LOWELL, Mass. – Zach DeMattio gave the Rocketeers the lead with his bat, and he made sure they didn’t relinquish it with his arm.
The North Attleboro senior captain put an exclamation point on a terrific senior season and impressive career with an MVP performance in the Division 2 State Championship, a 4-3 win for his Rocketeers over Beverly.
Offensively, DeMattio drove in all four of the Rocketeers’ runs. And on the defensive end, the senior catcher played a big role in erasing the tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“He is an unbelievable player,” said North Attleboro starting pitcher and fellow captain Nick Sinacola. “I think he’s the team MVP, the best player, and it shows. He drove in probably half our runs all season and he’s a beast behind the plate. He’s an incredible player and incredible leader, I give him all the credit. He works hard for everything.”
DeMattio and Sinacola worked to keep the Panthers off balance for the majority of the game. The latter allowing just five hits — three coming in the fifth inning resulting in three runs. Outside of that, the pair worked together as well as they usually do with Sinacola striking out nine batters and allowing just four base runners in the other six innings.
“We’ve been on their backs pretty much the whole season,” said North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart of DeMattio and Sinacola. “They are our leaders and there are a lot of guys that have stepped up big time. But tonight, stick with your strengths and those two guys are our strength right there.
North wasted little time to take a lead in the game and unsurprisingly, it was off of the bat of DeMattio. Sinacola singled with one out and stole second. On a full count, DeMattio hit a hard groaner through the right side to bring Sinacola home for a quick 1-0 lead.
“I trust my guys day in and day out,” DeMattio said. “I just did what I could do, I just looked for the pitches I could get. This is just insane right now.”
The senior was back at it again just two innings later, helping the Rocketeers extend their lead. Junior Brendan McHugh was hit by a pitch to lead off the top of the third, stole second, and went to third on an infield single from Sinacola.
“They deserve all the credit,” DeMattio said of the two players before him in the order. “I get all my RBIs because of them, they are such pure hitters. McHugh gets on and uses his speed, Sinacola is always getting base hits. It’s just a snowball effect from there.”
The next time DeMattio came to bat was the top of the fifth inning where he delivered his fourth, and what turned out to be, his most important RBI of the day.
McHugh was the catalyst again, opening the frame with a leadoff walk. He once again stole second, one of six stolen bases for the Big Red, and alertly tagged up on Sinacola’s deep hit to left to get to third with one out.
Although DeMattio didn’t come up with a hit, he drove the ball deep enough in shallow right field that McHugh had enough time to race home for the sacrifice fly and a 4-0 lead.
“He tells me before every game ‘Just get on and we’ll get you in’ and it almost always come true, he finds a way to get me in,” McHugh said.
“Going up to the plate I knew that anything outside of the infield in the air, [McHugh] had the speed to get home,” DeMattio said. “I was just looking to get a ball and drive it up. I got the right pitch and put it to right field. You have to give him all the credit, he hustled home.”
The fourth run driven in by DeMattio proved huge as the Panthers rallied for three runs in the bottom half. Sinacola stranded the tying run at third by getting a strikeout to end the inning.
Although DeMattio drove in all four of the Rocketeers’ runs, and the South champs led by just one run, the senior was saving his best play for last.
Sinacola breezed through the bottom of the sixth inning, needing to just pitches and a nice play from right fielder Jeff Gale to set the Panthers down. But Sinacola’s counterpart, Beverly starting pitcher Spencer Brown tried to get the momentum back for his side by retiring North Attleboro in order in the top of the seventh.
Beverly’s No. 8 hitter Ryan Munzing battled his way to a full count and eventually ball four, giving the North champions some hope with the tying run aboard with no outs.
The Panthers sent a pinch hitter to the plate with the idea of moving Munzing over with a bunt. The Rocketeers, however, were ready. Sinacola fired a curveball and the sac bunt missed.
DeMattio, alert to the situation, quickly threw a bullet down the first base line to Aidan Harding. Munzing was caught between bases and the Rocketeers got the out, getting the momentum back. Three batters later and Sincola induced a ground ball up the middle where Ryan Warren flipped to Shawn Watters at second, clinching the win.
“Me and Aidan always work on those after practice,” DeMattio said. “Being able to throw it down, especially in that situation where he’s looking to bunt and the runner is looking to go when it’s on the ground. We work on those all the time and give Aidan credit, he was ready for it and made the play.”
“The kid bit and Zach has a great arm and threw it down, and we played the pickle perfectly,” Sinacola said.
“I think that was just a good read by [Zach],” Hart said. “Zach has been catching for three years, he’s done it a lot, so he has a lot of confidence in his throwing ability. He’s an incredible player.”
It’s safe to say Wheaton College is getting a heck of a player next year.
