CANTON, Mass. – Entering Monday’s contest with Canton, the North Attleboro baseball team had just two wins in its first eight games.
The defending D2 State Champions had just finished warmups when head coach Mike Hart gathered his team in, delivering a passionate pregame plea for his Rocketeers to play to the best of their abilities.
The speech seemed to light a fire under the Rocketeers, scoring three runs in the first inning to set the tone for a 7-4 win on the road over Canton.
“We have to play the game the right way and we have a certain expectation to play a certain way,” Hart said of the pregame talk.
“I thought we’ve been playing really good baseball, just haven’t been making those winning plays. We’re starting to see that more and more as we’re going through. We played well today and got the win. Now we just have to continue to have those high expectations and put in the same effort each game.”
While North Attleboro’s big first inning was canceled by a three-run second from the Bulldogs, the tone had been set. The Rocketeers cashed in on bases-loaded situations in both the third and fifth innings and tacked on two more key insurance runs in the sixth inning for the win.
For the Bulldogs, it was a matter of missed chances to limit the Rocketeers. A trio of errors gave North second chances, while walks and wild pitches also hurt Canton’s chances.
North sophomore Jared Penta singled on the first pitch of the game, stole second, and came around to score when senior Jake Palmer singled, giving the Rocketeers a lead just five pitches into the contest. Senior Brendan McHugh reached when Canton couldn’t handle a potential double play ball up the middle, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch.
Sophomore Dennis Colleran brought a run home with a sacrifice fly and senior Todd Robinson smacked a single up the middle to bring McHugh in for a 3-0 lead. Canton starter junior Chris Rota escaped further damage, getting a fielder’s choice and a strikeout, stranding runners at second and third.
“I think, if anything, it just gives us confidence,” Hart said of the early runs. “It gives our pitcher confidence and everyone in the lineup. They see the guys in front of them are hitting so that carries over to them.”
In the bottom of the second, senior Max Macort earned a one-out walk and sophomore Sawyer Julier-Albert singled to put runners on first and second. North Attleboro senior starter Matt Wanless got a pop up to get to two outs but the Bulldogs were able to score three runs.
Senior Mike Konzal hit a line drive to bring Macort home and senior Matt Pigeon doubled to right field to bring in two more runs. North Attleboro limited the damage when senior Shawn Watters hit a relay throw to third, preventing a triple for Pigeon.
The Rocketeers quickly jumped back ahead, putting a run up in the top of the third. Colleran and senior Nick Raneri draw back-to-back walks and Robinson that could have potentially been a double play. Rota got back-to-back ground balls to third, and sophomore Steve Burbank got the lead runner both times with a throw home. With two outs, Robison came home on a wild pitch with senior Ryan Warren up at bat.
Rota issued another walk to load the bases again but got a fly ball to right for the third out.
“It comes down to mental mistakes,” said Canton head coach Ben Shuffain. “You can’t blame the kids for physical errors because they happen in baseball, especially high school baseball. But you have to be able to come back from it, let it go, and move on. Have to have a short memory.”
Canton had the winning run 90 feet away in the bottom half after senior Paul Corcoran doubled and moved to third, but Wanless induced a ground ball with Raneri making a nice scoop at first for the third out.
Robinson opened the fifth with a single and junior Russell Dunlap reached on a bunt. Senior pinch hitter Jake Carroll singled, giving the Rocketeers the bases loaded with no outs for the second time in the game. After getting an out with a shallow fly ball to left, Penta hit one deep enough for a sacrifice fly to score Robinson. Canton reliever senior Kevin McGonigle got a swinging strikeout for the third out.
“We left some runners on base but I’ll give Canton’s pitchers credit, they kept us off balance in certain at-bats and certain counts,” Hart said. “They made plays when they needed it.
“We’ve been grinding through some situations but we’re starting to finally come through with the plays we need. We’re trying to get guys more used to the varsity competition and meeting the expectations we have.”
North tacked on key insurance runs in the sixth inning. Back-to-back singles (from Colleran and Raneri) and then a fielder’s choice put pinch runner Joe Barrows and Robinson on the corners. After Robinson stole second, Dunlap slapped a deep rouble to right to bring both runners and a 7-3 lead.
