O’Brien leads East Lyme to ECC baseball title with 9-3 win over top-seeded Woodstock
Norwich — This is what winning looks like: The coach and winning pitcher grinning their way through the on-camera postgame interview, only to be unsuspectingly doused with the water bucket.
Oh, but it hurt so good for drenched Gavin O’Brien (the winning pitcher) and his coach, Jack Biggs, who authored the sixth Eastern Connecticut Conference baseball tournament title for East Lyme High, a 9-3 win over Woodstock Academy on Friday night at Dodd Stadium.
“It means a lot,” O’Brien said. “Three years in the making. We’ve been close and it’s good to get one. But the job’s not finished.”
Biggs: “It’s special to be able to finish off this week with a championship. We were able to keep our focus. It means a lot to our program, our athletic department and the people who support us.”
O’Brien went six innings and allowed seven hits and one run. His job was made easier with East Lyme’s six-run first inning, highlighted by Owen Elmer’s three-run triple and run-scoring hits from Quinn Killoy and Blake Biggs.
“I was just trying to get them to hit the ball and keep my pitch count down,” O’Brien said. “I didn’t want to be at 110 pitches in the fourth inning.”
O’Brien, who hit what ended up being a single in the first inning that bounced off the warning track, cleared the fence and then some in the fourth with a no-doubter. O’Brien hit several deep fly balls to no avail earlier this season at spacious Bridebrook Park.
“That one might have even been out of Bridebrook,” O’Brien said with a wry grin.
“We told the guys before the game, ‘look, nobody’s going to hit it out of here, think gap to gap.’” Biggs said. “Leave it to Gavin to prove me wrong. If he hit that ball at (the East Lyme High field), it might have bounced off the (Flanders) Fish Market.”
Liam Cochrane had three hits and an RBI for the Vikings (20-3), who open Class L state tournament play Tuesday against Ellis Tech. Biggs coached two teams in 2015 and 2016 that both came agonizingly close to winning the state title. Is this the year?
“We have a lot of talent,” O’Brien said. “We have a lot of juniors and seniors with experience. There’s no limit to what this team can do if we play the way we’re capable.”