Ware baseball team preparing for state tournament after winning class title

The team is gearing up for its state tournament game this weekend, just days after winning its first-class title in 13 seasons.
Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 1:20 PM EDT
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WARE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Ware Junior-Senior High School baseball team is gearing up for its state tournament game this weekend, just days after winning its first-class title in 13 seasons.

For the team, it has been a season to remember and it got even better earlier this week with the program winning its first-ever Division IV Class D title. It was a win Scott Slattery called one of the best wins of his coaching career.

“This team was so gritty. To beat an 18-0 team, really on a home field for them, was so exciting for everyone…the kids, our town, our fans, our school. It was a really big win,” Slattery explained.

Ware had to go through undefeated Pioneer Valley Regional School on Tuesday to clinch the championship. The game was tied at 1-1 until the tenth inning when Ware scored two runs to take the lead. Junior pitcher John Mumper pitched the whole game and threw 111 pitches and had some great defense behind him. At one point in that inning, Slattery was going to talk to his pitcher, but Mumper told him to get back into the dugout, which ended up being a turning point.

“When he came out, I was a little bit annoyed, but I was like ‘Come on, let’s get it over with.’ I knew there was two outs. ‘Just let me get this one out’ and we did,” Mumper added.

Mumper’s catcher, Dylan Sutkaitis, made a big contribution in that tenth inning by knocking in the second run as insurance.

“I knew a curveball was coming and (the pitcher) hung it at the top of the zone. I pushed it through the left side of the infield and once I rounded first base, I knew that we got that insurance run,” Sutkaitis said.

“Pioneer, in the bottom of the tenth, their lead off guy got on, so that extra run took the bunt away from them. Otherwise, (the batter) would have bunted him to second and they would have been in a situation to tie the game up,” Slattery explained.

With the victory, Ware had its first-class title of any kind since 2010. The team is now 17-4 and is in the hunt for the program’s first state championship since 1981. While there is still business to take care of in the state tournament, the players are satisfied with what they accomplished.

“Obviously, we’d like to go deep in the tournament, but I think everyone will look back on this season as a success no matter what. No one expected us to be good. No one expected us to go even .500,” Mumper explained. “We have really great fans here. I love this school. They love to come out and support us. I think they love us a lot, so getting the energy from them is always a great feeling,” Sutkaitis noted.

The win also helped Ware clinch a first-round bye in the Division IV state tournament. The team will next play Greenfield at Memorial Field at 7 p.m. Sunday.