Black Knights Earn Bragging Rights Against King Philip

Stoughton baseball
Stoughton senior catcher Jake Gibb was all smiles after chasing down a runner between second and third in the first inning. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Ever since the Hockomock League split into two divisions, they have crowned a minimum of two division champs in each sport, leaving no true ‘Hockomock champion.’

Because of how the schedules are set, cross-division games aren’t typically at the end of the season and therefore division champs rarely get the chance to face off bragging rights. But due to some postponements, Stoughton and King Philip’s game was pushed to the last weekend of the season, pitting the Davenport division champ against the Kelley-Rex division champ.

With that, there was plenty of bragging rights on the line as the Black Knights hosted the Warriors in a Saturday matinee. And on top of that, Stoughton was looking to snap a two game skid before entering the tournament.

But even with all of that to play for, Stoughton was simply playing for one another, for the team.

“It’s been an emotional day,” Stoughton head coach Mike Armour said. “We actually went to a wake this morning, as a team, for one of our guys who lost his dad. It’s been a long day but this is a tight knit group, this is a family really.

“Just being there for everyone, we said to ourselves, we have a lot of family here, we wanted to pick them up, we wanted to give them something to smile and cheer about and we did. It was awesome to see the guys having fun.”

In the end, the Black Knights walked away with smiles on their faces and the bragging rights with a 8-3 win over KP.

It didn’t take long for the fun to start for Stoughton. Senior Chris McNulty led off the bottom of the second inning with a single and moved to second on an errant pick off attempt. KP starter Jack DiCenso got back to back strikeouts but Stoughton junior Pat Hagerty connected for an RBI double off a 1-1 count to give the Black Knights a 1-0 lead.

The Black Knights continue to roll into the third inning with starter Barry Cooke needing just six pitches to get through four batters in the top of the third and the Black Knights’ offense added two more runs in the bottom half. Doug Seaman drew a one-out walk and stole second base.

Senior Jake Gibb drilled a single into left center and a bobble in the outfield allowed Seaman to round third and come in safely and Gibb to reach second. Jack Connelly followed with a double to bring Gibb home to make it 3-0.

“We lost a couple of hard fought games this past week and if we had gotten a big base hit, we win both of those games,” Armour said after 2-1 losses to Whitman-Hanson and Milford over the past week. “We talked about getting the two-out RBIs, the big hits. Pat Hagerty came through in the second…to come out and get the first run across the plate, that’s usually what we need. We can build off of that. Connelly and Gibb did what they do in the third and we just went from there. It was a total team effort.”

After Cooke got through a two-out single from Ryan Coulter, his second of the day, in the top of the fourth, Stoughton’s offense was back at it in the bottom half. A lead off single from Hagerty caused a pitching change as KP head coach brought in Jake Cavanagh to replace DiCenso. Nick Quattrucci’s sacrifice bunt moved Hagerty up and a bloop single from Ruben Gonzalez put runners on the corners.

A wild pitch brought Hagerty in from third and Gonzalez, who stole second, moved to third. Gibb walked and then the Black Knights executed a double steal with Gibb sprinting to second, drawing a throw, allowing Gonzalez to race home to make it 5-0.

“We preach it and we know it’s key,” Armour said of being active on the bases. “We know King Philip, they are active on the bases too. We talked about that leading up to this, about the base running and being aware of what they like to do. It was nice to see our guys execute running the bases too. It hasn’t been stellar for us this season but now we’re just getting everything in order.”

King Philip was able to breakthrough against Cooke in the top of the fifth but only pulled one run back. Sophomore Patrick Limerick drew a one-out walk, stole second and then came around to score after a pair of walks. Cooke was able to get the third out with a runner on third to limit the damage.

“I thought Barry Cooke pitched his butt off today,” Armour said. “He gave it everything he had right until the end of the fifth inning. And [Justin] Hutchinson, he’s been great for us all year and came in to help us. Tip your hat to King Philip, they fought right to the end.”

Justin Hutchinson retired KP in order in the top of the six and the Black Knights added key insurance runs in the bottom half.

