost, 2-0, to St. Mary’s (Lynn) in the Division 2 state championship game.
It was an emotional 23-minute rollercoaster for the two, and the rest of the Hillers.
Just before 2 p.m. on Saturday, Hopkinton had a runner on first base with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. The Hillers’ Ronnie Shamus was up to bat and Hopkinton had a chance to tie the game with one swing.
The Hopkinton sophomore worked a full count and after a lengthy at-bat, Shamus ultimately struck out to set off a string of emotions for the Hillers and Spartans.
VIDEO: The final out of the Division 3 state championship baseball game
FINAL: St. Mary’s 2, Hopkinton 0 [email protected]’s magical run to a state title game for first time since 2004 ends with loss to St. Mary’s in Div. 2 state [email protected]@MetroWestSportspic.twitter.com/2lLtjnR3XZ— Tommy Cassell (@tommycassell44)June 22, 2019
Hopkinton ended its season with a 16-6 record and as Div. 2 state runner-ups. It was the Hillers’ first trip to a state title game in 15 years as Hopkinton won a state championship in 2004.
“We just won’t be able play with some of our best friends anymore,” Stephen Simoes said after his team collected the Div. 2 state runner-up trophy. “That’s kind of hard. I won’t be able to play with my dad as head coach and my best friends dad as a coach and all these guys I grew up with. I won’t be able to see them every day. So that’s the hardest part.”
“If you look around, look at how emotional everyone is. Everyone is balling, crying,” Hopkinton senior shortstop Ben McKenzie said. “We’re a group that’s spent every single day together since April. It’s been three months and look where we are.”
PHOTO: Hopkinton baseball seniors stand with the Division 2 state runner-up trophy
The Division 2 state runner-ups for [email protected]@HillerAthleticspic.twitter.com/xt1rNQ9j94— Tommy Cassell (@tommycassell44)June 22, 2019
Where the Hillers were on Saturday was in Lowell with a shot at winning a Div. 2 state title.
Unfortunately for the Hillers, they ran into the right arm of St. Mary’s senior Bobby Alcock.
The hard-throwing right-hander allowed just one hit and walked two batters while striking out seven – with the final being Shamus – to secure the victory for St. Mary’s.
Four times this season the Hillers scored less than four runs in a game. Three of those occasions came in losses and one of them was a 1-0 victory over Dover-Sherborn on the first day of June. The zero runs on Saturday were a first for the Hillers.
“If you told me we’d give up two runs, I would’ve never had fathomed that this team would lose because we swing it,” the Hopkinton head coach said. “But that’s baseball.”
The brand of baseball – when it came to baserunning – wasn’t pretty for both the Hillers and Spartans.
VIDEO: Hopkinton baseball gets out of a jam with a tag out on defense
Strange first 3 innings as Hopkinton runs into 2 outs & St. Mary’s (Lynn) runs into 3. Here’s latest blunder on bases as St. Mary’s tries suicide squeeze bunt. Hopkinton [email protected]_simoes with the toss to Ronnie Shamus for the tag [email protected]@HillerBaseballpic.twitter.com/7HjvufRPgi— Tommy Cassell (@tommycassell44)June 22, 2019
The latter ran into five outs on the base paths while the former had three baserunning miscues. Those three errors on the bases were a big reason why the Hillers left Lowell disappointed.
The first blunder occurred in the top of the second inning. With a runner on second base and one out, a groundout to shortstop left the Hopkinton baserunner in no-man’s land before a rundown and tag out ended the Hillers’ threat.
An inning later, a leadoff single for the Hillers and a sacrifice bunt put a runner on second, again, with one out. But a poor read on a ball in the dirt and an attempted steal at third base led to another out and another wasted opportunity for Hopkinton.
Lastly, following a one-out walk in the top of the sixth, a Hopkinton baserunner was picked off of first base before an Alcock strikeout ended the frame.
“It just exposed some nerves and kids wanting to make things happen and your emotions getting the better of your brain,” Steve Simoes said. “But that’s part of being in high school. They don’t get paid to play. They tried to be aggressive and we made some mistakes. But you know what, all year those things helped us and we ran into a dynamic arm.”
VIDEO: The future and present of Hopkinton High baseball
What I enjoy most about playoff games is it brings out the whole community of both schools. Pictured here at the Division 2 state championship game is the future and the present of Hopkinton High [email protected]@[email protected]/6BoQsqZcXd— Tommy Cassell (@tommycassell44)June 22, 2019
The duo of Stephen Simoes and McKenzie – both Bowdoin College bound and Daily News All-Stars – shared an interesting dynamic with their father’s this season.
Along with the Simoes father-son combo, McKenzie’s father, Brent, was an assistant coach on the Hopkinton staff this season.
This spring marked a special time for the Simoes'.
“For me it was all about him,” the father and coach said. “I wanted to make his experience good and not detract from it at all because I know I can be a little tough on him at times. I couldn’t be more proud of how he led and how he did physically and in terms of leadership.”
“He’s my life coach as well as my baseball coach,” the son and player said. “So it’s great to have him side-by-side at the same time.”
The Hopkinton father and son made their way over toward the fan section after meeting as a team after the game. The two talked with the elder’s high school baseball coach, Tom Marcucci, who was a legendary coach from where Steve grew up.
“He was very sick this morning and still made the trip up from Connecticut because that’s what high school sports are about,” Steve said of Marcucci. “He’s a best friend for life and I’m hoping I’ll be traveling out of state to see these guys do special things down the road.”
For this group of Hillers, it was a special season made even more exceptional by one thing: their bond. With the word “Family” being said constantly by the contingent of Hillers this season.
“We just don’t say family for saying family, we mean it,” Ben McKenzie said. “We’re close and family is actually a word for us.”
“We focused all year on their relationships and playing the right way. Winning games just kind of came with that,” Brent McKenzie said. “I think the biggest thing for us (is family is) not just something (you put) on a T-shirt.”
As the Hillers walked off of the field on Saturday at 2:22 p.m., the Hopkinton community gave a round of applause to the high school baseball team.
A reminder of what Hopkinton accomplished this season despite the tough 30 minutes prior to leaving the field as a team for a final time.
VIDEO: The Hopkinton community cheers on its baseball team after the Div. 2 state title game
The Hopkinton community cheers on the Hopkinton baseball team as they come off Alumni Field [email protected]’s 2-0 loss to St. Mary’s (Lynn) in the Division 2 state championship [email protected]@MetroWestSportspic.twitter.com/qikUPOxQdH— Tommy Cassell (@tommycassell44)June 22, 2019
“Just the process is what’s fun about it,” Stephen Simoes said. “The end result didn’t work out. But just glad we got to go through it every day.”
“We played as far as we could and that’s all we can ask for,” Ben McKenzie said.
Tommy Cassell is a senior multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at 508-626-4405 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @tommycassell44.