Hammond baseball didn’t get a proper chance to defend its state championship last season because of COVID-19.
The Skyhawks and the rest of spring sports across the country were cut short because of the pandemic.
A year later, the Skyhawks were back on top of SCISA 3A after defeating Cardinal Newman, 8-2, on Tuesday to sweep the best-of-three championship series.
“They never had a chance to learn how to have the bulls-eye on their back for the whole season,” Hammond coach Chris Braciszewski said. “We were playing well last year before our season was shut down and we lost our season. This year, I had to teach them, you have to go get it in 2021. It was tough for them; they had to learn. We went through some ups and downs and roller coasters. But we started playing well right at the right time in the playoffs. They came through, and I am so proud of them.”
Hammond lost two of its last four games before the playoffs but went 5-0 in the postseason to win the school’s sixth championship. It is the second title under Braciszewski, who joined the Skyhawks staff in 2016 and was named head coach in 2018. Many of the seniors on this year’s team were on Braciszewski’s junior varsity team his first season.
Braciszewski was a little emotional talking about his seniors and paused for a moment, putting his head down on the clipboard in the dugout right before the final out of the game.
“I’m really emotional right now and love all those guys to death,” Braciszewski said.
After winning a thriller 9-8 in the opener on Monday, Hammond didn’t take long to take control of the game. The Skyhawks scored four in the top of the first, two coming on Grant Dorsey’s two-run single.
Hammond added three more in the second on a Cardinals’ error when they misplayed a ball in the outfield to lead 7-0.
Cardinal Newman got within 7-2 in the third on Matthew Haffner RBI and Luke Robinson sacrifice fly. But Hammond starter and LSU commit Tucker Toman settled down and took command on the mound.
Toman, who walked in seven of his at-bats at the plate, pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out six.
“I didn’t have any doubt that we were going to lose today,” Toman said. “I believe in this team. Coach Brew puts it in ourselves. We have been through ups and downs this season and really just came together the past couple weeks and it has been fun.”
WP: Tucker Toman. LP: Sam Corbett. Leading hitters: Grant Dorsey 1 for 2 3 RBI; Jett Seawell 2 for 3 RBI. CN: Austin Laughlin 2 for 3; Matthew Haffner 1 for 3 RBI.