Stoughton Takes Rubber Match With Hawks To Advance

Stoughton baseball George Currier Matt Shaver
Stoughton’s George Currier (right) slides in safely before Milford’s Matt Shaver applies the tag at second. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – Over the closing stages of the regular season, Stoughton’s offense wasn’t tearing the cover off the ball, but the Black Knights were finding ways to win.

The same was the case in the opening round contest with Greater New Bedford as the Black Knights squeaked by with a 1-0 win.

But Stoughton’s offense could be heating up at the right time. In a rubber match with division rival Milford, the Black Knights doubled their hit production from the previous game and put a runner in scoring position in all but one inning.

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The result was a convincing 7-1 win for the Black Knights in an all-Hockomock D2 South quarterfinal game, earning a season series win over the Hawks.

“I feel like we came out a little flat, especially after having so much energy on Saturday,” said Stoughton coach Mike Armour. “But I felt like we got our mojo back a little in the second inning there. Milford manufactured a run and it was like here we go, but our guys were able to get the bat on the ball. The bats had cooled off as of late. So if we can get the bats going, I know what we’re capable of. But we’re happy to have the opportunity to play again.”

Stoughton had a total of 14 base runners: scattering eight hits, reaching twice via walk, had two players get hit by a pitch, one reached on an error, and another on a fielder’s choice.

The only inning Stoughton didn’t put a runner on base, and it might have been the defense that gave the Black Knights momentum at the plate.

After squandering a bases-loaded, one-out chance in the bottom of the second, Milford came out and loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the third. Luke Rosa drew a leadoff walk and Nick Marcolini and Justin Applebee followed with bunt singles.

Matt Shaver drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly but Stoughton junior lefty James Genest (6IP, 3H, 1BB, 1ER, 4K) limited the damage by getting a foul ball pop up to first and a swinging strikeout for the third out.

Junior George Currier (3-for-4, three runs, stolen base) led off with a single and beat the throw to second to allow Robbie Seaman to reach on a fielder’s choice. Currier moved to third on a fly ball by Genest and came home to score when Mike Nazzaro’s grounder was misplayed in the infield.

Cian Swierzewski walked to load the bases and junior Jacob Kaplan smashed a deep triple to left field to clear the bases and put the hosts up 4-1.

“Those are hits that change games and Kap’s been doing it for us all year,” Armour said. “We’ve talked before about how many hits he’s had this season with the bases loaded but I mean a bases-clearing triple in a tournament game…that’s just big time.”

Currier got things started in the bottom of the fourth with a one-out single, stole second, and moved to third on a deep fly ball from Zak Paquette. After Seaman was hit by a pitch by Milford starter Colby Pires (4IP, 6H, 1BB, 6R, 2ER, 3K), Currier raced home on a wild pitch to make it 5-1.

Seaman moved to third on a passed ball and scored when Genest drilled a two-out single through the right side for a 6-1 advantage.

Stoughton tacked on another run in the sixth inning with Currier being the catalyst again. Currier and Paquette had back-to-back singles with the former moving up a bag on a fly ball from Genest. With runners on first and third, a balk was called and Currier scored.

“It’s a tribute to these guys,” Armour said. “We knew it was going to be a battle with Milford coming to town, it always is. We had a lot of the 2017 [Stoughton] team here, [Milford] kind of came here and did us in that year and I think that was fresh in their minds being just a couple years removed. Our guys made the plays, defensively really fantastic.”

Milford didn’t have a hit after the third inning but did have a couple of chances to cut into the deficit. Rosa reached on an error to lead off the fifth inning, moved to second on a ground out but was tagged out on a ground ball. Applebee, who reached on the fielder’s choice, stole second but was stranded there.

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The Hawks got to the Knights’ bullpen in the top of the seventh, adding a bit of drama to the game in the final frame. Rosa and Applebee both walked, sandwiched around Marcolini getting hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs. But Stoughton senior Evan Jackman induced a ground ball to Currier at second. Currier finished with four putouts and four assists.

“Give a lot of credit to [Stoughton], Mike always has them ready to go and they are a good team, It’s always competitive,” said Milford coach Alex Dion. “The 2017 [Stoughton] team is here, and that was a similar story then when it was split in the regular season but we came out on top in the postseason, this year they come out on top. It’s always going to be a tough game but we didn’t take advantage of any opportunities we had and they got that big hit and I think after that, we were a bit deflated and couldn’t find a way to get it going again.”

Stoughton baseball (14-8) will host top-seeded Hopkinton (14-5), who knocked off Milton in the quarterfinal round, on Wednesday at 4:00. Milford finishes the season at 11-11.

Paquette, Black Knights Blank Bears In Close Contest

Stoughton baseball Brady Conlin
Stoughton’s Brady Conlin (right) tags our Greater New Bedford’s Cam Barton for the final out of the game. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – The visiting Greater New Bedford Bears came knocking on the door twice, including with the game on the line, and both times, the Black Knights slammed the door shut.

The visitors, seeded 12th in the MIAA D2 South tournament, tried on a pair of occasions to score on aggressive base running moves, but on each occasion, Stoughton junior catcher Mike Nazzaro and senior pitcher Zak Paqeutte denied the Bears, including on the last play of the game to secure a 1-0 win in a First Round matchup on Anthony Novello Field.

