King Philip, 7 @ Bishop Feehan, 9 – Final – Tim Crowley and Zack Zarba each had a pair of hits and drove in a run for the Warriors but King Philip fell on the road to Feehan.
Mansfield, 3 vs. Braintree, 1 – Final – Mansfield senior Kyle Moran had a no-hitter through 6.2 innings, leading the Hornets to a win over visiting Braintree. Moran (five walks) struck out 10 in a complete game, not allowing the Wamps a hit until the seventh inning. Offensively, the Hornets took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh and then added two more in the third. Sam Nugent went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, Eric Longley had a pair of RBI doubles, and John Carney added two hits and a run scored.
Milford, 10 @ Hopedale, 0 – Final – Milford’s offense came alive, plating 10 runs in a win over non-league rival Hopedale. Luke Rosa paced the offense with a pair of hits, including a home run, two RBI, two runs, and a walk. Dan Corsini (2-for-3) added an RBI and a run scored and Carter Scudo had a hit, a walk, two stolen bases, and two runs. Colby Pires got the win, tossing four scoreless innings allowing just one hit while striking out three. Sophomore Mario Lee pitched two scoreless innings in relief with four strikeouts.
North Attleboro, 6 vs. Natick, 8 – Final – North Attleboro answered each time that Natick scored, but couldn’t keep pace as the RedHawks picked up a win on the road. Natick went ahead with a three-run home run in the top of the first but North got on the board in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from Jake Palmer. Natick extended the lead to 5-1 in the top of the fifth but North made it a one-run game by plating three in the bottom half. Ryan Warren (two hits) led off with a hit and scored on another RBI from Palmer, who scored on a fielders’ choice from Dennis Colleran (3 RBI). Kyle Briere scored on a single from Jake Carroll to make it a one-run game. Natick padded its lead with three runs in the top of the seventh. Colleran belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh.
Taunton, 6 vs. New Bedford, 5 – Final – Taunton turned patience at the plate into 10 walks and capitalized on three Whaler errors, eventually walking off with a win. With the game tied in the bottom of the seventh, Sean Quinlan reached on an error. Pinch runner Nolan Melo advanced with a single and then came home to score the winning run on a wild pitch. Lucas Martins had two hits, a walk, and an RBI for the Tigers. Josh Lajoie scattered four hits, four walks, and four runs over five innings of work while striking out five. Sophomore Danny MacDougall got the win in relief, allowing just one run on two hits in two innings with three strikeouts.
Oliver Ames, 2 vs. Walpole, 10 – Final – Oliver Ames kept pace with the Rebels for five innings before the visitors pulled away with six runs over the final two innings. Sophomores Emma Varella (2-for-3, double) and Grace Simone each scored a run for the Tigers while Katie Abreu added a hit.
Stoughton, 13 vs. Milton, 0 – Final (6 inn.) – Nicole Baker had another impressive start for the Black Knights, striking out 10 and allowing only three hits to earn the win. She also had a pair of hits at the plate. Karly Estremera led the Stoughton offense with four hits, while Lexi Baptista and Nikki Coppola both added two hits apiece.
Taunton, 15 @ Foxboro, 0 – Final (5 inn.) – Taunton clicked on all cylinders, belting out 17 hits while senior Alexa White got 13 of the 15 outs via strikeout. White allowed just one hit, walked two and didn’t allow a run to earn the shutout victory. Sophomore Kelsey White shined at the plate, hitting two home runs and knocking in four runs. Payton Ceglarski (double, home run, four RBI), Rylie Murphy (two doubles, RBI), Abbie McDonough (two RBI), Alexa White (double, RBI), Hanna Aldrich (two runs), and Jaime Brown each had two hits for Taunton.
Mansfield, 16 @ Sharon, 0 – Final (5 inn.) – Mansfield jumped out to a big lead, with 10 runs in the opening two innings, and never looked back to pick up the road win. The Hornets scored seven runs in the first on seven singles, added three runs in the second inning and then tacked on five more in the fifth. Mansfield finished with 16 hits as a team. Ella Verheggen went 3-for-4 with four RBI, while Kara Bendanillo, Mady Bendanillo, Mary Muldoon, Caty DeMassi, and Sarah Cahill each recorded two hits apiece. Cahill also earned the win in the circle, striking out six and facing just two batters over the minimum.
Canton, 9 @ Scituate, 7 – Final – Tied at four apiece at halftime, Canton outscored the Sailors 3-2 in the third to take a lead into the fourth, and the Bulldogs limited Scituate to just one goal in the final frame to get the win. Senior Griffin Roach led the way with three goals and three assists while Dylan Coyne had a strong game in net with seven games. Head coach Bill Bendell noted the strong defensive efforts of Brendan Albert, James Murphy, George Kent, Nick Mackay, Jack Albert, and Carson Campbell.
Mansfield, 8 vs. Bridgewater-Raynham, 15 – Final
North Attleboro, 9 @ Sharon, 3 – Final
Stoughton, 5 @ Quincy/North Quincy, 12 – Final
Foxboro, 19 @ Hingham, 9 – Final
Sharon, 15 @ North Attleboro, 11 – Final – Emma Eberhardt had seven goals and an assist to lead the Eagles to a non-league win over North. Mia Lappen added three goals and a pair of assists and Cass Barbera and Jenna Goldstein each scored twice in the win. Maxine Gordon also got a goal for Sharon. Eagles coach Shara Ginthwain said, “I’m so impressed with how we played together today, everyone did their job on the field to earn this big win!”
Taunton, 13 @ Plymouth North, 11 – Final
King Philip, 4 @ Bishop Feehan, 1 – Final – King Philip won two matches in singles action and swept both doubles matches to earn a victory over Bishop Feehan. Sophomore Nick Putney didn’t drop a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at second singles while junior Jack Cannon secured a 6-1, 6-1 win at third singles. The team of Nate Ihley and Tyler Dowd picked up a 6-2, 6-1 win at first doubles while Jake Mager and Max Goreham rallied for a 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-3 win at second doubles.
King Philip, 4 vs. Bishop Feehan, 1 – Final
King Philip, 3 vs. Millis, 0 – Final – King Philip won its fifth straight match with a 3-0 sweep (25-13, 25-17, 25-15) at home against Millis. Alex Bernhard had a strong day with 13 service points and one ace while Mike O’Brien paced the offense with 10 kills.
Taunton, 3 vs. Quincy, 2 – Final – A shorthanded Taunton team survived a five-set thriller against visiting Quincy. For the second straight match, the Tigers took a 2-0 lead but had to go to a fifth set. After falling to KP on Thursday, Taunton prevailed in five against the Presidents. Damir Santiago stepped up into the setter position and played well for the Tigers. Gage Kingman, Tyler Stewart, and Liam Bunker all played well at the net for Taunton.
Mansfield, 10 vs. Foxboro, 3 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Mansfield held a 2-1 lead through four innings of play but scored eight runs in the final three innings to pull away from Foxboro. The Warriors scored in the first inning as Anthony Mollica walked, advanced to second on a passed ball, took third on a ground out, and scored on an RBI triple by Joe Cavaleri. Mansfield answered back with two runs in the top of the second. Kyle Moran led off with a double and Eric Longley reached on an error. Both advanced on a wild pitch and Moran scored on a groundout from Nick Dumouchel. Longley scored on a double from Connor Smith.
In the fifth, Sam Nugent reached on an error, stole second and third, and scored on a sac fly from Dan Saraceno. Jake Gerraughty, who walked and stole second, scored on an RBI single from Moran to make it 4-1. Tim Rockett (John Carney single), Doumouchel, Chris Jenkins (3 RBI), and Nugent scored in the sixth inning while Will Giffen and Brandon Kemp came around for runs in the seventh inning.
