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.
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.
Baseball Division 1
#17 Walpole, 2 @ #1 Franklin, 5 – Final – A four-run fifth inning helped Franklin land a comeback win over an upset-minded Walpole team. The visitors built a two-run lead by scoring once in each the second and third innings, and kept Franklin in check for the first four innings. Eisig Chin reached on an error in the fourth inning to score Ryan Gerety (single), and Henry Digiorgio did the same to bring Jase Lyons (fielder’s choice) home to make it 2-2. An RBI single from Ben Jarosz brought Chin home for the go-ahead run and Luke Sidwell’s squeeze bunt plated Digiorgio to make it 4-2. Chin added a sac fly in the sixth to score Rex Cinelli (single) to add an insurance run for Franklin. Austin Campbell impressed in six innings of work, allowing two runs on seven hits and one walk, striking out six for the win. Dillon Cashin needed just 10 pitches to retire the side in order in the seventh to get the save. #1 Franklin will host #9 Bridgewater-Raynham on Saturday at 6:00.
#11 Milford, 1 @ #6 St. John’s Shrewsbury, 2 – Final
#15 Mansfield, 6 @ #2 Leominster, 2 – Final – Mansfield jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never trailed to earn an upset of second-seed Leominster on the road. A leadoff double from senior Conner Zukowski followed by an RBI double from junior Jake Maydak set the tone for the Hornets, who jumped out to a lead just two at-bats into the game. Two batters later, junior Matt DeShiro smacked a two-run home run to right and just like that the Hornets had a 3-0 lead. Leominster got on the board with a solo home run in the second but a two-out RBI single from sophomore Luke Rogan brought Drew Urban home to restore the three-run lead. Senior Aiden Jones delivered a huge double in the sixth inning to plate a pair of runs (Wyatt Bolduc, Urban) to extend the lead to 6-1. Leominster got one back in the sixth and had two runners on in the seventh by Maydak finished the complete game by inducing an infield grounder. Maydak struck out three, allowing two runs on six hits and four walks for the win. #15 Mansfield will be on the road against #10 St. Mary’s on a date and time to be announced.
Softball Division 1
#19 Franklin, 0 @ #3 Taunton, 3 – Final – A three-run fourth inning proved to be plenty of offense for Taunton junior Sam Lincoln, who tossed a complete game shutout to lift the Tigers over league rival Franklin in a playoff showdown. Kaysie Demoura led off the fourth with a single and came home to score after a bunt from Hayley Krockta and an infield error. Brooke Aldrich, who was hit by a pitch, and Morgan Fitzgerald (fielder’s choice) also scored in the inning after a Franklin error. Bella Bourque and Ava Venturelli each had a pair of hits for the Tigers; Lincoln scattered three hits and didn’t issue a walk while striking out 12 batters for the win. Kiera Kotwicki, Katy Liberman, and Dana Stott each had a hit for Franklin. Kotwicki was strong in the circle, allowing two runs (one earned) one five hits and no walks; freshman Sophia Sacramone gave up just one unearned run on one hit and one walk, striking out one in three innings. #3 Taunton will host #11 Woburn on Friday night at 7:00.
#10 Attleboro, 4 @ #7 Bishop Feehan, 7 – Final
#15 Chelmsford, 0 @ #2 King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip freshman Ali Gill launched a two-run home run in the first inning and freshman pitcher McCoy Walsh had another stellar showing in the circle as the Warriors blanked Chelmsford. Walsh, who finished with a dozen strikeouts, retired three in a row in strikes after a leadoff walk in the first inning and in the bottom half, senior Sarah Cullen led off with a single and Gill followed with a bomb to right field for an early 2-0 lead. A two-out single from Charlotte Raymond kept the third inning going, Ava Kelley followed with a base hit, and Liv Petrillo drove one up the middle to bring Raymond home to make it 3-0. Chelmsford threatened in the fourth when the fitst three batters reached to load the base with no outs but Walsh induced a grounder to third and Kelley fired home for the force out. After a strikeout, Walsh got another infield grounder for the third out. #2 King Philip will host #7 Bishop Feehan on Friday night at 7:00.
