There are thousands of varsity high school baseball players across Massachusetts who never get to play in a state game.
However, a third of Abington’s lineup will be playing in their second state title game in three years.
“It’s awesome,” said junior pitcher Stephen Madden. “After my freshman year I didn’t know if we’d ever get another shot.”
Madden, fellow junior Henry Rogers, and senior captain Spencer Merrick each were on the field at Springfield College two years ago when the Green Wave lost to Hopkins Academy, 3-0.
They’re hoping to end the season better this time around when they play #2 Seekonk in the MIAA Div. 4 finals. The game is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m. at Polar Park in Worcester, home of the Woo Sox.
“If we win it will be the best feeling in the world,” said Madden.
The team looking back at Abington across the field may seem familiar. Seekonk has won with strong starting pitching, excellent defense, and a lineup of scrappy hitters. Seekonk also lost in the state title game last year.
The top starters for both teams will be available for duty Sunday — Jon Sellon and Madden for Abington; Jaden Arruda and Tyler Kropis for Seekonk.
Head Coach Steve Perakslis said the Green Wave can’t afford another slow start like they’ve experienced in the playoffs. In its quarterfinal game, it was a 10-run 6th inning that put the game away. In the semifinals, Abington didn’t score until the 14th inning.
“We’ve got to make sure we put on quality at-bats and not let their pitchers, who are very good, get quick innings,” he said. “We want to build up their pitch count and when we do get men on base, we need to execute and get them in.”
Rogers, who pitched seven innings in the state semfinal game, said one lesson from the 2021 title game he’s preaching to the team is to come out ready to play.
“We came out way too flat. We weren’t ready to play. We were just kinda sluggish,” he said. “We’ve got to be ready to go right from the start. We can’t slack.”
Sunday’s game is the last in an Abington uniform for Merrick, a three-year starter, and the team’s only senior. He’s extended his Green Wave career as long as possible, having received his diploma more than two weeks ago.
“It’s definitely a little sentimental,” Merrick said after his final practice on the Tom Graham Diamond. “Hopefully it will end on a high note.”
Merrick feels the team’s playoff runs over the past three years (they lost in the state semis in 2022) has given players crucial experience.
“We know how to compete against anybody,” said Merrick, who caught all 14 innings of the semifinal win. “We did it last game obviously.”
The Green Wave will be playing Sunday in Polar Park, which was named the nation’s s best AAA ballbark in 2022.
“I tell them not to make it any bigger than it is. The field is still 90 feet down the base path, 60 feet 6 inches from home plate. Don’t get psyched out by it,” Perakslis said. “I want them to enjoy it. It’s a very nice field they’re going to be playing on. This is going to be a memory that sticks with them the rest of their life.”