King Philip Squeezes Out Extra Innings Win Over North

King Philip Baseball
Rudy Gately’s 11th inning squeeze bunt plated the game-winning run and lifted King Philip to a dramatic win over rival North Attleboro. (Josh Perry/

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WRENTHAM, Mass. – When the game started, there was some concern about smoke and rain, but three hours and 11 innings later, light was starting to become an issue at Lombard Field. Wednesday afternoon’s Div. 2 Sweet Sixteen matchup between league rivals North Attleboro and King Philip turned into a marathon.

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In the bottom of the 11th, KP was at the plate with its fifth chance to walk off with the win. For the third time in those five innings, KP had the bases loaded and the winning run just 90 feet away. KP coach Jeff Plympton, Jr. decided it was the perfect opportunity to try something different.

With one out, Rudy Gately surprised the North defense by squaring around and pushing a bunt towards the second baseman. The safety squeeze made it just past the mound, North had no play at the plate, and the Warriors celebrated a 4-3 victory and a return to the D2 quarterfinal.

Plympton, Jr. said, “I thought we had a few too many mental errors to win that game and, you know, our pitching kept us in it and gave us that opportunity to finish it off. Rudy is an excellent bunter and I knew that he’d get it down and that he’d get it down far enough that he’d get in.”

Asked what he was looking for in that at-bat, Gately replied, “Just bunting there, a little safety squeeze, just get it in play so we can score. That’s all I needed to do. Struggling at the plate, I think half my hits are bunts right now, so stick with it.”

North Attleboro (8-14) came into the playoffs as the No. 19 seed and went on the road to upset No. 14 Duxbury in the first round. Head coach Mike Hart was proud of the way his team battled one of the favorites for the state title and a team had already beaten the Rocketeers twice this season.

“The last two weeks of practice have been phenomenal,” Hart explained. “KP’s a great team, we knew they were going to fight, and we were ready for it. This caliber of kids is fantastic. Seeing it all come together over the last two games, over the last two weeks of practice, it’s been a fun time.”

Way back in the top of the first, it was North that jumped in front. With two outs, Derek Maceda drew a walk. He stole second and then stole third as well, with the throw getting away into left field to allow him to come home and make it 1-0.

The lead was short-lived. In the bottom half, Matthew Kelley beat out a two-out, infield single to short. Drew Herlin singled to center and the ball was misplayed, allowing Kelley to come all the way around from first and tie things up. Jordan Paradis would make a nice grab on a long fly by Aiden Astorino to end the inning.

In the third, Paradis led off with a single and, with one out, Maceda lined a single to center. He would steal second to put two in scoring position. Cam Hasenfus threw a nasty fastball on the corner to strike out fellow sophomore Gio Martello and then got a high chopper to Brendan Sencaj at third to escape the jam.

KP grabbed the lead in the bottom of the inning. Sencaj drew a one-out walk and Kelley crushed a ball that one-hopped the right field fence for a run-scoring triple. Herlin came through with his second hit of the day to bring in Kelley. Dillon Harding gave up a double to Tommy Martorano but Martello made an excellent play on a ball that tipped off Harding’s glove and then the pitcher got a comebacker to end the threat.

It stayed 3-1 until the fifth inning. Paradis led off with a walk and stole second. Hasenfus got a strikeout for the first out, but Maceda smashed a ball over the fence in right for a game-tying homer that sent the North bench (and Hart in the third-base coach’s box) leaping towards the plate in jubilation.

After Martello singled and stole second, sophomore Nate Pennini came in for KP and got a grounder to second and a strikeout to keep the game tied.

The home team’s first chance to win it came in the seventh. Sencaj singled and Kelley followed with a grounder, but North couldn’t get the force at second. After a grounder moved the runners up, Martorano was intentionally walked to load the bases. Martello had another nice play, cutting down the potential winning run at the plate and a bouncer to short ended the inning.

KP had another golden opportunity to win it in the eighth. With two outs, Max Robison hustled to beat out an infield hit. Sencaj lined a double just inside the line in right, putting two in scoring position. Again North intentionally loaded the bases, this time giving Kelley the free pass, and Maceda came in to relieve Harding (7-2/3 innings, two earned runs).

Maceda got Herlin to fly out to left and the game continued on.

“Dillon and Derek have been our horses on the mound,” said Hart. “It was getting close, Dillon’s pitch count was getting up, but there was nobody we were going to put there in that spot. He puts the team on his back, he’s so mentally tough, the situation is never too big for him.”

Both teams had base runners in the ninth, but Leo Dowling threw out Chris Hanewich trying to steal second and Maceda got a strikeout after Gately’s infield single.

North’s best chance to go in front came in the 10th. Pennini walked Harding and Maceda to start the inning, but Sencaj handled a tough grounder and got the lead runner at third for the first out. Pennini (5-2/3 innings, no runs, seven strikeouts) then bore down, striking out the next two hitters to get out of the inning without any damage.

