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Hackett Catholic baseball celebrates first-ever state championship

Irish beat Cardinal Mooney, 9-2
Hackett Catholic wins first ever state baseball title
Posted at 9:45 PM, Jun 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 08:33:09-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep baseball team beat Marine City Cardinal Mooney, 9-2 on Saturday night in the Division 4 state championship.

The Irish plated two runs in the first inning on a RBI single by Notre Dame commit Stephen Kwapis and an RBI sacrifice fly from Sam Shea.

Hackett Catholic 9, Cardinal Mooney 2

Shea would pitch extremely well in the game going five-and-a-third innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs while striking out five.

And the Irish offense had his back as well, plating at least one run in each of the first four innings, including four runs in the third as the Irish cruised to the 9-2 win.

Junior Brenden Collins would come in relief to record the final five outs, allowing just one hit and zero runs to seal the victory.

77-year-old Smiley Verduzco is in his first season as Hackett head baseball coach next to his son, Steve and grandson, Nick.

"Oh I'll take that to my grave, are you kidding me?" Smiley chuckled, "I'll be up there in heaven with the trophy still celebrating because it's a very special time."

Verduzco credits the seniors for the success of the program all season long.

"When you have four seniors like this and the seniors last year that didn't get to play, they built the strong beautiful pillars," he added.

Hackett Catholic celebrates state title

And sophomore shortstop, Nick Verduzco says the state championship didn't always look possible this season.

"We're never going to forget this, we're going to remember the early days, first games of the year, we lost big, didn't think we weren't playing that well, it didn't matter. We just kept rallying and persevering, there were obstacles the whole way, it didn't matter, we loved each other and kept playing for each other, we were going to win it the whole time."

Notre Dame commit Stephen Kwapis says his high school dream is now fulfilled.

"It's unreal," Kwapis said, "four years ago coming into high school, this was my main goal, to win a high school baseball state championship and for it to come true, it's unreal."