A leadoff triple by Ryan Sullivan turned into a run when Gonzalez reached on an infield error. Seaman singled through the left side and the ball eluded KP’s left fielder, allowing Gonzalez to scamper home from second and Seaman to race to third. He scored Stoughton’s third run of the inning on a passed ball to make it 8-1.

King Philip rallied as Will Weir and DiCenso each had a two-out RBI in the top of the seventh with Ryan Guenette and Jon Rolfe, who both walked, scoring runs. But Hutchinson was able to close the door, ending the Warriors’ rally.

“We didn’t want to enter the tournament on a three game losing streak so we’re happy to get it done here,” Armour said. “Now we’re looking forward to the tournament.”

Cooke got the win, allowing one run in five innings of work. The win gives Stoughton the bragging rights with a head to head victory over KP.

“The kids were aware of it,” Armour said of the bragging rights on the line. “With the two Hock division champs going head to head today, we definitely feel like we made a statement. In the grand scheme of things, we’re just trying to get ready for the tournament. We’ve just been putting the pieces together. We want to be playing our best baseball in the tournament. This group of kids, with what they’ve done and how hard they’ve worked, and the pride they have, I just want to do everything in my power to put them in a position to be successful.”

Stoughton baseball finishes the season with a 14-6 overall record and 13-3 in league play. King Philip finishes 15-5 overall and 11-5 in the league, finishing in a tie with Taunton for the Kelley-Rex crown. Seeds for the MIAA tournament will be released on Tuesday.

Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

10-Run Fifth Gives Stoughton Win at Mansfield

Stoughton baseball
Jack Connelly (10) had a pair of hits, reached base four times, scored three runs and drove in a pair of runs against Mansfield on Monday. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – Mansfield bounced back from an early deficit with three runs in the bottom of the fourth, cutting the Stoughton lead to just one. In the top of the fifth, Hornets starter Jack Neureuter gave up a lead-off single but then retired the next two hitters and induced a grounder to third that looked likely to end the inning.

The Hornets were that close to being back at the plate down by just one, but the throw to first was wild and the inning stayed alive. The Black Knights took advantage and then some.

Stoughton sent 15 batters to the plate in the fifth (including 12 after the second out) and scored 10 runs with two outs to break the game wide open and cruise to a 14-3 victory at defending Kelley-Rex champion Mansfield in the season opener for both teams.

“Ten runs with two outs…I’ve never seen it since I’ve been here,” said Stoughton coach Mike Armour. “I’ve always had a soft spot for two-out RBI, so I think for our guys to just keep the train moving and to plate 10…it’s just pretty special.”

The Black Knights took the lead in the top of the second. Jack Connelly led off and was hit by a pitch. Joe Piana followed with a single to left and Connelly made it to third on a Chris McNulty fielder’s choice. Pat Hagerty plated the opening run with a groundout to first.

In the third, Stoughton put together a two-out rally to extend the lead. Jake Gibb (4-5, RBI) started it with a single to left, followed by a single from Doug Seaman (2-4). Connelly chased a 2-0 pitch at his eyes but then Neureuter came over the plate and the junior first baseman drove it to right center for a two-RBI triple. Piana made it 4-0 with an infield single.

It was only a precursor for what was to come in the fifth.

“From a pitching standpoint, we didn’t throw enough strikes early in the count,” said Mansfield coach Joe Breen. “We fell behind and had to throw too many good hitters’ pitches and they took advantage of all of those opportunities.”

Mansfield had a chance to cut the lead in the third, but Stoughton starter Ryan Sullivan, who struck out five in five innings of work, got Mike Arnold swinging with two runners in scoring position.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Hornets did bounce back and get on the scoreboard. Tyrone Pascual walked to begin the inning followed by a Kevin Dow single and both runners moved up on a Sullivan wild pitch. After a strikeout Jake Tryder knocked in both runs with a single. With two outs, Matt Farragher, who reached on a fielder’s choice, was brought home by a bloop double down the rightfield line by Charlie DeMassi.

“We do have a young team,” said Breen, “but we do have guys who have been tested in other sports…they know when you’re down you’re not out and it’s certainly a credit to our seniors for keeping our guys in check.”

