King Philip Falls To Milton In Division 2 State Final

King Philip baseball Brendan Weddleton
King Philip senior Brendan Weddleton catches a throw on a pickoff attempt at second base in the Division 2 state championship against Milton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 WORCESTER, Mass. — King Philip’s quest for a state championship came up just short.

The Warriors’ great run in the postseason came to a close in the Division 2 state championship on Saturday, falling to top-seeded Milton, 4-2, at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field on the campus of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester.

“Coming in, with their bats and their pitching, I thought we were going to have to play perfect,” said King Philip head coach Jeff Plympton. “We came up a little short but I’m proud of the way the guys played. They’re a pleasure to be around all the time.

“We stuck around, which is kind of where we wanted to be. It was alright if we weren’t ahead, but as long as we were in striking distance we thought with our bats in the lineup we could make up for it, but it just didn’t happen tonight.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Walks, errors, and aggressive base running became the difference in the game as the Warriors actually recorded more hits (five) in the game than the Wildcats (four). And Milton senior Charlie Walker, who is committed to play at Northeastern next season, was on his game with seven strikeouts and no walks.

Rudy Gately had a strong showing on the mound with four runs allowed, but none of them were earned. He scattered four hits and four walks, striking out three in 5.1 innings of work. Sophomore Tommy McLeish got the final two outs in the sixth, holding an inherited runner at third with a ground ball and a pop-up.

“I had all the confidence in the world in Rudy, he’s been a hell of a pitcher for us for the past two years and I’m excited for him to come back,” Plympton said. “And then Tommy McLeish coming in in that tough spot, and as a sophomore, that’s not easy. And he showed his composure and did a fantastic.”

An infield error (on a tough hop) allowed Milton’s leadoff man to reach in the bottom of the first, a walk pushed him to second, and a single up the middle brought the run home for an early 1-0 lead. Gately got a strikeout and an infield pop-up to strand runners at second and third.

Milton’s Ryan Kelley battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a one-out walk in the second, moved to second on a single, took third on an error, and then scored after a hard grounder got the force out at second but couldn’t be turned into a double play.

King Philip got a boost from the bottom of its lineup, starting with a one-out line drive double from the No. 9 hitting Eli Reed in the top of the third, the Warriors’ second hit of the day. Sophomore Max Robison followed with a hard-hit single to center and Reed scampered all the way home to cut the deficit in half.

Gately hit a batter with one out in the bottom half but induced a 6-4-3 double play with shortstop Shawn Legere hitting second baseman Brendan Weddleton, who fired over to first where Robison made a great scoop to hold on to end the inning.

Legere was hit by a pitch to put the leadoff runner on in the top of the fourth for the Warriors, but Walker got back-to-back strikeouts against the heart of the order, and then an infield pop-up for the third out.

“He threw a lot of curveballs and has a heck of a fastball, sitting around 90 [miles per hour],” Plympton said of Walker. “That’s probably the best curveball our guys have seen this year, it’s next level and he’s going to Northeastern so that’s what you’re going to see in Division 1 baseball, and I thought we gave him a pretty good bid.”

Meanwhile, the Wildcats proved to be dangerous with two outs. An infield error put Marcus Ollivierre on, who promptly stole second, and a second error allowed Jimmy Fallon to reach and Ollivierre to take third. A wild pitch bounced past the catcher and just like that, the Wildcats had another run without a hit.

Sean Sullivan had a one-out single in the top of the fifth and moved into scoring position after an errant pick-off attempt from the catcher, but the Warriors couldn’t push him any further as Walker got a ground out and then a pick-off.

Gately erased a leadoff walk with a pickoff and then worked around a single and a walk to keep the deficit at 3-1 through five innings, but Walker was in a groove on the mound and quickly retired the side in the top of the sixth. Milton added a key run in the bottom of the sixth with a one-out single from Fallon to score Kelley, who reached on an error to start the inning.

That ended Gately’s outing and McLeish took over with a runner on third. After falling behind 3-0 in the count, McLeish induced a ground to shortstop where Legere looked the runner back before firing to first for the second out. Four pitches later, McLeish got Walker to pop up to right for the third out.

King Philip battled to the end as junior Brendan Sencaj smacked a hard-hit grounder up the first base line, and it took a friendly bounce off the wall in right as Sencaj hustled his way to a triple. A ground out to the right side from Gately brought Sencaj in, cutting the deficit to 4-2 with two outs.

