It's hard to appreciate perspective as you're living through it.
While the GNB Voc-Tech baseball team entered the season with high expectations, for those outside the clubhouse, they didn't include a state title. When the team dropped five of 10 games in the middle of the season, finishing by hoisting the first state baseball championship trophy in school history seemed a long-shot. But the Bears got hot when they needed to, the clutch hits started coming at opportune moments and the steady pitching picked things up a notch.
Here's a look back at how Voc-Tech navigated its championship season, from first pitch to final out.
GNB Voc-Tech 10, Seekonk 4
The Bears fell behind 1-0 before erupting for five runs in the second inning. Tylor Arruda pitched four innings and Tyler Horton threw the final two as Noah Rivera and Andrew Mattos each collected two hits and Rivera and Corey Viera each knocked in two runs.
Bourne 2, GNB Voc-Tech 1 (8 inn.)
The Bears suffered their first loss when Bourne capitalized on two errors that led to a pair of unearned runs. DJ Lopes was the tough-luck loser, tossing a three-hitter with six strikeouts. Cameron Massa tripled home James Estrella.
GNB Voc-Tech 9, Old Colony 2
Ben Plourde picked up his first win of the year with a complete game and Arruda blasted a grand-slam over the 350-foot sign on the left-field fence at Pope Park. Rivera finished with three hits and Andrew Vinagre added two.
GNB Voc-Tech 6, Apponequet 0
Tylor Arruda, in a preview of what he would do much of the season, gave up hits to the first three batters he faced, then allowed just one the rest of the game for his second victory. He struck out 14 in a 98-pitch complete game. Rivera, continuing his hot start, collected two hits, as did Arruda and Jared Methia, who knocked in two along with Kevin Santiago.
GNB Voc-Tech 5, Case 4 (8 inn.)
The Bears' first extra-inning game of the year ended when James Estrella doubled home Santiago. Kyle Cabral got the win in relief and Arruda belted two doubles while Vinagre added a two-run single. Estrella also came up with a big defensive play to prevent a run in the bottom of the seventh.
GNB Voc-Tech 12, Bay Path 2
The Bears opened the Rotary Cup by reaching double-digit runs for the second time in their first six games. Plourde struck out 11 while allowing just four hits and no walks for his second victory. Arruda doubled twice and added a triple for good measure, while Methia knocked in two runs.
GNB Voc-Tech 6, Upper Cape 2
Arruda struck out 13 and improved to 3-0 as the Bears won the Rotary Cup title. Methia finished 3-for-4 with an RBi and Mattos and Vinagre chipped in with two hits each. This marked the high-water point of the early going before the Bears went 5-5 over their next 10 games.
Dighton-Rehoboth 5, GNB Voc-Tech 1 (8 inn.)
Only two teams beat the Bears twice this season: Bourne and D-R, the top two teams in the South Coast Conference. The Bears' first matchup with D-R went eight innings. Rivera scored the lone run on a Mattos RBI single. DJ Lopes was once again the tough-luck loser, as he gave up just one run in the first seven innings to fall to 0-2 despite having given up just three runs in 13 innings.
GNB Voc-Tech 2, Wareham 1
Plourde joined Arruda as three-game winners as the calendar flipped to May thanks to a complete game performance where he gave up just four hits. This was another extra-inning game, ending in the bottom of the eighth when Santiago, who finished with two hits, forced home Rivera, who also had two hits, for the winning run by getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
GNB Voc-Tech 5, Case 0
One game after Plourde won his third game, Arruda one-upped him with his fourth victory, thanks to nine strikeouts and just four hits allowed in a complete-game shutout. Vinagre, Massa and Estrella had RBIs as the Bears finished their first 10 games with eight victories.
Fairhaven 1, GNB Voc-Tech 0
This is where things started to take a turn for the worse mid-season. The Blue Devils wouldn't make the tournament, but they still handed the Bears their third conference loss. Voc-Tech loaded the bases in the seventh but couldn't score. Once again, Lopes was the unlucky loser, falling to 0-3 despite giving up just one run on a suicide squeeze in the fourth inning. Patrick Dillon and Isaiah Medina kept the Bears off the scoreboard for the first time all season.
Bourne 9, GNB Voc-Tech 3
The Bears lost back-to-back games for the first time all year as the Canalmen finished off a season sweep. Estrella slapped three hits, Mattos had two and Vinagre plated two with a single. Plourde took his first loss of the year.
GNB Voc-Tech 6, Apponequet 3 (8 inn.)
The Bears improved to 2-1 in extra-inning games thanks to three runs in the top of the eighth. Rivera and Arruda both had big RBI hits in the inning, while Arruda improved to 5-0 with two inning sof relief. The win also snapped Voc-Tech's first losing streak of the season.