By Brian Hines, HockomockSports.com Contributor
LOWELL, Mass. – North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart knew he was going to get one ring this year.
Now he’ll get two.
Just days before the first-year head coach says ‘I do’ at his wedding, he celebrated a Division 2 State Championship after his Rocketeers prevailed over Beverly, 4-3, at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.
“It sounds great, it has a very nice ring to it,” Hart said.
In the win, the Red Rocketeers followed the same formula that won them 20 regular season games: riding the right arm of pitcher Nick Sinacola, the bat of catcher Zach DeMattio, solid defense, and a relentless aggressive approach.
“We’ve been on their backs pretty much the whole season,” Hart said of Sinacola and DeMattio. “They’re our leaders, there are a lot of guys that contribute and have stepped up big time, but tonight, stick with your strengths and those two guys are our strengths right there.”
The Rocketeers jumped out to an early start, as they have done all postseason. After Sinacola singled and stole second, DeMattio gave North a 1-0 lead in the first after hard hit ground ball took a crazy hop through the right side and plated Sinacola.
After Sinacola (7 IP, 0 ER, 9 K, 5 H, 2 BB) and Beverly pitcher Spencer Brown (7 IP, 4 ER, 10 K, 6 H, 1 BB) exchanged scoreless second innings, DeMattio and North struck again.
Leadoff hitter Brendan McHugh started the rally, getting hit by a pitch then stealing second. Sinacola then followed with an infield single to the left side to put runners on the corners. DeMattio laced a double into the left field gap scoring both runners and increasing North’s lead to 3-0.
“The first thing is getting [McHugh and Sinacola] on base, and that’s more important, but when they get on base, Brendan’s got great speed, Nick is a contact hitter and then you got Zach,” Hart said.
“I trust my guys every day, day in day out and I just did what I can do,” DeMattio said. “I looked for a pitch that I can get.
“They get all the credit. All my RBI’s come from [McHugh and Sinacola], there are just such pure hitters. McHugh gets on, speed, Sinacola always is getting base hits then it’s just a snowball effect.”
North followed a similar pattern just two innings later. After a McHugh leadoff walk and steal, he was then pushed to third on Sinacola’s fly out. DeMattio recorded his fourth RBI of the night on a shallow sacrifice fly into right field. McHugh raced home to beat the throw.
“Going up to the plate I knew that anything outside of the infield in the air, [McHugh] had the speed to get home,” DeMattio said. “I was just looking to get a ball and drive it up. I got the right pitch and put it to right field. You have to give him all the credit, he hustled home.”
Even with a 4-0 lead, North knew Beverly was more than capable of making a comeback, and that’s exactly what the Panthers did.
“We were expecting Beverly to make some sort of comeback,” Hart said. “They’re an incredibly great team and we’d expect nothing less in this game. Our guys, they’ve been through things like this before.”
The Panthers rally started with Ryan Munzing’s double, which was just Beverly’s second hit. An infield single by Tim McCarthy (on a close play at first) and walk by Matt Collins loaded the bases for Brown, who helped his own cause with a bases-clearing triple off the wall in left field.
But the Beverly rally didn’t seem to rattle the Rocketeers or Sinacola, who bounced back by striking out the next batter and stranding a runner at third. He continued that momentum with strong sixth and seventh innings.
“I picked up my pace a little bit more, worked a bit little quicker,” Sinacola said. “I thought that was my best inning, the sixth inning, coming after that tough inning which shut them down with their momentum and picked us back up where we had to be.”
“We have had a couple tight wins and some losses but I think all of that just builds and builds,” Hart said. “We just still stay confident with it through thick and thin we’re still going to keep pushing it… we’re still going to play our game despite what the score is.
“And Nick trusts his stuff, he’s a very, very skilled pitcher and we believe in him… he doesn’t let things bother him. I can’t say enough about him… He’s one of the top pitchers in this entire state, we had absolute confidence in him to finish it out.”
Drama was still to be found, however, as Beverly had the tying run on base in both the sixth and seventh innings. A strong pair of defensive plays from the Rocketeers allowed Sinacola to avoid any more damage.
Senior outfielder Jeff Gale fielded a Beverly single in right field with two outs in the sixth inning and gunned down the runner trying for second base to end the inning. Then in the seventh after a leadoff walk, DeMattio fired a relay to first baseman Aidan Harding, who caught Beverly’s runner in a pickle.
“That’s huge,” Hart said. “That was an incredible play and in these games, in this spot in the tournament, that’s where you win or lose.
“It was a good read by Zach, he’s been catching for three years, he’s done it a lot. He has a lot of confidence in his throwing ability. He’s an incredible player.”
“Me and Aidan, after practice, we always work on those because being able to throw it down,” DeMattio said. “Especially in that situation where they bunt and he’s looking to go when it’s on the ground. We work on those all the time and he was ready for it, got to give [Aidan] credit for it, he made the play.”
