O’Donnell, Strong Start Help Rocketeers Snap Skid

By Michael Antonellis, HockomockSports.com Contributor

FOXBORO, Mass. – Less than 48 hours after being no hit in a 2-0 extra innings loss to Attleboro, North Attleboro did a complete 180, and jumping out to a quick start in a 4-0 victory over Foxboro.

Leadoff man Kyle McCarthy slapped a stand up double to start the game for the Rocketeers, and senior Brian Poillucci’s ground out pushed McCarthy to third. Zach DeMattio drove McCarthy in from third on an RBI single, and an infield single from Ridge Olsen put runners on first and second.

Tyler LaFreniere ripped an RBI double to make it 2-0, and also put himself and Olsen into scoring position. Two consecutive batters were hit by pitches, the first one loading the bases and the second one bringing a run home, making it 3-0 North Attleboro.

With the bases still juiced, Foxboro starting pitcher Aaron Wentling battled back and ended the inning on a strikeout looking and a fielder’s choice ground out.

“[North Attleboro] was aggressive early on in the game,” Foxboro head coach Chris Sullivan said. “He (Wentling) didn’t have his off speed stuff and they jumped on some fastballs… we constantly talk about playing hard for all 21 outs. We settled in, but obviously we didn’t do a good job of getting through that first inning.”

The game marked the last starting pitching appearance for North Attleboro senior John O’Donnell and he made the most of it. The crafty lefty threw a complete game shutout, tallied seven strikeouts and only allowed two hits while on the hill. He allowed one runner via a hit by pitch in the second, walked one batter in the bottom of the seventh and let up two singles, one in the fourth and one in the seventh.

The Foxboro bats couldn’t respond to the initial North Attleboro crooked run inning, and O’Donnell wasn’t making it an easier for them. The senior lefty jumped ahead in virtually every count, and didn’t waste any time wasting pitches even when he was up 0-2 in the count.

His inside and outside pattern of his fastballs were complemented by his off speed plunging lefty curve. However, when the ball was put into play, O’Donnell’s fielding core was there to track down numerous fly balls and quick grounders looking to get through the gaps.

“He mixed his pitches up very well,” North Attleboro coach Paul Tobin said. “His location was sharp and he had great command today. We talked about getting the first batter (out) each inning and he was able to do that up until the sixth. I was very pleased with his job today.”

After the first inning, Wentling settled in and didn’t allow a run for the remainder of his outing. He fanned five and his defense made many plays, including three double plays.

No runs were scored again until the top of the seventh. Wentling was replaced by senior Steve Couroupacis.

An infield single followed by a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to second. Back to back walks loaded the bases for the Rocketeers. An RBI single from LaFreniere, his second RBI of the night, was the final insurance run for North. A double play ended the inning and left only three outs for the Warriors to work with. A leadoff walk in the bottom half for Foxboro followed by a single from Cam Feldman threatened North, but the door was closed shortly thereafter with a 4-6-3 double play and a game ending ground out to second.

North Attleboro snapped a nine game skid with the win, improving to 7-12 overall and 6-10 in league play. The Rocketeers will conclude their season on Friday when they host Bishop Feehan under the lights at Community Field. Foxboro (7-12, 5-11) next hosts Carver as they prepare of the MIAA tournament.

Franklin’s Offense Keeps Rolling In Win Over Foxboro

Franklin baseball
Franklin sophomore Jake Noviello delivers a pitch in the fourth inning against Foxboro. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
FOXBORO, Mass. – Over the last seven games, trying to limit Franklin’s offense has arguably been the toughest challenge in the Hockomock League.

The Panthers have plated 51 runs in their current seven game win streak, an average of over seven per game, and got off to a hot start once again on Friday in a 6-2 win over Foxboro.

Franklin scored two runs in the top of the first and third innings and added single runs in the fourth and the fifth. Foxboro’s lone strike came in the bottom of the third inning.

“It’s always great when you can come out and put a couple runs up on the board early and I felt like we did a good job extending that lead,” Franklin head coach Zach Brown said. “To be complement that on defense, we had some shut down innings after we scored some runs, I thought that was important. Not to be ungrateful but I thought we could have been a little cleaner in terms of our execution.”