The Hornets nearly carried that momentum into the fifth, but the error with two outs and a man on first turned into a game-changer. Nick Quattrucci singled in a run and the leadoff hitter Justin Hutchinson brought in two with a single to right. Sullivan, the ninth hitter of the inning, helped his own cause and brought in two with a double to right center that chased reliever Tyler Dalton (who came in the inning before).

Gibb followed with an RBI single off new pitcher Jon Needle. Seaman singled, Connelly walked and Piana got an RBI when he walked with the bases loaded. Facing the third Hornets pitcher of the inning, David Simmons, McNulty then added his second hit of the inning with a double down the line in left that scored a pair of runs and made it 14-3.

“It’s nice to see the bats come out blazing,” said Armour. “Guys were having good at-bats. I’m just proud of the guys and the approach they had. Putting up 14 runs on a club as good as Mansfield is a hell of a way to start the season.”

Breen remarked, “You let a one-run lead snowball and then next thing you know you’re chasing way too many and you’ve got to approach the game in a very different way after that.”

After having to battle through his previous two innings, Sullivan came out firing for the bottom of the fifth and pitched a perfect frame, including a couple of comebackers that he fielded cleanly.

Armour said of his No. 1 starter, “Sully is just a gamer. He’s got a cutter in the arsenal now and that ball’s been moving to go along with the fastball and the curve. He’s going to be tough.”

Junior Luke Johnson pitched the final two innings for the Black Knights, allowing only a single to Zack Peterson. Armour said, “It’s never over until that final out…and I think Luke coming in and being called on out of the blue…he rose to the occasion.”

Breen was disappointed in the final result, but acknowledged that it was only game one of a long season and admitted that the weather at the start of the spring had an impact on the team’s preparation.

He explained, “It’s tough to mimic live-ball, game-speed outside of games. I think we didn’t handle that very defensively today, especially on the infield…we just let it get a little out of control.”

Mansfield (0-1) will look to bounce back on Wednesday when it hosts division rival King Philip. Stoughton (1-0) will travel to Frothingham Park on Wednesday to face rival Oliver Ames.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Baseball: Davenport Division Preview 2016

Stoughton junior Ryan Sullivan will look to try and lead the Black Knights to the playoffs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Stoughton junior Ryan Sullivan will look to try and lead the Black Knights to the playoffs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

CANTON

2015 Record: 11-11
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: JP Scott

The Bulldogs graduated a handful of key pieces from last year’s team that reached the playoffs but they also return plenty of experienced players and hope to reach the playoffs again.

“The expectation for us is to have a successful season and make a run for a small Hock title,” Canton head coach JP Scott said. “But our main goal of the season will be to make it back to the state tournament like we did in 2015.”

Canton has 11 seniors on the roster this season led by captains Griffin Jerrier and Joe Peccia. Jerrier has plenty of experience on the bump while Peccia was second on the team last year with a .393 batting average. The Bulldogs also have their top batter back in Kevin Powers, who batted over .400 last year and drove in 15 runs in the season. Powers was also one of Canton’s top pitchers after logging over 40 innings in 2015.

Scott also brings back Jim Jenkins, Mike McMahon, Sean Doyle and Joe Bires, all which have starting experience. Junior Jackson Maffeo, fresh off a tremendous season on the ice, is expected to contribute in his first season on varsity.

FOXBORO

2015 Record: 4-16
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris Sullivan

After just four wins last year, the Warriors look poised to improve on that this year. Foxboro graduated just two seniors year last and have seven starters back for 2016.

“This is the hardest working and most dedicated group that has come through the school since I graduated in 2002,” head coach Chris Sullivan said. “We have a ton of guys who worked hard in the weight room, in the cages, and by playing competitive summer baseball this past offseason.”

Justin Garcia will lead a strong group of experienced pitchers. Garcia had a 1.54 ERA last season, striking out nearly 50 batters to rank near the top of the league. Colin Thoener, Darren Kelly and Aaron Wentling will also all see time on the mound this season.