Sinacola got the second out with a strikeout, and after a two-out single, the senior induced a ground ball up middle and second baseman Ryan Warren flipped it to shortstop Shawn Watters for the force out at second, clinching the win.
The win marks North Attleboro’s first-ever baseball state championship. The Rocketeers (22-2) came into the South Section as the No. 1 seed and outscored their opponents 46-7 on their way to a title.
“It’s just insane, insane,” DeMattio said.
“This means everything,” Hart said. “These kids will remember this for the rest of their life’s. It’s such a great opportunity that they’re able to be here in the first place and then able to take home the win. It means a lot.”
The North Attleboro lineup continued its torrid streak this postseason, belting out 18 hits on its way to a 17-2 win over Hockomock rival Oliver Ames in the D2 South Sectional Final.
It was the second straight game the Red Rocketeers have had double-digit hits and double-digit runs. In its three postseason games, North Attleboro has outscored opponents 42-2.
“They are swinging the bat well, we’re just trying to keep the same approach regardless of what the pitcher is doing out there,” said first-year North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart. “We’re taking it one pitch at a time, one batter at a time. We feel if we take care of ourselves, we can be successful.”
And if the offense wasn’t hot enough, North Attleboro ace Nick Sinacola allowed just two hits and two unearned runs in six innings of work while striking out seven to earn the win.
“I’ll give it to that North Attleboro lineup, they crush the ball,” said Oliver Ames coach Joe Barr. “I’ve never seen a team like that, top to bottom, just go through and square it up. Our guy [Reid Latham] was throwing strikes but I don’t know if the air was a little thin or what but those balls got in the air and kept traveling.”
Once Sinacola set the Tigers down in order in the first inning, North Attleboro’s offense went right to work. Brendan McHugh led off with a double, Zach DeMattio had a one-out walk, and Nate Pearce roped a ground-rule double over the fence for a quick 1-0 lead.
Nick Raneri scored on a fielder’s choice as DeMattio was able to get home before OA’s throw did, and Jeff Gale hit one deep enough that brought Pearce, who was ruled to have tagged up after Mitch Goulet’s spectacular catch in center, home for a 3-0 lead after an inning.
Big Red tacked on four more runs — all with two outs — when it returned to the plate in the bottom of the second inning. McHugh started the rally with a single and moved to third when Sinacola picked up his first hit of the day. DeMattio brought both runners home with a hard hit triple, Pearce knocked a run in with a single, and Raneri drove a run in with a single as well to make it 7-0.
“We’ve all been working together through the winter and the spring and it really just shows how much hard work and coming together as a group can accomplish when you execute,” DeMattio said.
Nick Zwerle reached after forcing an error on his bunt and Sean O’Brien walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Sinacola got the second out but Michael Friel hit a line drive double into the gap in left center to bring both runs in to give the Tigers some life, cutting the deficit to 7-2.
But North Attleboro landed a big counter punch in the form of four runs in the bottom of the third to extend its lead. Aidan Harding walked and pinch runner Kyle Briere took second on a wild pitch and third on a single from McHugh. Briere beat out a throw home on Sinacola’s grounder, DeMattio scored McHugh with a single, Sinacola scored after DeMattio stole second and OA attempted to pick him off, and Pearce doubled in DeMattio for an 11-2 advantage.
“Subconsciously that’s the type of stuff that just creeps into your mind,” Abarr said. “You think you’re back in it — and I think we were in it more most of the game — but that was a deflating experience. I’ve been on that end as a player and a coach, and it’s tough. I tip my cap to North for that, they didn’t let up. They played hard right to the end.”
Sinacola retired the side in order in each of the first and second innings, and after allowing two runs in the third, only allowed one base runner to reach third base (an error and a wild pitch). It was Sinacola’s second win against OA this year after beating them in his first appearance back in early April.
“I think early in the year, a lot of hitters struggle with the fastball,” Sinacola said. “Once you get to this point in the season, they are a lot better and they have their timing down. So I think we had to change it up and throw a little bit more offspeed then I did the first time and I think it worked.”
Raneri scored on a passed ball and Gale came home on a hard hit ball from Nolan Buckley that was ruled an infield error for the Tigers in the fifth inning.
In the bottom fo the sixth, Sinacola got his second RBI with a single to score McHugh, DeMattio picked up his fourth RBI of the day with a base hit to score Sinacola and at the next at-bat, Pearce launched a two-run home run to cap the scoring.
“We had to pretty much show up and play perfect against that lineup and that pitcher in order to walk out with a win,” Abarr said. “We knew they’d be relentless. But it was an unreal run for us here at the end, with a team that didn’t quite expect to be here. We don’t set hard and fast goals about where a team can get to, we have just shown up and worked on specific things to get better each day. And these guys did a great job doing that.”
