ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Beach Field has not been a happy place for Hockomock baseball teams this spring and that continued on Monday afternoon, as Franklin became the third team to bea beaten by Bishop Feehan this spring.
The Panthers came closer than the previous two (North Attleboro and Attleboro), as they held a two-run lead into the bottom of the sixth and regained the lead in the top of the eighth. But, the Shamrocks countered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning, including the game-winner on a bases loaded walk by Brodie Carey, to pull out a 6-5 victory.
“I was talking to the guys and told them if they think the game was won or lost in the last inning then they weren’t watching the game,” said Franklin coach Zach Brown. “We did some things that were a little uncharacteristic of us today, especially on the base paths and it came back to hurt us.”
Franklin led 4-2 heading to the bottom of the sixth. Starter Mike Skaza had been strong through the first five, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out five, but he seemed to be tiring and Feehan took advantage.
Pat Cashin led off the inning with a sinlge to left and thenstole second. He scored on a single by Jason Medeiros, who then was caught leaning and was nearly picked off only for the ball to be held at first, which let him scamper safely into second. Skaza tried another pick-off move, and caught him leaning again, but it skipped into center.
Reid Spears brought in the tying run with an RBI-ground out. Two batters later, Skaza was replaced by lefty Ryan Morse, who got a grounder with runners at second and third to escape the jam.
“Michael threw the ball really well,” said Brown of Skaza, “and we maybe stuck with him a batter or two longer than we should have but he did a great job and we’re proud of his effort.”
Jake Lyons doubled with two outs in the seventh to give the Panthers a chance at the lead. Tyler Gomes, who went 2-3 and reached base four times, struck out but the ball got away from the catcher, who then threw to third to try and get Lyons instead of first and prolonged the inning.
Cashin, who allowed one run in 3-1/3 innings of relief, got out of it by getting Josh Macchi (1-3, RBI) to ground out to short. Morse threw a perfect seventh to send it to extra innings.
Jake Noviello singled to start the Franklin half of the eighth. Pinch runner Camden Lupien stole second and moved to third on an error by Matt Everton. Ryan Hodgkins then stole second. Skaza brought in Lupien with a sacrifice fly to center to give Franklin the lead. Cashin got two more fly outs to end the threat.
In the bottom of the eighth, Medeiros lined a single to left and then Kyle Freitas hit a high chopper that took a funny hop and eluded Alex Bissanti. With runners at second and third and no outs, Spears bounced a ball that was cut off by Joe Corsi, who threw home in time to get the lead runner, but on his slide Medeiros knocked the glove off Gomes and was ruled safe.
Brown said, “That’s baseball. Obviously both guys were going hard and there was some contact there and, honestly, their guy went hard and did a good job.”
Spears took second on the play, so Franklin elected to intentionally walk Josh Cayer to load the bases. Carey took four balls as well to plate the winning run.
“You have an opportunity with a ground ball that takes a big hop and then obviously the play at the plate,” Brown said. “I thought Ryan threw the ball well, threw hard…they just made one more play than we did.”
Feehan had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second, but Franklin bounced right back to take the lead in the fourth. Lyons, Gomes, Macchi, and Jake Noviello started the inning with four straight singles to cut the lead to one. With the bases loaded, Ryan Hodgkins drew a walk to tie the game and Skaza (0-3, 2 RBI) knocked in the go-ahead run on a 4-6-3 double play.
The Panthers tacked on another run in the fifth. Steven Luttazi led off with a double to left and Joe Corsi reached when his sac bunt was thrown away by the catcher, which allowed Luttazi to come in and score. Corsi reached third on a wild pitch but was then picked off.
“We had some chances to extend the lead early and we didn’t take advantage of them and those issues came up late,” said Brown.
He continued, “They’re a very good team and well-coached and they have a style that really works for them. If you let a good team hang around long enough then they’ll take some cracks at it.”
The Panthers have lost two in a row after winning the opening three games. Brown is confident that his team with “learn and grow” from the way Monday’s game played out.
“This is a resilient team and I certainly don’t think one game or one inning is going to define us,” he explained. “So we’re going to make some adjustments and go back to work tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be better for it in the long run.”
Franklin (3-2) will be back in action on Wednesday with the visit of Framingham and then travels to Catholic Memorial two days later.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
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