Attleboro Edges Mansfield In Back-And-Forth Battle

Attleboro softball Meghan Gordon
Attleboro freshman Meghan Gordon swings at a pitch in the third inning against Mansfield. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
MANSFIELD, Mass. – When the Mansfield and Attleboro softball teams meet, it doesn’t matter where the teams are in the standings, you know you’re in for a good game.

Even more so was the case when the 16th-seeded Hornets hosted the 17th-seeded Bombardiers in an MIAA Division 1 South Preliminary Round game, with each team’s season hanging in the balance.

And with seven of the last 10 meetings dating back to 2015 having been decided by two or fewer runs, its no surprise that Thursday’s contest came down to the final inning.

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In a see-saw battle that saw Mansfield take its second lead of the game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, Attleboro responded with two runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead for the third time and junior Emily Gittle (7IP, 11H, 2BB, 5ER, 13K) struck out the side in the bottom half to give the Bombardiers a 7-6 win.

“It doesn’t matter what the records are, it’s just one of those games,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “It’s a really good rivalry, it was a great game today. You have to be able to come back from things like errors and that’s what good teams do because you can’t play a perfect game. And our big players came through when we needed them.

“The kids persevered. We had the same type of game against Franklin, so we’ve been there before. We’re never out of it, especially when it’s one run. [Mansfield] is a good team, they battle, they find ways to get runs too. Those Bendanillo’s are two really tough outs. Emily Gittle was strong in the circle, a quiet 13 strikeouts tonight. We had some errors but I thought we got some big outs today at the right time.”

The Bombardiers had the first lead in the game after scoring in the first inning, the Hornets seized the advantage with three runs in the fourth, Attleboro jumped back in front with four runs in the fifth before setting up a frantic finish.

“This is how it’s been every time we play them,” said Mansfield head coach Lori Letendre. “I think if you play two more innings, it could have gone the other way. It’s that type of game every time we play Attleboro, unfortunately, they got us all three times this season.

“We hit the ball well today just not when we needed it most. That’s been the story of our season, leaving runners on base and having runners in scoring position and not getting the hit we needed. We had the bases loaded twice, runners on second and third at least once, we had our chances…just couldn’t get it done.”

Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth, the Hornets struck for three runs to go back in front for the second time. Senior Sydney Woods clubbed a leadoff double and moved to third on a single from sophomore Ella Verheggen. Verheggen stole second but Gittle got a strikeout and a groundout to get the first two outs.

Kara Bendanillo battled to a walk to load the bases and all runners moved up a base with Woods coming in to score to bring the Hornets within one. Senior Megan Letendre drew another walk to load the bases again, bringing the Hornets’ top offensive player in Mady Bendanillo.

The senior delivered, lacing a single through the left side to bring in two runs to put Mansfield up 6-5 and the pressure on the Bombardiers with just three outs left.

Attleboro came up with a big response as freshman Hailey Perry drew a leadoff walk and classmate Meghan Gordon advanced the run into scoring position after Mansfield starter Sarah Cahill (7IP, 7H, 3BB, 6ER, 4K) induced a ground ball out. Freshman Lindsey Perry singled to put runners on the corners with the Bombardiers’ top offensive threat McKenzie Bergdoll coming to the dish.

Bergdoll delivered the clutch hit the visitors needed, blasting a double deep to left to bring in both runs and putting her team back ahead, a lead they’d hold onto for the win.

“It was the best [Bendanillo] against the best [Bergdoll] and we happened to be the last one standing,” Homer said. “That’s the way you want it to be. You come from behind like that, that’s great for the team, it’s good to persevere because we play a very good team on Saturday.”

Bergdoll put the visitors on the board in the top of the first inning. Gordon smacked a double to start the game and then stole third when Lindsey Perry took ball four and was walked. Bergdoll hit a fly ball deep enough to left for a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.

Mansfield’s offense came alive in the bottom of the fourth and used a combination of hits and Bombardier errors to jump in front. Kara Bendanillo led off with hard-hit single to left and took third when the ball was misplayed. An infield error allowed Letendre to reach and Bendanillo to score to tie the game. Senior Caty DeMassi followed with an RBI triple and scored herself when the throw home sailed high, putting the Hornets up 3-1.

The Bombardiers mounted a comeback just a half inning later with four runs on their own. Kayla Battisti led off with a single and Gittle reached on a throwing error, putting runners on the corner. Hailey Perry drove in a run with a single and Gordon followed with a triple to bring two more runs in. A single from Lindsey Perry brought in the fourth run of the inning to put Attleboro head 5-3.

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Freshman Hailey Perry, Lindsey Perry, and Meghan Gordon combined for five hits, five runs, and five RBI in the win.

“The bats came alive, and again at the end,” Homer said. “The Perry’s and Meghan Gordon…they are all freshmen. It was huge to get hits from all parts of the lineup.”

Attleboro softball (11-10) advances to the MIAA D1 South First Round and will travel to top-seeded Bridgewater-Raynham (19-1) on Saturday at 4:00. Mansfield finishes the season 12-9.