But that was all the damage the Warriors would do as Walker got a strikeout and a liner to second for the final out.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“The program wasn’t in a great spot a few years back and this group of seniors has led the charge with the turnaround,” Plympton said. “We had a pretty decent season last year too. They played a little bit of an underdog role all season and I couldn’t be happier where we are as a program now and the future looks bright for next year.

“They are a resilient group and they’re able to let things go. We had a bad loss to Franklin but they were back in practice the next day ready to move on like nothing happened, which is huge. Baseball is mental…so if you’re dwelling on things, it won’t be good so I definitely learned what a resilient bunch they were.”

King Philip baseball finishes the season at 16-9.

Martorano, KP Edge Mansfield For Spot In D2 Final

King Philip baseball
King Philip’s Shawn Legere (16) and Brendan Weddleton (2) celebrate with Tommy Martorano (5) after beating Mansfield (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 BROCKTON, Mass. — Coming into the season, King Philip junior Tommy Martorano had high expectations but an injury in his first start of the season back in early April derailed his plans, forcing him to watch the entire regular season from the sidelines.

After two relief appearances earlier in the tournament, Martorano earned the start in the Division 2 state semifinals against rival Mansfield, and the left-handed pitcher delivered.

He tossed a complete game shutout, allowing just one hit and a pair of walks while striking out 12 as the Warriors edged out the Hornets, 1-0, for a spot in the D2 state championship game this weekend.

King Philip baseball

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We knew it wasn’t too serious of an injury early on but he was going to need the whole season to get back into form,” said King Philip head coach Jeff Plympton. “We wanted to get him into some games early on [in the tournament] and he was pumping, he was doing well so I just asked him, and I said do you want the ball for the semis and he lit up like a Christmas tree.

“We watched him in practice, he was painting those corners so we wanted to give him a chance and put him out for a game. I was hoping for at least four [innings] and then go from there but he was electric today, just the one hit. He had a few curveball strikes but he really had that fastball going. We were planning on going with him until he couldn’t go anymore.”

Martorano was on from the get-go, retiring the Hornets in order on 15 pitches in the top of the first order, his first strikeout coming on the third out. He didn’t retire the side in order again until the final inning, striking out all three Hornets to end the game, but he also didn’t let a runner advance past second.

King Philip baseball

“I felt pretty good in the relief appearances so I was telling coach that I was ready for a start, I was ready to go,” Martorano said. “I love being out there with my guys and now we get to play for a state championship.

“I was pumped to get back. I had a timeline to get back for the playoffs and when I was ready to come back, I made sure I was ready to help the team out and go as far as we could. We really wanted this game and now we’re ready to roll for the next one.”

Martorano’s counterpart, Mansfield senior Aaron Blinn, also had a stellar performance on the mound backed up by solid defense from the Hornets in the field and Aiden Jones behind the dish. He scattered eight hits over six innings of work, striking out four without issuing a walk.

After a clean first inning from both, Martorano worked around a leadoff walk with back-to-back strikeouts and a fly ball in the top of the second. Juniors Brendan Sencaj and Rudy Gately had the first two hits of the game, and mixed in with a balk and a stolen base, the Warriors had runners on second and third with no outs but Blinn bunkered down with a strikeout and two shallow fly balls.

The third inning presented both teams with a chance to break through on the scoreboard, but only the Warriors were able to cash in.

Sophomore Brian Butler had a one-out single for the Hornets and classmate Matt DeShiro followed with a walk. But Martorano got a line drive out to center and then a strikeout to deny the Hornets.

King Philip baseball

In the bottom half, sophomore Max Robison had a one-out single, but after Matt Kelley followed with a single, the Hornets got Robison at third after a heavy round of the bag. The rundown did allow Kelley to move to second to keep a runner in scoring position, and with two outs, senior Shawn Legere came through in the clutch with an RBI single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.

“Shawn’s great…honestly, probably the best hitter to probably come through the King Philip program,” Plympton said. Legere was third in the Hock this regular season in average and was third in the league in hits as a junior. “He was just a little short for the best average in team history but he’s so confident, whatever the count is, doesn’t matter if it’s a fastball, a curveball, a changeup, a 3-2 count… he’s ready to go whenever.”

Mansfield got the leadoff runner on in Jake Maydak in the top of the fourth after an infield throwing error but Martorano quickly fielded the sac bunt in the next at-bat, and Robison alertly saw the runner taking off for an extra base at third and fired it over to Sean Sullivan, who applied the tag just before the slide. Another strikeout gave KP the third out.