#12 Nashoba, 1 @ #5 North Attleboro, 4 – Final – Behind another stellar performance from Kelley Colleran, North advanced to the Div. 2 quarterfinal for the second consecutive year. Colleran struck out 18 and allowed four hits and one run. Just like in the first round, North got off to a quick start at the plate. In the first, Colleran and Maryellen Charette drew walks (Grace Forman running for the catcher). A passed ball moved them both into scoring position and Emma Hanwell doubled to make it 2-0. In the third, Molly Willey singled with two outs and Charette drew another free pass. Hanwell also walked and Lucy Palmer came up with a clutch single to score a pair.
#9 Mansfield, 6 @ #8 Walpole, 14 – Final –In a tough, physical game, the Hornets couldn’t overcome six penalties and fell to the Timberwolves. Freshman Andrew DeGirolamo had a big game offensively with three goals and two assists. Andrew Burnham and freshmen Tommy Vallett and Nico Smith all scored once, with Smith adding a pair of assists. Cody Gordon set up one of the goals. Ryan DeGirolamo finished with 16 saves in the loss.
#22 Nauset, 0 @ #6 Sharon, 5 – Final – Sharon took care of business, dispatching visiting Nauset with a clean sweep — all in straight sets. Sophomore Jacob Slavsky emerged from a hard-fought first singles match with a 7-5, 7-6 (5) win, junior Matthew Lally dominated on his way to a 6-1, 6-0 verdict, and junior Alex Budovalcev rolled to a 6-1, 6-1 victory at third singles. In doubles action, the sophomore tandem of Sava Kassev and Joel Zwicker only dropped a single game in a 6-0, 6-1 win while seniors Hyojae Park and Savir Basil were victorious at second doubles (6-2, 6-2). #6 Sharon will travel to the Winchester Tennis Club on Friday to take on #3 Concord-Carlisle at 4:00.
#11 North Attleboro, 2 @ #6 Sharon, 3 – Final – In a battle of Hockomock League division champions, it was the Davenport’s Sharon that edged out the Kelley-Rex’s North Attleboro to advance to the Division 2 Round of 8. The Rocketeer won at first and second singles with Lauren Hunt (6-2, 6-1) and Megan Atwood (5-7, 6-4, 17-15) taking wins, but the Eagles got one victory at third singles and swept doubles to win the match. Senior Ale Aguilar picked up a 6-4, 6-1 third singles victory, the team of seniors Abby Vilk and Sophia Oh landed a 6-2, 6-4 first doubles win, and the team of sophomores Jenny Sand and Olivia Landstein secured a 6-1, 6-1 verdict at second doubles.
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.
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.
Attleboro senior Lauren Eby has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for May 29 through June 4. Eby is the 31st player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2022-23 school year and ninth in the spring season.
Eby came through with her best day at the plate this season to lift Attleboro to a come from behind win over Andover in the Div. 1 Round of 32 at Drummond St. Field. The Bombardiers fell behind early, but Eby hit a pair of homer runs, her first of the season, and drove in five to send Attleboro cruising into the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row.
Andover had the upset on its mind when it showed up on Sunday morning and the visitors took an early lead with a three-run homer in their first at-bat. Eby helped settled Attleboro’s nerves in the bottom half of the inning. After Lily Routhier reached on a two-out infield single, Eby crushed a pitch over the fence in right center to cut the lead to just one. The score stayed the same until the third when Eby stepped up again, this time smacking a three-run homer to straight away center that put the Bombardiers ahead 5-3, a lead they would never relinquish. Those homers sparked an offensive explosion for Attleboro, which scored 13 straight runs and rolled to a 17-4 win. Eby finished with four hits, two homers, four runs scored, and five RBI.
