Connecticut North MSBL, 35+ Division
Hebron Hops 9, Portland Pirates 4 (Game two in best-of-three series sweep)
The 35+ CNMSBL Hebron Hops entered the 2022 season with the most uncertainty in their organization’s history. Their well-liked manager, and state corn hole champ, Todd Johnson had stepped down from leading the team to seven consecutive state titles. Their average age was now at 43-years-old and father time was knocking on the door. Plus, they then lost two key offensive pieces (top HR & top RBI guys) in their lineup, with greener grass being the notion. New coach Chase Solarz, a mastermind high school baseball coach in his own right, was now needing to pick up the pieces as the question marks had surfaced.
Fortunately for Chase and the Hops, the 2022 season concluded in the same manner it had the previous seven seasons, and that being with their eighth consecutive state championship.
In a rare feat of “Quatro Crown” accomplishment, Bill Eller put the Hops on his back and led the league in hits, doubles, wins, and Ks (on the mound)!
The Hops got solid contributions the entire season from all 17 on the roster and saw seven players reach a .400+ batting average for the regular season, with a tip of the cap to both Johnny Sanzo and Steven Gerwick for playing in all 22 Hops games in 2022!
The pitching staff of Eller (8-0 / 1.41 era), Chase Solarz (3-0/ 1.67 era), and Teddy Roback (5-0 workhorse) anchored the Hops regular season and provided consistency on the mound which translated to the field and their defense, where the Hops had a league-leading fielding percentage.
The 2022 post-season championship series would see the Hops square off with the Portland Pirates for the third consecutive year. The Pirates made several key off-season moves to bolster their roster. These moves did pay some dividends as they finished 17-5 during the regular season, with the Hops finishing the regular season at 19-3. Unfortunately, the depth and firepower from the Hops proved to be too much to overcome as they won two games to zero in the best of three championship series (13-2 & 9-4) which was held at RHAM high school in Hebron CT.
The final championship series saw both Solarz and Roback get wins on the mound with gutsy performances during some heated play. Offensively, the Hops post-season got major boosts and contributions from new acquisitions Alex Narus (.538 avg/9 rbis post-season) and Paul Caccavale (7 rbis/timely hitting).
Veterans like Yani Perlik (.538/7 rbis in the post-season), Eller (.600avg/8 rbis) , Sanzo (.461avg), and Lee McPeck (post-season leading .666 avg / 6 rbis) would ensure the 2022 championship would stay in Hebron CT.
With order being re-stored and the smoke having cleared, the final tally for the 2022 Hebron Hops was 23-3. Number nine is on the horizon…stay tuned!