The fifth-seeded Black Knights took the lead into the final inning, putting the pressure on the visitors. Paquette (7IP, 3H, 2BB, 2HBP, 5K) hit the first batter he faced before getting a fly ball to center for the first out. A passed ball allowed pinch runner Cam Barton to take second, and a ground out advanced the runner to third. Evan Mello drew the first walk of the day against Paquette to put runners on the corners.

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GNBVT’s Payton Leandre battled to draw a second straight walk that would have loaded the bases. But ball four was bobbled at the plate and Barton took off for home. Nazzaro quickly recovered and scooped the ball to Paquette and Barton retreated and tried to head back to third. But the Black Knights had the runner caught in a pickle and Paquette tossed to third baseman Brady Conlin and the sophomore applied the tag to end the game.

“That game was one play away from maybe going another direction so it was nice for the boys to hold on,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. “Zak was obviously huge for us today, set the tone early. He was hitting the zone, challenging those guys. We talked about really challenging them and making them earn everything, I’m not sure how many walks he ended up with but not many.

“Hats off to Greater New Bedford, their guy pitched a good game. But we need to do a better job offensively, I felt like we had guys on base early just couldn’t get them in and that could have changed the game early. We let them hang around and anything can happen, and it almost did.”

Nazzaro and Paquette combined to deny the Bears of another run with a play at home. Leandre singled in the bottom of the fifth with his side trailing 1-0 and moved to second on a sac bunt from Jack Gifford. With leadoff man Ethan Almeida at the plate, a wild pitch got back Nazzaro and went to the backstop. Leandre sprinted to third but didn’t slide in, instead rounding the base and taking off for home without hesitation.

Paquette, who was halfway between the mound and plate, noticed and quickly sprinted home and Nazzaro fielded the loose ball and hit Paquette, who applied the tag for the third out of the inning.

“Fantastic plays,” Armour said. “And even Zak looking like he wasn’t covering the plate. He was locked in from the second he got here today so I don’t think he thought he was going to go and when he did, it was like OK, thanks for coming. I think it affected them on the bases going forward too.”

The lone run of the game came in the bottom of the third inning. Paquette clubbed a one-out single and it looked like the Black Knights would have runners on first and second when Robbie Seaman was hit on the back by the pitch. But halfway down the line, the home ump ruled Seaman didn’t make an attempt to get out of the way of the pitch and the at-bat continued.

Instead of first and second, the Knights had runners on the corners as Seaman smacked a single through the right side. Junior James Genest hit a fly ball deep enough to left field to allow Paquette to scamper home for a run on a sacrifice fly.

“In my eyes, he was hit between the 2 and the 1 so I’m not sure how he’s supposed to get out of the way,” Armour said. “But we took advantage of the situation. Umps are doing the best they can, it’s not easy. We don’t want to make excuses, we’re not shrugging our shoulders, we’re not complaining…you have to overcome.

“I’m proud of the guys, gutting it out. Those tight games can go either way, tournament games can go either way. We’ve been on both sides. I think the first one is the hardest so we’re excited to move on.”

Stoughton had someone reach base in four other innings, and get into scoring position each time, but couldn’t cash in any further against GNBVT starter Angel Quinones Gonzalez. Paquette walked in the first and stole second but back-to-back strikeouts stranded the runner there.

Nazzaro was hit by a pitch to lead off the second and an error on a hard hit ground ball from Jacob Kaplan moved him to second with one out, but Stoughton could only manage a pair of fly balls and no further damage.

Cian Swierzewski put the pressure on the Bears’ defense, beating out an infield dribbler and taking second on a throwing error but three straight soft line drives stranded the run there.

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And in the fifth, Seaman had a two-out single, stole second, but was caught at third trying to swipe another bag.

“I didn’t think we hit the ball the way we are capable of hitting, but that’s baseball that’s going to happen. And you’re going to have some physical mistakes, that’s part of the game. But I think we did have some mental mistakes.”

Stoughton advances to the D2 South Quarterfinals and will host a familiar foe in division rival Milford, the 13th seed. The Scarlet Hawks knocked off #4 Southeastern in their opening contest. Milford beat Stoughton, 3-2, at Fino Field at the end of April but the Black Knights clinched the division title with a 6-3 win in mid-May at Novello Field. Stoughton will host Milford on Monday at 4:00.

Panthers Prevail In Battle Against Black Knights

Franklin baseball Will Pacheco
Franklin’s Will Pacheco earned the save, getting the final three outs while stranding the tying run at first. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – Stoughton’s offense came knocking multiple times throughout the game, but in the biggest situations, Franklin’s defense slammed the door shut.

The Black Knights loaded the bases in three separate innings and threatened with the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but three separate Panther pitchers came through to limit the damage, helping the Panthers secure a 5-3 win on the road.

After two quick strikeouts to start the game from Stoughton starter Zak Paquette, the Panthers cashed in. Senior Alex Haba had an infield single and quickly moved into scoring position by stealing second. Haba came in to score on a two-out RBI from senior Jake Macchi to put the visitors up 1-0 after a half inning.

