Emotional Home Finale for Sharon Baseball Coach

Sharon coach Joel Peckham (9) was honored by current and former players after his final home game of a 44-year career at the high school. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh Perry, Managing Editor
SHARON, Mass. –  He went through the handshake line and had a quick word with his opposing coach, then turned around and walked back to the dugout to speak with his team. As Sharon coach Joel Peckham went through the usual postgame routine, the crowd crept ever closer to the huddled players.
Franklin won the game 10-8, its seventh win in a row, and Sharon showed its typical fight to claw back three runs in its last at bat and have the tying runs in scoring position, but after the final pitch the game was forgotten and the coach became the focus.
On Wednesday afternoon, Peckham walked off the Sharon field for the final time as head coach of the Eagles. His 44-year career at Sharon High that has included stints as an English teacher and a guidance counselor as well as coach of the football, basketball, and baseball programs will be coming to a close on Friday at Milford.
His current players, their families, and a number of alumni were on hand to pay tribute to his tenure on the bench. The longtime coach admitted that it was an emotional afternoon for him.
“I’ve been doing this for 44 years,” Peckham explained, “and unfortunately it’s coming to an end for me but…you know…I’ll remember today even though we lost because of all the good will and the people here and how hard we played.”
He continued, “It means a lot, it means a lot…it made me feel good. I get kind of emotional about some of this stuff but…what are you going to do.”
Panthers tack on runs to avoid Sharon rally
Franklin came into the game on a roll, including a win last week over top 10-ranked Lincoln-Sudbury, and the Panthers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Nick Santucci doubled and then scored on a single by Anthony Chaiton, who then scored on a passed ball. Sharon cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first and Franklin added a third run in the second.
The Panthers thought that they had broken the game open in the fourth with three runs. Andrew Parent reached on an infield single, stole second, and was bunted to third. He scored on a stand-up triple by catcher Nick Burgos, who scored with two outs on a Chaiton double. Chaiton, who went 3-5 and was a home run shy of the cycle, scored on a wild pitch to build the lead to 6-1.
“Yesterday it was the bottom of the lineup and today we got a lot more production from the top of the lineup,” said Franklin coach Zach Brown. “Ant’s been right in the middle of the order all year and been doing a good job and he came through again today.”
Sharon would not be shaken and scored twice in the fourth and twice in the fifth to cut the lead back to one. Cam DeLuca singled in a run in the fourth and Matt Shaffer, whose father Paul played for Peckham in the 70s and was in attendance, smashed a solo homer to left to lead off the fifth.
Brown added, “I knew they weren’t going to go quietly, which it was why it was so important when we got the lead to keep building on it because you never know.”
Franklin added three runs in the sixth. Zane Byrne had a big two-out single that plated Burgos and Santucci to make it a three-run game and after a walk Kyle Skidmore, who went 4-2/3 innings on the mound, drove in a run and ended the afternoon for Sharon starter Ryan Riley. Santucci picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Sharon showed its grit in the bottom of the seventh. After Kyle Wardrop got the first two outs with ease, he walked Rob Bayha then gave up a single to Issac Milley. Santucci took over on the mound and a passed ball allowed Bayha to score before he walked Andrew Buerstein. A single by DeLuca drove in a second run and a walk to Ryan Aravine loaded the bases.
Andrew Fillipowski came to the plate as the potential winning run. A wild pitch made it 10-8 and moved the tying runs into scoring position, but after a visit to the mound Santucci was able to regroup and find the corner to catch Fillipowski looking and end the game.
Peckham said, “It was good, the kids competed and played hard. Franklin’s a good team, but we didn’t quit and we hung in there”
“We talk a lot about extending and never being satisfied,” said Brown. “A team like that is never going to quit, so every run today was precious and it was a great game.”
Postgame all about Coach Peckham
Brown is in his second year as the head coach of Franklin. When asked about whether or not he could even think about a run of 44 years in the dugout, he responded, “It’s an unbelievable testament and obviously I have a lot of respect for Coach Peckham and all that he’s achieved in his career.”
Everyone had their cameras out and their phones and everyone on the sidelines wanted to take a moment to shake Peckham’s hand and to be in a photo to commemorate the day. Even the former Sharon coach and athletic director Dudley Davenport was there to honor the man that he joked, “stole his job.”
Peckham was all smiles as he joined his players past and present in a moment of celebration. He said, “There’s a lot of people that expressed good will and it means a lot to me. You get old and you have great memories…sometimes you can’t remember everything but today was a special day.”
It has not been the final season that anyone would have hoped for Peckham, but the Eagles once again proved competitive against one of the Hockomock’s best, even if they could not get the result that they wanted.
Peckham said, “We play hard, we don’t quit, we have decent players, and times we play well enough to win and at times we play well enough to come close. There’s very few games that we haven’t been in.
He reflected, “It’s disappointing [to lose], but you saw the camaraderie and all the former players and these kids and that’s what it’s all about.”
Sharon (6-13) closes out its season on Friday with a trip to Milford. Franklin (14-7) finishes the regular season with a rematch against Attleboro at Dean College.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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Ryan Lanigan

Ryan Lanigan is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of HockomockSports.com. You can contact him at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and follow him on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
Ryan Lanigan
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