Eli Reed had a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth, stole second, and took third on a ground out from Robison but Blinn didn’t allow him to go any further with a strikeout to end the inning.

“When you’re playing in the state tournament, every game is going to be close,” said Mansfield head coach Chris Hall. “We knew it was going to be a battle, already playing each other twice this year, and that’s exactly what it was. Martorano came out and pitched his tail off and I thought Aaron Blinn pitched incredibly on the mound and we played a clean game. But it comes down to that one run and they got it and we didn’t.

“But that can’t take away from what we achieved this year. I don’t think anyone in the state had us making it to the Final Four in Division 2, especially after starting off 1-4, but we’re here. I can’t say enough great things about this team. I’m very proud of this senior class for how they competed today and all year, such a huge positive. As far as I could find, I think this is the farthest any Mansfield team has gone so I’m just so proud.”

The Hornets got a final base runner on after an error in the top of the sixth, but once again Martorano came up with a strikeout to end the inning. Sencaj had one-out single in the bottom half to try and extend KP’s lead but was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice on a grounder from Gately. With the hit-and-run on, Travis Crawford drove one to center for a single from Mansfield center fielder Jared Fraone came firing and hit third baseman Jimmy Gilleran and he got the tag down to get the third out.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“The Hockomock League in general is tough, I think it’s the best league in the state,” Plympton said. “Blinn was fantastic, he dealt a good game. He shined, and he’s accurate and does a good job keeping guys off balance. Getting him for a third time, I was hoping that we’d be on him a bit more but he came out ready to go and he wanted it just as much as we did, it made for a good game.”

The Warriors, who won just three of its final eight games, have seemed to rediscover their form from the beginning of the season (seven wins in the first eight games) and now head into the D2 state championship against top-seed Milton riding a four-game winning stream.

King Philip baseball

“They’re a fun group to be around,” Plympton said. “There’s never a dull moment at practice and there’s a lot of talent on the team too. They can hit the heck out of the ball. I just have a smile on every time I’m with them, it’s great to come this far because they’re great to be around.”

King Philip baseball and Milton are scheduled to face off on Saturday at Fitton Field on the campus of Holy Cross with the first pitch scheduled for 6:00.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Taunton senior Danny MacDougall, pictured here as a sophomore in 2019, is one of the few returners for the defending D1 State Champs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Attleboro

2019 Record: 14-10
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final
Coach: Steve Dunlea

Two years ago, Attleboro made a run to the Div. 1 South final, only to run into league rival and eventual state champ Taunton. While the Bombardiers only return three players with varsity experience, Attleboro will be looking to replicate some of that momentum and challenge the top teams for the Kelley-Rex division title this spring.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Senior catcher Bailey Camacho caught half the innings during his sophomore season and will be the starter this spring, as well as an important presence in the lineup. Seniors Jake Gorman and Matt McMahon will both be part of the rotation and play corner infield spots when they’re not on the mound building off the experience they got two years ago. Senior Cam Foster adds speed at short and will be the closer, while juniors Billy Saltmarsh and Cian Kelleher, and sophomores Dillon James and Danny Johnson are part of what should be a deep staff for the Bombardiers. Speed should also be a strength for Attleboro, including outfielders Ben Hochwarter, Nate George, Hayden Hegarty, and Packer Sackett, and middle infielders Owen Taber and Evan Houle. Junior Christian Dame is a versatile player who can step in at multiple positions.

“We’re excited to get our players out there to see what we can accomplish,” said Attleboro coach Steve Dunlea. “Our guys have worked very hard during the off-season and have come a long way in the past few years. We are particularly proud of our senior leadership. It’s been a tough year and we are so grateful to the MIAA and ADs for making this season happen for our seniors.”

Canton

2019 Record: 6-14
2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Ben Shuffain

Canton had a great start to the 2019 season under then first-year head coach Ben Shuffain, including an impressive win over Wellesley. But almost all of the Bulldogs’ wins came in the first half of the season. Now Canton will look to start strong and continue that throughout the year as they look to challenge for the Davenport division title.

