STOUGHTON, Mass. – The Black Knights’ baseball team hasn’t faced a deficit very often this season, nor have they played in many close games. They had to deal with both on Friday afternoon, but that wasn’t necessarily such a bad thing for head coach Mike Armour.
Stoughton rallied from a 3-1 deficit, scoring a run in each the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, the last being a walk-off hit by junior Jack Connelly to hand the Black Knights their sixth win of the season.
“It’s good to be in games like that and it’s nice to win games like that,” Armour said. “Not being in a lot of close games, I think you could see our guys were making more errors then we’ve made all year. Not to take anything away from Milford, their kid pitched a hell of a game and they came to play today. At the same time, we got down a couple of runs and it kind of took the wind out of us before we got it back.”
Senior Jake Gibb was the catalyst of the comeback, starting with a big defensive play. He threw out a Milford base runner trying to steal second to give Stoughton some momentum heading to the bottom of the fifth. Stoughton capitalized with leadoff man Pat Hagerty drawing a walk on a full count and advancing to second on an infield hit from Doug Seaman. Gibb followed up with an RBI single through the left side, playing Hagerty to make it 3-2.
Seaman made a nice play at shortstop to end the top of the sixth and Stoughton used that momentum to tie the game in the bottom half. Luke Johnson reached on a hard hit ball that got through at second base and Justin Hutchinson’s hit was bobbled at shortstop to put two on with no outs. After a sac bunt from Nick Quattrucci advanced the runners, Hagerty plated Johnson with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-3.
“Gibb kind of had his coming out party [offensively] against Foxboro early this week and since then he’s just been mashing the ball,” Armour said. “And then another senior captain, Doug Seaman came in on the soft hit ball and made the play in the sixth inning. In a one run game, that’s big time baseball. It’s nice to see good things happen to the kids who do all the right things.”
Hutchinson shined on the mound in his seventh inning of work in the top of the final inning. He needed just 11 pitches to notch his ninth, 10th and 11th strikeouts of the game to give the Black Knights a wave of momentum entering the bottom of the seventh.
“I think Hutch got into a little zone there [towards the end],” Armour said. “He’s the one guy wehave that can throw a lot of pitches, he’s kind of got a rubber arm. He was not coming out of the game. It was nice seeing him kind of stepping up to another level and he really dealt in the top of the seventh.”
Gibb helped finish the rally he started two innings earlier, leading the bottom half with a double. Senior Kyle Romaine came in as a pitch runner for Stoughton and Connelly connected on a 2-2 pitch, driving the ball into left field, right out of the reach of a diving Alex Coady for the winning run.
“The boys woke up,” Armour said. “There’s a lot of talent on the team, their a tight group, everybody gets along so they expected to win. It’s just nice to see good things happen because they do a lot of the little things. A lot of the things I ask, and a lot of the times I don’t even have to ask, they do those things. It’s just about putting it all together.”
Both teams scored in the first inning before the Scarlet Hawks pulled away through the middle innings. In the top of the first, Chris Speroni led off with a single, moved to second when Coady reached on an error and then scored on a two-out RBI single from Anthony Arcudi to make it 1-0.
Gibb drew a two out walk in the bottom of the first, moved to second on a wild pitch and then to third when the throw to second sailed into the outfield. A single from Connelly plated Gibb to tie the game 1-1 after an inning.
The Scarlet Hawks tacked on a run in both the third and fourth innings. Coady walked and moved to second after an errant pickoff throw. Blake Hill reached on a fielder’s choice and then a throwing error allowed Coady to scamper home from third. Milford’s third run came in the fifth after a leadoff single from Nick Johnson. A sac bunt from Brian Ireland pushed Johnson to second and he came in to score on a triple from Alex Macek.
Both starters pitched well, with Hutchinson earning the win in a complete game effort. Hutchinson struck out a career-high 11 batters, scattering six hits and issuing just two walks. Macek was strong in his season debut on the mound for the Scarlet Hawks, allowing just one run in five innings of work while striking out six.
“Stoughton did a good job, they capitalized on our inability to finish seven innings, that’s been our problem all year,” Milford coach Paul Pellegrini said. “We haven’t played great defense and it shows sometimes. We had a couple mistakes there in the sixth. Whether they were errors or not, the ball was in front of us so we have to make those plays. We just haven’t completed a game yet. We had a lead on OA late the other day and the same thing, we made errors. You can’t do that against teams that can play.
“This was Alex’s first time on the mound all year. He’s our go to guy too, and that’s been part of the problem is having our top three pitchers out all year. Alex looked good, he felt good and that’s what good pitchers do. That was good to see because we’re going to really nice him going forward. We’re not a bad team that’s for sure, we’re better than 2-7 but we just need to play some better defense to show that.”
Stoughton baseball improves to 6-2 overall, 6-1 in league play and will be back in action on Monday when they host King Philip in a battle of division leaders. Milford (2-6, 2-7) will look to bounce back the same day when they play host to Franklin.
Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.