Moran got the win for the Hornets, allowing three hits and one walk over five innings of work, striking out eight eight one earned run allowed. Foxboro sophomore Cam Prescott had a solid outing, allowing five hits and one walk in five innings of work, striking out three with five runs allowed but just one of them earned.
King Philip, 3 vs. Sharon, 2 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – Sharon loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but could only push across one run as the Warriors escaped the new Taunton turf field with a win. Junior Alec Filipkowski brought in a run with a sacrifice fly but KP starter Terry Murray (CG, 5H, 1BB, 2R, 0ER, 5K) got his fifth strikeout to end the game. KP sophomore Jake Silveria singled and took third on an error and scored on a double from Zach Zarba to make it 1-0 in the second inning.
KP added two more runs in the top of the fifth. Tom Weir reached on an error, stole second and third, and scored on an RBI single from Robbie Jarest. Jarest stole second and took third on a pop up, then came home when a throw from the catcher back to the pitcher got away. Sharon got on the board in the sixth as Filipkowski got to second on a two-base error and then came in to score on an infield error on a hit by Jared Reef.
Sharon junior Max LeBlanc pitched a complete game, striking out six while allowing four hits and two walks. He allowed a total of three runs but just on earned.
North Attleboro, 4 @ Taunton, 6 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery of this game. – In a back and forth contest, Taunton scored three runs in the top bottom of the fifth and added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth to get the win. North jumped out to a 2-0 lead, scoring in the first inning (Evan Melo walk, stolen base, to third on Danny MacDougall fly ball, scored on Josh Lajoie’s RBI groundout) and in the third inning (Lucas Martins walk, to second on Gavin Leahy grounder, and scored on an infield error).
North cut the deficit in half with a run int he top of the fifth (Russell Dunlap walked, took second on a wild pitch, to third on Shawn Watters sac bunt, scored on two-out single from Jake Palmer). Taunton had an immediate answer, plating three runs in the bottom of the inning. Martins walked and stole second. Leahy reached on an error and Melo hit an infield single to load the bases. Lajoie was hit by a pitch to bring a run in and Logan Lawrence drove in a pair with a single.
North Attleboro made it a one-run game with three run in the top of the sixth. Kyle Briere walked and came around to score on a single from Dennis Colleran, and Watters drove in two with a two-out single to make it 5-4. Taunton added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when pinch runner Curt Marshall (running for Colby Lariviere after a double) came home after a throw from home sailed into the outfield when Martins stole second. Lajoie got the win, striking out nine in six innings of work, scattering five hits and two walks with four runs allowed. Justin Rollo earned the save with a perfect seventh inning. Colleran (5.2 IP, 5H, 3BB, 6K, 6R, 2ER) was solid in his season debut.
Mansfield @ Holliston – Postponed to TBD.
Stoughton junior George Currier broke onto the scene last year, earning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors after a strong first season in the Black Knights’ starting lineup. Currier played right field last season and really impressed with his consistent defense. Head coach Mike Armour boasts that Currier can play anywhere defensively and that certainly gives the Black Knights flexibility. He also was strong at the plate, batting .328 with four doubles, 14 runs, and 13 RBI. With a year of experience under his belt, Currier will certainly be a leader for the Black Knights this year.
First-year Attleboro head Steve Dunlea put it perfectly when talking about senior Alvaro Espinal: “He’s the type of player that you don’t want to be at the concession stand when he’s up to bat.” Espinal really impressed during his first year in the Bombardier starting lineup last season. He’s got a quick bat and lightning speed that puts a lot of pressure on opposing defenses. Once he gets on base, he can certainly find his way into scoring position with his legs. That speed is also on display defensively as Espinal showed last year that he can cover a lot of ground and make tough catches look routine.
The Franklin Panthers have had a lot of success over the past two seasons, and one constant in that time period has been shortstop Alex Haba. Haba burst onto the scene as a sure-handed shortstop during his sophomore year and has been one of the best defensive players at any positions since then. At one of the most important spots on the field, Haba routinely makes difficult plays look easy. And over the past two years, he’s really improved on the offensive end. Last season, Haba batted .328 during the regular season with 22 hits, 12 RBI and 15 runs scored. Haba will be a leader for the Panthers this year, both on and off the field, and could be one of the best overall players in the league.
Milford had a bit of a down year in 2018 but the Scarlet Hawks have a lot of players back this year that are looking to make a run to the state tournament. One of those players is senior captain Nick Marcolini, who was one of the strongest players for the Scarlet Hawks. Last year, Marcolini hit .386 with 17 hits, eight runs scored and three RBI. He provided the Hawks with some timely at-bats and will be a leader, both on and off the field this season. He will also see some time on the mound and gives the Hawks a left-handed option. With a solid group of experienced players, such as Marcolini, Milford should be in contention for a playoff spot.
King Philip senior David Morganelli has had a terrific career for the Warriors in both football and baseball, and he will be looking to have another strong season before graduating. He posted a 2-3 record last year on the mound, striking out 43 in 38.2 innings of work. His ability to use multiple pitches, including a good slider, keeps batters off balance. He ranked in the top 10 last season for strikeouts and was among the league leaders in ERA, posting an impressive 1.99 mark. “David has an opportunity to be one of the best pitchers in the Hock,” said KP coach Greg Kessler. “He is competitive and has improved a lot in terms of accuracy.” The Warriors will look for Morganelli to anchor a strong pitching staff this year.
One of the top all-around players in the league, Chris Pearsons is definitely one of the preseason favorites for Player of the Year. Defense seems to come easily to Pearsons, who started at third base last year but will make the switch to shortstop this year. Having such an experienced player patrolling shortstop will bolster the Tigers’ defense, which is strong every single year. He really improved last year at the plate, batting .448 in the regular season, sixth best in the league. He had 30 hits, 17 runs scored and 11 RBI. Expect more of the same this year from Pearsons, who will likely be in the heart of the lineup for the Tigers.
Taunton’s Josh Lajoie proved to be one of the toughest at-bats last season. While sometimes prone to walks, Lajoie showed some really good stuff at times that had batters guessing. He throws very hard and keeps batters off balance. The important thing this year will be pounding the strike zone for Lajoie, who is committed to St. John’s University. He will form arguably the top 1-2 starting pitching combinations with classmate Jack Moynihan. On top of being one of the best pitchers in the league, Lajoie is a key piece of the Taunton offense. He was third on the team last year with a .366 batting average. He had 15 hits with five runs scored and five RBI. Expect Lajoie to have a big impact for Taunton this season.
Taunton’s Jack Moynihan enters his fourth year on the Tigers and will look to orchestrate a memorable season for his final year. Moynihan impressed during his freshman year but injuries slowed him during his sophomore season. He bounced back nicely last year, emerging as one of the top pitchers in a league full of great hurlers. He picked up wins over both Mansfield and Franklin, the two Hock teams in the Super 8, including a 15-strikeout performance against the eventual champion Panthers. He went 4-2 in the regular season with an impressive 0.97 ERA, striking out 40 in the process. He has a great fastball and can mix in offspeed pitches when needed to keep hitters off balance. Moynihan, who is committed to Sienna College, is a preseason favorite for Player of the Year.