The Bulldogs are one of the teams that have a good number of players that played back in 2019 so there is a lot of optimism surrounding the experience on the roster this season. Canton has four starters back for this year’s campaign: shortstop/right-handed pitcher Steve Burbank, outfielder Cam Sanchez, catcher/outfielder Sawyer Julier-Albert, and right-handed pitcher Nate Hewit. Both Burbank (0.328) and Julier-Albert (0.395) were among the league leaders in batting average as sophomores so they will be key pieces for the offense this year. Shuffain will also look for contributions from outfielders Andy Butler and Zach Peters, infielder Nico Bonanno, and utility option Matt Quan — all four could also see time pitching.

Burbank will also see time on the mound and Hewit will be an important piece of the pitching staff this year. Junior Andrew Middleton, who tossed a perfect game in the season-opener, will obviously be a major part of the rotation as well, giving the Bulldogs solid depth. Behind the pitching staff, there will be a lot of players who have experience at the varsity level so Shuffain hopes mistakes will be at a minimum.

“We are lucky to have a good number of players who have varsity experience from 2018 and 2019,” Shuffain said. “They have been preparing for 18 months for this season and this group has tremendous leadership and a ton of talent. I am excited to see what they can do on the field.”

Foxboro

2019 Record: 6-14
2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Derek Suess

For the 2021 season, it all starts with pitching for the Foxboro Warriors. The 2019 squad graduated six players, and there were nine juniors on that team that missed out on their senior season a year ago. That means Foxboro has four players coming back for this spring, and almost all picked up a lot of valuable experience the last time out.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Seniors Cam Prescott and Sean Yoest will headline the Warriors’ rotation, bringing a lot of experience to the staff. Prescott logged over 26 innings as a sophomore, allowing just four walks with a 1.86 ERA. Yoest had a lot of success at the plate as a sophomore and will be looking to replicate that on the mound this year. Sophomore Sean O’Leary will likely be a key piece on the mound when fully healthy and the Warriors will look to seniors Dylan Quinn, Mike O’Toole, Ryan Jacobs, and Sebastian Ortiz, as well as juniors Liam Mulkern and Tom Marcucella to provide pitching depth.

Yoest will patrol the outfield when he’s not on the mound and will be a key piece offensively after hitting 0.346 as a sophomore with 11 runs scored and 11 RBI. Yoest will be joined in the outfield by junior Jack Watts, a three-sport athlete who has excelled in golf and hockey, and sophomore Kenny Mello. Marcucella will also see time in the outfield while senior Griffin Morse is a solid depth piece that can play all three spots in the outfield.

Prescott will see time at either third or shortstop when he’s not pitching. Beyond Prescott, the Warriors will have some inexperience around the infield with freshman Tyler Prescott (second base) and sophomore Ryan LeClair (shortstop) impressing early on. Mulkern and O’Toole will provide the infield with some senior leadership from first while Marcucella and Ortiz providing depth. Mulkern will also be an option behind the plate while junior Mike LaVita will step into the starting role at catcher.

“We are excited for the opportunity to get back on the field and compete every day,” head coach Derek Suess said. “Having our top two arms still here is comforting, but we will need contributions from many different guys. We have a good mix of seniors and underclassmen who have bought in to our vision for the season.”

Franklin

2019 Record: 22-3
2019 Finish: Reached Super 8
Coach: Zach Brown

While Franklin won’t be able to make it three straight appearances in the Super 8 with the tournament not happening this year (and possibly for a couple of years), there is something the Panthers can do: defend their Kelley-Rex division title.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

The Panthers were nearly perfect in league action during the 2019 season (15-1) and will be one of the favorites for the title again this year. But it will be almost an entirely new cast of players doing so. Franklin had 10 seniors on that team plus another seven juniors that graduated last year, meaning just a handful of players from the roster are back. Of that group, just one starter is back in senior Jake Fitzgibbons, who played second base at the time.

Now Fitzgibbons moves behind the plate and will be in charge of handling a pitching staff that is new to the varsity level. Having him behind the plate should make it easier for the likes of junior Jacob Jette and sophomore Alfred Mucciarone, who figure to be two of the key components of Franklin’s rotation this season. And when needed, Fitzgibbons will switch out from behind the plate and take the mound himself.

Seniors Nate Cooke and CJ Jette serve as captains alongside Fitzgibbons and will provide leadership both on and off the field. Cooke is slated to start at first base and will bring a big bat to the lineup while Jette will see time both in the outfield and at designated hitter. Seniors Luc Boudreau (outfielder) and Nick Quinn (right-handed pitcher) have impressed early on as well.