Franklin senior Nick Santucci was hit by a pitch in the game’s first at-bar and moved to third on a hit and run single through the right side from junior Jake Lyons. Ryan Hodgkins connected for an RBI single through the left side. A fielder’s choice forced Lyons out at third but Mike Skaza popped out to center for a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

Foxboro starter Colin Theoner limited the Panthers to just a single hit in the second inning but the Panthers’ offense cashed in again in the third. Hodgkins, Tyler Gomes and Josh Macchi drew consecutive walks to start the top of the third. Skaza grounded into a fielder’s choice but it was enough to bring Hodgkins across the plate and move Gomes over. Joe Corsi popped up for a sacrifice fly to bring in Gomes to make it 4-0.

The Warriors responded in the bottom half of the inning but weren’t able to pull even. Franklin starter Jake Noviello got the lead off man with one of his four strikeouts but issued a one out walk to Foxboro’s AJ Bubencik. After inducing a fly ball to center for an out, Jesse Galanti singled into right field for the team’s first hit. Darren Kelly then roped a two-out, two-run triple off a full count to cut the deficit in half.

A two-out single from Jake Lyons turned into a run in the fourth inning for the Panthers. Lyons stole second and Hodgkins connected for a ground ball into right field for a single. The ball eluded the right fielder though and Lyons rounded third and scampered in for a run to make it 5-2.

It looked like Foxboro’s offense was going to cash in for the second straight inning in the bottom of the fourth. After reaching on a fielder’s choice, sophomore Chad Bearce moved to third when Cam Feldman reached on an error. Bubencik connected at the next at-bat for what looked like would be an RBI single but Franklin’s Hodgkins dove in for the catch to keep the lead.

“During this stretch, we’ve been playing well defensively and doing a good job of making all the routine plays,” Brown said. “Honestly, Ryan making that play, that wasn’t a routine play. That was a little bit above and beyond but it was a big spot for us in the game. We’ve been talking with Ryan about being more aggressive defensively recently, he’s a very gifted athlete. He had a good day offensively too and I think that carried over to his defense too.”

“With seven inning games, the momentum swings quickly and it’s definitely a factor, especially in high school baseball,” Foxboro head coach Chris Sullivan said. “I talked to our guys about creating it ourselves but we missed a lot of fast balls over the plate. It was a pretty stark contrast in terms of the energy that [Franklin] brought compared to us. We haven’t brought the same consistent approach every game and it’s impossible to win games in the Hockomock if you don’t do that, it’s hard enough if you do. We haven’t learned that lesson yet today.”

Two more walks to start the fifth inning helped Franklin add another run. Skaza and Corsi drew consecutive walks but a fielder’s choice forced Skaza out. A walk to Alex Bissanti loaded the bases for Franklin and Santucci cashed in with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2.

“We preach a lot about balance and being able to be doing a bunch of different things,” Brown said. “We don’t want to be identified as a team that just does ‘blank.’ Instead we like to think we can do a bunch of different things and I think we did that today.”

Noviello earned the win for the Panthers, tossing 4.2 innings with two earned runs allowed. Franklin lefty Ryan Morse came in to get the final out of the fifth inning and pitched two shutout innings to close the game.

“Jake came in and did a good job. He labored a bit towards the end but then we turned it over to Ryan. Ryan did a great job nailing it down for us and getting some big outs in some big spots.”

Thoener, who was making his first start of the season after dealing with injuries, pitched five innings while Andrew Block pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh for the Warriors.

“We didn’t play bad today, we didn’t boot the ball around on defense,” Sullivan added. “We didn’t expect Colin to throw a shutout in his first start of the year but we’re just not stepping it up offensively when we need to. The difference was that they barreled up a few more balls than we did. When they needed a hit, they got one. We played okay today but you can’t play just okay against a team like Franklin.”

Franklin improves to 12-7 overall and 10-5 in league play. The Panthers will conclude league play on Monday when they host King Philip. Foxboro falls to 7-10 overall and 5-9 in the league. The Warriors will travel to Oliver Ames on Monday before hosting North Attleboro on Tuesday.