One of the most consistent offensive weapons for the Kelley-Rex division champion Hornets last season is back again this year: senior Dan Saraceno. The outfielder spent the majority of the season atop the leaderboard for batting average, finishing the year with a .364 clip. He had 20 hits and tied for third in the league with 21 runs scored and added 14 RBI. The Hornets were first in the Kelley-Rex in runs scored last year and Saraceno’s consistency near the top of the order helped put Mansfield in position to score. He will also be a valuable member of the Hornets outfield defensively. He will return alongside Sam Nugent as starters, giving Mansfield a leg up defensively.
North Attleboro had a tremendous season last year by winning the D2 State Championship, the first in program history. A lot of attention went to the Rocketeers’ relentless offense as well as ace Nick Sinacola. But senior Matt Wanless quietly put together one of the best seasons among all players in the league. He went a perfect 5-0 in the regular season in 31.1 innings pitched. He wasn’t one of the most flashy pitchers, striking out 17 total but he was certainly one of the most effective pitchers in the league. He posted a 0.90 ERA in the regular season, giving the Big Red a chance to win every single time he was on the mound. With Sinacola graduated, Wanless will be a very important piece of the Rocketeer’s pitching staff in 2019.
2018 Record: 9-11 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Steve Dunlea
After missing out on the playoffs by just one game last season, the Bombardiers are hoping to their experience will help them reach the state tournament this year.
Attleboro has experience in its pitching staff, behind the plate, and both in the infield as well the outfield. The Bombardiers pitching was a strength last season and should be again this year. Eoin Kelleher, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, returns for his senior season and will be the anchor on the staff. Junior Ryan Morry impressed during his outings last season and lefty Camden Fitzpatrick will be in the mix as well.
The Bombardiers will be very strong on the left side of the infield. Senior captain Mason Houle will man third base while junior Tim Callahan, a starter last season, takes over at shortstop. Junior Lorenzo Wilson is slated to take the job at first base while Morry and junior Nick McMahon will split time at second base. While it’s a strong group defensively, all four will be relied upon to step up offensively. Attleboro had just 80 runs total last year, least in the Kelley-Rex division.
Another big part of the offense will be center fielder Alvaro Espinal. Espinal is arguably the best fielding outfielder in the league and will also bring a spark to the Bombardiers lineup at the plate. Senior captain Robbie Furtado will fill in at left field while Sam Larkin and Troy Gamache will both see time in right as well as designated hitter. Behind the plate, Troy Van Vliet gives the Bombardiers some experience while sophomore Bailey Camacho gives first-year head coach Steve Dunlea some flexibility at the position.
“The strength of this team is its senior class leadership and team chemistry,” Dunlea said. “We really have a well-balanced team that is strong in all phases of the game. It’s going to be a fun group to watch this year.”
2018 Record: 5-15 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Ben Shuffain
A strong core of returning players along with some young talent should make for a fun season for the Bulldogs in 2019.
After losing a few key pieces from 2018, there is a good mix of experienced players and talented youth for first-year head coach Ben Shuffain to work with. The Bulldogs will look to three senior captains to the lead the way: Matt Pigeon, Paul Corcoran and Robert Sullivan. Pigeon is a three-year starter behind the plate who batted .368 last season. Corcoran and Sullivan will anchor a deep pitching staff that has looked solid in the preseason.
The pitching staff will also include seniors Kevin McGonigle, Nick Murray, and Joe Bates. Along with them Shuffain will also lean on junior Chris Rota and sophomores Nate Hewitt and Matt Connolly on the mound.
The infield has a double play duo that has shown to work well together featuring senior Mike Konzal and returning second baseman Nathan Quan. Offensively Canton will look to senior Max Macort along with juniors Owen Lahane and Lucas Bryant, and sophomore Steven Burbank.
“We have been very fortunate to have a lot of work outside so far this spring and I think it is going to help us start off on a positive,” Shuffain said. “The team is coming together and we have a great group of kids who really want to turn this program around.”
2018 Record: 5-16 2018 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round Coach: Derek Suess
Foxboro graduated 10 seniors from last year’s squad but there are 12 Warriors returning with varsity experience looking to make another trip to the state tournament.
The Warriors will be relying on their pitching staff this year to lead the way. There is a lot of optimism surrounding the rotation with senior Anthony Mollica and sophomore Sean Yoest each possessing plenty of varsity experience. Those two will be the top guys in the rotation while sophomore Cam Prescott has impressed during the preseason and could fit into the third starting spot. Seniors Guy Quartarone, Brian Duncan, and Philip Thomas as well as juniors Michael Devlin and Joe Cavaleri will be in the mix as well.
When he isn’t on the mound, Mollica will be the anchor of the defense from the shortstop position. He will be joined by sophomore Michael O’Toole at first base, Cavaleri will man third, and Thomas will take over at second base. Senior Adam Lanctot will also see time at second base this season for the Warriors.
In the outfield, Duncan — a senior captain that missed all of last season — will be the anchor, with Devlin handling center field duties and junior James Kaeser rounding out the Warrior outfield. Junior Zach Jenkins will also be in the mix for time in the outfield while junior Kyle McGinnis takes over behind the plate and will be relied upon as a key piece of Foxboro’s offense.
“Mentally, we have to have the same focus, energy, and intensity every single game,” said Foxboro coach Derek Suess. “There are no easy games in the Hockomock League. We must be consistent in our everyday approach in order to have a chance to compete for a league title.”
2018 Record: 21-5 2018 Finish: Division 1A (Super 8) State Champions Coach: Zach Brown
Coming off the program’s first-ever Super 8 state championship, Franklin is going to have a big target on its back — and the Panthers know it.
Franklin lost its top three pitchers in Jake Noviello, Bryan Woelfel, and Jason Ulrickson. Those were the only three pitchers to play during the Panthers’ Super 8 run. This season, the Panthers will turn to the experience of Ben Guzman, Brennan Rivera, and Will Pacheco. All three made appearances a year ago with Guzman and Pacheco registering wins. Guzman is currently recovering from an injury suffered in the preseason but the Panthers are excited for his contributions when he returns. Juniors Liam Dailey and Cody Trotin will also be in the mix after starting for JV last season.
While the pitching staff gets settled in, the Panthers will rely on its defense and offense. After an up-and-down regular season last year offensively, Franklin will be trying to carry over the success it had in the state tournament. Senior Alex Haba is back at shortstop and is one of the best two-way players in the Hockomock. Jake Macchi had a terrific postseason and will be looking to carry that over into his final year starting at catcher for Franklin. Scott Elliott will be the veteran in the outfield for the Panthers as well as a top offensive weapon. All three players — Haba, Macchi, and Elliott — are committed to playing baseball at Merrimack.
Cooper Ross is coming off a strong postseason and will start at third base while junior Jack Nally had a standout sophomore campaign in center field and will move up to the top of the order to set the table for the Panther offense. JB Floris will move from the designated hitter spot to first base and brings an experienced bat with him. Senior Joe Lizotte should see time in the outfield while senior Shane O’Neil’s versatility gives Franklin a lot of options defensively.
“We know this isn’t last year, this is a totally different team with different dynamics,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “We like the makeup of our team, with guys working hard and the seniors being good leaders. I think we could be pretty good defensively, and we’ve shown at times in the preseason to be pretty versatile on offense.”
King Philip is returning a lot of experienced players from last year’s squad and is hoping that will turn into an improved season and berth in the state tournament.
One big reason for optimism is a seasoned pitching staff, which features seniors David Morganelli and Terry Murray. Morganelli posted a 1.99 ERA last season along with 43 strikeouts in 38.2 innings pitched. Murray will be the second starter for the Warriors while juniors Chris Sawyer and Robbie Jarest are expected to factor into the rotation as the season progresses.