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Stoughton loaded the bases in the bottom of the first following a walk to junior George Currier, a single from senior Robbie Seaman, and a catcher’s interference but starting pitcher Liam Dailey induced a ground ball for the third out to keep the Knights off the board.

Franklin capitalized on its chances again in the top of the third. Scott Elliott led off with a single and took second when the hit got by the center fielder trying to make a defensive play. Elliott then stole third and came home when the throw from home was high, giving the Panthers a run without a second player putting the ball in play.

The Panthers struck again with two outs to increase the advantage. Cooper Ross reached on an error, took second on a single from JB Floris, and game in to score on an RBI base hit from Dan Markowski to make it 3-0.

“Two-out RBIs are key, they are clutch,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “This is a good offense, and we’ve found ways to score runs in a number of ways. Today it just happened to be the two-out RBI and not quitting on an inning that made the difference.”

The Black Knights had the leadoff man erased with a double play in the second, and then couldn’t push across any runs when they loaded the bases with one out in the third inning. Currier and Seaman had back-to-back singles and junior James Genest reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases with the Black Knights trailing 3-0.

Again, Dailey was up to the challenge, getting a strikeout for the second out and inducing a pop up behind the plate that was caught on a nice play by Macchi to keep Stoughton off the board.

“With some of the plays we made, we didn’t make it easy for Liam,” Brown said. “He gave us a great effort, we’re proud of that effort. When he’s on the hill, we feel pretty good about our chances.”

Franklin increased its lead with another big play from Elliott. Junior Jack Nally drew a one-out walk and advanced to second and third on back-to-back wild pitches.Elliot laced a shot to right center field that went past the fielder. With no fence at the Stoughton field, the ball continued rolling allowing Elliott to round the bases for an inside the park home run.

Stoughton once again put pressure on the Panthers in the bottom of the fifth, this time pushing some runs across with the bases load. Cian Swierzewski led off with a single, Seaman was hit by a pitch, and Genest single to load the bases with one out.

Jacob Kaplan came through with an RBI single to get the Knights on the board, and Michael Nazzaro followed with a base hit of his own to bring another run in, making it 5-2. With the bases still loaded, Brown elected to go to the bullpen and brought in junior Cody Trotin.

Trotin came through for Franklin, getting the first batter he faced to strikeout and followed by inducing a fly ball to center to prevent Stoughton from adding to its total.

“We’re young and Franklin is a good team,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. “We didn’t do ourselves any favors today. Zak was locked in to start, you saw it with the two strikeouts, and I felt like we could have done him a little better, we could have made some more plays early on. But at the same time, you have to tip your cap to Franklin. They got the bat on the ball and got a few runs across the dish early that ended up being the difference. But we’re still learning, there’s still room for improvement, but all in all, being a hit away from tying this game we’ll take it.

“We had 11 left on base, but you have to tip your hat to Franklin for making some pitches and getting us out. We’re young, we have some guys that are still getting their feet wet at the varsity level and I think they showed today. Hopefully, we learn from it.”

Genest took over on the mound in relief for the Black Knights, and after the first batter he faced reached on an error, he retired six straight Panthers.

Stoughton brought the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, but again the Panthers got the necessary outs. Seaman led off with a triple and scored on an RBI single from Genest to make it 5-3. Genest moved to second when Kaplan was walked, putting runners on first and second with no outs, forcing Brown to go to his bullpen again.

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Junior Will Pacheco got a strikeout and then a fielder’s choice, putting runners on the corners for the Knights with two outs. Pacheco then got a soft line drive back to the mound for the third out, stranding the tying run on first to get the win.

“We got some outs when we needed them,” Brown said. “Cody Trotin came into a big spot in his first outing of the year. He really gave us what we needed at the time. And obviously, Will Pacheco has been around the block and he just seems to rise to the occasion in pressure situations.”

Franklin baseball (5-0 Hockomock, 6-0 overall) is back in action on Friday when it hosts one of the top teams in the state in Walpole. Stoughton (3-2, 5-2) is back in action on Tuesday when it travels to Foxboro.

Black Knights Bow Out With Loss To Raiders

Stoughton baseball
Stoughton’s Ruben Gonzalez appeared to slide in safely at home in the first inning but was ruled to be tagged out. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – If not for the perfect relay throw, Stoughton very well could have been looking at a different outcome against #9 Somerset-Berkley.

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh, senior Ruben Gonzalez, one of the fastest players in the area, hit an RBI triple that rolled to the edge of right field at Noviello Field at Stoughton High School.

Gonzalez sped around third and nearly made the turn home but the perfect relay throw forced Stoughton head coach Mike Armour to hold Gonzalez at third with two outs. At the next at-bat. SB pitcher Chase Stafford induced a chopper down the third base line and the throw to first was just in time for the final out, giving the Raiders a 3-2 win over the Black Knights.

Stoughton entered the bottom half of the inning facing a two-run deficit, down 3-1 after the Raiders scored twice in the second and once in the fourth. Stafford got the first two outs – a 6-3 groundout and an F8 – before Stoughton senior Zak Paquette battled his way to a walk.

Gonzalez smacked the first pitch he saw into right, the ball rolling all the way to the edge of the playing field to bring pinch runner Cameron DiRosa home to make it a one-run game.

