Stoughton Takes Rubber Match With Hawks To Advance

Stoughton baseball George Currier Matt Shaver
Stoughton’s George Currier (right) slides in safely before Milford’s Matt Shaver applies the tag at second. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Over the closing stages of the regular season, Stoughton’s offense wasn’t tearing the cover off the ball, but the Black Knights were finding ways to win.

The same was the case in the opening round contest with Greater New Bedford as the Black Knights squeaked by with a 1-0 win.

But Stoughton’s offense could be heating up at the right time. In a rubber match with division rival Milford, the Black Knights doubled their hit production from the previous game and put a runner in scoring position in all but one inning.

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The result was a convincing 7-1 win for the Black Knights in an all-Hockomock D2 South quarterfinal game, earning a season series win over the Hawks.

“I feel like we came out a little flat, especially after having so much energy on Saturday,” said Stoughton coach Mike Armour. “But I felt like we got our mojo back a little in the second inning there. Milford manufactured a run and it was like here we go, but our guys were able to get the bat on the ball. The bats had cooled off as of late. So if we can get the bats going, I know what we’re capable of. But we’re happy to have the opportunity to play again.”

Stoughton had a total of 14 base runners: scattering eight hits, reaching twice via walk, had two players get hit by a pitch, one reached on an error, and another on a fielder’s choice.

The only inning Stoughton didn’t put a runner on base, and it might have been the defense that gave the Black Knights momentum at the plate.

After squandering a bases-loaded, one-out chance in the bottom of the second, Milford came out and loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the third. Luke Rosa drew a leadoff walk and Nick Marcolini and Justin Applebee followed with bunt singles.

Matt Shaver drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly but Stoughton junior lefty James Genest (6IP, 3H, 1BB, 1ER, 4K) limited the damage by getting a foul ball pop up to first and a swinging strikeout for the third out.

Junior George Currier (3-for-4, three runs, stolen base) led off with a single and beat the throw to second to allow Robbie Seaman to reach on a fielder’s choice. Currier moved to third on a fly ball by Genest and came home to score when Mike Nazzaro’s grounder was misplayed in the infield.

Cian Swierzewski walked to load the bases and junior Jacob Kaplan smashed a deep triple to left field to clear the bases and put the hosts up 4-1.

“Those are hits that change games and Kap’s been doing it for us all year,” Armour said. “We’ve talked before about how many hits he’s had this season with the bases loaded but I mean a bases-clearing triple in a tournament game…that’s just big time.”

Currier got things started in the bottom of the fourth with a one-out single, stole second, and moved to third on a deep fly ball from Zak Paquette. After Seaman was hit by a pitch by Milford starter Colby Pires (4IP, 6H, 1BB, 6R, 2ER, 3K), Currier raced home on a wild pitch to make it 5-1.

Seaman moved to third on a passed ball and scored when Genest drilled a two-out single through the right side for a 6-1 advantage.

Stoughton tacked on another run in the sixth inning with Currier being the catalyst again. Currier and Paquette had back-to-back singles with the former moving up a bag on a fly ball from Genest. With runners on first and third, a balk was called and Currier scored.

“It’s a tribute to these guys,” Armour said. “We knew it was going to be a battle with Milford coming to town, it always is. We had a lot of the 2017 [Stoughton] team here, [Milford] kind of came here and did us in that year and I think that was fresh in their minds being just a couple years removed. Our guys made the plays, defensively really fantastic.”

Milford didn’t have a hit after the third inning but did have a couple of chances to cut into the deficit. Rosa reached on an error to lead off the fifth inning, moved to second on a ground out but was tagged out on a ground ball. Applebee, who reached on the fielder’s choice, stole second but was stranded there.

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The Hawks got to the Knights’ bullpen in the top of the seventh, adding a bit of drama to the game in the final frame. Rosa and Applebee both walked, sandwiched around Marcolini getting hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. But Stoughton senior Evan Jackman induced a ground ball to Currier at second. Currier finished with four putouts and four assists.

“Give a lot of credit to [Stoughton], Mike always has them ready to go and they are a good team, It’s always competitive,” said Milford coach Alex Dion. “The 2017 [Stoughton] team is here, and that was a similar story then when it was split in the regular season but we came out on top in the postseason, this year they come out on top. It’s always going to be a tough game but we didn’t take advantage of any opportunities we had and they got that big hit and I think after that, we were a bit deflated and couldn’t find a way to get it going again.”

Stoughton baseball (14-8) will host top-seeded Hopkinton (14-5), who knocked off Milton in the quarterfinal round, on Wednesday at 4:00. Milford finishes the season at 11-11.

Stoughton Tops Milford To Clinch Share Of Davenport

Stoughton baseball Jacob Kaplan
Stoughton’s Jacob Kaplan celebrates after sliding in safely with a leadoff triple in the fourth inning. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Both Milford and Stoughton had chances in Friday afternoon’s contest, but only one team took full advantage.

The Scarlet Hawks had ample chances early but the Black Knights were able to prevent serious damage, and the home team went on to cash in during the later innings to earn a 6-3 victory.

With the win, Stoughton clinches at least a share of the Davenport title, the program’s third division championship in the last four years.