“As always the cornerstone of our program is pitching and defense,” said head coach Zach Brown. “We believe we have the right mix of athletes and arms to compete daily this season. Offensively, we believe that our line-up can be pretty athletic. Obviously, we are all in the same boat missing last season so it will be an exciting season to get back out onto the field. I know the players and our coaching staff are really excited for the games to start up.”




King Philip

2019 Record: 8-12
2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Jeff Plympton

There will be a lot of new faces on the mound, in the field, in the batter’s box, and even on the bench for the King Philip Warriors this season. Looking back at the 2019 season, only one name is back in action for the Warriors this season. And on top of that, there’s a new coach in the dugout in Jeff Plympton.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Both Conor Cooke and Jack Silveria saw plenty of action during their sophomore seasons but Silveria will miss his senior campaign after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That means that Plympton and the rest of the Warriors will lean heavily on Cooke, a three-year starter who will guide KP from behind the plate. Cooke, who is committed to play at Brown University, is a rock behind the plate and that will be important as KP deploys a pitching staff that is new to the varsity level. That rotation will feature junior Nick Viscusi and sophomore Rudy Gately, with seniors Jack Mullen, Grayden Lawrence, Harry Brown, and Jake Burns all providing depth.

Cooke will be a key part of the offense as well, slated to hit from the clean up spot. Viscusi will set the tone from the leadoff spot and can cause some damage on the base paths with his speed. Junior Shawn Lagere will start at shortstop and bat third in the lineup, providing the Warriors with some power while Gately will see time at third when he isn’t on the mound. Seniors Ethan Hurwitz and Mikey Malatesta provide outfield depth and Plympton has 10 juniors on the roster to help fill out the lineup.

“Looking forward to getting the season going and watching the team play together,” Plympton said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had high school baseball and most of our guys, like many teams, are new to the varsity level. We have some good talent on our team. Plenty of good throwing arms to get us through the new pitching restrictions. The infield is solid with very dependable fielders around the diamond. The outfield is fast and does a great job tracking fly balls. I believe defense will be our best strength this season. The players have been putting in a lot of hard work during practices.”

Mansfield

2019 Record: 18-7
2019 Finish: Reached Super 8
Coach: Chris Hall

Joe Breen had a very successful run at the helm of the Hornets, and his successor is one that the program is very familiar with. Chris Hall, who served as Breen’s assistant, takes over and is aiming to continue the success that Mansfield has had in recent seasons.

Coming off one of their best seasons in program history that culminated in a second straight Super 8 appearance, the Hornets will try to rebuild their lineup with a strong core of seniors. Eric Sullivan will move into the starting role behind the plate and will be a vocal leader both on and off the field for the Hornets. Three-sport athlete Jack Colby is slated to take over at first base, Luke Urban looks to take over at second base, Ben Mintz can slot into a variety of roles, including in the field or on the mound, and Greg Coyle, the lone returner from the 2019 team, will be an option on the mound for the Hornets. Juniors Jared Fraone and Liam Anastasia will help round out the lineup.

Coyle will be joined by juniors Aaron Blinn, Anthony Sacchetti, and Jimmy Gilleran on the Hornets’ staff. That group brings a lot of baseball experience and a range of knowledge, and Hall is hoping all of that will translate to the varsity level. Mintz, Colby Geddis, and Brayden Purtell will look to provide additional innings in relief.

“With two years off due to COVID-19, and few players having varsity experience, I expected tryouts to be exciting,” Hall said. “Our players knew they had to come in and earn everything to gain a spot in the starting lineup. There continues to be daily position battles daily and it pushes players to improve. The talent we have in the program is consistent from top to bottom. The team brings energy and enthusiasm to everything they do and it truly makes the atmosphere on the field second to none. We cannot wait to get out on the field and compete against some of the best competition in the Hockomock League.”

Milford

2019 Record: 11-11
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Alex Dion

Milford will be the new kids on the block this season in their first year apart of the Kelley-Rex division, which features two teams that went to the Super 8 last time out and another that won the D1 State title.

The Hawks are going to rely on their pitching as they compete for the division title. Senior right-hander Mario Lee and classmate Wes Solomon, another righty, both picked up valuable experience as sophomores during the 2019 season and will anchor the Milford pitching rotation. Lee, who is committed to playing both football and baseball at Wesleyan, pitched in 10 games out of the bullpen in 2019 while Solomon appeared in five games with a 2.33 ERA.