Canton got one back in the bottom half when Julier-Albert and pinch hitter junior Lucas Bryant both singled, the former coming in to score on an infield error from the Rocketeers to make it 7-4.
Rocketeer junior reliever Kyle Briere allowed just one base runner (walk) in 1.2 innings of relief, striking out one to get the save.
North Attleboro baseball (2-4 Hockomock, 3-6 overall) is scheduled to play at home on Wednesday against King Philip. Canton (3-5, 5-5) will try to snap a two-game skid when it hosts Taunton on the same day.
Canton, 7 vs. Attleboro, 6 – Final (8 inn.) – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Attleboro scored twice in the top half of the seventh inning to take the lead but Canton tied it in the bottom half to force extra innings then walked off with the win in the bottom of the eighth. Mike Konzal (2-for-4, run) drew a two-out walk, advanced to second on a single from Steve Burbank (2-for-4, run, RBI), and then scored the game-winning run on a hit from Matt Pigeon (3-for-4, two runs, two RBI) for the winning run.
Pigeon was the catalyst for the tying run in the bottom as the seventh as well. Trailing 6-5, Pigeon led off with a double, advanced to third on a fly out from Matt Connolly (double, RBI), and scored the tying run on a two-out double from Rob Sullivan (2-for-3, two RBI).
Each team scored in the first inning but Attleboro seized a 4-1 advantage with a run in the second and two more in the third. Troy Gamache drove in Tim Callahan (3-for-4, two runs) to put Attleboro up 1-0 but Canton responded in the bottom half as Pigeon brought Nate Quan (2-for-4, two runs) home with a sacrifice fly. Attleboro’s Bailey Camacho put the Bombardiers back in front, 2-1, with a sacrifice fly that plated Sam Larkin (double, two runs) in the second inning.
Attleboro extended the advantage to 4-1 when Alvaro Espinal tripled and scored on a wild pitch, and Larkin doubled and came home on an error by the Bulldogs. Canton scored once in the fourth (Rob Sullivan RBI double) to make it a two-run game before putting three on the scoreboard in the fifth to take the lead. Quan, Konzal, and Burbank each singled, the last hit bringing Quan to the plate for a run but Larkin gunned down a potential second run on the play. Canton’s offense continued to battle though, with Pigeon singling to put runners on the corners. A double from Connolly tied the game at 4-4, and an RBI single from Paul Corcoran put Canton up 5-4.
In the top of the seventh, Mason Houle (2-for-4, run, RBI) drove in Callahan with a base hit and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
Senior Kevin McGonigle earned the win in relief, tossing two scoreless innings without allowing a hit and striking out one.
Franklin, 5 vs. Milford, 4 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Franklin trailed 4-1 heading into the fifth inning but scored two runs in the fifth and two more in the top of the seventh to pull out a come from behind victory over neighboring Milford at the Taunton High turf. Alex Haba drove in a pair of runs, including the game-tying run, and scored the eventual game-winner in the seventh, coming home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of JB Floris.
Milford jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Nick Marcolini started the inning by getting hit by a pitch, moved into scoring position on a Matt Shaver single. Colby Pires, who also started for the Hawks and struck out four in 4-1/3 innings, plated the opening run with a single to left. Franklin tied the game in the top of the fourth. Haba walked, stole second, and scored on a single to right by Cooper Ross. The Hawks responded in the bottom half with three runs off the Panthers starter Liam Dailey. Danny Corsini started the rally with an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch before scoring on a Nick Wimette single. Carter Scudo doubled to left to put two in scoring position. Luke Rosa looped a basehit to right to score one and then, after a pitching change, a balk brought in the fourth run.
In the fifth, the Panthers struck for two. Joe Lizotte walked and Jack Nally got hit by a pitch. Scott Elliott loaded the bases with an infield single. A Haba sac fly made it 4-2 and Jake Macchi singled in another to make it 4-3. In the seventh, Elliott walked and stole second before coming around on a Haba single to center to tie the game. With Haba at third, Floris hit a fly ball to left that was deep enough to get in the winning run. Jake Fitzgibbons closed out the game, earning the win with four innings of scoreless relief.