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Milford put nine runners in scoring position in the first three innings, but could only turn that into three runs. The Hawks scored once on one hit in the first inning and then turned a bases-loaded situation with no outs into just a pair of runs in the second inning.

Zak [Paquette] didn’t really have it early on but him being who he is, he had a little more leeway,” said Stoughton coach Mike Armour. “Not to take anything away from Milford, it kind of felt like we gave them three runs with the walks. Walks are tough but it was nice to see Zak settle down. The ump was consistent, wasn’t giving the belt strike so he had to adjust a little bit. We wanted to make them string some hits together so it was nice to see him make them earn it over the last couple of innings.

“We talked about having the chance to put a new banner up in the new school and now 2019 will be on it. I’m proud of the guys.”

Milford senior Matt Shaver drew a leadoff walk to open the game, moved to second on a single from sophomore Carter Scudo, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Paquette got a ground out to third and then a strikeout.

After an intentional walk loaded the bases, Shaver sprinted home and scored on a wild pitch. But Paquette got another strikeout to strand runs at second and third.

Stoughton responded with two runs in the bottom half, both with two outs. Junior Ryan Currier drew a two-out walk, stole second, and scored on an RBI single from junior Jacob Kaplan. Junior Michael Nazzaro, who drew a walk in the prior at-bat, came home on a double steal when Kaplan was able to avoid the tag long enough for him to race home.

The Black Knights’ lead didn’t last long. The Hawks were patient at the plate and drew three straight walks to begin the top of the second inning. Junior Luke Rosa, senior Nick Marcolini, and senior Justin Applebee all reached on balls, loading the bases with no outs.

Shaver brought in a run with an infield single but Paquette got another ground ball that resulted in a fielder’s choice with sophomore third baseman Brady Conlin firing home to get the lead runner.

Another fielder’s choice allowed a run to come in, but the Black Knights got the runner at third. Paquette got another grounder, this one to short, for the final out to limit the damage to just two runs and a 3-2 deficit.

“That’s been the story this week for us, just missed opportunities,” Dion said. “Our guys have battled, and we know what we’re going to get every time we play [Stoughton], we know it’s going to be a tough game. First time we had them at our place it was a competitive game and we came out on the right side of things. We come down here, another competitive game and we came out on the wrong side. All three games this week, three days in a row, we just haven’t taken advantage of opportunities we’ve had, especially early in the game.”

Stoughton couldn’t take advantage of James Genest’s leadoff double in the bottom of the second as Rosa, Milford’s starter, got back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning. Milford once again put a runner in scoring position in the top of the third when junior Nick Wemette doubled and moved to third on a two-out single from Marcolini, but Nazzaro was able to gun the latter down at second on a steal attempt to strand the runner at third.

After allowing nine batters in scoring position in the first three innings, Paquette limited the Hawks to three total base runners over the next three innings. A bunt single was erased by Nazzaro on a steal attempt, and a leadoff single by senior Danny Corsini was wasted when Paquette got three straight fly ball.

While Stoughton didn’t have a lot of chances, it did take advantage when the opportunity presented itself. Kaplan ripped an opposite field triple deep to right field tolled off the bottom of the fourth and scored on a sacrifice fly from Genest to make it 3-3.

In the sixth inning, Nazzaro and Kaplan had back-to-back doubles to deep left against Milford’s bullpen, the latter scoring the former. Paquette drew a one out walk and Kaplan stole third to put runners on the corners. Junior pinch runner Cam Dirosa stole second before a pop up to get two outs.

“His days in the leadoff spot are over,” Armour said of Kaplan, who went 3-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored, and was a home run shy of the cycle. “We’ve been mixing up the order trying to get the offense going but leadoff didn’t work, and with his performance today, I think he cemented his spot in the middle of the order. He’s been huge, talk about a catalyst and getting us going. He had the leadoff triple and then him and [Nazzaro] had two bombs to really set the tone. We weren’t looking for walks today, we went to put a charge on the baseball so it was nice to put it together in the sixth.

Armour called on junior Noah Johnson, a recent call up from the JV team, to pinch hit in the nine spot. In his first varsity at-bat, Johnson roped the second pitch he saw into the gap in left center field for a two-out, two-run triple to give the Knights insurance runs and a 6-3 lead.

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“Kevin Cronin does a great job with the JV squad, he’s been with us for a while and I have so much respect for him, our success over the years…he’s been getting the guys ready for this level,” Armour said. “[Johnson] had been his guy this year. We haven’t exactly been smashing the ball towards the bottom of the order. I thought it was just perfect timing and to see him come through was awesome.”

Scudo led off the top of the seventh with a triple to try and start a rally, but the rest of the inning summed up the week for the Hawks. Paquette got a strikeout and then senior Robbie Seaman and Currier made back-to-back web gems at shortstop and second, respectively, to strand the run and clinch the win.

Stoughton baseball (9-6 Hockomock, 11-6 overall) will try and clinch the division title outright when it travels to Sharon on Monday. Milford (6-8, 8-9) will try to snap a three-game skid when it hosts Canton at Fino Field on Tuesday.