Sophomore Evan Cornelius is a “big, physical kid” according to head coach Alex Dion, and he will round out the Hawks’ rotation this season. When he isn’t on the mound, Cornelius will be behind the plate and the same goes for Solomon, who could also see him in the middle infield. Lee will also be in the lineup when he’s not on the mound, playing at either first or third. Senior Carter Scudo burst onto the scene as a sophomore, hitting 0.352, and will be the catalyst to the offense this year, batting in the leadoff spot. He will anchor the outfield defense from center field.

“I’m excited to start our 2021 season,” Dion said. “It has been great to get back out on Fino Field for the first time since 2019. I have a good group of young men this year with players from all four classes making the varsity roster. This is a great league with quality teams, players, and coaches throughout. We will go out and compete to the best of our ability on a daily basis. I am optimistic about what this group has to offer this year and in the future.”

North Attleboro

2019 Record: 11-10
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round
Coach: Mike Hart

North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart has the best arm in the Hockomock League in senior Dennis Colleran and the 2019 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Jared Penta as the catalyst for the offense so the Rocketeers will certainly be in the mix for the Davenport title this season.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Colleran, who is committed to pitch at Northeastern, has been a member of the Rocketeers since his freshman year, making his first appearance in North’s D2 South Semifinal win over Dartmouth back in 2018. He logged 37.1 innings as a sophomore, posting a 3-4 record with a 2.63 ERA during the 2019 season. Since then, Colleran has honed his skills on the club scene and is poised to lead the Rocketeers this year. Senior Joe Hartnett and junior Danny Curran look to fill out the rotation while the Rocketeers have plenty of depth pieces including Tyler Bannon, Dan Pedro, Derek Maceda, and Aidan Weir.

Penta will hit from the leadoff spot and set the tone for the offense. Weir and classmate Justin Vecchiarelli will anchor the infield Maceda, a sophomore, could be poised for a breakout season at shortstop. Curran will also see time in the outfield when he isn’t pitching while senior Evan Vigorito, and juniors Brody Rosenberg, and Gavin Wells will be in the outfield mix. Bannon and Nik Kojoian will be options behind the dish for the Rocketeers.

“Just like other teams in the league, we are curious how our players will make the jump to varsity baseball,” Hart said. “We will do our best to be fundamentally sound and keep things simple. Our pitching staff has a handful of competitive guys who are looking for an opportunity to help the team. The boys are excited about the season and hope we can bring a consistent approach to all our opportunities this year.”




Oliver Ames

2019 Record: 12-13
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal
Coach: Joe Abarr

After reaching the D2 South Sectional Final in 2018, the Tigers fielded basically an entirely new squad during the 2019 campaign. Two years later, Oliver Ames looks to be in the same boat as there minimal varsity experience on the roaster.

Senior Nate Fulford is one of the few players that did see varsity action two years ago, emerging as a go-to option offensively as a pinch-hitter as a sophomore. Now Fulford will be a key piece in the lineup each game, manning third base and bringing a big bat to the heart of the lineup. Senior Jadon Ricci will take over at shortstop and is slated to hit near the top of the lineup.

Junior Jack Richardson was a part of the Tigers’ varsity squad as a freshman and is now in position to anchor the rotation. He’ll be in the lineup even when he’s not on the mound, patrolling the always tricky outfield at Frothingham Park for the Tigers. When it comes to new faces on the squad this year, junior Jake Waxman brings a big bat to the lineup and can bring some pop to the offense; he will start at first base defensively. Junior Joe Cicchetti has impressed early on in tryouts and the preseason both offensively and defensively, and he is slated to start in center for the Tigers.

“We should have a solid lineup,” said OA head coach Joe Abarr. “We have depth at most positions and decent options on the mound. With so little practice time prior to the first game, there are still a lot of questions to be answered, but we have a great group of guys that are really looking to compete this year.”

Sharon

2019 Record: 2-18
2019 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Andrew Poliferno

The last time the Eagles hit the field, they had one of the youngest teams in the Hockomock League. Now that means there is a lot of returning players back in the dugout this year and Sharon should be one of the most experienced groups in terms of baseball played.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Sharon has a new head coach in alum Andrew Poliferno, who is no stranger to the program after coaching at each level over the past few seasons. Poliferno takes over for Kee Arguimbau, who had been with the program as a coach for nearly 20 years including the last four as head coach. Poliferno has 10 seniors at his disposal this year including two of the most experienced players in JD Rittenberg and Justin Brown, who both started as sophomores in 2019. Playing at second and short, respectively, the Eagles will have solid defense up the middle of the field. Sharon expects strong defense to come with the experience it has.