Oliver Ames, 5 vs. Stoughton, 11 – Final – Click here for a photo gallery from this game – Stoughton scored in each of the first four innings, jumping out to an 11-3 lead and never looking back to get a win over Oliver Ames. Cian Swierzewski, James Genest, and Mike Nazzaro each scored in the first inning to help the Black Knights jump ahead.
After Oliver Ames got on the board in the top of the second (Jake Erlich leadoff double, scored on infield single from Jared Spillane), the Black Knights cashed in on a pair of OA errors and walks to make it 4-1. Chris Pearsons (4-for-4, two RBI, two runs) had an RBI triple and scored on an error in the top of the third to make it a one run game at 4-3, but Stoughton tacked on three runs in the bottom half to regain a multi-run lead.
Three walks loaded the bases for the Knights in the bottom of the third. Stoughton scored on a passed ball, a wild pitch, and an RBI single from Cam Dirosa to make it 7-3. Stoughton pushed across four more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jacob Kaplan walked, stole second, and came home to score on an infield error that was put in play by Clayton Rahaman. An RBI double from sophomore Brady Conlin made it 9-3. Swerziewski then connected on the first home run of the season for any Hock player, and first high school player to hit a home run at the new Taunton field, with a two-run blast to make it 11-3. Oliver Ames scored single runs in the fifth (Jacob Levine RBI double) and the seventh inning (Pearsons RBI double).
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.”
Attleboro, 1 @ Canton, 2 – Final (8 Inn.) – Attleboro took a lead in the top of the eighth inning, breaking open a scoreless game, with an RBI single by Alvaro Espinel, but the Bulldogs rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning to walk off with the win. With one out, Tommy DeLello reached on an error and Nate Quan drew a walk. Matt Casamento singled to left to bring in the tying run and Matt Pigeon dropped a single just fair down the line to score Quan with the game-winning run. Robbie Wilkinson went five innings on the mound for the Bulldogs and Kevin McGonigle got his first varsity win in relief. Attleboro starter Drew Pagano went seven scoreless but ended up with a no-decision as the Bombardiers lost to a walk-off for the second straight day.
Sharon, 0 @ Franklin, 11 – Final – Bryan Woelfel went six innings to pick up the win for the Panthers, striking out two and allowing only two hits. Will Pacheco threw a scoreless seven and struck out two to finish the game for Franklin. Brendan Rivera, Cooper Ross, Jake Noviello, and Alex Haba each scored a run and drove in a run in the game, while Jake Macchi scored three times in the win. Ben Schwartz and Max Tarlin had the two hits for the Eagles.
Foxboro, 0 @ King Philip, 5 – Final – David Morganelli had a great game on the bump for the Warriors, picking up a complete game shutout with six strikeouts and only three hits allowed. Collin Cooke had a hit an RBI for the KP offense, while Pat Limerick and Chris Sawyer each had two hits and each scored a run.
Canton, 5 @ Attleboro, 4 – Final – Caroline Hughes struck out five for the Bulldogs and picked up a complete game win on the road. Hughes also hit a double. Freshman Liz Bickett went 2-for-4 with a homerun and drove in three runs for Canton. Evelyn Carrington went 2-for-4 and scored the eventual game-winner. Steph Trendell threw out a pair of Attleboro runners, including one in the bottom of the seventh that ended the game.
Franklin, 15 @ Sharon, 1 – Final (6 Inn.) – Franklin broke the game open with a seven-run second inning to put the Panthers on the way to a third straight win. Jackie Cherry held the Eagles without a hit in her three innings in the circle, striking out seven. Cherry also went 2-for-3 with a triple, homer, and four RBI at the plate. Natalie Stott also went 2-for-3, drove in a pair of runs and scored three times. Gabby Colace went 2-for-2 with two RBI for the Panthers and Macie Phillips threw three innings in her varsity debut, allowing only one hit and striking out three. Nickie Martinez drove in the lone run for the Eagles and junior catcher turned a nice double play from behind the plate.
Taunton @ Oliver Ames – Postponed to TBD.
Franklin, 22 @ Taunton, 1 – Final
Taunton, 1 @ Franklin, 21 – Final – Mairead Goguen scored two goals and had two assists for the Panthers, while Corinne Lewis had two goals. Kate Morse and Sydney Hawkins both scored their first goals of the season in the win.
