Late Runs Help Mansfield Sneak Past Taunton

ByJarettLeonard_2016FollowJarettLeonard_2016
 
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – Despite being limited to just two hits over the first five innings, a single and stolen base paired with a key Taunton error allowed Mansfield to break a scoreless tie in the sixth and slip past the Tigers, 2-0.

With one out in the top of the sixth inning, Mansfield left fielder Zack Peterson grounded one through the hole on the left side for only the third Hornet hit of the game. After Peterson advanced to second on a ball in the dirt, Max Boen hit a grounder to short, and attempting to nab the lead runner at third, a throw from the Taunton defense went out of play, allowing Peterson to cross the plate with the eventual winning run.

“That’s a key in baseball, any opportunity you get you’ve got to capitalize on it and you’ve got to try to limit the other team’s opportunities,” Mansfield coach Joe Breen said. “That’s kind of been the story of our season this year. We’ve had a lot of opportunities with a lot of runners on base and haven’t been able to get them in, and the last two weeks of the season so far we’ve been executing a little bit better, we’ve been putting a little bit more pressure on other teams and guys have been doing their jobs, so it’s been good to see.”

Mansfield added an insurance run in the seventh inning as designated hitter Colin Gibbons was hit with a pitch, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Aidan Cahill, to third on a single by Charlie DeMassi, and home on another Peterson grounder that found a hole in the Taunton defense. DeMassi took off on the pitch, forcing Taunton second baseman Kevin Griffin to cover the bag and leaving the right side vacated for Peterson to drive one through into right field and bring home the run.

“We were eliminated on Thursday but we knew we had two big games against two really good teams in Taunton and Bridgewater-Raynham,” Breen said. “Our guys, to their credit, said we’re not giving up, we’re not laying down and we’re going to come out and play the two hardest games we can to end our season with some pride and, led by our seniors, those guys came out today.”

Hornet senior starting pitcher Jack Neureuter kept the Tiger offense off the board over six innings of work, scattering six hits while striking out five and walking only two, one intentionally.

“He’s come out and demanded the ball four out of the last five games and he’s delivered in every single one of the those opportunities,” Breen said. “Jack was the key to today’s victory for sure.”

Taunton did have opportunities to take the lead early in the game, but Neureuter’s pitching combined with stellar defense behind him ended multiple Tiger threats. In the second inning, Taunton first baseman Charles Hearrold III doubled to right center field with one out. Right fielder Dan Noonan then lined one to left center, but DeMassi made a diving catch moving to his right, gained his footing, and fired into second base for an inning-ending double play.

“Charlie is a senior captain who struggled a lot through the beginning of the season and has not been in the lineup for a little bit,” Breen said. “We put him back in the lineup today as a senior captain to try to lead us to a late season win, and he did just that. Those are the types of plays he makes, that’s just a senior captain being a senior captain right there.”

An inning later, with Griffin on second base, Cahill, the Mansfield third baseman, went to the backhand to stab a hard Luke Figueira groundball and throw him out at first. Taunton later had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth inning, and after Neureuter induced a strikeout, Figueira laced one to center field, but DeMassi was there again to make a sprawling grab and end the inning. Taunton left eight runners on base in the game.

“Their center fielder did that to us the first game as well,” Taunton coach Jeff Sylvia said. “He has a great first step, and that’s a matter of talent and coaching. He expects the ball every pitch, and credit goes to Coach Breen for having his kids ready to go today.”

Though he was charged with the loss, Figueira pitched the complete game for Taunton, allowing six hits while striking out three. He allowed just two runs, one unearned, and stranded runners on the corners in both the sixth and seventh innings to give his team a chance.

“They wanted it more than we did, which is a shame,” Sylvia said. “That’s on me, not getting my team physically or mentally ready to play today. Unfortunately I feel like I failed the kids today. Mansfield showed up, they played hard, they played with heart, and they wanted it more than we did.”

