MANCHESTER — Few things are more satisfying than winning a state championship, but one of them is claiming back-to-back titles.
That’s what the sixth-seeded White Mountains Regional baseball team did Saturday, when it beat fourth-seeded Hopkinton 7-3 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium to win the program’s second Division III championship in as many years.
White Mountains, which topped Somersworth 5-1 in last year’s Division III title game, trailed 3-1 after four innings but scored three runs in the fifth, added a run in the sixth and two unearned runs in the seventh. The Spartans returned seven starters and all but two players from last year’s team.
“It feels excellent (winning back-to-back championships),” White Mountains coach Ben Hicks said. “It’s even better.”
The Spartans (15-6) received hits from Garrett Lachance, Brody LaBounty, Tyler Hicks and Braxton Brown in their three-run fifth. Brown had the big blow, a two-run single that tied the game. A throwing error on the play allowed Hicks to score the go-ahead run.
Brown had two hits and three RBIs in the win. Hicks also had two hits in the game.
Lachance also delivered a two-out single in the sixth that dove in Connor Bosse with White Mountains’ fifth run. Hicks scored the sixth run on a wild pitch and Riley Corrigan’s double drove in Brown to make it 7-3.
Junior Sam Crawford, who was the winning pitcher in each of Hopkinton’s first three tournament games, went the distance in the loss. Four of the runs he allowed were unearned. Crawford pitched a complete game, struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter when Hopkinton beat White Mountains 2-0 in Cooperstown, N.Y., during the regular season.
“I don’t think he was as good as he has been, but I’m proud of him,” Hopkinton coach Dave Chase said. “I thought he competed. He worked hard.”
Hopkinton scored a run in each of the first three innings. The run in the second and the one in the third were both unearned. Crawford, Caleb Yianakopolos, and Sam Rawson each had two hits for the Hawks (16-5).
Yianakopolos singled and scored on an infield groundout in the first, Rawson scored on an infield error in the second and Crawford made it 3-1 when he raced home on a passed ball in the third.
Griffin Crane replaced Braxton Brown on the mound for White Mountains after three innings and earned the win. Brown allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits, struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.
Crane tossed four scoreless innings. He surrendered three hits, but didn’t pitch to more than three batters in any inning. Crane, who also pitched in last year’s championship game, struck out five of the last six hitters he faced.
“Winning is always sweet, no doubt about it,” Crane said. “Having been here before, the pressure was not an issue for me.”