Sharon, 17 @ Milford, 1 – Final – Sharon coach Shara Ginthwain said that the Eagles “played a strong game today and worked together to get the win” Sharon collected 29 ground balls as a team, won 16-of-19 draws, and assisted on 10-of-17 goals. Abbi Solomon and Sabrina Robbins each scored five goals for the Eagles and Emma Eberhardt collected a hat trick. Jenna Goldstein scored a pair and sisters Maeve and Cass Barbera each tallied once in the win.
Canton, 3 @ Attleboro, 2 – Final
Franklin @ Sharon, 3:45
King Philip @ Stoughton – Postponed to TBD.
Taunton, 3 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final
Attleboro @ Canton, 3:45
Sharon @ Franklin, 3:45
Stoughton @ King Philip, 3:45
Taunton, 5 vs. Coyle & Cassidy, 0 – Final
2017 Record: 6-14 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Matt Bosh
After missing out on the postseason a year ago, Attleboro head coach Matt Bosh believes his team’s depth and versatility will help the Bombardiers get back there.
Junior Eoin Kelleher is back to lead the pitching staff after a stellar sophomore season in which he earned HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors. Kelleher posted a 1.00 ERA in 35 innings of work, including throwing a no-hitter against rival North. Senior captains Jason Weir and Jon Candiales, senior Drew Pagano along with junior Sam Larkin will all see time on the mound for Big Blue as well.
Candiales and Weir also anchor the offense with the former patrolling shortstop and the latter seeing time in both the outfield and first base. Candiales gives the Bombardiers power from the left side of the plate while Weir is a three-year starter that gives Bosh flexibility in the lineup. Larkin will be in the outfield when he isn’t pitching and can use his speed to hurt teams. Corey McKenna returns as the starting second baseman while senior Dakota Kirby is back behind the dish after a year off. Kirby will add pop to the lineup as he hit 0.425 as a sophomore with 10 RBI.
“The biggest improvement that I see from last year is our team speed and athleticism,” Bosh said. “We have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions and we’re very athletic. We have a high number of kids who can play anywhere.”
A strong core of returning players and a good amount of depth will be keys for the 2018 Canton Bulldogs baseball team.
After losing just four players from last year’s team, there is a good mix of experienced players and talented youth for head coach Greg Digirolamo to work with. The Bulldogs will look to three senior captains to the lead the way: Matt Casamento, Robbie Wilkinson, and Tommy DeLello. Casamento is a three-year starter in center field, DeLello will man first base and Wilkinson will try to carry over the momentum from an impressive junior year into 2018. Wilkinson went 3-1 last year with a 1.58 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched.
Wilkinson will be joined in the pitching staff by seniors Austin Maffie, Niko Donovan, and Ryan Hickey, along with juniors Paul Corcoran, Robbie Sullivan, and Kevin McGonigle. Freshman Matt Connolly will also figure into the mix on the mound.
Casamento anchors the defense from the center field spot while junior catcher Matt Pigeon and sophomore shortstop Nate Quan bolster the defense up the middle.
“It’s a good group of kids that like to compete every day, what else can you ask for as a coach?” Digirolamo said. “For us the biggest thing will be seeing live pitching. If we’re to have any success this year we’ll need to do a better job at the plate.”
2017 Record: 7-14 2017 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round Coach: Derek Suess
New Foxboro head coach Derek Suess sees a little bit of the past in his first team as head coach. Suess, a former Warrior himself, said the 2018 version of Foxboro reminds him of a team that won 15 games during his senior year just over a decade ago.
“This team is hungry to put the program back on the map,” Suess said. “I couldn’t ask for a better senior group to lead us. They remind me of the senior group I was a part of in 2007 in which we won 15 games. With a good mix of underclassmen, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s hard work pay off on the field.”
After losing a painful eight games by just one run a season ago, including a near upset of third-seeded and D3 South Finalist Norton in the playoffs, the Warriors will be looking to turn those losses into wins this time around.
“We need to make more winning plays to put those tallies in the win column,” Suess said.
Junior Anthony Mollica will spearhead the offense after leading the Warriors with a 0.367 batting average a year ago. Senior Chad Bearce and sophomore Joe Cavaleri will bolster the middle of the lineup, freshman Sean Yoest has shown flashes early on at the dish, and seniors Joe Freitas, Matt Rongione, and Jack Franceschelli provide the Warriors with some speed.
