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Four former Hanover High baseball standouts starring on college diamonds

CHRIS AMATE
CHRIS AMATE

Hanover grads still sharp on diamond

Jon Spitz, David Gibson, Jack Hocking, and Chris Amate starred on the baseball diamond at Hanover High for coach Fran Coyle, in addition to suiting up for the town’s American Legion team.

All four are now playing important roles for their respective college programs.

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Spitz, a junior shortstop at Wentworth Institute of Technology, is hitting .368 for a squad off to an 8-2 start. His 2010 classmate and close friend, Gibson had a 3.87 earned run average and a save as the closer for defending New England Division 2 champion Southern New Hampshire University (14-3).

Hocking and Amate, members of Hanover’s class of 2008, are playing, respectively, for Johnson & Wales University (6-2) and American International College (6-4).

Hocking, a junior who previously attended Wheaton College, was hitting .321 and playing a solid second base, while Amate, a senior, has made the transition from shortstop to center field for the Yellow Jackets.

Through 10 games, Spitz had been at bat 38 times, scored 14 runs, stolen four bases in as many attempts, and had not struck out.

“That’s not a surprise,’’ said Wentworth coach Steve Studley, a Marshfield native who has known Coyle for many years. “Jon doesn’t swing and miss very often, and he’s tremendous defensively. He’s probably the best all-around player on our team, and he’s done a great job replacing last year’s leadoff hitter, Alex Wong, who is injured.’’

Spitz, whose father, Paul, is a Wentworth graduate, had an unexpected reunion when the Leopards started their Florida swing earlier this month.

“On our first day we went right to the grocery store and I saw Coach Coyle there. We talked a little bit and it was great to see him,’’ said Spitz. “He was an old-school kind of coach who taught you to never take a second off on the field, and to approach the game the right way.’’

Coyle, who also served as Hanover’s athletic director, retired last year after 20 successful seasons as baseball coach.

Spitz, a three-sport captain in high school, and Gibson, the baseball team’s MVP his senior year, still keep in touch.

“We’re pretty busy during the season but we text one another,’’ said Spitz.

Hocking, who took classes at Massasoit Community College after leaving Wheaton, was anxious to return to the diamond. He’s found his niche at Johnson & Wales, between his cooking gigs at Providence area restaurants, including the Capital Grille, and the resurrection of his college baseball career.

“My parents both worked, so I used to make lunch for my siblings and kind of enjoyed it,’’ said Hocking, a quarterback in high school whose rifle arm and leadership qualities are appreciated by his college coach, John LaRose.

“Jack has great baseball instincts,’’ LaRose said of the former Patriot League three-sport all-star. “He’s been a starter since day one here and a popular teammate.’’

Gibson, who played last summer for the Danbury Westerners of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, was described as a tireless worker by Southern New Hampshire coach Scott Loiseau.

“He has a really live arm, three pitches he can count on, and I’ve liked his makeup since I saw him pitch in the Bay State Games,’’ said Loiseau, who played college ball with one of Gibson’s cousins, Mal Higgins of Quincy, at Franklin Pierce.

Gibson said the former teammates hang out together when they are home, adding, “It’s fun to play against Chris in our Northeast-10 Conference games.’’

Amate, a transfer from Central Connecticut State who played for the Hanover American Legion Post 149’s 2008 state championship team with Hocking and Gibson, was 5-for-5 in stolen bases and had started in AIC’s first 10 games for coach Nick Callini.

“Chris adds athleticism to our outfield, and he can bat leadoff, 3-hole, or 5-hole as we’ve put different lineups together,’’said Callini. “He’s an energetic, scrappy player who came out of a strong high school program.’’

Amate recalled his only college at-bat against Gibson.

“It was my sophomore year. I was batting third and had been hot all day and he struck me out to get out of a jam,’’ said Amate, who played in the Cranberry League last summer with Hocking for the Rockland Cardinals and with Spitz three years ago with the South Shore Warriors.

“Playing with those guys has been special,’’ said Amate, “and I always look up their stats to see how they’re doing.’’

Weymouth’s Collins is an All-American

Babson College senior center Sarah Collins has been named a first-team All-American in Division 3 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and D3hoops.com.

The former Weymouth High star led the Beavers to a 26-3 record and its fourth consecutive undefeated season in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.

The 6-foot-2 Collins poured in a career-high 32 points in the conference title game victory over Wellesley.

She had 18 points, 14 rebounds, and eight blocked shots against SUNY New Paltz in the opening round of the NCAA Division 3 tournament, and in her final game for the Wellesley school, a loss to Tufts, she delivered 20 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks.

Collins set single-season program records for rebounds and blocked shots, and is Babson’s career leader in field goal percentage, rebounds, and blocks.

Here and there

Dartmouth College senior defenseman Mike Keenan of Weymouth, a two-year captain, has signed an amateur tryout contract with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. A Globe Dream Team member while playing for Catholic Memorial School, Keenan had career highs in goals (5), assists (11), and points (16) this winter, and was a first-team Ivy League selection. . . Saint Michael’s College senior Alex Dalton of Easton (Oliver Ames High) was 4-2 at No. 2 and 3 singles and 3-2 at No.1 and 2 doubles for the women’s tennis squad. Named to the Northeast-10 Conference weekly honor roll, she was 5-0 in conference matches prior to Friday’s rescheduled home match against Merrimack.

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