Defending TC champion Tigers title defense halted

Westfield Tech senior Andy Daniels, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring in the MVADA Small School Vocational Baseball Tournament championship against McCann Tech at Joe Wolfe Stadium in North Adams in 2018. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – The defending Tri County League champion Westfield Technical Academy Tigers were set to defend their league title until an unlikely opponent stepped in their path – COVID-19.
“If this was the year we were going to (win a Western Mass championship), maybe this was the year we were going to do something special,” said Westfield Technical Academy High School baseball coach Bob Eak, whose Tigers a year ago finished the season 14-7 overall, 6-2 Tri County League.
Although Westfield Tech lost to Old Colony in the small schools/vocational tournament a year ago, they managed to defeat the McCann Tech Hornets on the road in the opening round of the Western Mass tournament, the first win against McCann in Eak’s three-year high school coaching career. The Tigers tournament run ended in the quarterfinals at Granby.
Westfield Tech’s players worked hard this offseason. The reigning league champs appeared poised to defend their league title.
“We aren’t really allowed to have much contact with players in the offseason, but our players seemed pretty focused and ready to get going,” coach Eak said.
Senior captains Connor Medieros (catcher) and Matt Beattie (first baseman) were expected to return alongside fellow senior returnees Darryl Reopel (outfielder), Mike Durkee (OF) and Mateo Sanchez (infielder), forming a solid nucleus to build upon.
Those players and James McDonald, Nick Regnier, and Dave Romani, who each spent three years in the team’s baseball program will have their seasons cut well short, now that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association has confirmed the cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season.
The decision came on the heels of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s recent announcement to cancel the remainder of the school year to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“They’re disappointed about not being able to play,” coach Eak said, “especially the seniors. …We thought we had a good shot at contending at Western Mass.”
In addition to losing out on their final sports seasons, the vast majority of seniors are also missing out on their shop and co-operative work programs.
“I told each of them how bad I feel for them,” said Eak, who noted that the MIAA has since relaxed the guidelines for communication between coaches and players.
Once “stay-at-home” orders are lifted and social distancing guidelines have been relaxed, Eak said he will hold a cookout for the baseball team.
Said Eak: “We plan to go out on a good note.”

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