Senior Steve McLaughlin returns after an impressive 2017 season. Despite posting an 0-6 record, McLaughlin struck out 24 batters in 32.2 innings of work and posted a 1.73 ERA. McLaughlin will be joined by Cavaleri, Yoest, and junior Guy Quartarone in the rotation while senior Robert Theriault returns behind the dish after getting a year of experience last season.
2017 Record: 18-6 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Zach Brown
Focusing on pitching and defense, the Panthers will be looking to get better each and every day as they try to replicate the success from a season ago.
Franklin won the Kelley-Rex division last year, its first league title since 2012. And the mix of pitching and offense put the Panthers in some conversations for Super 8, but the Panthers ended up in the D1 South and bowed out in the quarterfinals after being forced to play on back to back days.
The arms that helped the Panthers have so much success last year as almost all back, starting with staff ace senior Jake Noviello. The Fairfield-commit struck out a Hockomock-best 61 batters a year ago, going 6-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 55.1 innings of work. Noviello is complemented by lefty Jason Ulrickson (7-0, 0.80 ERA, 35 K), Bryan Woelfel (3-2, 0.91 ERA, 4 SV, 31 K) and senior James Leofanti.
The defense will be anchored by a pair of returning starters in junior shortstop Alex Haba (0.360, 12 runs) and junior catcher Jake Macchi.
“While we are returning a number of experienced arms we are also turning over a number of positions last season,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “So, we will be young or inexperienced at a number of positions. Offensively, my hope is that as the season progressing we will be able to develop an identity and find a way to manufacture runs.”
After just squeaking into the postseason a year ago, first-year KP head coach Greg Kessler is hoping his team will be in contention for a Kelley-Rex division title in 2018.
One reason for that is the senior class and the handful of returning players that have plenty of experience at the varsity level. Ben Furfari returns as a key piece of the Warriors’ outfield and lineup. He hit 0.298 last season and will provide the power on offense. Senior Pat Limerick, committed to play at St. Joseph’s (ME), will set the tone as the leadoff hitter.
On the mound, senior Jeremy Rhines (2-1, 1.45 ERA) and junior David Morganelli will be the main options while hard-throwing senior Liam Rohan will also be in the mix. Nolan Bradley returns behind the plate as one of the top catchers in the league while sophomore Robbie Jarest will step in to take over at shortstop.
“We have a great group of senior this year,” Kessler said. “They have been dedicated to the weight room and leading our underclassmen. They continuously strive to build a team that will compete for the Hock championship. They deserve to have a great year. I guarantee that will be the most vocal and most energetic team in the Hock. We pride ourselves on being positive and enthusiastic every pitch.”
2017 Record: 14-8 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Joe Breen
There is a lot of optimism surrounding the Mansfield baseball program this season. And with the arms they have back, there’s good reason for it.
Senior Tyler Dalton, a UMass Amherst commit, returns after missing the majority of his junior year with an injury. Dalton was tremendous during the 2016 season as a sophomore, posting a 6-2 record while striking out 35 batters and posting a 1.78 ERA. He will be joined on the Hornets’ staff by senior Kevin Dow (UMass Amherst commit, 4-1, 1.93 ERA), junior lefty Connor Sheehan (2.82 ERA, 28 K), and junior Kyle Moran (three saves). Sophomore John Carney will also likely see time on the mound for the Hornets.
Senior catcher Cullin Anastasia returns after being named to the 2017 HockomockSports.com Second Team. Anastasia had 19 hits a year ago, knocking in 10 runs and scoring 10 runs as well. Sam Nugent will give the Hornets a spark in center field and on the base path with his speed, Moran picked up plenty of experience at third base last season, and Eric Longley will provide Mansfield with some pop in the middle of the lineup.
“We will rely heavily on our pitching staff this season to keep us in games and look to make the plays behind them and be aggressive with our offensive and baserunning approach to get those guys a few runs per game,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “As always, we will turn to our senior class to set the tone and for our underclassmen to blossom under their leadership.”