“Ruben…I expect nothing less, coming through there,” Armour said. “If they don’t the cut there, then he’s still going and tying it up. He is such a special player, I think he showed what he’s about today. But we just came up a little short.”

Gonzalez nearly stole home, but on a 2-2 count, Matt Hadley was forced to put the ball in play and the senior came inches away from legging out the infield single to tie the game.

“We couldn’t string enough hits today on offense,” Armour said. “You have to tip your cap to Somerset-Berkley. Their pitcher was hitting his spots but we weren’t really squaring them up that well today. They had that one big inning, they got some bloop hits. But that’s baseball…..if you only score two runs, chances are you’re not going to win that game.”

It was a bright start for the Black Knights. Gonzalez led off with a single in the bottom of the first and went to third on a single from Evan Gibb. With sophomore James Genest at the plate, the ball got behind the catcher and Gonzalez took off for home, but the umpire called the speedy shortstop out at home.

Gibb moved to third on the same ball and Genest singled into left field to give Stoughton a 1-0 lead.

Somerset-Berkley loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the second inning. Kyle Vieira singled into center for a run before Paquette got the first out with an infield fly. Jacob Rebello hit one deep enough to center allowing the run to just beat Cian Swierzewski’s throw for a sacrifice fly and a 2-1 advantage.

The Raiders tacked on a run in the fourth inning. Vieira and Rebello had singles and Matt Shea reached on a bunt and overthrow. That same overthrow allowed Vieira to come around and make it 3-1.

After an intentional walk, Paquette got a pop up to right field and sophomore George Currier fired to first for a double play. Paquette followed up with a strikeout.

“Zak has been heart, guts, everything for us all year,” Armour said. “He plans to go seven [innings] every time he’s out there. He makes it very difficult to not have that come to fruition. He was falling behind a couple of times but he kept coming back and getting the outs in the later innings so you tip your cap to him.”

Stoughton had a chance to strike back in the bottom of the fourth but uncharacteristic errors hurt the Black Knights. Genest singled and Currier followed with a one-out base hit of his own to put runners on first and second.

But a ground ball not only got the force out at second, Stoughton’s pinch runner accidentally overran third and the Raiders capitalized, firing to third and getting the tag.

Swierzewski was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the fifth but a sac bunt attempt turned into a double play when Stafford caught the bunt and fired to first.

“We had a couple base running errors, we had that sac bunt turn into the double play so it was just little things. And at the same time, George made that nice play in right and doubled them up. It was a good game…[Somerset] got their three runs early and we just couldn’t get enough to overcome.”

Stoughton baseball, which had just two players back from the 2017 squad with varsity experience, finishes the season at 10-9 overall. Six of the nine Black Knight starters are set to return next season.

“I’m proud of these guys,” Armour said. “Two of them played varsity baseball last year…so to qualify, get a game at our home field. The town has been going through a lot, I think that’s what I’m most upset about because we really wanted to give Stoughton something to smile about, something to get behind. But we just came up a little short and I think that hurts more than anything else.”

Stoughton Picks Up Emotional Win Over Canton

Stoughton baseball
Stoughton’s Matt Hadley (1) greets Ruben Gonzalez (right) after his inside the park home run. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – It has been a long week for students at Stoughton High School.

On Friday morning, the Black Knights baseball team were among the hundreds of students that attended the funeral of classmate David Bell, one of four Stoughton High students, along with Nick Joyce, Eryck Sarblah, and Christopher Desir, who tragically passed away in an accident this past Saturday.

On Friday afternoon, the Black Knights took the field for the third time this season and came away with a 14-5 win over rival Canton, their second win over the Bulldogs this week.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind they’d want to play today, I’m just so proud of these young men,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. Many of the players on the team were teammates with Bell for football or basketball.

“Going back to Monday, tip of the cap to Canton. They had ribbons and everything when we got there, and then over to Attleboro, it was their senior day but their parents were all wearing orange ribbons and they had stuff hanging up for us. The support we’ve felt from the rest of the league has been amazing. Just to see everyone come out and pick us up has been great. You’re OK one minute and then it kind of hits you, the kids and coaches included. These kids lost four friends. We were at one funeral today. It was a long day, it was a long week, but unsurprisingly these kids dug down and I was proud of them.”

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Stoughton’s offense had its best game of the season, scoring a season-high 14 runs on 16 hits. The Black Knights scored in every inning except the third, scoring at least three runs in the second, fifth, and sixth innings.

Senior Ruben Gonzalez, who was teammates with Bell in both football and basketball, earned the win on the mound with two strikeouts in five innings of work. He walked four and allowed just three hits and three runs.

Matt Hadley got Stoughton’s offense going in the bottom of the first with a one-out single. A pickoff error allowed Hadley to get to third and he scored on a groundout from sophomore James Genest for a 1-0 lead after one.

The Black Knights had their best inning in the bottom of the second. Will Eckhart (walk), Cian Swierzewski (single) and Zak Paquette (error) all reached to load the bases with one out. Gonzalez and Hadley reached on back-to-back infield singles, each driving a run in to make it 3-0.