Chad Bearce will likely handle first base while Garcia is on the mound while Darren Kelly and John Cronin will see time up the middle. Thoener will show off his defensive prowess at third and senior Nick Wright will return for his third season patrolling centerfield for Foxboro. AJ Cavossa, AJ Bubencik and Cam Feldman will all split the other outfield time and Jesse Galanti is back behind the plate for the third consecutive season.

MILFORD

2015 Record: 11-10
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Paul Pellegrini

After just getting into the postseason last year, Milford has key pieces back in key positions to try and keep their playoff streak alive.

“This team is a very athletic team with lots of versatility,” head coach Paul Pellegrini said. “If we put everything together, which I believe we will, we should be fun to watch. We will definitely be very competitive and strong team all around.”

One big reason that Milford has a shot at getting back there is sophomore Aidan Wilde, who led the league as a freshman in batting last year. He hit had 36 hits and hit .537 with 21 RBI and was selected as the HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. Junior Blake Hill has batted .360 over the past two years and will also be a key part of the Scarlet Hawks pitching staff.

Junior Alex Macek will be one of the more experienced pitchers in the Davenport and will be relied upon as Milford tries to replace Griffin Lynch and Alex Croteau. Brian Ireland, who also is the starting third baseman, will also get innings for Milford this season.

OLIVER AMES

2016 Record: 15-7
2016 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Leo Duggan

Losing arguably the two top players in the league will be tough for Oliver Ames but the Tigers have been the class of the league in recent years and have reloaded year after year.

Oliver Ames has won six straight league titles but this season might be the biggest challenge. Hockomock MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Brendan Welch is off at SNHU now and Mike Ferrara, who set the single season hit record for the Tigers, is out at Worcester State.

However, Leo Duggan has infielder Chris Romero back to lead OA after batting .474 last year, good for fourth in the league. Romero gets it done at the plate, in the field and on the bases – stealing 18 bases last year. Romero will be joined by Josh Minuskin, who saw time all over the field last year and will settle in behind the plate in 2016.

Ryan Adams will be another key piece, playing in 18 games last year and batting .404 with 10 RBI. Sophomore Matt Muir also returns after a standout freshman year. Sam Burr, Kevin Geary, Mitchell Goulet and Nick Zwerle should all see some innings on the mound this season.

Sharon

2015 Record: 6-14
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kee Arguimbau

For the first time in nearly a half a century, there will be a new head coach for the Sharon Eagles baseball team. After 44 years at the helm, Joel Peckham retired after last season and assistant Kee Arguimbau has taken the reigns.

Senior Isaac Miley will be a leader that Arguimbau will rely on all over the place. He’s been on varsity since his sophomore year and is returns as the starting shortstop this season and will be one of the program’s top pitchers.

Senior Mark Botaish will also see a lot of time on the mound and will man third base when he’s not pitching. Arguimbau noted Botaish’s strong junior season and is hoping that will be built on this year. Andrew Filipkowski is back in the outfield for his third season and will be relied upon to get the offense started from the leadoff spot.

Junior Jake Marglous is back at catcher again this season and classmate Aiden Arnold is back to man first base. Arnold was also one of the Eagles’ top hitters last season and will help pace the offense this year. Arguimbau also expect contributions from Rob Bayha, Mike Dumont, Jordan Chabot, Ryan Crooks and Spencer Singer.

Stoughton

2015 Record: 9-11
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike Armour

The Black Knights came up just short of the postseason last year but return a strong core and are poised to punch their ticket to the playoffs in 2016.

“With a mix of experience and youth, we are looking to field a competitive team this season that should be able to compete with anybody,” head coach Mike Armour said.

Jake Gibbs has been one of the top players in the league the last two seasons and will look to do the same during his senior year behind the plate. Junior Ryan Sullivan showed a lot on the mound last season and will see a lot of innings along with juniors Justin Hutchinson and Nico Parmeggiani and senior Barry Cooke.

Armour is looking for Doug Seaman to take on an expanded role during his senior season after being limited to just hitting last season. Junior Jack Connelly will man first base for the Black Knights while Joe Piana will see time at third base. Expect Chris McNulty, Nick Quattrucci, Matt Gallagher, Luke Johnson, Michael Batte to all see time in the field while Jared Maher will log some innings on the mound.