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April 23, 2013

Danvers veteran coach records 400th career win

GLOUCESTER — The 400th win of Roger Day’s Hall of Fame baseball career wasn’t much different from many of the 399 that preceded it.

Things that have become staples in the Danvers baseball handbook — stellar pitching, air-tight defense, smart baserunning and timely hits — all came to the forefront yesterday afternoon at chilly Nate Ross Field, where the Falcons rode a complete game three-hitter from junior ace Brandon Hyde to a 3-0 triumph over their rivals from Gloucester.

“It’s an awesome feeling to get this win for him. He’s a great coach,” said Hyde, who threw 75 percent of his pitches (63 of 84) for strikes yesterday. “I mean 26 years, 400 wins ... that’s really impressive.”

Having coached the Falcons since 1987 (except for one season, in 1994), the Massachusetts State Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Famer has made his program into a state powerhouse, particularly over the last 15 seasons. Danvers won the Division 2 state crown in 2001 under his leadership, reached the state final two years earlier, has won 12 of the last 14 Northeastern Conference championships and have only missed the playoffs four times in Day’s tenure.

Yesterday, after the last out and been recorded and the Falcons improved to 8-0, a plaque commemorating his achievement was presented to Day as his players gathered around and helped him celebrate.

“The kids come here and know what we want,” said Day, who became only the 29th baseball coach in state history to win 400 high school games. “They play hard, they’re disciplined, fundamentally sound, throw strikes, are aggressive on the bases ... and we go after teams.

“Our success, it’s because of the kids and the commitment that they make to the team. They know the (team) history and what they’re playing for. That and our coaches ... we’ve got Ox (former Danvers star Eric Oxford) with us now, along with Bobby (Boyce, the long-time assistant), and for a long time we had Marsh (Brian Marshall, another ex-Falcon standout). Ryan Hayes has the JVs and Steve Baldassare coaches the freshmen, two more guys who have been through the program and now what it takes. All of that helps us do what we want to do as a team.”

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