Evan Gibb drove in a run on a fielder’s choice to make it 4-0 and then a single from James Genest turned into two runs. Genest’s line drive to center was misplayed, allowing both Hadley and Gibb to score but Genest was thrown out at home on a nice relay throw from shortstop Nate Quan.

Canton stuck back for two runs in the top of the third. Niko Donovan singled and then scored on a two-out inside the park home run from Matt Pigeon to cut Stoughton lead to 6-2.

Stoughton loaded the bases in the fourth inning but Canton reliever Ryan Hickey limited the damage to one run. Gonzalez (double), Hadley (single), and Gibb (walk) were on base with one out. Gonzalez scored on a sacrifice fly from Genest to make it 7-2 but Hickey got the final out to escape further damage.

Quan helped Canton cut into Stoughton’s lead with a run in the top of the fifth. Quan had a leadoff walk, took second on a walk to Tommy DiLello and scored on an RBI single up the middle from Hickey to make it 7-3.

But Stoughton was quick to respond, scoring three runs in the bottom half. Swierzewski (fielder’s choice) and Paquette (single) were on first and second with two outs before Gonzalez ripped a shot to right-center field. Gonzalez used his speed to round the bases for a three-run inside the park home run, his third, fourth, and fifth RBI of the day.

“Ruben didn’t have any RBIs coming into this week,” Armour said. “He got his first one on Monday, got another against Attleboro and then the big day today. He’s been due, he’s a heck of a ballplayer.”

Mike Konzal led off with a triple for Canton in the top of the sixth and scored on an RBI groundout from sophomore Owen Lehane. An error allowed Rob Sullivan to reach, and a throwing error brought him to third and Lucas Bryant to second. Matt Casamento drove Sullivan in with an RBI single up the middle to make it 10-5.

But the Black Knights put the game out of reach with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, all with two outs. George Currier got things going with a single and scored after a triple from Robbie Seaman. Eckhart followed up with an RBI triple of his own and scored on a single from Ryan Semler to make it 14-5.

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With the win, Stoughton qualifies for the postseason by securing a 0.500 record or better. The Black Knights were already headed to the playoffs because of a second place finish in the Davenport division.

While the offense has been a constant throughout the season, Armour is excited about the progress of the pitching.

“More important our pitching is coming along,” Armour said. “Ruben’s developed into a starter for us, Evan [Gibb] has been throwing, Will [Echkart] is getting back in the mix, and Zak [Paquette] is eating a ton of innings for us. We feel we have four guys that can man the mound and that puts us in a good position for the postseason. We’re looking forward to competing.”

Stoughton baseball (9-6 Hockomock, 9-8 overall) will finish the regular season with a visit from Sharon on Wednesday. Canton finishes the season 4-15 in the Hock and 5-15 overall.

Macek, Milford Outlast Stoughton In Extra Innings

Milford baseball
Milford’s Aidan Wilde (1) and Alex Macek celebrate after recording the final out. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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STOUGHTON, Mass. – The last time Milford senior Alex Macek toed the rubber on Anthony Noviello Field on the campus of Stoughton High School, things didn’t exactly go as planned as the Black Knights exploded for 15 runs.

This time around, things couldn’t have gone much better.

Macek pitched 8.2 innings, allowing just two innings in the first inning, and struck out seven, leading the Scarlet Hawks to a 3-2 win over Stoughton in nine innings.

With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth, Macek hit a grounder to the left side of the infield and the throw to first was short, allowing sophomore Alex Coady to cross for the go-ahead run.

Stoughton’s Ryan Sullivan drew a two-out walk and Jack Connelly singled to put runners on the corners with two outs. Milford’s Aidan Wilde relieved Macek on the mound and got the final out, a grounder to third.

“We made plays, we had very good pitching so it gave us an opportunity,” said Milford head coach Paul Pellegrini. “We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities early but we stuck with it and that showed there. That was a complete team effort. I know Macek didn’t want me to take him out there, but his pitch count was up there.”

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Stoughton had a bright start as Ruben Gonzalez reached on an error to lead off and Sullivan sliced a an RBI triple down the right field line after a lengthy at-bat. Connelly took first after being hit but Macek induced a double play, allowing just the one run to score and recorded the third out to escape with just a 2-0 deficit.

Macek then tossed seven and two thirds scoreless, working around a one-out double in the second, a bases loaded situation one one out in the third inning, runners first and second with no outs in the fifth inning, runners on second and third with one out in the sixth and a lead off single in the seventh.

“He just kept them off balance,” Pellegrini said of Macek. “He threw a lot of strikes, he didn’t have too many walks. I know he hit the two guys but we ended up getting out of that inning. He really battled, it didn’t look like his velocity was all there but he was effective with his off speed stuff.”

“I had pitched well against them last year before the 15-0 game earlier this year, so I was confident and I knew it wouldn’t happen again, I wouldn’t let it happen,” Macek said. “The first pitch curve was working well for me and I was getting inside and jamming them.

“We’ve all been playing together since we were nine so we’re all in this together. We didn’t want today to be the last game. I just wanted to put the ball in play and see what happens.”

“No excuses from us, we don’t make excuses,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. “We have to score more than two runs. We have to hit the ball more…there were a lot of runners stranded, for both teams. It seemed like we had guys on base every inning, as did they, and no one was getting it done. We had our chances, we just couldn’t get another run across the fish. Regardless of how it happened, they scored one more run than we did.”

