TEWKSBURY — On a crisp, cool fall afternoon, the bats were on fire for Tewksbury in their Fall Ball victory over Wilmington on Sunday, winning by a score of 10-4.
Despite his short stature, one bat that stood tall was sophomore catcher Mike Hill.
Hill ripped a fastball over the right field fence for a three-run home run as part of a six-run second inning.
At the crack of the bat, and as he was rounding first, Hill could hear the bench screaming with excitement as the ball went over the wall.
That was something for Hill that, even for someone who is all business on game day, made him smile as he crossed home plate to a mob of his teammates.
“It felt good; [I was] just trying to get the runners ahead, get productive at-bats,” Hill said. “Whether it’s a sacrifice fly or a base hit, just trying to move runners [on the bases].”
Hill’s moonshot caught the eye of Tewksbury coach Mike Rametta, who is really evaluating each player’s performance for the upcoming spring season.
Rametta says he really didn’t know Hill until he joined the team about halfway through the short fall season.
“He’s just a polite, hard working kid, ‘yes sir, no sir,’ very respectful,” Rametta said.
Rametta had high praise for Hill even before his big at-bat.
“He has a really good approach at the plate,” Rametta said. “I was telling (TMHS Head) Coach (Kirk) Monbleau right when he came up to the plate, this kid always makes contact, doesn’t try to get too big, always putting the ball in play.”
And boy, did Hill put the ball in play.
“I was like watch this kid, and then he hit [the home run] and I was like ‘this kid is locked in,’” said Rametta.
When Hill’s freshman baseball season was stopped due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic, he said being locked in was very difficult.
“It was frustrating, but we had to stay ready for whenever [we could] came back,” said Hill.
Hill says he was putting in extra work over the extended off-season and into the summer at the NorEasters training facility.
He says he applied what he learned over that time to this season in order to see more playing time.
“I learned a lot more about catching, staying loose, staying back on the ball [when I’m at the plate,” said Hill. “I learned a lot about myself, just trying to stay within myself.”
When Governor Baker issued guidelines on returning to play for high school sports, that was very welcoming news for Hill.
Although the environment is a little different than what he is accustomed to, Hill was just excited to get back out on the diamond.
“It’s different, we have to be responsible with masks, it’s great that we are playing, it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Hill has seen playing time not only behind the plate, but at both first and third base, and even on the mound. “Wherever they need me, I will try my best to hold down the position,” he said.
Hill has earned the respect of his teammates, the pitching staff, and coaches in Tewksbury’s High School baseball program.
“He’s putting himself in a good position. He’s always catching extra bullpens,” said Rametta. “[Mike’s] the type of kid that if someone is making mistakes behind him, he’s going to capitalize and get in there quick because he’s always doing the right thing.”
Many, including Rametta, believe Mike Hill has a bright future ahead. “He has a good baseball demeanor, he’s going to be just fine.”