Before the 2011 season began for the Medfield High School baseball team, head coach Matt Marenghi said the club's goals were to “play good baseball and make the state tournament.”
The Warriors achieved both those regular season goals but in the process also achieved something it hasn’t done in 14 seasons – win the Tri-Valley League.
For the first time in four seasons, there is a new TVL champion and that team is Medfield.
The Warriors won their first TVL title since 1997 on May 20, when they defeated Ashland, 11-1 at Curt Schilling Field. The victory was the Warriors’ 14th of the season – they ended the year with 16 – in the TVL and effectively put an end to Hopkinton’s four-year reign atop the league.
“Winning the TVL is always a goal, but I don't make it a priority because if it didn't happen, I don't want it to deter from the [main] goals [of playing good baseball and make the state tournament],” Marenghi said. “I always think we have a legitimate shot to win the league, but out of the respect I have for the other teams in the league, it isn't something I would ever feel guaranteed of. Hopkinton is such a well-coached team with such quality baseball players, any team should be proud of defeating them, regardless of what is at stake.”
Medfield won its first 13 TVL games of the season before falling to Bellingham, 7-5 on May 18. The team responded with three straight TVL victories after that loss, including a 7-2 win over defending Division III State Champion Norton on May 21.
Marenghi said the key to Medfield’s success this season has been team chemistry and the familiarity that comes with a team being together for multiple seasons.
“Truly, [the key is] how well every member of the team gets along with and pulls for each other,” Marenghi said.
In 2010, the Warriors finished the TVL season 14-7 and second in the standings behind Hopkinton. This season, Medfield ended the season with just two TVL losses (Bellingham and Norton) and a league championship to show for it. While the success this season has been much greater than last year, Marenghi said there isn’t much difference between the two teams.
“Other than the record, I can’t say all that much is different from last year’s squad,” he said. “We returned several starters from last year’s team and it was clear that they made efforts to improve their play from that season to this one.”
Those efforts in the off-season have been noticed throughout the league and have resulted in plenty of end-of-season accolades for Medfield. Starting pitcher Mike Keleher was named the Tri-Valley League’s Most Valuable Player; Jim Magrath, Beau Nixon, Will Cousins and Thomas J. Valente were named to the All-League team and Marenghi was named the league’s Coach of the Year.
Marenghi said he was proud of the team’s accomplishments and that having this team end the 14-year TVL drought has special meaning to him.
“I selfishly allude to my role as guidance counselor,” Marenghi said. “I was with Mike, Jimmy, Beau, Pat, and Gil as their middle school guidance counselor for their three years [at Blake]. In those years, I grew quite connected to the group. I could not be more proud of the young men they have become and of the way they created such a team-oriented environment and culture that will remain with the program.”
Now that Medfield has achieved its regular season goals, the focus shifts to the MIAA State Tournament. The goal in the tournament, according to Marenghi, is “to win one game at a time.”
Medfield will continue to work on its consistency heading into the postseason and “to keep doing things well and maintain efforts to get better,” Marenghi said.
As the tournament draws near, Marenghi shared what he looks forward to most this time of year.
“The atmosphere … figuratively … and breathing it in with this team,” he said.