MILFORD, Mass. – After being shutout in its previous two games, Franklin wasted little time in finding offense on Saturday, plating seven runs in the first inning on the way to a 9-6 win over Milford.
The Panthers were shutout twice in a three day span but it took just two at bats for Franklin to score a run in the top of the first inning against the Scarlet Hawks. In total, the Panthers batted around in the first, sending 12 to the plate and using six hits to score seven runs.
“I do believe we have a good offensive baseball team and it was only a matter of time,” Franklin coach Zach Brown said. “The guys have been really diligent and working hard in the cages. I told them after the last game that being shutout two times in a row is kind of an anomaly for this group and that we were playing really clean baseball and getting good pitching. I felt if that continued, the wins would follow.”
Franklin senior Nick Santucci battled his way to a lead off walk and junior Jake Lyons belted an RBI triple on the third pitch he saw to go up 1-0. Ryan Hodgkins followed with a walk to put runners on the corners and catcher Tyler Gomes followed it up with a two run single. After a single from Josh Macchi and a walk to Brad Jarosz loaded the bases, Milford got their second out on a force at home. Alex Bissanti scored Macchi with a single and kept the bases loaded for Santucci, who ripped a two run single. Lyons picked up his second RBI of the inning in his second appearance at the plate with a single to score Bissanti.
“We just needed to have that one run and everybody kind of loosened up and started to hit,” Brown said.
The Panthers extended their lead two innings later in the top of the third inning. A lead off double from Mike Skaza put Franklin in good position. Bissanti’s sac bunt pushed Skaza to third and Santucci notched his third RBI of the game with his second hit of the game to make it 8-0.
Milford was able to chip into the deficit in the bottom of the inning though. After two near perfect innings from Franklin’s Skaza on the mound, a one out walk to Brian Ireland preceded Milford’s first hit, a single from lead off man Chris Speroni. Freshman Alex Coady batted his way to a walk to load the bases for sophomore Aidan Wilde. Wilde ripped the third pitch he saw into deep left center, clearing the bases to make it 8-3.
It didn’t take long for Franklin to respond, adding another run in the top of the fourth inning. Gomes led off with his second hit of the game – a double – and moved to third on a sac bunt from Joe Corsi to batters later. Jarosz grounded into a 6-3 out but it was enough to score Gomes from third to make it 9-3.
The Scarlet Hawks kept themselves in reach by adding two more runs in the fifth inning. Speroni’s fly ball down the left field line fell in and a walk to Coady put two on with no outs. Wilde knocked in his fourth run of the game with a hard his ball to score Speroni. Blake Hill then blasted a shot to right field, hitting a tree just inside the fence at Fino Field for an RBI triple.
Those two runs proved to be very helpful as the Scarlet Hawks put themselves in a position to complete the comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Speroni was the catalyst again, leading off with a single down the right field line and once again, Coady followed up with a walk. Wilde drew a walk on a full count to load the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate with no outs. Santucci, who took over for senior Ryan Morse on the mound after Morse was perfect in relief in the sixth inning, was able to get out of the jam.
First, Santucci induced a tough pop up in foul territory from Hill that was caught nicely by Macchi. A ground ball to second from Anthony Arcudi drove in one run but got the second out. Santucci then induced a line drive right at Macchi down the line for the third out and the save.
“The pop fly in foul grounds was the toughest of the plays and he did a great job,” Brown said. “[Josh] was actually under the weather today and were going back and forth on if he was going to play or not. But he was really he wanted to be out there and it worked out for us that he was.”
Skaza earned the win, scattering six hits with three strikeouts. Morse threw a scoreless sixth inning, needing just 11 pitches and Santucci got the save after allowing one run in the seventh.
“You can’t give up seven runs in the first inning, that’s for sure,” Milford head coach Paul Pellegrini said. “I give [Franklin] credit, they hit the pitches they should have. When you get behind batters, you tend to build confidence as a hitter and they did. Aidan [Wilde] left the ball up some and they took advantage of it. And we also had a couple of chances I thought to get out earlier in the inning and we just didn’t make the plays. It’s baseball and it happens.”
Milford turned to lefty Tylor Renaud after the first inning and the junior was very solid in relief, going six innings with just two runs surrendered. Renaud struck out six batters, issued three walks and allowed just three hits.
“Tylor loves the game, I wish I had 20 more of him on the team,” Pellegrini said. “For his size, he brings a lot to the table. He did a good job, he kept them off balance and did what I expect of him.”
For Franklin, Santucci led the Panthers with three RBI while Lyons and Gomes each knocked in a pair.
“Those guys have been pretty consistent throughout the course of the year,” Brown said. “Unfortunately we hadn’t been hitting a lot with runners in scoring position but it was good to see us get the line moving today and hopefully we can build off of it.”
Franklin baseball moves to 6-7 overall on the season and 5-5 in Hockomock play. The Panthers will try to make it two in a row when they host Attleboro on Monday. Milford drops to 3-9 overall, 3-8 in the league and will travel to Sharon on Monday.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.