Taunton also missed a chance to claim a share of the Kelley-Rex Division title and will now await the result of King Philip and Stoughton on Saturday. If KP wins, the Warriors win the division outright, but if Stoughton wins, Taunton and KP will share the title.

“They beat us, they took it from us, and that’s pretty much it,” Sylvia said. “We’ve got to get back to the drawing board and now we have to work on finding our groove again for the tournament.”

Mansfield baseball improves to 8-11 overall, 7-9 in the league and will travel to Bridgewater-Raynham on Wednesday afternoon. Taunton, now 13-5 overall and 11-5 in the league, will play the first of two non-league games to close out the year with a trip to New Bedford on Wednesday evening.

Baseball: Kelley-Rex Division Preview 2016

Attleboro's Nate Tellier will be one 11 seniors playing for the Bombardiers this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
Attleboro’s Nate Tellier will be one 11 seniors playing for the Bombardiers this season. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

ATTLEBORO

2015 Record: 8-12
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Matt Bosh

A rough end to the 2015 campaign kept the Bombardiers out of the postseason last year but with 11 seniors and a good amount returning experienced players, Attleboro is looking to get back to the playoffs this year.

“We have a lot of returning varsity players from last year, and we have three two-year captains, four [captains] overall,” head coach Matt Bosh said. “The positive thing is that even though we have a lot from last year’s team back, there is still a lot of competition for playing time, which will hopefully bring out the best in all of our kids.”

Both Nate Tellier and Tyler Stowe are returning three year starters and captains this season, alongside seniors Will Carter and Jon Dunn. Tellier is one of the best shortstops in the league and led the Bombardiers in hitting last season with a .357 average and 14 runs scored. Tellier will also be a force on the mound after recording a 1.44 ERA in 34 innings last season. Stowe will man first base when he isn’t pitching.

Matt Callahan, Cam Hochwarter, Brandon Galvao and Robbie Araujo will all see time in the infield along with Tellier and Stowe and juniors Dylan Maskell and Dylan Prout should also fit in the infield. Will Carter returns behind the plate while Dunn patrols centerfield. Pat Collins, Brent Cook and John Burns are all likely candidates to see time in left and right.

Along with Tellier and Stowe on the mound, Dunn, Galvao, Callahan, Prout, Maskell, Nolan Kane, Tyler McGovern and James Weir should see time.

FRANKLIN

2015 Record: 16-8
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinals
Coach: Zach Brown

The Panthers reached the D1 South Semifinals last year but there will be some voids left from graduation that Franklin needs to fill in order to get back there.

“We have a lot of positions up for grabs,” head coach Zach Brown said. “But I’m really excited about the opportunity we have this season. We have a lot of new talented players that are competing hard for playing time and open positions and roles. We will be relying on some younger guys, sophomores and juniors, to help fill some critical positions. Competition during practice and scrimmages has been intense. I think we have a unique blend of veterans and a new influx of talent. I’m very optimistic about what this team can become by the end of the season.”

The talent that Franklin does have back is a good group with Alex Bissanti returning at second base, Mike Skaza back to pitch and patrol the outfield, Nick Santucci at shortstop, Tyler Gomes will move to catcher full time and Jake Lyons will handle centerfield duties. Joe Corsi will handle a variety of roles and Josh Macchi will take over first base.

Franklin graduated 10 seniors from last year’s squad that included the entire pitching rotation and closer. Brown noted sophomores Jake Noviello and Matt Foley will see time on the mound this season.

KING PHILIP

2015 Record: 5-15
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Pat Weir

King Philip has seven seniors and seven juniors on its roster this year and a good chunk of that experience comes on the mound.

“I can say in my short three years at KP this current group is the most cohesive group I’ve been around,” head coach Pat Weir said. “Solid senior leadership, solid team chemistry and competition is very healthy.”