“David’s size, strength, and velocity make him a formidable pitcher,” said KP’s second-year head coach Greg Kessler. “His slider and ability to locate his fastball are one of the best in the league. David has an opportunity to be one of the best pitchers in the Hock. He is competitive and has improved a lot in terms of accuracy.”
Sawyer and Jarest will handle the left side of the infield again this year, with Jarest returning as the starting shortstop and Sawyer back manning third base. Both players will be key pieces at the top of KP’s batting order. Senior Ian Zimmerman returns at second base while senior Jake Anderson and sophomore Conor Cooke will both see time behind the plate.
Timmy Nault (.311 last year) will lead the way in the outfield while Zachary Zarba will figure in as well. There is a lot of competition for some open spots in the KP lineup as well.
“We have a lot of work to do this season, we need to improve on our hitting and driving the ball,” Kessler said. “We have a great group of seniors who are dedicated and excited to compete for a Hock Title. This senior group is a collection of great student-athletes and really represent KP well. They are leaders on and off the field”
2018 Record: 19-5 2018 Finish: Super 8 First Round Coach: Joe Breen
Mansfield had a very successful 2018 season that saw the Hornets win the Kelley-Rex division and earned a berth into the Super 8 tournament. But the Hornets enter the 2019 campaign hungrier than ever.
After seeing an early exit from the Super 8, Mansfield is aiming to get back and make some noise in the tournament this year. There will certainly be holes to fill after graduating two top pitchers in Tyler Dalton and Kevin Dow, as well as the steady bat of Justin Pena and the terrific defense of catcher Cullin Anastasia. However, there are 11 players due back from last year’s team and a handful of new faces ready to make an impact of their own.
Junior John Carney and senior Kevin Moran will anchor the rotation; the Hornets unfortunately lost ace Connor Sheehan for the season to an injury. Both Carney and Moran have experience though, and Mansfield is looking to seniors Jake Gerraughty, Matt Scibilia, Aidan Angland, Connor Smith, and sophomore Greg Coyle to fill the relief and spot start roles.
Mansfield brings back two of its three outfielders from last year with centerfielder Sam Nugent and right field Dan Saraceno both returning. Speedy shortstop Mike Hargadon is also back so the Hornets have three key pieces from the top half of the lineup back to pace the offense this year. Look for Eric Longley, Jenkins, Smith, Gerraughty, and Scibilia to also factor into to the Hornet lineup this year.
“It’s been a wild offseason here between losing some of our top guys and coming down with the injury bug but we have a great group of self-motivated returning players that we will look to keep our program going in the right direction,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “There are a lot of positional battles and innings on the mound to be sorted out, but the staff is excited to see the boys compete over the first couple weeks of the pre-season to get ourselves ready for [the first game]. While we had some great success last season, the boys know that we are 0-0 and they are ready to carve their own path.”
2018 Record: 5-15 2018 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Alex Dion
After having a relatively young, inexperienced group in 2018, the Scarlet Hawks have flipped the script, bringing back six starters and eight total players and will be looking to ride that experience to an improved 2019 campaign.
Half of the returning starters are the three starting pitchers from last year, including senior Danny Corsini and juniors Colby Pires and Luke Rosa. Despite a 1-3 record last year, Rosa had a solid 2.97 ERA in 30.2 innings of work with 19 strikeouts. Corsini logged over 35 innings while Pires had over 24, so there is plenty of experience in the Hawk’s rotation.
Senior captain Matt Shaver returns to his shortstop position and will anchor the infield. Corsini and Pires will both see time at third base when they aren’t pitching, Justin Applebee is back for another season at second base, and Tyler Almeida continues his duties as the starting catcher for the Hawks. Senior captain Nick Marcolini gives the Hawks a left-handed option on the mound. Sophomores Carter Scudo (outfield) and Mario Lee (first, pitcher) will also factor in this year.
“I’m looking forward to the 2019 baseball season and am excited about the players that are on our team,” said Milford head coach Alex Dion. “This is a tough league with a lot of good teams and good coaches. I think we have an opportunity to be very competitive this year. I will lead on our returning seniors and captains to push this team in the right direction and I am excited about the young players we have in our program.”
2018 Record: 22-2 2018 Finish: Division 2 State Champions Coach: Mike Hart
North Attleboro is looking to replicate its success from last season, the best year in program history that resulted in the D2 State Championship. And with a solid group of returning players, there is optimism but the Rocketeers know it certainly won’t come easy.
“We are a team with a decent amount of returning players, but we will need everybody contributing to be successful,” said North Attleboro coach Mike Hart. “We are looking for guys to be more consistent, especially on the offensive side of the game.”
The Rocketeers have three returning starters in the infield, so that will certainly be relied upon as the season gets underway. Senior Nick Raneri started at third last season but will move over to first this year while seniors Shawn Watters and Ryan Warren will take care of business up the middle. Hart says there is a lot of competition for the final spot in the infield with a handful of players possibly seeing time. Brendan McHugh returns as the starting left fielder while Kyle Bolger, Russell Dunlap, and Kyle Briere are all in the mix.
Behind the plate, senior Todd Robinson and junior Owen Harding are battling for the starting spot.
While the Rocketeers look to get the offense going, they will rely on their pitching staff early on. Matt Wanless had a very strong junior year and will be counted on heavily this season while seniors Matt Seavey, Jake Palmer, Jake Carroll, as well as Dunlap and Briere, should be in the mix for innings. Sophomore Dennis Colleran will see an increased role this season and could emerge as a top option for the Big Red.
“We will rely heavily on our pitching staff to lead us, and with smart, mistake-free defense, we will be able to win some games,” Hart said. “I really like the competitiveness our team brings every day. If we can learn from our failures and grind through the tough parts of the season that are sure to come, I believe we can win some ball games.”
2018 Record: 16-8 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Final Coach: Joe Abarr
Oliver Ames is coming off one of its most successful seasons, reaching the D2 South Final last year. The Tigers graduated some key pieces but there is a lot of players back that gives OA hopes at replicating last year’s success.
Senior Chris Pearsons will be a leader on and off the field for the Tigers, moving over from third base to take over the starting shortstop spot. Pearsons is one of the top players in the league, earning HockomockSports.com First Team honors last year after belting out 30 hits for an impressive .448 average. Not only is he a dangerous offensive player, he’s one of the top defensive players in the league as well.
Another key returner for the Tigers is catcher Jake Erlich, who will begin his third year starting behind the plate. Erlich is one of the top defensive catchers in the region and OA is looking for him to have a breakout season at the plate. Junior Jacob Levine showed flashes last season with some timely hits as a pinch hitter. This year, Levine takes over at first and the Tigers will be looking for him to bring a consistent bat to the lineup.
Reid Latham, who went 2-1 last season with a 2.85 ERA, focused heavily on pitching this offseason and will take over as the top starter in the Tigers’ rotation.
“We have an established lineup of varsity hitters with a handful of underclassmen that will be filling in gaps for us,” said Oliver Ames coach Joe Abarr. “Our pitching rotation should be solid as long as everyone stays healthy. Last year, the Hock proved to be one of the best leagues in the state. We need to show up and compete every day if we want to be successful.”
After a couple of seasons of being on the outside looking in, the 2019 Sharon Eagles are looking to make strides towards a state tournament berth.
Although it will be a relatively young group, there is strong senior leadership. Head coach Kee Arguimbau is hoping that a nice mix of veterans and new faces will result in a successful season.