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

Foxboro Clinches Playoff Berth With Upset of Dedham

Foxboro baseball
Foxboro starter Aaron Wentling (24) struck out nine in seven innings as Foxboro beat Dedham to clinch a spot in the postseason. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FOXBORO, Mass. – The rain had picked up on Friday afternoon, as Foxboro took the field for the top of the seventh inning trying to hold onto a three-run lead against Dedham, which was ranked No. 15 in the state by one publication.

Warriors starter Aaron Wentling was back on the hill to try and finish off a complete game. The first batter lined out to center, but the second hitter’s line drive to short was dropped and then stole second. Matt Dunn singled to center to plate the Marauders’ fifth run.

Dunn moved to second on a wild pitch but with the tying run at the plate, Wentling reared back and picked up his eighth strikeout to put the Warriors one out from the postseason. He walked Dedham lead-off hitter Jack Powers, but came right back with his final strikeout of the night to end it and give the Foxboro program a moment of celebration.

“You kind of wait for that day in the season when your team puts it together,” said Foxboro coach Chris Sullivan, who had to pause in his interview to be doused with water by his players.

“A lot of these guys have worked for years, a lot of the guys have been on the varsity team since they were freshmen and sophomores…this is the culmination of all that work to beat a really good team and get into the playoffs at the same time.”

Wentling has been the team’s ace since an early season injury to Justin Garcia. In fact, Foxboro is dealing with injuries to a number of its starters, but in the pressure moment Sullivan knew that he could count on the junior.

“He’s made some, 15-20, big, big pitches in big spots this year,” said Sullivan. “I think he’s got four of our six wins this year.

“That last pitch – that kid is hitting. 500 and is one of the best hitters in the Bay State Conference and he throws one of his best splitters of the day.”

He struck out the side in the second inning, during a stretch of four strikeouts in five hitters, but the Marauders jumped in front in the third with an unearned run. Foxboro responded in the bottom of the inning and took control.

Ethan Butt led-off with a single to left off Dedham starter Jason Leonard. A.J. Bubencik followed with a grounder to second and the attempt to get the lead runner was late to put two on with no outs. Lead-off hitter Nick Wright singled in the tying run with a shot to right, starting a string of three straight hitters with an RBI.


Jesse Galanti lined out to right and Bubencik came in to score on the sac fly when the ball skipped through the catcher’s legs. Darren Kelly drove in his first run of the night with another sac fly to empty the bases and make it 3-1.

A.J. Cavossa continued the inning with a two-out triple to center and Wentling helped his own cause with an RBI double (after the centerfielder slipped on the wet turf). Chad Bearce made it two doubles in a row with a shot to the gap, scoring pinch runner Alex DuBrow and giving Foxboro a 5-1 advantage.

Wentling allowed a single and hit a batter to start the fourth, but his defense helped him keep away from a big inning. First Cam Feldman made a sliding catch in the right-center gap for the first out and, after a single by Jack Powers brought in one run and a pop up to second brought the second out, Bubencik ended the inning with a great diving catch down the leftfield line.

“Those are two of the hardest workers on the team and it shows,” said Sullivan. “Those are, I call them the 50-50 plays, where a good player makes them and an average player doesn’t. We weren’t making those in the beginning of the season.”

Dedham got one back in the fourth, but Foxboro tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom half. With two outs Wright had an infield single to the second baseman and stole second. Galanti walked and then Kelly lined a double just out of the reach of the centerfielder to bring in both runners and provide the eventual winning runs.

“I still can’t figure out how he hits like he does,” said Sullivan with a laugh about Kelly, who is one of the team leaders at the plate. “That’s what we’ve not done in years past is get that extra little insurance run and we’re starting to get that now.”

The Marauders got one in the fifth and one in the sixth to cut the lead to three heading to the seventh. Wentling stuck with it, despite another unearned run, and was able to pull out the win for the Warriors and, with a game against Carver to spare, clinched Foxboro’s spot in the playoffs.

“Now we can spend the next two weeks getting healthy and getting lined up for the tournament,” said Sullivan, who joked that the Warriors had not won two games in a row in a couple of seasons.

“These guys deserve all the credit in the world. They’ve worked hard everyday, met challenges every day. We’re at that point where we’re playing with that confidence and we know we can go out and take a game now.”

Foxboro (6-8, 4-7) will travel to Stoughton on Monday afternoon.

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.