The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.
Lauren Eby The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision. Lauren Eby The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision. Lauren Eby The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision. Lauren Eby The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision. Lauren Eby The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision. Lauren Eby The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision. Lauren Eby The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision. Lauren Eby The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Norwood knew what to expect when it traveled to North Attleboro for Monday afternoon’s Div. 2 Round of 32 matchup at Kelly Field.
Runs were going to be at a premium against Hockomock League MVP Kelly Colleran, so the Mustangs were going to need to take advantage of any opportunity to get runners on base and put pressure on the Rocketeers by keeping them off the board for as long as possible.
The game plan went out the window in North’s first plate appearance. The Rocketeers batted around in the first, scoring four runs to take control of the game and then rode yet another stellar performance from Colleran in the circle (one hit allowed and 18 strikeouts) for a 5-0 victory and a return to the Sweet Sixteen.
“We hadn’t played in a week and a half and that first inning was huge and the way we did it too, we were hitting, running,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “Then we sort of went dry for a while.”
He added, “I think the challenge for Kelly today was that two weeks ago she pitched four games in five days and then she had nine days off, but the kid’s played so much ball, she’s so smart, that a minor adjustment here, a tweak there and she’s back in form.”
Norwood got a runner on against Colleran in the first. A one-out error gave the Mustangs a little life and a little hope, but Maryellen Charette fired a strike to catch Liz Helmar trying to steal third and ended the inning.
The Mustangs planned on pitching around Colleran but with two strikes she got a good pitch to hit and started the bottom of the first with a line drive double over the centerfielder’s head. Arianna McDavitt followed with a single to right that brought home the first run.
McDavitt stole second to get into scoring position and would scamper home with the second run on a single by Molly Willey. Charette was hit by a pitch to put two on (and Mary Rogers came in as a courtesy runner). A groundout moved the runners up and Lucy Palmer drew a walk to load the bases.
Grace Simmons would pick up an RBI when Norwood attempted to get the lead runner at the plate but the throw was late. Grace Forman ripped a line drive to left that was hauled in for the second out, but was deep enough to score the fourth run. Maddie Bailey nearly dropped a hit into right but a nice running grab ended the inning.
Colleran settled into her start, striking out the side in the second and the fifth and striking out a pair in the third and the fourth. The only contact from Norwood was a bunt that Willey handled cleanly and a grounder to Palmer at first.
In the sixth inning, Colleran struck out the first three batters but the third one got past Charette to allow Norwood only its second base runner. Colleran made sure it didn’t matter by recording her fourth K of the inning.
North added a run in the fourth. Colleran was intentionally walked for second time in the game and moved to second on a fielder’s choice from McDavitt. Willey’s grounder to the right side moved both runners into scoring position and Charette followed by dropping a single into right. Colleran scored easily but a perfect relay cut down McDavitt at the plate.
“They’re kind of used to it,” Wallace said about how his lineup reacted to Norwood’s strategy of putting Colleran on. “She was intentionally walked 11 times this year. She was walked with the bases loaded one game. She’s got to stay inside herself, she’s chomping at the bit to try and do something but when you’re awarded first base there’s only so much you can do.”
The insurance run kept things comfortable even as Norwood put together a small rally in the seventh. Helmar reached for the second time on a controversial call at first. Willey made a nice backhand play down the third-base line but the ump said that Palmer had come off the bag at first.
Colleran kept firing, blowing away the next batter and then pulled the string on a 3-2 changeup for the second out. After hitting a batter to put two on, Colleran finished off the win with her 18th strikeout of the game.
“One of our strategies, we have Molly play so close [at third], she’s 30 feet from the plate, and it discourages teams from bunting,” Wallace explained. “The few times that they do she usually shuts it down and once you’re swinging away against Kelly it’s usually not successful.”
North Attleboro (16-5) will face No. 12 Nashoba on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30.