By Joe Clark, HockomockSports.com Student Reporter
FRANKLIN, Mass. – When Franklin and Oliver Ames met on April 11th, Fmacranklin needed some late game heroics to come out of Easton with an extra innings win. On Monday night in Franklin, the Panthers needed no such heroics, as they walked away with a convincing 10-1 win over the Tigers.
It didn’t look like things would be easy for Franklin in the top of the first, as OA’s Michael Friel led off the game with a triple, and then later came home to score on a wild pitch from Jake Noviello. After a strikeout, OA came through with three straight singles from Mitch Goulet, Chris Pearsons, and Matt Muir to load the bases with just one out.
Noviello came through though, striking out the next two OA batters to end the top half of the inning with limited damage.
In the bottom of the second, Cooper Ross and JB Floris (2-for-2, two runs) hit back-to-back singles, and then Steve Luttazi, in his first game back in the lineup following a pulled hamstring, singled home Ross to tie the game up at 1-1. Floris came home on a passed ball, and Jack Nally (3-for-3, two RBI, run) brought in Luttazi with a single to put Franklin up 3-1.
In the top of the fourth, OA’s CJ Deveau singled, but that was the last time a Tiger batter would reach base, as Noviello retired the last 11 batters he faced, including five via strikeout as he finished with nine punchouts in a complete-game effort.
“In the first inning, the ball was coming out of his hand great and he feels great, but location-wise, he’s throwing strikes, but he’s mid-thigh, so what I had said to him was ‘Hey, let’s get to the knees, and let’s get away from the eyes a little bit, and make sure you get out in front,’ and he’s just such a poised kid, a lot of kids can’t do that, and he’s able to make that quick adjustment, and honestly he got into a really good rhythm from there,” said Franklin coach Zach Brown about his ace. “He’s a special kid, he’s a special competitor, and we feel good when we have him on the hill.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Franklin’s offense came through again, as Floris drew a walk and then Luttazi doubled which set up Nally, who singled home Floris. A sacrifice bunt by Evan Wendell left Franklin with runners on second and third. A safety squeeze by Colby Fitzgibbons brought home Luttazi and extended the Franklin lead to 5-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, Franklin’s Alex Haba and Jake Macchi singled and Floris got hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out, but OA was able to turn a 1-2-3 double play to escape the inning.
Franklin broke things up with five runs in the bottom of the sixth as Nally singled and stole second before being singled home by Wendell. Wendell scored on a throwing error which allowed Colby Fitzgibbons to reach second, where he was hit home by Scott Elliott.
Macchi delivered with a ball out to center that missed leaving the park by mere feet, and he was able to leg out a triple and score Elliott. Ross singled home Macchi to give Franklin a 10-1 lead. Noviello shut the door in the top of the 7th and the Panthers were able to get the win.
Monday’s game marked Franklin’s third straight game in which they scored double digit runs, as they scored 14 runs and 11 runs in wins over Stoughton and Sharon, respectively, before their 10 run outing vs Oliver Ames. In Franklin’s last five games, they’ve totaled 53 runs.
“It’s been different guys which has been great, we’ve really had some good balance, good productivity from a lot of different guys,” Brown said on Franklin’s offensive output. “[Tonight] was a balanced approach, guys were trying to win each inning, and it worked out.”
Franklin (11-2) will travel to Taunton on Wednesday for a rematch with the Tigers. Taunton bested Franklin 2-0 in their first matchup on April 20th.
Oliver Ames (7-4) will head to King Philip on Wednesday. It will be the first meeting between the two this year.
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