Tarlin was also the ace of the staff for the past couple of seasons but senior Noah Kamens should be ready to step into the top spot after some real strong outings last year. A lefty, Kamens does a nice job mixing up his pitches and will be a key part of Sharon’s defense. Kamens will be complemented by 6’6 righty Max LeBlanc, who burst onto the scene a year and had some impressive outings. Jared Reef returns behind the dish and the Eagles are looking for him to have a breakout year offensively.
Junior Alec Filipkowski is moving in from the outfield to second base while sophomore Justin Brown returns to shortstop after picking up valuable experience last season as a freshman. Noah Martinez, who recently returned to Sharon after living in Florida, could be a key piece of the offense while playing the hot corner defensively.
Seniors Dairell Martinez and Matty Jacobsen will be doing their part for the Eagles in the outfield while = senior Ben Reinbold looks to have an impact for Sharon on the mound.
“This year’s team is young. Luckily, what we lack in experience, we make up for in solid leadership,” Arguimbau said. “The seniors have done a phenomenal job in establishing the culture for the team this season. The young guys in the program have followed their lead and have been working hard in the offseason and are ready to continue to put the work in every day.
2018 Record: 10-9 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Mike Armour
Stoughton had a solid season a year ago, but an early exit from the state tournament has left the Black Knights hungry for more in 2019.
It starts with the two co-captains for the Black Knights: senior Zak Paquette and senior Robert Seaman. Paquette emerged as Stoughton’s top option on the mound last season and will be counted on to take on a lot of innings again this season. Paquette isn’t the most flashy pitcher but he helps put Stoughton in position to win games. Seaman will start at shortstop and the Black Knights are looking to him for a big bat in the middle of the lineup.
Last year’s HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year George Currier is looking to pick up where he left off last season, giving the Black Knights flexibility with his ability to play anywhere on the field defensively. Seniors Cian Swierzewski, Kevin Dixon, and Kyle Gagnon are all experienced outfielders, James Genest III gives Stoughton a nice presence at the plate offensively, and Mike Nazzaro will handle catching duties.
Newcomers Clayton Rahaman and Jacob Kaplan should log some innings in the outfield, along with Cam Dirosa in the infield and Brady Conlin in the infield and on the mound. Senior pitcher Evan Jackman has impressed so far this preseason and will be a key piece of Stoughton’s starting rotation.
“The goal this season will be to compete every time we set foot on the field, playing sound fundamental baseball and doing the little things to put us in a position to win some ballgames,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. “The boys have been working hard and I expect us to have some fun this year and play the game the right way.”
2018 Record: 1 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Blair Bourque
There is a lot of excitement in Taunton with its new turf field, but the Tigers are hoping it’s their performance on that field that will have people talking by the end of the year.
It all starts with pitching for Taunton this year. With two DI commits in Jack Moynihan (Siena) and Josh Lajoie (St. John’s), the Tigers will certainly be boasting one of the top pitching groups for another season. Moynihan posted a 1.44 ERA with 43 strikeouts while Lajoie fanned 36 batters and had a 1.52 ERA.
Both Moynihan and Lajoie provide a lot of offense as well, but the Tigers will need others to step up to fill some voids from graduation. Tyler Medeiros (.375) and Trevor Pietrzyk (.373) both graduated some Taunton’s offense so head coach Blair Bourque will be looking for some new faces to step up.
The Tigers will be looking to senior Evan Melo to give the offense a spark. Melo will patrol center field and set the table to the offensively from the leadoff spot. Junior Logan Lawrence impressed last year batting .336; Taunton will need his bat to provide pop in the middle of the lineup in 2019.
“We’re certainly excited about having the opportunity to showcase our new turf field,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque. “It’s really a dream come true. There’s something special about this year’s team, the senior leadership and camaraderie are substantial.”
Below are the official 2018 Hockomock League Baseball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League MVP
Tyler Dalton, Mansfield
Hockomock League All Stars
Jon Candiales, Attleboro
Matthew Casamento, Canton
Chad Bearce, Foxboro
Alex Haba, Franklin
Jake Macchi, Franklin
Jake Noviello, Franklin
Bryan Woelfel, Franklin
Jeremy Rhines, King Philip
Tyler Dalton, Mansfield
Kevin Dow, Mansfield
Daniel Saraceno, Mansfield
Aidan Wilde, Milford
Zach DeMattio, North Attleboro
Brendan McHugh, North Attleboro
Nathan Pearce, North Attleboro
Nick Sinacola, North Attleboro
Mitch Goulet, Oliver Ames
Matthew Muir, Oliver Ames
Chris Pearsons, Oliver Ames
Ruben Gonzales, Stoughton
Robert Seaman, Stoughton
Tyler DaSilva Medeiros, Taunton
Jack Moynihan, Taunton
Alvaro Espinal, Attleboro
Matthew Pigeon, Canton
Joseph Freitas, Foxboro
Colby Fitzgibbons, Franklin
David Morganelli, King Philip
Justin Pena, Mansfield
Matthew Shaver, Milford
Peter Cohen, North Attleboro
Michael Mulrean, Oliver Ames
Max Tarlin, Sharon
Evan Gibb, Stoughton
Josh Lajoie, Taunton
By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor
TAUNTON, Mass. – For the 11th-seeded Durfee Hilltoppers, the third time was the charm.
The team from Fall River defeated #6 Taunton Tigers, 7-6, in the first round of the MIAA Division 1 South tournament on Thursday, after the Tigers had taken the two regular season meeting games against their non-league rivals this year.
“Today was one of those days where we tried to pick up each other, we came together as a team, we fought, but they were just the better team today,” said Taunton coach Blair Bourque. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We came to play and left everything on the field, [we] just came up a little short today.”
The Hilltoppers put up three runs in the third and four in the fourth to forge their path to victory. The visitors saw important offensive contributions from several players, including second baseman Nate Ladeira, who went 3-for-3 with three singles, two runs, a walk and an RBI. Right fielder Remy Dumont also impressed for the visitors, going 2-for-3 with a run, a walk and a stolen base.
On the mound, starter Tommy Lambert took the win, going 5.2 innings giving up nine hits, six runs, and two walks while striking out five. In relief, third baseman Ethan Ferreira moved over to the mound and tossed 1.1 innings giving up a hit and a walk while striking out two.
For the Tigers, a handful of players impressed at the plate, starting with the leadoff batter, center fielder Trevor Pietrzyk, who went 2-for-3 with two runs, a walk, and two stolen bases. Designated hitter turned pitcher Tyler Medeiros also went 2-for-3 with two runs, in addition to a double and two RBI while left fielder Logan Lawrence went 2-for-4 with a three RBIs, a run, and a home run.
For the Taunton pitchers, starter Jack Moynihan gave up three runs, four hits and a pair of walks while striking out three for the no decision. The loss was charged to reliever Josh Lajoie.
Medeiros finished the game for Taunton, giving up three hits, a run (unearned) and a walk while striking out three in 3.2 innings.
The game began fairly the same for both teams, as they both lead off the first with hits only to see themselves come out of the inning scoreless as the pitchers battled back.
Durfee put themselves on the board in the top of the third inning as Ladeira walked, Dumont singled and left fielder Lucas Sousa was hit by a pitch to load up the bases for the Hilltoppers. In that scenario, first baseman Curtis Perry delivered a double that scored the first two, and a wide throw to the plate by Lawrence that went out of bounds allowed Sousa to cross the plate and gave the visitors a 3-0 lead.
The Tigers, however, were quick to respond.
Right fielder Evan Melo and Pietrzyk hit back-to-back singles, and an overthrow on a steal attempt allowed Melo to come home, and Medeiros drove in Pietrzyk a batter later to make it 3-2.
