The top prep rivalry in the New Haven area - Hamden Hall vs. Hopkins, the Hornets against the Hilltoppers - renewed the battle this week in the Fairchester baseball and lacrosse tournaments. When the dust had settled, each school came away with a win, allowing students, fans, and alums of both schools to claim bragging rights.
On Monday, the baseball team traveled crosstown to face the Hop for the third time this spring. A strong Hopkins squad had won the first game handily, and then bounced back from a 5 run early deficit in the rematch to sweep the series. However, the Hornets were still optimistic about their chances if they could play their 'A' game for an entire 7 innings. Unfortunately, after 6 1/2 near perfect innings, they fell short. Over six frames the teams were deadlocked and scoreless. In the top of the seventh, Hamden Hall broke the 0-0 tie on an RBI single by junior Billy Gioulos to take a 1-0 lead. Ryan Doherty threw a gem of a game and had shut out the Hop over six, but the team ran out of luck. Where the wind had blown in all game, a sudden shift helped Hopkins to a lead off double in the bottom of the 7th. Doherty walked the next batter and Hopkins pulled off a double steal. After an intentional walk to load the bases and create a force play situation, Jack DiMatteo, who had come on in relief, caught the runner off third base to force a run down. But the Hornets could not make the put out at the plate and the score was tied. A bloop single followed, plating the winning run and sending the Hornets home heartbroken. The team will now wait to hear if they receive a bid to next week’s New England tournament. High fives, nevertheless, to Coach Fontana and the team for such a great effort.
The Hornets Lacrosse team was able to exact revenge on Wednesday afternoon at home, emerging with a solid 16-10 victory. Having won the regular season crown, the Hornets were seeded #1 for the FAA tournament. They expected to face off against King School; however the Hilltoppers recorded an upset to earn the spot in the semifinal. The Hornets had topped the Hop earlier in the season, but just like the baseball game, past performances can get thrown out the window. Indeed, it was the Hilltoppers who dominated much of the first half, as the Hornets’ offense sputtered a bit, while Hopkins built an early lead. The Hornets finished the half well to knot the score at 7-7. The third quarter, however, was a completely different story as the Hornets came alive at both ends of the field. With brilliant combinations, slick passing, and deft shooting, HH outscored the Hop 7-1 in the period to take a 14-8 lead into the final frame. Arguably the turning point in the contest, however, was a superb individual effort by senior defenseman Ryan Delfini, who, while HH was a man down, knocked the ball loose in an open field check, scooped up the loose ball, and then passed off to the attack for a short handed goal! To their credit, Hopkins never caved in to the pressure and the final quarter became an edgy, defensive affair. After minimum damage from a double penalty, the Hornets worked the possession game and wore down the clock, as well as the opposition, to finish with the hard earned victory. Sophomores Alex DiVincentis and Jeff Nugent both scored five goals and Chase “Chilly” Lilly added four, while freshmen Sam Tomak and Griffin Elliott, as well as Matt Stapleton and Zach Giugno, provided plenty of support. Jackson Lalonde once again helped win many key face offs. And the defensive unit of Delfini, Reese Perrone, Jared Morrissey, and especially the 8th grade ball of fury with the flaming red locks, Konye Taylor, along with Sam Jewett between the pipes, improved over the second half to effectively limit the Hilltoppers’ chances for any comeback. The Hornets will host #2 seed Rye (N.Y.) in the Final on Friday at 4:00. Congrats to the team and coaches, and thanks to the many fans who cheered the Hornets to victory through the dreary weather.