Milford cut into the lead in the third inning, loading the bases for the first of three times in the contest. Tony Mobilia was hit by a pitch and Ryan Goncalves followed with a one-out single. Anthony Arcudi laced a single to load the bases and Wilde drew a walk to cut the deficit in half.

Stoughton starter Justin Hutchinson (6IP, 1R, 6H, 7K) bounced back and recorded two straight strikeouts to avoid any further damage.

“I miss him already,” Armour said of Hutchinson, who led the Hockomock in wins and was second in strikeouts. “To think that we’re done, it’s tough. He was very dedicated to the program and he just loves the game of baseball. I have full confidence he will excel at the next level. There won’t be another Hutch.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Milford would send three more batters up to the plate with the bases loaded. The Hawks filled the bags with one out in the fourth but Connelly made a nice grab over the dugout fence in foul territory and Hutchinson got another strikeout. Milford loaded them once again with two outs in the sixth, but Stoughton’s Pat Hagerty made a charging catch in center for the third out.

It looked as though the Black Knights pushed across their third run of the game when sophomore Evan Gibb dove head first into first and appeared to beat the throw, allowing Sullivan to score, but the infield ump called the play out at first.

Wilde started the Hawks off on the right foot in the seventh inning, reaching first after being hit and taking second on a wild pitch. Coady then delivered a line drive base hit to bring Wilde around for the tying run with one out.

“He’s really our vocal leader believe it or not as a sophomore,” Pellegrini said of Coady. “He’s a good kid, he just gets it. His on-base percentage was around .550 this year and he batted around .400…he sees the ball very well. He’d been struggling a little bit at the plate so it was nice him come through at that point.”

Milford baseball (12-9) advances to the D2 South Quarterfinals and will play at fifth-seeded Greater New Bedford (15-6) on Monday at 4:00. Stoughton finishes the season 15-6.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton Completes Late Comeback In Extra Innings

Stoughton baseball
Stoughton players celebrate as Jack Connelly (right) approaches home plate after hitting a solo home run. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
WRENTHAM, Mass. – With ten seniors on the roster, there aren’t many situations that Stoughton baseball hasn’t experienced over the past few seasons.

That helps explain why there was no panic among the Black Knights heading into their last three outs, trailing KP 1-0.

Stoughton plated the tying run in the top of the seventh and scored the winning-run in the top of the eighth to escape with a 2-1 win over the Warriors at newly dedicated Gary Lombard field on the campus of King Philip Regional High School.

Both Stoughton senior Justin Hutchinson (compete game, six hits, two strikeouts) and King Philip senior Stephen Murray (7.2 innings, six hits, six strikeouts) dominated throughout the contest, turning a matchup between two strong offenses into a pitcher’s duel.

With the Warriors holding a 1-0 lead through six innings, Stoughton senior Luke Johnson reached on an infield error to lead off the seventh. Nick Hardy came through with a sacrifice bunt to move Johnson to second and Pat Hagerty drilled a single down the right field line to bring Johnson home to tie the game.

Hagerty stole second to move into scoring position but Murray picked up a strikeout and induced a fly ball to escape.

Murray singled to lead off the bottom of the seventh but a pinch runner was caught in a run down between first and second after Stoughton catcher Evan Gibb quickly fired to first after a missed bunt attempt. Hutchinson sandwiched a pair of fly balls around a walk to send the game into extra innings.

After a pair of groundouts for the Black Knights, senior Jack Connelly stepped to the plate. The first baseman launched a 1-2 pitch over the fence in right field — estimated at 400 feet by the grounds crew — to put Stoughton ahead 2-1.

“They don’t get any bigger than that,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. “And Pat Hagerty coming through with the single to tie the game in the top of the seventh. He’s been a little snakebitten this year, hitting the ball on the screws a lot. So it’s nice to see him come through. If he doesn’t get that hit, Jack doesn’t have the opportunity to get his hit.”

Hutchinson needed just six pitches to get three straight ground balls in the bottom of the eighth to earn the win.

“Both kids were pitching really well,” Armour. said “Their guy [Murray] kept us in check, hit his spots and established the zone early. And then Hutch does what he always does. It was a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel. KP got their run across the plate…it was one of the craziest runs I’ve seen scored. I was just hoping that wasn’t the difference in the game.”

“We’ve had our tight games before today. These guys are just ball players. I think the experience they have, having a decent little run last year and the senior leadership, there’s 10 of them…they want to get it done every day they step out there.”

Both Stoughton and KP threatened in the third inning but both were denied at home on throws from the left side of the infield. In the top half, Matt Gallagher singled and Ruben Gonzalez had a bunt single to put move Gallagher all the way to third. Gonzalez stole second to put runners in scoring position with one out.

Murray then got a ground ball to shortstop Will Weir, who fired home to Nolan Bradley for the tag. Murray then induced a ground ball to escape without any damage.

In the bottom of the third, Jeremy Rhines led off with a second and moved to second on a sac bunt from Bradley. Rhines took third on a single from Chris Wing but was tagged out at home when a grounder went to Johnson at third and he fired home to Gibb for the tag.