On the next at-bat, a double deep to right by Lawrence some Medieros come home all the way from first, tying the game back up at 3-3 as the third inning came to a close.
Lajoie took over on the mound in the fourth inning but ran into some early trouble, hitting the first two batters he faced and gave up an RBI single to the third, Ladeira, to give Durfee a lead they would never relinquish.
A wild pitch advanced both designated hitter Brett Fonseca and Ladeira into scoring position, in time for Dumont to send them both home off a deep single to the left center gap, making it 6-3.
After the hit, Medeiros took the mound in relief. An infield single bunt by Lambert plated Dumont, and the Hilltoppers came out of the inning with a 7-3 lead over their hosts.
The Tigers still were hungry, and not ready to go down without a fight.
In the bottom of the fifth Pietrzyk drew a one-out walk and stole second to put himself in scoring position. A hard-hit double by Medeiros drove the outfielder in, and he himself would cross home as Lawrence sent a deep shot over the left field fence by the foul pole for a two-run home run, leaving the Tigers trailing the Hilltoppers by just a run.
That run, however, would never come for the hosts. After threatening with second baseman Griffin Tomaszycki on third, Durfee swapped their starter for Ferreira, who closed out the inning and kept the Taunton mostly at bay for the next couple of innings.
For the Tigers, Medeiros was able to get himself into a groove, including striking out three out of four batters he faced during one strand.
The Hilltoppers nearly added another run in the top of the seventh as Ferreira tried tagging up to home on a Fonseca pop out to left, but Lawrence had different plans as he sent a strong, accurate throw to catcher Andrew Gomes at the plate to beat the runner and turn a routine fly into a double play.
Durfee moves on now to the MIAA D1 South Quarter Finals, where the #11 Hilltoppers will be challenged with a trip to #3 Wellesley on Monday.
King Philip, 2 @ Bishop Feehan, 15 – Final – Pat Limerick had three hits on the day but the Warriors fell on the road to Bishop Feehan. One of Limerick’s hits was a solo home run while Jeremy Rhines also chipped in with three hits and an RBI for the Warriors.
Taunton, 5 @ New Bedford, 0 – Final – Taunton scored two runs in the top of the fourth and then put the game away with three more runs in the top seventh to beat New Bedford. The Tigers had nine hits as a team with Andrew Gomes (two RBI) and Tyler Medeiros (RBI) each recording two. Josh Lajoie pitched six scoreless innings with eight strikeouts to earn the win.
Mansfield, 16 @ Bridgewater-Raynham, 1 – Final – Mansfield’s offense used 12 hits, four walks and took advantage of four Trojan errors to pick up a big win on the road. Mansfield broke open a scoreless gae with four runs in the fourth and added seven more in the fifth. Although the Hornets had 12 hits, only one player – Tyler Dalton (three RBI, two runs) – had more than one hit. Ten other Hornets each had one hit with Chris Jenkins and Kyle Moran providing two RBI and a run scored each. Connor Sheehan earned the win, striking out seven with just two walks and three hits allowed in five shutout innings of work.
North Attleboro, 5 @ Attleboro, 1 – Final – Bella Erti struck out 13 and walked just one, while going 2-for-3 at the plate with a homer and two RBI, leading North to the Blue-Red Cup title. Abby Gallagher also went 2-for-2 and drove in three runs, while Olivia Capobianco had two hits and scored two runs and Emily Nardelli, Ashley Cangiano and Katherine Munley each had a hit.
Canton @ Randolph, 4:00
Franklin, 0 @ Bridgewater-Raynham, 3 – Final – Franklin had the same amount of hits as Bridgewater-Raynham but couldn’t string them together to find a run. Both teams had five hits but the Trojans cashed in on a couple of unearned runs. Jackie Cherry had two hits for the Panthers while Maggie Hobby had one and made two nice catches in foul territory behind the plate. Emily Valentino allowed five hits while striking out four.
Mansfield, 8 @ Duxbury, 4 – Final – The Hornets opened the game with three runs in the first, added three in the fifth and scored a pair of insurance runs in the seventh to pick up the road win. Mady Bendanillo drove in the first run with a double and scored on a double by Felicity McMullin, who scored on a single by Caty DeMassi. In the fifth, Kara Bendanillo again got it started with a single and Megan beat out a bunt to put two on. Mady Bendanillo doubled again, driving in two more runs and then she scored on a sac fly. In the seventh, Letendre and Mady Bendanillo singled and moved up into scoring position on good base-running. McMullin plated one run with a slow roller on the infield and Bendanillo scored on a wild pitch.
Taunton, 14 @ Oliver Ames, 5 – Final – Taunton’s Kelsey White had three hits and knocked in four runs while sister Alexa tossed a complete game with six strikeouts and no walks as the Tigers beat OA. Alexa White scattered five hits while allowing just one earned run to improve to 3-0. Jaylin Couto (home run, four RBI, three runs) and Jaime Brown (RBI) each had two hits for Taunton while Kya Enos (two RBI) and McKenzie McAloon (three runs, two stolen bases) had one hit apiece. For OA, Caroline Mahoney was 2-for-4 with a single, a solo home run and two runs scored, Katie Mills was 1-for-3 with two RBI, and freshman Grace Simone had a single and a run scored.
Stoughton, 1 @ Milton, 5 – Final
Franklin, 12 @ Canton, 5 – Final – Franklin built a 7-1 lead after 24 minutes of play and never looked back to finish its regular season with a win on the road over Canton. Eric Civetti netted seven goals and had three assists while Jake Davis scored a hat trick and had two helpers for the Panthers.
Sharon, 12 vs. Cambridge, 0 – Final – Eight different players found the back of the net for Sharon and Jonny Greenberg recorded a shutout in the Eagles’ win over CambridMitchellchll Director scored a team-high three goals while Kadin Nestler had two goals and two assists. Daniel Lilenfeld added a goal and two assists for Sharon.
Canton, 1 @ Franklin, 20 – Final – Katie Jones led Franklin’s offense with four goals and two assists as the Panthers picked up a win at home. Lilly Kolb added two goals and an assist while Haley DeStefano found the back of the net twice for the Panthers.
Mansfield vs. Natick, 4:00
North Attleboro, 12 vs. Old Rochester, 16 – Final – North Attleboro was tied 7-7 at the half but Old Rochester broke the game open with a strong second half. Kayla Moulin made 11 saves in the game, including the 300th of her career. Camille Pizarro scored five goals, Julia Dakin had three and Mackenzie Rosenberg had a pair for North.
Sharon, 18 vs. Cardinal Spellman, 2 – Final – Lydia Chase led the Eagles with five goals and an assist, while Emma Eberhardt played provider with six assists. Sabrina Robbins had a hat trick, while Mia Lappen, Abbi Solomon (two assists), and Jenna Goldstein all scored two goals apiece. Maeve Barbera added one goal.
Stoughton, 1 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final
King Philip, 4 vs. Bishop Feehan, 1 – Final – King Philip dominated doubles play, losing a combined five games and winning both matches in straight sets to defeat Feehan. Sean Desroches and Nate Ihley won 6-0, 6-1 at first doubles and the team of Nick Ihley and Aidan Ignatius notched a 6-1, 6-3 win at second doubles. Nick Putney prevailed with a 7-6, 3-6, 6-4 win at second singles and Jack Cannon lost just one game (6-0, 6-1) in a victory at third singles.