Maceda allowed a leadoff walk in the bottom half, but Nate Kelly threw out Tommy McLeish stealing second. It was the second runner Kelly threw out in extra innings. Martorano came in to pitch the top of the 11th and set North down in order, with a little help from Dowling who made a couple of excellent plays on popped up bunts around the plate.

“Two sophomores, Hasenfus and Pennini, got us the majority of the innings and having Martorano back being able to come in and chuck, he throws hard and got us that last inning that we needed,” said Plympton, Jr.

As the light was starting to dim and there was concern creeping in about how much more baseball could be played on Wednesday, Kelley sparked the Warriors with another infield single. Hanewich made a great running grab on a Herlin ball in the gap, hanging onto it despite a nasty collision with Paradis. Martorano added another infield hit and Astorino was intentionally walked to load the bases.

That brought up Gately with the chance to be a hero. It wasn’t a blast to the gap that would decide the game, but a well-executed bunt, put in just the right spot.

“It’s always hard playing a rivalry team three times in a year,” Gately said. “No matter what the records are, it can always go both ways.” He continued, “It was definitely a long game. We haven’t played a game that long all year. It’s difficult to stay in it, especially all the ups and downs, but we stayed focused in at the end to get the win.”

“We’ve been in tight games, but there’s nothing like this throughout the season,” Plympton, Jr. said. “It’s good to show to the team that we can win these type of games and it’s only going to get harder down the stretch trying to make a good run.”

King Philip (15-7) will host No. 6 Westwood on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 with a spot in the D2 Final Four on the line.

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Walsh and Defense Carry KP into Sweet Sixteen

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Freshman McCoy Walsh is congratulated coming off the field. Walsh struck out 15 in her first playoff game, helping KP beat Needham to advance. (Josh Perry/

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PLAINVILLE, Mass. – King Philip was in a groove at the end of the regular season. Although the final game was an extra innings loss to Bridgewater-Raynham, the Warriors had won the previous 10, including a title-clinching victory over Taunton, with eight shutouts.

It is hard to carry momentum into the playoffs when you’ve been waiting 10 days between games.

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On Tuesday afternoon at the PAL Fields, KP showed more than a little rust at the plate, but got another stellar pitching performance from freshman McCoy Walsh, allowing two hits and one run while striking out 15, and a couple of solid plays in the field to put away No. 31 Needham and advance to the Div. 1 Sweet Sixteen.

“We do some live pitching obviously at practice for BP and stuff and we do soft toss but there is that game situation piece that you are kind of missing,” KP coach Kate Fallon-Comeau admitted. “We did do postseason scrimmages but you don’t know when you’re going to play and you don’t want to schedule too many and it turned out we sat for quite a while.”

While the KP bats may need a game to warm up, Walsh looked ready to go right from the start. She struck out 10 of the first 11 batters that she faced. Needham hit a fly ball to left to start the second and then got its first hit with two outs in the fourth on a single by Kelsey Pittman. Walsh got Maddie Baker to ground out to second to end the inning.

“It was a little frustrating not to be able to get those insurance runs and you’re used to having that little cushion, but I thought McCoy did great in the circle,” Fallon-Comeau said. “She really stepped up for us.”

The Warriors wasted no time getting in front but wasted a chance to break the game open. Sarah Cullen led off with a single to right and stole second. With one out, Cullen came in to score on a base hit to right by Libby Walsh. Charlotte Raymond followed with a single and the two advanced on a pitch in the dirt.

Ava Kelley reached on a fielder’s choice to the third baseman, who tried to draw Walsh off the bag before throwing across the diamond. Amanda Ferreira got a strikeout and a comebacker to get herself out of the jam.

In the second, Taylor Regan’s long fly to right center found the grass and ended up as a leadoff triple. Again, Ferreira was able to bear down with a runner in scoring position, getting a grounder to second and a hard hit liner right at the shortstop. Freshman Ali Gill came through with two outs, singling to left to make sure KP got the run home for a 2-0 lead.

KP continued to get base runners without looking particularly comfortable or dangerous at the plate. Kelley beat out an infield single in the third but was caught stealing. The following inning, Jordan Bennett was aggressive with two outs, turning a hit in shallow left into a double, but a grounder to second ended the inning.

Fallon-Comeau said, “We were just missing it, hitting it right at people. Kudos to the Needham pitcher, she pitched herself a great game today.”

With two outs in the fifth, KP put together a little two-out rally. Raymond dropped a single into right and then Kelley hustled to get an infield hit, but again Ferreira escaped as Liv Petrillo made solid contact but her deep fly to center stayed in the park.

The Warriors weren’t helping out Walsh offensively, but they were flashing the leather. Raymond made a nice running grab in left center to end the fifth, Walsh helped herself with a diving snag of a popped up bunt in front of home plate with a runner on in the sixth, and Gill tracked a long fly ball to just in front of the warning track to end that inning.

