With the opportunity to claim its first Division 1 North title in nine seasons within reach last Sunday, the Andover High baseball team would not be denied.
Gabriel Hernandez lashed a triple to right-center field to give his squad the lead, and the Golden Warriors locked down their first sectional title since 2005 with a 6-3 victory over Chelmsford in the Division 1 North title game at Fraser Field in Lynn.
The reward: A trip to the Division 1 state semifinal.
“As a coach, this puts me in some pretty elite company at the school with Ken Maglio and Dave Bettencourt,” Warrior head coach Dan Grams said. “For the kids, we told them if they win a banner, it’s something nobody can take away from them. It’s something they can show their kids someday and talk about.”
As has been the case just about every time Andover stepped on the field this postseason — which included a victory over top-seeded Peabody — the Warriors found themselves in a dogfight on Sunday.
They faced deficits of 1-0 and 3-2 before pulling even on Alex Brickman’s sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Andover took over in the bottom of the sixth, a frame that started pretty innocently when E.J. Perry IV backed into a soft curveball, taking it off his backside. Perry moved up on a John Cox sacrifice and aggressively took third on a pitch that bounced in the dirt.
Enter shortstop Gabriel Hernandez, who lashed a triple to right-center.
“The infield was in, and I was looking to lift something over their heads,” Hernandez said.“The adrenaline was up right there in that spot. Big situation, and I was pumped up. And this season, I guess I’ve stepped up.”
It was a big hit that Grams had a feeling about — even before the game.