Sharon, 2 @ North Attleboro, 3 – Final – North Attleboro’s Ben Pfeffer and Vikram Senthilakumaran emerged from an epic three-set match at first doubles with a win to clinch a victory for the Rocketeers as well as a perfect league record. Pfeffer and Senthilakumaran won 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3) to clinch the Davenport title for Big Red. With North’s win, Sharon’s run of 38 straight years with a league title comes to an end. Richard Bermudez won 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (1) at first singles and Christian Bermudez picked up a 6-1, 6-0 win at second singles. Sharon sophomore Danujan Thirumavalavan won 6-2, 6-0 at third singles and the team of Ashwin Sreevatsa and Arie Chinnappan picked up a 6-1, 6-3 win at second doubles for the Eagles.
Taunton, 5 @ New Bedford, 0 – Final – Taunton picked up its 14th win of the season with a sweep of New Bedford. The Tigers didn’t drop a single game in singles play as Francois Hennaux (first singles), Brett Beaulieu (second), and Charlie Fiske (third) each won 6-0, 6-0. Dylan Kullas and Mike Briggs won 6-0, 6-2 at first doubles and Kyle Dennehy and Trevor Hart paired up for a 6-0, 6-2 win at second doubles.
Foxboro, 1 @ Martha’s Vineyard, 4 – Final – Foxboro’s Sophia Prinos picked up a win at first singles but the Warriors fell to Martha’s Vineyard. Prinos earned a 7-6 (6), 6-4 win for the Warriors’ lone point.
King Philip @ Bishop Feehan, 3:45
North Attleboro, 0 @ Sharon, 5 – Final – Sharon defended home court with a sweep of North Attleboro, winning all five matches in straight sets. Nupur Shukla won 6-0, 6-3 at first singles, Lulu Yuan earned a 6-1, 6-1 win at second singles and Katie Merport recorded a 6-0, 6-3 win at third singles. The Eagles’ first doubles team of Emily Wen and Sachi Bhasin won 6-1, 6-0 while Rithika Neti and Sophia Fein picked up a 6-3, 6-1 win at second doubles.
Taunton vs. New Bedford, 4:00
Milford, 3 vs. BC High, 2 – Final
Taunton, 3 @ Durfee, 0 – Final – Taunton went on the road and swept the Hilltoppers (25-18, 25-17, 25-16) to improve to 16-0 on the season. Ricardo DaFonseca set the offense in motion with 40 assists while Lens Esquil and Lance Law had 13 kills apiece. Collin Hunter and Malik Charle chipped in with six kills each.
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – When Attleboro loaded the bases in the fifth inning, Taunton head coach Blair Bourque decided to make a call to the bullpen to try and keep the score even.
The decision to bring in senior right-hander Brendan Bignar proved fruitful as he struck out the next two batters to escape the jam.
“It was huge, you know he comes in throwing strikes,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque. “We did that to ourselves, he was able to pick up Josh [Lajoie]. It was a great effort, good leader, came in throwing strikes and that’s what we needed him to do and that’s what he did.”
Along with Bignar, Taunton’s starter Josh Lajoie had success silencing the Bombardiers’ bats en route to a 1-0 victory.
Lajoie pitched 5.1 innings, striking out 12 batters while allowing just one hit. The two combined to toss a seven-inning shutout, combining for 18 total strikeouts.
“[Josh] is a good pitcher,” Bourque said. “If he can locate that fastball and pitch to contact more, keep the pitch count low and try to extend them a little bit, he’s going to be big for us.”
As effective as Taunton’s pitching staff was, Attleboro’s starter and senior captain Jon Candiales was just as brilliant. The right-hander struck out seven batters while pitching all seven innings for the Bombardiers’, allowing just two hits and one run.
Taunton’s eventual game-winning run came in the top of the sixth, when Trevor Pietrzyk was able to score after Attleboro tried to throw out Tyler Medeiros stealing second.
Pietrzyk started the inning with a leadoff single and was able to steal second to be put in scoring position. He moved to third after a sacrifice bunt from Bignar.
“This was definitely a pitcher’s duel, lot of strikeouts. We got to get guys in motion and try to make things happen,” Bourque said. “It’s tough for [Attleboro] to lose that way and it’s something we got to work on, kind of put the ball in play and making things happen and actually getting those balls to drop.”
Attleboro had plenty of opportunities throughout the game to put runs on the board, but failed to capitalize. The Bombardiers’ drew eight walks, led by Tim Callahan with three, which is something Taunton has struggled with all season.
“We kill ourselves, we are our own worst enemy, walking guys, errors, big innings…you know you got to limit the damage,” Bourque said. “That’s been all year, the games you look back at you have a lot of regrets.”
Attleboro’s best opportunity outside of their bases-loaded situation in the fifth came the inning earlier. After Sam Larkin was hit by a pitch and Dakota Kirby drew a walk, a double steal put both runners in scoring position with no outs.
But three strong stops by Taunton catcher Ben Joyce left the runners where they were and Lajoie recorded three consecutive strikeouts to end the Bombardiers’ threat.
“We’ll take that, we’ll take it anyway them come right now, that was a tough game,” Bourque said.
Taunton baseball (8-5 Hockomock, 11-5 overall) returns to the diamond on Friday for a matchup with Sharon. Attleboro (5-9 Hockomock, 6-10 overall) is back in action on Sunday, as they welcome Lowell to town.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Mansfield senior Tyler Dalton found himself in an unusual spot on Monday afternoon, looking to bounce back after a tough outing in his last start.
Dalton allowed nine runs – six earned – in his previous start on the road at Oliver Ames. But with a chance to bounce back, Dalton was at his best. The senior right-hander allowed just two hits — only one out of the infield — while striking out 10 and walking just one in a complete game effort, helping the Hornets pull out a 7-2 win over Taunton.
“After his bullpen, the only thing he said to me was ‘We’re not losing today,’ and I could see the look on his face, you just knew he was going to go out and deal,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “He knew what he was up against with Taunton being a good team and [Jack] Moynihan being one of best pitchers in the league. He had his work cut out for him, but he certainly met the challenge, that’s for sure.”
Dalton limited Taunton to one hit in the third and one in the fourth, the two innings the Tigers scored single runs. Beyond that, he faced the minimum in the first, second, fifth, sixth, and seventh. Taunton had a runner in the second (HBP), but he was erased by catcher Cullin Anastasia trying to steal second.
He also recorded at least one strike out in every inning, getting a pair of Ks in each the second, third, and sixth innings.
After a pair of scoreless innings, Taunton finally broke through in the bottom of the third. Griffin Tomaszycki battled back from down 0-2 in the count to lead off with a walk. He then took second on a ground out from Andrew Gomes and came around on a sharp grounder down the first base line from Josh Lajoie to make it 1-0.
Mansfield got its first two hits of the game in the top of the fourth with Dan Saraceno and Dalton both singling. Dalton and Kevin Dow (reached on fielder’s choice) got to second and third with two outs but Taunton starter Jack Moynihan got the final out to prevent any damage.
Taunton added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth. Senior Jacob Crawford reached after an infield error and took second when he beat the throw on Tyler Medeiros’ ground ball. With two outs, Tomaszycki hit a hard ball to the left side of the infield for a single, but the throw was off which allowed Crawford to come home from third to make it 2-0.
But the lead didn’t last too long as Mansfield responded in the top of the fifth, with a little help from the Tigers’ defense. Justin Pena’s single was followed by Chris Jenkins’ grounder, which resulted in a fielding error and then a throwing error. Pena moved all the way to third and Jenkins to second.
Mike Hargadon drove Pena in with an RBI ground out, and a couple of pitches later Jenkins took third on a passed ball and scored on a two-out single from Sam Nugent to make it 2-2.
