COMMENTARY: Watching Belcher, Hawks win first state title gave this writer chills

MIDDLETOWN – When the Class M state baseball championship game was over and second-seeded Woodland had no-hit top-seeded Joel Barlow-Redding, 8-0, at Palmer Field, I had a feeling in me.


I had chills from what I had just watched. Two years ago, I had been at the same field, watching the Falcons pound the Hawks, 20-1. It’s a game I’m sure Woodland baseball as a whole was/still is tired of hearing about. That was a rough night.

The Hawks earned their first-ever state championship in baseball Saturday, and they did it via a no-hitter. Woodland also pulled off another amazing feat. The Hawks went from losing to the No. 32 team (Foran-Milford) as the top seed in 2023 to winning it all in 2024. Woodland essentially pulled a high school version of what happened to the University of Virginia men’s basketball team, who lost to the No. 16 University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in 2018, then stormed to a national championship in 2019.


What Woodland did was crazy. What Mike Belcher did was nothing short of remarkable. Two years ago, Belcher was the starting pitcher and lasted just 2⅓ innings after giving up four earned runs on five hits with four walks and four strikeouts. The Hawk defense didn’t help Belcher’s cause – or its own as a whole – as it committed a bushel of errors, something that couldn’t happen against Major League draft pick and future Stanford University pitcher Matt Scott.

On Saturday, Woodland didn’t make a single error. On Saturday, Belcher lasted all seven innings. 

And on Saturday, Belcher didn’t give up a hit. Not a single one. He threw a no-hitter against the heir apparent to the No. 1 ranking in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll after previous No. 1 Southington lost in the Class LL semifinals.

Belcher’s final line read like this: 7 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 7 strikeouts, 3 walks.

I admittedly didn’t realize Belcher was throwing a no-hitter until about the fifth inning. I was too enveloped in the fact that Woodland had an 8-0 lead on Barlow after a pair of four-run innings. The Hawk offense took most of the drama out of the game, but only most of it. There still was the matter of whether Belcher would give up a hit.

No one could have known at the time, but left fielder Jason Beaudry’s diving catch to end the bottom of the first inning was as close as Barlow would get to a hit off Belcher.

How much did Belcher say he cared about the no-no? Not much.

“If I gave up a hit, yeah, it would have sucked, but we got the win. That’s all that matters,” Belcher said.

“It speaks to him as a player. That stuff (the no-hitter) has never mattered to him. All that’s mattered is us winning,” head coach Steve Bainer said about Belcher.

It seemed fitting, however, that Belcher turned in such a good performance in his last high school game at Palmer Field, and his last high school game overall. 

Belcher’s maturity and growth as a leader allowed him to navigate the pressure, the Barlow lineup and the goosebumps that had to have been building as he got deeper into his no-hitter.

It was an incredible effort, and I’m glad I was there to witness it.

Kevin Roberts is the owner/writer of Sports on CT-69. You can reach him via email at