KP broke the scoreless tie an inning later, needing just one hit to bring in a run. Murray connected on a two-out single, moved to second on a passed ball and stole third without a throw. With Murray taking a big lead at third, Stoughton catcher Evan Gibb elected to fire down the third base line to try and pick him off after a pitch from Hutchinson.

However, Gibb’s throw hit Murray in the helmet as he retreated back to third. The ball bounced into foul territory, temporarily freezing the defense. Murray took off for home and beat the throw to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead.

“That was a great baseball game,” said KP head coach Pat Weir. “There were a couple of mental errors, a couple of mental mistakes. Stoughton is a great hitting team. Stephen pitched his heart out, he deserved a better outcome than we gave him. But Stoughton is going to battle every time you play them. They’re well coached and they hit the ball very well, they’re a darn good baseball team.’

Hutchinson allowed just one hit between the fifth and sixth innings, and the runner was erased immediately. Bradley hit a fly ball down the right field line that just eluded the dive of Stoughton right fielder Ryan Sullivan. But Sullivan was quick to his feet and got the out as Bradley tried to leg out a double.

Murray also allowed just one hit between the fifth and sixth innings, a two-out single from Connelly but quickly got a ground ball to get out of the inning.

Stoughton baseball (7-2 overall, 6-2 league) is back in action on Monday night on the road at Franklin with first pitch scheduled for 7:00. King Philip (5-4, 4-4) will try to snap its current skid when it hosts Sharon on Monday at 3:45.

Resilient Black Knights Battle To Beat Nauset

Stoughton players rush to celebrate with Pat Hagerty (far right) after driving the winning run in. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Stoughton players rush to celebrate with Pat Hagerty (far right) after driving the winning run in. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
STOUGHTON, Mass. – Sometimes things don’t always go according to plan. Yet, sometimes things work out just fine anyways.

Stoughton loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning in a tied game and looked to squeeze the winning run across. Junior Pat Hagerty laid down a near perfect bunt down the first base line but the ball just trickled foul. At the next at bat, Hagerty didn’t get a second chance at the bunt, instead getting drilled in the leg with a fastball.

But that was just fine for the Black Knights, as Hagerty took first and forced junior Luke Johnson in from home for the winning run, giving Stoughton a 3-2 win over Nauset and a spot in the D2 South Semifinal.

“I asked him if he knew the sign for the squeeze,” Stoughton head coach Mike Armour said with a chuckle when asked what the message was to Hagerty going into his final at bat. “That squeeze would have been nice. We made it clear and I had full faith that he could get the bunt down. With the lefty on the mound, we felt like it was a pretty high percentage play. We almost got it done but to see him get that run across the plate, anyway he could, was great. We beat a very good baseball team today and I’m so proud of these guys, they gutted it out. It was an absolute war like we expected, just couldn’t be more proud of the guys.”

Stoughton trailed twice in the game, a 1-0 run after just a half inning and a 2-1 deficit just a half inning after the Black Knights had tied it. Stoughton tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, eventually sending the game to extra innings.

Johnson got things started in the bottom of the ninth, roping a lead off double down the left field line. Nick Hardy attempted a sacrifice bunt and Nauset pitcher Paul Prue charged in and tried to look Hagerty back at second. Instead, he was unable to field the ball cleanly and Hardy reached safely. Prue induced a fly out to second but junior Justin Hutchinson worked himself to a walk with a full count, loading the bases.

That’s when Hagerty was hit on the leg on the second pitch to send the Black Knights into the semifinal round.

Nauset took the lead in the first inning when Prue led off the game with a double and moved to third on a ground out to second. Nauset’s Mac Labarge hit a dribbler back up the middle and Stoughton pitcher Ryan Sullivan charged and flipped to catcher Jake Gibb. Gibb appeared to make the tag in time, with the home plate ump calling Prue out. However, an appeal from Nauset and a discussion between the umps resulted in a reverse decision and a 1-0 lead.

It looked like Stoughton would not only tie the game but possibly take the lead in the third inning when Ruben Gonzalez (single), Hutchinson (error) and Hagerty (walk) all reached consecutively to load the bases with no outs. Nauset starting pitcher Mike Doherty induced a shallow pop up to right to get the first out but Gibb skied one to left field, deep enough for a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Doherty got the third out via a grounder to get out of the inning with just one run allowed.

The Warriors responded immediately with Doherty launching a two-out double and Kino Gray following it up with an RBI triple into right center field. Sullivan got out of the inning with a ground ball to first.

Gibb got Stoughton’s tying run rally in the sixth started with a one-out single through the left field of the infield. Nauset decided to bring Prue in to replace Doherty. Prue pitched a complete game two-hit shutout this past Thursday against Oliver Ames. That didn’t bother the Black Knights though.

“We were aware of who he was and at that point in the game, it was just bring it on,” Armour said.

Jack Connelly grounded into a fielder’s choice to move pinch runner Matt Gallagher to second. Ryan Sullivan then reached on a grounder to third as Gallagher was able to elude the tag in the base path and Sullivan was ahead of the throw. Johnson then muscled a hit over the head of the third baseman to bring in the tying run.

