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A History of Their Own

  • The Randolph boys baseball team celebrates after winning the VT Division III Boys Championship versus BFA at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on June 17, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    The Randolph boys baseball team celebrates after winning the VT Division III Boys Championship versus BFA at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on June 17, 2013.

    Valley News - Sarah Priestap

  • Randolph's pitcher, Jacob Sprague, pitches to  BFA during the VT Division III Boys Baseball Championship at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on June 17, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Randolph's pitcher, Jacob Sprague, pitches to BFA during the VT Division III Boys Baseball Championship at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on June 17, 2013.

    Valley News - Sarah Priestap

  • Randolph's head coach Mike Czak celebrates after his team pulled off a no-hitter inning against vs BFA for the VT Division III Boys Championship at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on June 17, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

    Randolph's head coach Mike Czak celebrates after his team pulled off a no-hitter inning against vs BFA for the VT Division III Boys Championship at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on June 17, 2013.

    Valley News - Sarah Priestap

  • The Randolph boys baseball team celebrates after winning the VT Division III Boys Championship versus BFA at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on June 17, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Randolph's pitcher, Jacob Sprague, pitches to  BFA during the VT Division III Boys Baseball Championship at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on June 17, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap
  • Randolph's head coach Mike Czak celebrates after his team pulled off a no-hitter inning against vs BFA for the VT Division III Boys Championship at Centennial Field in Burlington, Vt., on June 17, 2013. <br/><br/>Valley News - Sarah Priestap

It was 1989, and the last time Randolph played for a Vermont state baseball title. While the Ghosts were in Division II that year, — the last time the team reached the semifinals — there were many other similarities to this year’s Division III squad:

■ In 1989, Randolph completed a 13-3 regular season … just like this year.

■ In 1989, the Ghosts came in ranked No. 2 in the pairings chart … just like this year.

■ And most importantly, in 1989, the Ghosts won the state title … just like this year.

Coach Mike Czok knows all about his team’s history. Before taking the field for the state title game against BFA-Fairfax on Monday, he reminded his squad how just three years ago the Bullets had booted them from the playoffs by a 14-1 count.

The Ghosts then went out and made a little history of their own, knocking off the No.-1-ranked and undefeated Bullets, 3-2, to win their first baseball title in 24 years.

“Us seniors have been through a lot, and Coach reminded us about it,” said pitcher Jacob Sprague. “Through it all, we never lost confidence in each other.”

The Ghosts opened the season with a 2-1 win over South Royalton. It was, in and of itself, a milestone victory because it was the only loss the Royals suffered this year en route to the Vermont D-IV title.

That got Randolph off and running to a 7-0 start. In the process, the Ghosts knocked off five D-II schools while pounding out a 70-13 edge in runs scored.

They did it with timely hitting rather than power. They totaled 166 base hits during the season, including 34 doubles. Interestingly, the team only hit one home run all year.

Meanwhile, Jacob Sprague had a team-leading 28 hits and eight doubles while driving in 17 runs with a .418 average. Zach LaPerle led the team in batting average with .473 while rapping out 26 hits. Ross Caswell drove in a team-high 20 runs to go along with a .362 batting average.

There was a small bump in the road with back-to-back losses to Lamoille and a one-run loss to Oxbow in a span of 11 days. But that was to be the last blemish on the Randolph scoresheet. From that point on, the Ghosts closed the regular season on a five-game winning streak to set up their playoff run.

The opening round was a quick 12-2 win over No. 15 Winooski, avenging last year’s opening-round loss to the Spartans. That was followed by a tight 2-0 win over No. 7 Williamstown in the quarterfinals, as Sprague threw a five-hit shutout.

In the semis, the Randolph bats roared to life again, banging out 12 hits in walloping No. 3 Poultney, 14-4.

The victory sent Randolph to a place that had been on the team’s collective minds — and stitched into the back of their baseball caps — all season: CENTENNIAL, the field in Burlington where the state championship would be played.

“Our goal is to win a state title; that’s where you win it,” said Czok of the lettering. “It reminds us every day what we’re after.”

But be careful for what you wish, because waiting in the other bracket was the top-seeded and 15-0 BFA-Fairfax Bullets, the 2011 state champs and the team that handed the Ghosts that one-sided loss back in 2010.

The Ghosts were not intimidated. Pumped up by Czok’s pre-game history lesson, Randolph overcame a 2-0 deficit to score three times in the fifth inning and grab the title. Sprague threw a complete-game three-hitter, while junior catcher Caswell had two RBIs and senior LaPerle drove in the winning run.

“I can’t even begin to say what this means to the school, the town and me personally,” said a jubilant Czok after the victory. “I loved being with these guys every day. I wish we could get up and do it again tomorrow.”