GNB Voc-Tech 6, Fairhaven 5
The Bears clinched a tournament berth for the fourth-straight season and ninth time in the past 10 years by getting a little revenge against the Blue Devils. Arruda improved to 6-0 with nine strikeouts in six innings. Rivera delivered the winning run in the bottom of the sixth with a double after Massa had doubled in the tying runs.
GNB Voc-Tech 2, Seekonk 1
DJ Lopes finally got his first varsity win as he scattered four hits and two walks against eight strikeouts in a complete-game victory that moved him to 1-3. Arruda continued to be a presence at the plate with an RBI single and Methia added two hits and an RBI.
Old Rochester 8, GNB Voc-Tech 7
Playing for the seventh time in 11 days, and facing the return of Old Rochester ace Sam Henrie, the Bears almost completed a comeback from down 8-3 in the bottom of the seventh, but fell one run short. Plourde dropped to 3-2 while Rivera, Arruda, Methia and Santiago all had multiple hits.
Dighton-Rehoboth 1, GNB Voc-Tech 0
The Bears ended up with their second two-game losing streak of the season while D-R completed its season sweep. This game also marked one of only two times all year the Bears were shutout. D-R won on a walk-off walk in the bottom of the seventh. Horton threw a six-hitter with three strikeouts but still fell to 0-2, while Estrella had two hits on offense.
GNB Voc-Tech 14, Wareham 2
For the first time in 12 games, the Bears scored in double figures. Arruda picked up his seventh win.
GNB Voc-Tech 4, Old Colony 3
Record: 13-6 (8 inn.)
The game was marked by an emotional moment when Estrella walked out with Scott DaSilva, father of AJ, during Senior Day introductions. The Bears improved to 3-1 in extra-inning games as Mattos delivered a walkoff single after Rivera and Arruda were walked intentionally in front of him. Lopes started and struck out 10, but still coudln't pick up the win, which went to Cabral. Viera finished 3-for-4 with two runs.
GNB Voc-Tech 4, Old Rochester 1
The Bears kept the rival Bulldogs out of the playoffs with a revenge win in both teams' season finales. The Bears finished their regular season winning three in a row thanks to Horton's second win. He struck out four and walked two in seven innings. Estrella and Arruda kncoked in runs and Mattos scored two.
State Vocational Tournament
Shawsheen Valley 4, GNB Voc-Tech 2
The Bears out-hit Shawsheen 10-8 but couldn't pull off a victory in the semifinals of State Large School Vocational Tournament. Cabral took the loss, giving up eight hits in seven innings. Arruda had three hits while Estrella and Methia each connected for two and Rivera knocked in a run.
GNB Voc-Tech 13, Bishop Feehan 4
The Bears got their postseason started right with their second-highest scoring output of the season. The story of the day was Massa, who finished 4-for-4 with three runs and three RBIs. Arruda improved to 8-0 despite giving up four runs on eight hits in five-plus innings. Estrella finished 3-for-5 with two runs, Santiago was 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI and Vinagre was 2-for-3 with a run and two RBIs. The Bears had 15 hits as a team.
GNB Voc-Tech 2, Milford 1
Lopes finally got his starring moment, throwing 118 pitches but allowing just five hits while striking out nine. The Bears had just five hits, as Arruda plated Estrella with a single down the third-base line and Methia singled home Rivera. When the game ended, Milford had the bases loaded, but Lopes came up with a strikeout.
GNB Voc-Tech 3, Hopkington 2 (9 inn.)
All those extra-inning games paid off when Arruda laced a double to right-field to score Estrella and keep the Bears' title run alive. Arruda also earned the win on the mound, pitching four-plus innings of relief to improve to 9-0. Methia had two hits and two RBIs and Estrella walked three times in this low-scoring game.
GNB Voc-Tech 5, Westwood 3
The Bears trailed twice, 1-0 and 3-1, but both times the offense rallied as Lopes got better and better on the mound as the game went on. Methia tied the game the first time with an RBI single on an 0-2 count. After Westwood re-took the lead, Arruda tripled home two runs to tie it. Estrella came up with the go-ahead RBIs, knocking in two in the bottom of the sixth. Lopes, who won just once in the regular season, had his second postseason victory.
Div. 2 State Championship
GNB Voc-Tech 6, Danvers 2
The Bears fell behind 2-0 just three batters into the game, but Arruda found his stuff on the mound and the Bears offense scored in each of the first four innings. Arruda finished the season with a perfect 10-0 record, while Methia, Massa and Mattos had RBis before Santiago came up with the dagger, a two-run single up the middle in the bottom of the fourth. If you take out the vocational tournament (which doesn't count toward Voc-Tech's official record) the Bears finished the season by winning eight-straight games to claim the first state baseball title in school history.
Follow Brendan Kurie on Twitter @BrendanKurieSCT