“I think the first few games of the season, once we got to two strikes in the count, we were pretty much an automatic ‘K,’” Breen said. “We’ve really changed our approach with two strikes over the last month and the guys are really taking to it. Everyone is up there battling with two strikes, and once we get two strikes, we’re not an easy out anymore. I think that pesky attitude paid off and we put some balls in play.”
Mansfield’s offense continued in the top of the sixth inning. Dalton drew a one-out walk, ending Moynihan’s day on the mound. Dalton took second on a passed ball and scored on a hard hit ball by Anastasia, who took second on the throw to home. With Anastasia taking off, he came around to score on another infield error to make it 4-2.
“You can’t do it, we’re hurting ourselves,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque of his team’s six errors. ”We didn’t leave guys on base too much today, obviously [Dalton] pitched an outstanding game today. But we have to eliminate the mistakes and have to play sound baseball because we’re not that great of an offensive team. Any extra bags or extra outs, they come back to haunt you and it’s killing us right now.”
The Hornets put the game out of reach with three insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning. Saraceno was hit by a pitch with one out and moved all the way to third on an errant pick off attempt. Dow drove Saraceno in with an RBI single. Another error proved costly for Taunton as Anastasia was able to reach and Dow came all the way around make it 6-2.
Anastasia took third on that error and came home on a line drive single from Pena.
“If you told me we were going to get seven runs today, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Breen said. “I knew we’d have a few baserunners and that we’d have to maximize those guys as much as possible. We knew getting an extra 90 here or there, with a steal or something, would be huge. We have a lot of good athletes with some wheels, so we definitely want to use that as much as possible.”
Despite suffering the loss, Moynihan pitched well, allowing just one earned run in 5.1 innings of work, four hits, one walk, and three strikeouts.
“I don’t think he had much on his fastball today, so he did really well for himself to work the off-speed pitch and do as well as he did without necessarily his best fastball,” Bourque said of Moynihan. “He’s learning how to be a pitcher, not just a thrower. In games when you don’t have your best stuff and can still get guys out is something he can be commended for. But we have to help him out and make sure we’re making those plays.”
Mansfield baseball (6-3 Hockomock, 8-3 overall) will try to extend its win streak to five when it hosts Attleboro on Wednesday afternoon. Taunton (5-4, 8-4) will try to bounce back the same day when it hosts Franklin.
“At this point, every game you win is the biggest of the season,” Breen said. “Being able to come on the road and beat a good team, especially with a good pitcher like that…we’ve had this one marked on the calendar for a while especially after the first game and the boys were certainly up for the challenge.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The temperatures may have been hovering around 40 degrees and fans and players alike were bundled up as though it were mid-February rather than the middle of April, but Taunton starting pitcher Jack Moynihan was not bothered by the cold. He came out throwing heat and dominated from the opening pitch of Friday’s early season night game at Franklin.
Moynihan struck out the first five batters he faced and closed the game by striking out five Panthers over the last two innings. He finished with 15 strikeouts on the evening, allowed only three hits, and tossed a complete game shutout, as Taunton walked away with a 2-0 victory to remain unbeaten.
“Phenomenal,” said Taunton coach Blair Bourque of Moynihan’s night. “Getting ahead with his fastball first time around and then mixing it up but getting ahead. He did a great job.”
While striking out the side in the first, Moynihan threw strikes on 10-of-11 pitches. He also retired the first two batters in the second on punch outs before Stephen Luttazi became the first Panther to put the ball in play with a grounder to second. Luttazi injured himself coming out of the batter’s box and was forced to leave the game.
In the third inning, Moynihan struck out a pair before Franklin finally made solid contact, as nine-hole hitter Colby Fitzgibbons broke up the no-hitter with a double to left center. Moynihan came right back with a strikeout of Jack Nally to end the inning.
“We faced him last year and we knew we were in for a really tough test,” said Franklin coach Zach Brown of Moynihan. “He certainly was on, pounding it, and he really threw his breaking ball well for strikes.”
Franklin, which has been struggling at the plate this season with only 10 runs scored in five games, put together its lone rally in the fourth. Scott Elliott took the first pitch to center for a single and Alex Haba lined a twisting drive down the right field line that Griffin Tomaszycki went full stretch to get a glove to but couldn’t haul in. Elliott had to pause in case it was caught and ended up at third on the single.
Haba stole second to put two runners in scoring position and Brown turned to a suicide squeeze with catcher Jake Macchi at the plate. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the sophomore couldn’t get a bunt down and Elliott was easily tagged out by Taunton catcher Ben Joyce. Moynihan ended the threat with a strikeout and a comebacker.
Brown explained, “Today wasn’t going to be the day that we were going to roll out and put up crooked numbers or anything like that, so opportunities to execute and push a run across we knew was going to be big and whoever got that first one was going to be in a good position. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done.”
The Tigers were not able to turn Moynihan’s dominance into a lead thanks to a strong performance from Franklin starter Bryan Woelfel. Using a repertoire of off-speed pitches, he kept the Tigers off-balance and managed to bear down and work himself out of several early jams. He allowed no earned runs and struck out seven in six innings.
“He had that slider going and he was filthy,” said Bourque of Woelfel. “He mixed it up and had our hitters off-balance and he made us look silly sometimes. Just a great game.”
Jacob Crawford drew a walk in the first and advanced all the way to third after a single by Christian Simoes (3-for-4, reached base all four plate appearances) and a stolen base, but Woelfel induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Tyler Medeiros to emerge unscathed. Taunton put two runners in scoring position in the third but again Woelfel escaped, this time with a strikeout.
Brown said, “I don’t necessarily know if Bryan had his best stuff today but one thing we don’t have to worry about is whether or not he’ll be ultra-competitive and he certainly was today. Very different styles, very different pitchers, but both competing hard and it was certainly a pitcher’s duel.”
A breakthrough finally came in the sixth inning. Simoes lined a double to center to leadoff the inning and, after Woelfel fell behind 3-0 in the count, Medeiros was intentionally walked. A wild pitch allowed both runners to move into scoring position, but Woelfel came back with a pair of strikeouts to get on the verge of another big escape.
Tomaszycki hit a slow, bouncing ball on the infield grass that couldn’t be fielded cleanly and allowed the game’s first run to come home. Woelfel limited the damage with another strikeout to end the threat.
The Tigers tacked on an important insurance run in the seventh against Franklin reliever Will Pacheco. With one out, leadoff hitter Trevor Pietrzyk dropped a perfect bunt down the third base line to get on base. After a strikeout and a stolen base, he stood on second with two down. Simoes came through in the clutch with his third hit of the night, driving an RBI-double to right center.
“Christian Simoes, a senior, came up big,” Bourque said. “He’s in that spot for a reason. That insurance run puts a lot less pressure on in the seventh. You get a runner on and your down just one that’s a lot different. Having that cushion allows us to take a breathe and go get the next guy.”
Two runs was more than enough for Moynihan. He struck out the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh, his 14th and 15th of the night, and got a slow roller to third that looked like it might end the game, but instead the throw skipped away to bring the tying run to the plate. Moynihan got slow bouncing ball to Josh Lajoie at second to end the game.
“From start to finish, he pitched so well and I think getting ahead sets the table for his off-speed pitches and he was able to spot and hit corners,” said Bourque of his pitcher. “Hats off to him.”
He added, “Every team in the Hock is really good and Franklin is up there, so we’ll take them when we can get them.”
Taunton (6-0, 3-0) will stay in the division on Monday when it hosts King Philip, while Franklin (3-2, 2-2) will be right back on the field on Saturday with a trip to Bishop Feehan.