“They answered us quick and went back up one,” Armour said. “For Luke to come through and just muscle it over the third baseman’s head was huge. Then following it up, spraying it down the left field line to start the ninth to get into scoring position…it was just a hell of a day. Across the board, it’s been a team effort. Across the board, this has been such a tight group.”

The tying run seemed to inspire Sullivan on the mound. He came back out in the top of the seventh inning and struck out the side, needing just 13 pitches. Sullivan came back out in the top of the eighth, getting the Warriors in order, punctuating his performance with his seventh strikeout.

In the top of the ninth, Nauset attempted to regain the lead against Stoughton reliever Nico Parmegianni. Doherty led off with a single but Parmegianni induced a pop up for the first out. Parmegianni got another fly ball, this one to right field, where Sullivan relocated after coming off the mound. Sullivan charged in, catching the ball and firing a rocket — after throwing eight innings — right on the mark at first for the double play.

“Sully, just digging down with eight innings and then capping it with that absolute solid play on that pop up,” Armour said. “It’s been a while since he’s pitches so he was well rested. I think he had the curveball working for him today, his cutter was kicking in as well and he was just throwing, he had good stuff.”

Stoughton baseball advances to the D2 South Semifinal for the first time since 2013. The Black Knights will take on top seeded Dighton-Rehoboth on Wednesday at Rockland High School. First pitch is set for 4:00.

Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Connelly, Hutchinson Guide Stoughton Past Hopkinton

By Lance Reynolds, HockomockSports.com Contributor

STOUGHTON, Mass. – They did it all regular season, and on Saturday afternoon, they did it again, this time in the postseason.

Justin Hutchinson orchestrated a masterpiece on the mound while Jack Connelly backed his pitcher up with the biggest hit of the season to guide Stoughton past Hopkinton with a 2-1 victory.

Hutchinson delivered a complete game performance striking out 11 while allowing just six hits and three walks. The right-hander recorded at least two strike outs in the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth innings with only three Hiller baserunners reaching third.

“Hutch has been doing it for us all year. He gutted it out – his curveball was working today, he mixed it up,” Stoughton head coach Mike Armour said. “Hopkinton played a hell of a game, their kid threw a hell of a game – it was an absolute war out there.”

The Black Knights saw themselves down one entering the bottom of the sixth, but they were determined to get the run support that Hutchinson had so rightfully earned. After Hopkinton retired the leadoff hitter, shortstop Doug Seamen started things with an infield single to the shortstop hole.

The Hillers looked like they were on the way to picking up the second out on a Jake Gibb grounder that got under a diving Chris Burdick at third and into the glove of shortstop Jack Vaccari. However, Hopkinton’s first baseman couldn’t secure the throw allowing Gibb to reach and Seamen to land at third with one out.

Matt Gallagher came in as a pinch runner for Gibb before Connelly stepped up to the plate. Like the junior first baseman has done all season, Connelly belted the most important hit of the contest to ultimately decide the Black Knights’ fate. On the first pitch of the at-bat, Connelly ripped a shot into deep center driving in Seamen and Gallagher for the game-winning two runs.

“I was looking for something middle in – something in my wheelhouse – like I’ve been doing all year, and grateful that I got my bat on the ball,” Connelly said. “Hats off to that pitcher – he hits his spots well, had a lot of gas behind his fastball. I think we overcame that and it shows the motivation that we have as a team and how we pick each other up.”

“Jack Connelly coming through and has been doing it all year for us – coming through and driving in the tying or go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth, that’s what you play for,” Armour said. “He’s a great kid, so I couldn’t be any happier.”

With Stoughton ahead 2-1 and the top of Hopkinton’s lineup due up, Armour elected to stick with Hutchinson for the seventh. The gamble was well-worth it as the starter induced two grounders and struck out his eleventh batter for the last out in the opening round of the tourney.

“He’s been our guy. It was his opportunity to shut it down. He threw a lot of pitches, but I think Hutch has earned the right this season,” Armour said. “He’s been our guy so he earned the right to close.”

After placing runners on base in each of the first five innings without producing a run, the Hillers knocked in the game’s opening run in the sixth. Burdick reached base on a walk, got to second on a sacrifice bunt, and came across the plate as Tom Onsi helped his own cause with a single to center.
Besides that blemish, Hutchinson continued his season-long success on the mound.

“He’s been pitching his ass off all year long,” Connelly said of his teammate. “You couldn’t really expect anything else from him. He’s been lights out all year. I’m glad to have him as a teammate, and I hope this train keeps rolling.”

Opposing Hutchinson, Onsi was equally as dominant. The Hiller starter was unhittable in the first three innings besides mistakes coming on an issued hit batter and base on balls. Connelly spoiled his no-hit effort in the bottom of the fourth with a single to right.

“He pitched a great game. He had us off balance and kept us in check,” Armour said of facing Onsi.
Failing to reach the tournament in 2015, fourth-seeded Stoughton (16-6) is not thinking of the past and has its eyes on the future. The next step in the future comes on Tuesday when the Black Knights host fifth-seeded Nauset in a quarterfinal matchup.

“Our goal is to have success in the tournament – this is the first step,” Armour said. “We have some work to do and have some things to tighten up if we’re going to get another ‘W’ on Tuesday.”