Jake Lannigan, Jake Cavanagh, Jon Rolfe and Jack DiCenso are all seniors that have experience on the mound. Rolfe notched a 1.80 ERA in 35 innings last year while striking out 26 while Cavanaugh tossed over 41 innings, striking out 35 with a 2.88 ERA. Rolfe is also the top returning hitter after hitting .302 last year.

Leo Munafo returns as the starting catcher and Will Weir is back at shortstop for another year. Stephan MacMeans had a strong year in the outfield last season and will patrol centerfield again this season. All four senior pitchers previously mentioned will all see time in the field as well.

MANSFIELD

2016 Record: 17-6
2016 Finish: Reached D1 South Final
Coach: Joe Breen

Last season was a banner year for first year head coach Joe Breen and the Hornets as Mansfield won its first league title since 2007 and reached the D1 South Finals. But last year is already in the rearview mirror for the 2016 Hornets.

“After a great season last year, we are a whole new team,” head coach Joe Breen said. “We have a talented group of multi-sport athletes that look to transition from the JV ranks to the varsity ranks this spring. We have some great senior leaders at the top and quite a bit of young talent to fill in the holes left by last year’s large graduating class. I’m excited to see what players breakthrough in our pre-season practices and scrimmages.”

Key returnees include senior catcher Mike Arnold, senior first baseman Tyrone Pascual and senior center fielder Charlie DeMassi. Expect each of them to be in the top of the order. DeMassi showed off his defensive prowess in the center last season and will be a key piece this year.

The biggest question mark for the defender Kelley-Rex champions will be pitching. Breen said he will be looking for seniors Jared Menzer, Jack Neureter and Michael Kirejczyk to step up alongside sophomore Tyler Dalton.

North Attleboro

2015 Record: 8-12
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Paul Tobin

Last season ended far from how Big Red had planned when they dropped nine of their last 10 games to miss out on the playoffs. But head coach Paul Tobin brings back his two top pitchers and a solid group of experienced seniors.

“This is a smart, good-character group who are fun to coach,” Tobin said. “The middle of the lineup should hit. If we get production from some of our new players and the expected contributions from our returning veterans we should be in the thick of the race.”

Seniors John O’Donnell and Andy Katch are back on the mound for the Rocketeers. O’Donnell logged over 36 innings on the mound last year with a 2.89 ERA and 23 strikeouts. Ridge Olsen is back and will patrol left field after batting a team-high .433 last year with 13 RBI and Brian Kleczkowski returns to first base after hitting .321 last year with 16 RBI.

Junior catcher Tyler LaFreniere is also back along with second baseman Brian Poillucci and centerfielder Bryan Harris. Tobin noted junior Brett Cloutier, junior John Brennan and sophomore Zach DeMattio will factor in this season.

TAUNTON

2015 Record: 14-8
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Jeff Sylvia

Taunton has had a lot of success since joining the Hockomock League and head coach Jeff Sylvia is hopeful that will continue this year. With a handful of very good players back, it’s likely that will continue.

“Our goal is to be better on April 30th than March 30th,” Sylvia said. “And then even better on May 30th.”

Taunton brings back Luke Figueira, who was the 2014 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year as a sophomore and then was one of the league’s best all around players last year as a junior. Figueira batted a team-high .500 with 15 RBI and pitched over 35 innings with 51 strikeouts, posting a 1.78 ERA. Jose Mercado will see an expanded role on the mound after striking out 25 in 18 innings last year.

Max Bowden returns behind the plate and will also be back as the closer after four saves and a 1.62 ERA last year. Sylvia also has Brendon Mazzerole back, who was selected to the HockomockSports.com First Team as a third maseman last year. Mazzerole will shift to short this year and will look to build upon his .429 average from last year.

Senior Kevin Griffin also brings back some experience while seniors Charles Hearrold III and Dan Noonan and junior Danny Keogh will try to make an impact this season. Sylvia is also looking for sophomores Joe Manchester and Jacob Crawford to slide into roles early on.