2017 Record: 12-10 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals Coach: Alex Dion
Milford baseball starts a new chapter in its historic history as longtime assistant Alex Dion takes over the reigns of the program.
Dion’s first challenge will be having to overcome the loss of a dozen seniors, including team ace Alex Macek, reliable infielders Zack Tamagni and Anthony Arcudi, and hard-hitting outfielder Ryan Goncalves. However, the good news is that Dion has one of the best players at his disposal in Stonehill-commit Aidan Wilde. Wilde had 59 hits between his freshman and sophomore years and added 21 more in the regular season a year ago. After seeing time as a catcher last season, Wilde will mainly man the corner infield positions in 2018.
Wilde will be complemented by junior Matt Shaver, who picked up some experience a year ago at both shortstop and on the mound. The Hawks will rely on Shaver to anchor the defense from short and give the offense a spark from the leadoff position. Junior Tyler Almeida will step in behind the dish and will provide some offense from the left side of the plate. Sophomores Luke Rosa and Colby Pires look to be in the mix as well as junior Nick Marcolini, who will pitch and patrol the outfield.
“We graduated a strong senior class this past year and are now in a situation where we have a lot of new players who we will look to take advantage of new opportunities,” Dion said. “I am excited about the athleticism that we have on our roster and the energy that these guys bring to practice each day. I think our philosophy is simple, but we preach a team-first mentality to our guys and strive to get quality pitching, play clean defense and get timely hits to win games.”
2017 Record: 8-10 2017 Finish: Missed playoffs Coach: Mike Hart
North Attleboro didn’t have to go far to find its new coach. Mike Hart takes over for Paul Tobin and Hart truly bleeds Big Red – a graduate from the school and three-sport coach.
And expectations are high for the Rocketeers after just missing out on the postseason a year ago. Senior captain Nick Sinacola returns after having an MVP-caliber junior season. Big Red will rely on Sinacola on both sides of the plate, leading the offense (he batted 0.415 last year with 15 runs scored) and being the ace of the staff (48.1 IP, 49 K, 2.01 ERA). Senior captain Zach DeMattio is also back after being named to the 2017 HockomockSports.com First Team, batting 0.333 with 15 RBI and three home runs. Big Red also gets senior Nate Pearce (0.371) back after a strong junior year.
Senior Peter Cohen (24 IP, 0.29 ERA) will look to build upon a superb junior year while Nolan Buckley and Jeff Gale bring experience to the outfield. Aidan Harding also has varsity experience and will be in the mix to get innings on the mound along with juniors Matt Wanless, Jake Palmer, Matt Seavey, Nick Raneri, and Ben Arrighi.
“We have a truly industrious group of players,” Hart said. “We’re going to keep moving guys around until we find the lineup that works for us. Some may have to play multiple positions, depending on whose pitching on any given day. We had a decent season last year, with many guys getting some varsity time, but we’re still unproven. We need to continue to improve every day and only worry about the things we can control. Guys will be competing every day all season, which will only make us better. We will approach each day, with a great attitude, high effort, and a steadfast approach.”
2017 Record: 14-9 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals Coach: Joe Abarr
A lot of the players that helped Joe Abarr have a successful first season as head coach last year are back, which means the Tigers are aiming to replicate that success.
Despite finishing in a tie for third in the Kelley-Rex, the Tigers put together the best playoff run of any Hock team, knocking off #2 Dighton-Rehoboth on the road to reach the sectional semifinals. Junior Matt McCormack is back after earning a spot on varsity late in the season this year, and along with classmate Tom Parker, should give OA a solid 1-2 punch. With a handful of capable arms in the mix, the third spot in the rotation is still up for grabs.
Abarr won’t have to worry much about anything hit to the left side of the infield as the Tigers return third basemen Chris Pearsons and shortstop Matt Muir, two of the top defensive players at their positions. Both are capable hitters as well and will provide some pop to the lineup. Another returning starter is senior Mitch Goulet. Goulet had a breakout junior campaign in center field (0.347, 7 RBI), catching fire in the second half of the year. Abarr is hoping that momentum will carry over to this season.
The Tigers have a battle for the spot behind the plate as both junior Jake Erlich and junior Reid Latham are back, both with experience behind the dish.