Junior Dylan Labbe pitched some innings as a freshman so the Eagles will lean on him as one of the anchors of the pitching staff. Senior Justin Nault and junior Ryan Baker will also see time on the mound while freshman Luke Meixel is slated to be a part of the starting rotation right away. Offensively, Rittenberg and Brown will lead the way once again. Baker and classmate Nate Yaffe should slot into the lineup in their first year on varsity, playing third and outfield, respectively. Poliferno is also looking for contributions from Damien Bonner and Daniel Zagoren offensively.

“After a missed season, it’s wonderful to see our players back out on the field,” Poliferno said. “Despite the year off, I was impressed with the growth and progress our players made since they last played high school baseball. It was clear to me we have a program of players who work hard during the off-season and I look forward to seeing their hard work translate to wins this season.”

Stoughton

2019 Record: 14-9
2019 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal
Coach: Mike Armour

Like most schools, Stoughton has a limited number of players with varsity experience on the roster this season. It will be baptism by fire for a lot of new faces as head coach Mike Armour will look to get the most out of his lineup to try and compete for the Davenport division title.

The players that do have any varsity experience will be key, especially early on in the season as the rest of the Black Knights get used to the varsity level. Senior Brady Conlin will anchor the Stoughton staff on the mound this year and also hit in the heart of the lineup. Conlin has experience both pitching and at the plate and could be one of the most dangerous all-around players in the league. Senior captain Kyle Doolin will anchor the infield and is an option to pitch as well. He is slated to hit near the top of the lineup and could also see time behind the plate defensively.

Jake Queeney, another senior captain, will patrol center field for the Black Knights and hit from the leadoff spot. Queeney’s speed has been on display on both the basketball court and football field, so his legs could cause some damage on the base paths. Senior captain Brandon Mantilla-Mercado will take care of the pitching staff this year as the starting catcher and will bring some power to the plate offensively. Junior infielder Anthony Tilton has impressed early and figures to be a top bat in the lineup, juniors Jonah Ly and James Price will both see innings in the infield and on the mound, and junior Brad Franey is slated to take over at second. Seniors Joe McNulty, Colby Andrews, Andrew Scardina, and junior Colin Alessi provide lineup depth. Freshmen Hunter Malkin and Ben Zola will likely make an immediate impact for Stoughton.

“The kids are excited to play baseball,” Armour said. “They have brought a positive attitude and willingness to work to practice, which is all I can ask for as a coach. We are excited to get a little bit better every day, and put ourselves in a position to win some ballgames this season.”

Taunton

2019 Record: 21-7
2019 Finish: Won Div. 1 State Championship
Coach: Blair Bourque

It seems like just yesterday the Tigers were celebrating their Division 1 State Championship at LeLacheur Park in Lowell. Yet at the same time, it somehow also feels like a lifetime ago.

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

The Tigers are one of the teams that will “what if” when it comes to the 2019 season, as they were set to have eight starters back to try and defend their first-ever state championship. Now for the 2021 season, there is just one Tiger starter back from that regular season. That is senior pitcher/infielder Danny MacDougall, who will anchor the pitching staff and also return to his shortstop position. Ty Cali, who took over for MacDougall after an injury sidelined him for the postseason, is also back to give Taunton a solid 1-2 punch up the middle of the field. Cali can also slide over and play short when MacDougall, who is committed to playing at the University of Hartford next year, is on the mound.

Sophomore Ryan MacDougall is set to finally make his varsity debut this year. A verbal commit to the University of Dayton, Ryan MacDougall was on the playoff roster for the state championship team as an eighth-grader. Not only does he bring a big bat and power to the lineup, head coach Blair Bourque described his plate discipline as “well beyond his years.” If the Tigers want to compete at a high level, Bourque noted the importance of senior pitchers Conor Quinlan, Bretton Heggs, and Matthew Ferrara. In total, Taunton boasts a dozen seniors on the roster.

“My expectation for this season is for us to compete as a team and individually every day as best we can, but ultimately, I will be grateful I get to spend time on the field with my players,” Bourque said. “It is always about the relationships formed with your players throughout the course of a year, you don’t always appreciate how good you have it until it’s gone. Losing last season really made me appreciate my role as the head coach for the Taunton High baseball program.”

2021 Hockomock League Baseball Preview