Franklin Edges Attleboro in Back-and-Forth Battle

Gabby Colace reached base three times and scored a pair of runs, as Franklin pulled out a 7-6, come from behind win against Attleboro on Sunday morning. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – Both teams had already qualified for the postseason and Sunday morning’s matchup felt like preparation for the upcoming state tournament. It was a game in which both teams battled back multiple times and both learned what they will need to work on to make a playoff run.

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In the end, Franklin made enough plays to pull out a 7-6 victory over Attleboro. Senior Emily Valentino came off the bench to pitch 2-1/3 innings of scoreless relief and drove in the game-tying run with a fifth inning single.

“Emily Valentino came in and kind of slammed the doors, so to speak,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon. “She did a nice job out there.”

She also praised the Bombardiers for being aggressive and putting pressure on the Panthers. Fallon said, “They put a lot of pressure on us today. They came here swinging and trying to take some names. They put up a nice performance against us today and redeemed themselves from the first game (a 14-0 Franklin win).”

Attleboro was playing its third game in the span of 24 hours. The Bombardiers completed a rain delayed game with Taunton on Saturday morning and then drove 90 minutes to play Marblehead. Attleboro beat the Magicians to qualify for the tournament and carried that momentum to Franklin.

“They could’ve laid down coming into this one but they didn’t,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer about his team’s attitude on Sunday morning. “We’ve had some pretty bad injuries, so we had three freshmen out there today. They’ve been doing a good job up and down the lineup.”

Meghan Gordon led off with a single to right, followed by a swinging bunt from Lindsey Perry that turned into an infield hit. After a groundout moved both runners into scoring position, Lora Woynton brought in a run with a deep sac fly to center and Natalie Mansur singled to left and drove in a second.

The Panthers cut the lead in half in the bottom of the first. A one-out triple by Gabby Colace was followed by a sac fly to left by Ally Shea. Gordon made a nice running grab for the out, sliding past the foul line, but it allowed Colace to come home without a throw.

There were no clean innings on Sunday. Even scoreless frames included at least one base runner. Franklin starter Jackie Cherry pitched out of trouble in the second and third innings to keep the Panthers within one. Colace turned a double play when she snagged a line drive at second and tagged the runner to end the third.

Franklin grabbed its first lead in the bottom of the third. Anna Balkus bunted her way on to lead off and stole second. A passed ball moved her to third and Colace reached when her bunt was unable to be fielded cleanly. An error brought in the first run of the third to tie it and Maddy White lined a single to put Franklin in front. Sarah Jackson added a third run with an RBI-groundout.

Attleboro starter Jenna Gittle managed to limit the damage with a strikeout and a pop up to first, but the Panthers were up 4-2.

The lead was short-lived. The Bombardiers rallied for three runs in the fourth. Autumn O’Connell got it started with a single and, after Cherry retired the next two batters, Perry drew a two-out walk to keep the inning alive for power hitter McKenzie Bergdoll. She crushed a three-run homer over the fence in left-center to put the visitors back on top.

“That’s what McKenzie Bergdoll’s got to do,” said Homer. “That’s her job. She’s one of the better hitters in the league, she’s a power hitter, but it’s also the set up before that getting people on base. We weren’t doing that earlier in the season.”

In the bottom half of the inning, Franklin bounced back again to tie it. Maggie Hobby walked and advanced to third after a pair of passed balls. Balkus hit a sharp grounder to short but the throw to the plate was not in time and the game was evened up at 5-5.

The back-and-forth game continued to ebb and flow with the Bombardiers grabbing the edge in the fifth. Colace threw ahead of the lead runner to get a big second out for the Panthers and it looked like they may escape the jam but Hailey Perry singled to right to bring in Kayla Battisti. Valentino came in with runners at second and third and got a strikeout to get out of the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Valentino helped her own cause. With one out, he dropped a single into right that scored White to tie the game again. Battisti kept the game tied when she was able to field a Hobby bunt and flip to Woynton at the plate to cut down the potential go-ahead run. Gittle got a big break when Balkus’ two-out single to left, which scored two runs, was nullified by the home plate ump saying she stepped out of the box as she hit it.

Valentino managed to get out of a jam in the sixth and Franklin scored the eventual game-winner in the bottom half. Battisti made another play at third to get a runner at the plate, but with two outs a grounder was mishandled and the go-ahead run scampered home.

After an error put the lead runner on in the seventh and a sacrifice bunt moved the runner into scoring position, Valentino got a pop up to Hobby behind the plate and then a fly ball to herself in the circle to close out the win.

“We came out on top,” said Fallon. “We pulled it together and we also learned a few things that we need to clean up, to work on heading into the tournament.”

Despite the loss, Homer was also positive about his team’s performance. He explained, “This was a great game for us, in this part of the season, because they battled all week. It would’ve been great to win, it always is, but I like where we’re at right now. For us to go to the distance and battle them right to the end, I’m okay with that because we’ll probably meet one of those six other [Hockomock League] teams in the tournament.”

Franklin (13-5, 12-3) has two more games this week to prepare for the tournament, starting with Canton on Tuesday. Attleboro (9-10, 8-7) will close out the regular season on Tuesday against North Attleboro.

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