KP added an important insurance run in the sixth. Maddie Paschke ripped one past the shortstop for a leadoff hit. With Ava Lanza in as a courtesy runner for the catcher, she moved to second on a bouncer back to the mound. Bennett stung a liner right at the third baseman, whose attempt to double off Lanza ended up in right field.

With a runner at third, Cullen hit a roller up the first base line that wasn’t fielded cleanly and allowed the run to score.

As the rain rolled in and the temperature dropped, Gill made another great grab to start the seventh, snaring a sinking liner to right. The next batter, Baker, turned on a Walsh pitch and crushed it over the fence in left to cut the lead to two.

Fallon-Comeau explained, “I knew that kid could rake, and I thought whatever, 3-0 lead, seventh inning, throw to her because [McCoy’s] going to have to face good hitters like that a lot, and I think she kind of grooved one there for her and she put it well over the foul pole.”

There was no need to be too concerned about Walsh or the lead, as the rookie struck out the next two Needham hitters to close out the win and send KP to the next round.

“Hopefully we’ve dusted the cobwebs off a little bit and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow,” Fallon-Comeau said. “Not much time in between after sitting for so long, but it is what it is. It’s the playoffs, we’re just happy to be here and hopefully we can take care of business.”

King Philip (21-2) will have a quick turnaround, as the Warriors host No. 15 Chelmsford at the PAL Fields on Wednesday.

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King Philip Rolls Past Agawam Into Round of 16

King Philip baseball Matt Kelley
King Philip senior Matt Kelley celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning. (Ryan Lanigan/
 WRENTHAM, Mass. — Having not played an actual game in two weeks, it was fair to wonder if the King Philip baseball team would show any signs of rust in its playoff opener against Agawam.

The third-seeded Warriors quickly erased that notion with some early offense and cruised to a comfortable 12-1 win over the 35th-seeded Brownies in a Division 2 Round of 32 clash at Lombard Field.

KP pushed across three runs in the first inning, created a big lead with five more runs in the second, and reached double digits with a pair in the third.

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Meanwhile, senior ace Rudy Gately worked around some early threats from Agawam, stranding runners at second and third in the first inning with one out, and then again in the second inning after allowing back-to-back hits to lead off. Gately earned the win, striking out six with four hits and one walk allowed in three innings.

“Having two weeks, we really tried to stay fresh at practice,” said King Philip head coach Jeff Plympton. “We brought some past guys in and had our own guys throw live, so I was happy with how the bats responded today. I think that was one of the better hitting performances we’ve had this year. It was good to get all those guys, all those arms in, and get them an inning.”

KP’s big lead allowed Plympton to get Gately out with under 65 pitches thrown. It also set the stage for four KP relievers to get an inning in relief: sophomore Nate Pennini struck out one and had one walk, junior Tommy McLeish was charged with an unearned run and had one strikeout, junior TJ Ahern only needed six pitches to get through a quick sixth inning, and junior Ian Knott struck out one in a scoreless seventh inning. Freshman Leo Dowling caught all seven innings for KP.

“We have depth, and we were throwing them in practice but it’s better to get them in live game situations,” Plympton said. “To be able to get Rudy out of this one, you know if we go on a run here, having him at 60 pitches in the first game is fantastic.”

Junior Max Robison set the table with a leadoff walk and senior Matt Kelley dropped a one-out single into shallow center to put a second runner on. Senior Tommy Martorano sliced an opposite field double that just fell fair for a two-run double to get the Warriors on the board. Sophomore Aiden Astorino followed with a dribbler that got by the pitcher, and Martorano scampered all the way home to make it 3-0.

A leadoff double from McLeish started things for KP in the second inning, and sophomore Cameron Hasenfus (walk) and Robison (singled) both reached to load the bases.

Senior Brendan Sencaj had a bloop single drop into shallow left to bring McLeish in but Hasenfus was tagged out at third after having to wait halfway. Kelley lined an RBI double for another run and sophomore Drew Herlin smashed a monster double to right to score two more. After advancing on a passed ball, Herlin scored on Martorano’s sac fly to center to make it 8-0 after just two innings.

“We have a good lineup, and some games it would flash and some games it wouldn’t but today, it all clicked together and it’s infectious,” Plympton said. “I think that playoff run last year really helps, and the familiarity of being in this situation. They are a confident bunch. We had a really good practice yesterday, probably the best of the season, which is good because of the long break since our last game.”

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Gately worked around a one-out double in the third, getting his sixth strikeout to end the inning. KP kept the momentum going in the bottom half when Hasenfus brought Gately (walk) home with a sac fly, and Robison’s RBI ground out plated McLeish (single) to make it 10-0.

Pennini recorded an RBI with an infield single that scored Martorano in the fourth inning, and Ahern reached on an error that allowed Herlin (walk) to come home to make it 12-1.

King Philip baseball (14-7) will meet a familiar foe in the Round of 16 as the Warriors will host Hockomock rival North Attleboro (8-13) on Wednesday at 3:45. The 19th-seeded Rocketeers upset #14 Duxbury, 2-1, on Monday.