The Warriors and Tigers entered the contest in a tie atop the division but combined for eight errors that resulted in nearly half of the game’s runs.
Taunton took the lead in the fourth but the Warriors rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Tigers tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth but KP tacked on the winning run in the bottom half of the inning.
“We took advantage of our opportunities,” King Philip head coach Pat Weir said. “I’m kind of at a loss for words because I expected a much cleaner baseball game, that’s for both sides too. Both [Taunton] coach Sylvia and I expressed the same thing, we hope the next time we play that we’ll see a cleaner game. But anytime you can get a win against a team like Taunton, a well coached team like Taunton, we’ll take the W.”
With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth, KP’s Kyle Guenthner looked like he was going to lead off with a pop up but was given a second chance. His popup fell innocently between Taunton’s catcher and pitcher and rolled foul. On the next pitch, Guenthner drilled a single through the left side. Jake Lannigan’s sac bunt moved Guenthner over and a dropped ball in shallow right field put runners on the corners. After a line out to first recorded the second out, KP’s Ben Furfuri hit a grounder up the middle but an error at shortstop allowed Guenthner to scamper home safe.
It was the second straight inning that KP took advantage of Taunton’s miscues. In the fifth, trailing 1-0, the Warriors sent nine batters to the plate. Guenthner doubled to lead off and was moved to third on a grounder from Lannigan. Taunton starter Charles Hearrold III got his fifth strikeout of the game for the second out but errors haunted the Tigers again. A dropped popup at short plated Guenthner to tie the game.
After reaching on an error, Stephan MacMeans stole second and moved to third after Furfari’s grounder couldn’t be handled by Hearrold for an error. Will Weir singled MacMeans in and Jon Rolfe’s base hit brought Furfari home to put KP ahead 3-1.
Taunton’s Danny Keogh replaced Hearrold III with the bases loaded and was able to get the strikeout to get out of the jam.
“I’m a little taken aback as far as our poor performance defensively because it’s something we take pride in as a program that we work on daily,” Taunton head coach Jeff Sylvia said. “But if you can’t catch popups, you’re not going to win games. We didn’t deserve it and [King Philip] got the big hits when they needed them, they took advantage of the mistakes we made. We didn’t take advantage of their mistakes though.”
The Tigers then rallied to tie the game. Brendon Mazerolle was safe at first and advanced to second due to a throwing error from the Warriors. Luke Figueira followed up with a single to put runners on the corners. With one out, sophomore Christian Simoes placed one up the middle to play Mazerolle and move Figueira to third. Sophomore Joe Manchester followed with a double to bring Figueira home but the Tigers failed to push any more runs across. A missed bunt resulted an out at home on a squeeze attempt and KP relieve Stephen Murray came in to get the final out with the go-ahead run just 90 feet away in Manchester.
Murray allowed one hit in the top of the seventh but was able to close the door for the win.
“Steven’s a first year varsity player and we’re trying to build his confidence up,” Weir said. “He’s got a great arm, got a great curveball and it was great to see him come in in that situation and get us out of it. It’s only going to get better for him.”
Starters for both sides played well with Hearrold III giving up just one earned run in 4.2 innings of work with five strikeouts, giving up five hits and one walk. KP’s Jake Cavanagh went 5.1 innings, allowing four hits with just one walk and four strikeouts.
“We started with an error [in the sixth] and that kind of put some pressure on him,” Weir said of Cavanagh. “He got a little bit tired there late in the game and having some trouble spotting his curve. Jake typically has pin point accuracy with his curve and off speed stuff. He had it early for sure. He definitely grinding out what we needed him to do. He’s a gamer, anytime I put him on the mound I know he’s going to give us everything he has.”
“Chuck pitched great, he pitched well enough to get the win,” Sylvia said. “We made a mistake, we misplayed a ball. Him and Max [Bowden] made a nice play to get out of the squeeze situation but unfortunately we dropped a popup and they made us pay.”
Taunton’s first run came in the fourth inning. Mazerolle led off with a single, moving to third on a throwing error and scored on a base hit from Bowden.
“Pitching was definitely not the issue today,” Sylvia said. “Defensively we were poor and then made some mental lapses. It’s frustrating because you work on those things daily. But we have nothing but respect for KP and coach Weir. They took advantage on the mistakes when we made them.”
King Philip baseball improves to 6-1 overall, 5-1 in the league, and will be back in action on Thursday when the Warriors host Franklin. Taunton drops to 5-2 overall, 4-2 in the league, and will travel to Mansfield on Friday.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.
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