“We have a great core of returning players that will be the backbone of the program,” Abarr said. “We have to fill positions in the outfield and at first. If we have some guys step up in that role we should have a decent lineup from top to bottom.”
Sharon is aiming to improve on its six-win season in 2017, and will be looking to ride its senior leadership to do so.
Senior captains Max Tarlin and Drew Naisuler are two of the most experienced players in the league and will be spearheading the Eagles’ offense and defense this year. Tarlin (5-4, 46 K, 1.11 ERA) is the anchor of the pitching staff, picking up five of Sharon’s six wins last season. When he’s not on the mound, expect to see Tarlin patrolling shortstop. Naisuler returns as the team’s No. 4 hitter to provide some pop to the lineup and will be a key defensive piece at both center field and first base.
The Eagles will also rely on senior Ben Schwartz, who will mainly be catching this year as well as being a major offensive contributor. Junior Noah Kamens will be a major piece of the pitching puzzle after impressing during his sophomore year. Similar to Tarlin, Kamens will be a major player in the offensive lineup and will see time off the mound spent in the outfield. Spencer Singer is transitioning to the outfield and will continue to be one of the players the Eagles look at for offensive production.
“I have a lot of guys who are multifaceted baseball players and I can foresee a lot of games being played with straight nine in the lineup,” Arguimbau said. “We have great senior leadership and some very promising sophomores that are going to play a major role in our season’s success.”
2017 Record: 15-6 2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Mike Armour
There are a lot of questions to be answered for this year’s Stoughton baseball team, but head coach Mike Armour is excited for his players to rise to the challenge.
The Black Knights graduated nearly their entire team (10 of its 13 rostered players), which won its second straight Davenport division title. So not only will Armour be leaning heavily on his three returning players, he is looking for new faces to seize the opportunity.
“This is an exciting year for our program,” Armour said. “It’s an awesome opportunity for our younger guys. The JV and freshmen teams both over 15 or more games last year, so we’re looking for them to carry that winning attitude into this season. I expect our team to play with heart and execute the fundamentals to make us a competitive team.”
2017 HockomockSports.com First Team selection and senior captain Ruben Gonzalez returns as one of the top players in the league, both defensively at shortstop and offensively at the plate. Senior Matt Hadley and junior Evan Gibb, both captains, are the other two returning players for the Knights. Gibb has plenty of varsity experience behind the plate and Hadley, although he will miss some time with injury, will be key piece in the outfield.
Meanwhile, Armour is looking for sophomores James Genest (first base) and Michael Nazzaro (third base/catcher) to step up and play important roles both offensively and defensively this season. Juniors Kyle Gagnon, Kevin Dixon, and Cian Swierzewski will see time in the outfield and classmate Robbie Seaman will be in the mix for middle infield.
For pitching, Gibb will see time on the mound as well as behind the play. Senior Will Eckhart has some varsity experience and junior Zak Paquette will likely log some meaningful innings for the Knights. Seniors Tim Kellogg, Talyor Atkinson, and Mike Anderson provide infield depth and Jack Brown and Ryan Semler will be in the mix in the outfield.
2017 Record: 12-10 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Blair Bourque
There are a lot of good pitchers in the Hockomock League this year, and it looks like the Tigers’ staff could be right near the top of the list.
Taunton returns senior Tyler Medeiros, who had a terrific junior campaign and will get junior Jack Moynihan back on the mound. Moynihan was impressive during his freshman year two seasons ago but an injury limited his action on the mound last season. Medeiros fanned 68 batters in 56.1 innings of work, posting a 1.98 ERA to anchor the staff. Look for senior Trevor Pietrzyk and juniors Griffin Tomaszycki and Josh Lajoie to get some meaningful innings on the mound as well.
“Tyler clearly emerged as our top pitcher last year,” said second-year head coach Blair Bourque. “Fortunately, he’s a big kid and was able to put us on his back and carry us. Hopefully, we’re able to provide more support for him this year.”
Moynihan will also play a big role in Taunton’s offense this year. While patrolling third base, Moynihan will try to provide some pop in the middle of the lineup. The Tigers also get their top two batters back with senior shortstop Jacob Crawford (0.350, 15 runs) and senior Christian Simoes (0.340, 12 RBI).
Taunton will carry nine seniors and eight juniors this season so experience will be key.