By Dakota Antelman, Managing Editor
MARLBOROUGH – Cal Ripken league baseball coach John Kirejczyk heaped praise on his now champion team.
“This is a huge moment for them,” he said in a recent interview.
Kirejczyk is the head coach for Marlborough’s 9U youth baseball team. This month, his whole squad is celebrating a major win, securing a spot in their regional postseason tournament with a state championship victory here in Massachusetts.
“This is something that’s special and hopefully something that they take with them for the rest of their lives,” Kirejczyk said.
The team has only been playing as one unit since late May, when they started practicing. Quickly, though, Marlborough’s young baseball stars rumbled into a championship matchup against Northbridge for the chance to continue their season and secure a state title.
Things started on a difficult footing as the team almost immediately fell behind 4-0. They cut the Northbridge lead in half in the second inning before then posting a five-run, two-out rally in the fourth inning to pad a 7-4 lead.
“The coaches and I reinforce in our players to always stay positive no matter the situation, look for ways to pick each other up, stay focused and have fun,” Kriejczk said. “…You could see that mentality come through against Northbridge.”
Starting pitcher Jared Curran kept things locked down on the mound as his teammate’s bats helped give Marlborough the advantage. He pitched for five innings before giving way to Quinn Torpey in the bottom of the sixth inning to close out the game.
Northbridge briefly battled back, narrowing the score to 7-6. But Torpey closed strong, forcing a two-out pop fly to the shortstop to end the game.
“The win was a total team effort, from our offensive production to our defensive focus,” Kirejczyk said. “Communication in the infield and outfield was critical.”
That team effort now has the 9U squad headed to Connecticut for their next round of action, Saturday, July 17.
Kirejczyk is hopeful that his team will continue the dominance they mustered in recent weeks.
Regardless, though, he said he’s already proud of his elementary-school-aged players’ ability to accomplish a feat few can lay claim to.
“For some of the kids, this will be their biggest sports achievement in their lives,” he said.
As Kirejczyk coaches his own son, Christopher, he added a special observation — “He’s already eclipsed my baseball career.”