North Attleboro’s top four hitters — McHugh, Sinacola, DeMattio, and Pearce — combined for 13 hits, 11 RBI, and 14 runs scored.
For Oliver Ames (16-8), Friel had two hits and two RBI, Matt McCormack and Nick Bloumbas each had a base hit, and O’Brien and Zwerle each scored once. On the mound, Jay Fruci pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout.
“This is definitely the best group I’ve ever coached,” Abarr said of his team. “From top to bottom, the first guy in the lineup to the last guy on the bench to the team manager…they were tight, always behind each other, and regardless who was in the lineup each day, they were ready to play. It was the most reliable, hard-working, and unified group that I’ve coached and those are the three qualities you look for in a high school team.”
North Attleboro (21-2) advances to the D2 State Final to play North champ Beverly (20-4) on Thursday night at 6:30 at LaLacheur Park in Lowell.
Dartmouth had its first four batters reach on three straight walks and a double, resulting in a quick 1-0 advantage. But that was all the damage the Indians did as catcher Zach DeMattio erased the leadoff walk trying to steal second and starting pitcher Peter Cohen settled in to get two outs with runners on second and third.
And in the bottom half, North had a swift answer. The Rocketeers scored three runs, assuming a lead that they never relinquished, and sparked what would be an offensive showcase that resulted in a 20-2 win.
North Attleboro advances to the D2 South Final to play Hockomock rival Oliver Ames.
Big Red senior starting pitcher Peter Cohen not only had to face the top of a talented Dartmouth lineup to start the game but also had to deal with a hole near the rubber on the pitching – a mound issue that also gave Oliver Ames starter Michael Mulrean issues in the nightcap.
Cohen walked Dylan Pacheco to start the game but he was erased at second by a perfect throw from DeMattio. But Dartmouth’s Brett Abreu and Hunter Pimental also drew walks. Eric Sylvia sent one to the outfield for a double to bring one run in and put runners on second and third.
But Cohen finally settled in, getting a pair of popups in the infield to end the top of the first down just 1-0.
“It wasn’t a matter of Peter’s ability, he was really struggling with the mound,” said North Attleboro coach Mike Hart. “He figured it out and battled, that’s the senior in him. I’ve said it before, he’s a bulldog. I knew he’d find a way to figure it out to stay in the game, he was excellent from there on out.
“I think you feel great after [the top of the first]. They got one run but it could have been worse the way that first inning was going. But again, Peter has been in that same exact spot before and he’s gotten out of it. So we have a lot of faith in him.”
The momentum the Rocketeers seemed to get from allowing just one run seemed to carry over to the offensive side. Brendan McHugh reached on an error – one of seven miscues for the Indians on the day – and Nick Sinacola walked to quickly put runners on first and second for North.
As he has done all season, DeMattio delivered at the plate but crushing a two-run triple to right center field. Two batters later, DeMattio came home on a hard hit ground ball from Nick Raneri to make it 3-0.
“If you want to pick a defining moment in the game, I think that was it, even though it happened early, that was huge,” Hart said. “Just because of the struggles in the top of the first with a couple of walks and a run. Then we come back and get those three runs, that was huge. I think that Peter at ease and let him kind of figure out the mound and pitch his game.”
Cohen showed he had settled in by needing just 11 pitches in the top of the second inning, striking out the side. And North Attleboro kept things rolling in the bottom of the second, exploding for seven runs.
Three straight singles from Aidan Harding, Shawn Watters, and McHugh loaded the bases with no outs. Sinacola’s hard-hit grounder allowed two runs to score and put runners on the corners. DeMattio followed with an RBI single to plate McHugh, and Sinacola came home on a sac fly from Pearce.
Raneri reached on an error, allowing DeMattio to score to make it 8-1. North’s offense kept rolling with a single from Kyle Bolger, who then stole second. Harding then reached on an error and two runs came in for a 10-1 advantage.
“I think we did a good job putting the ball in play,” Hart said. “Obviously it helps if the other day has some errors. We’ve done well offensively this year but we just try to focus on our at-bats and attacking the baseball instead of what’s happening in the field.
“It’s a good time for everybody in the lineup to be putting in that effort.”
Dartmouth added a second run in the top of the third. Pacheco singled, advanced to second after a walk, took third after Cohen induced a double play, and scored on a wild pitch.
North’s offense went down in order (for the only time in the game) in the bottom of the third but was right back at in the fourth. Nate Pearce struck out but raced to first on a dropped third strike and forced a high throw, allowing him to take second. A line drive double from Raneri made it 11-2, and a two-out single from Harding scored Raneri in from third.
The Rocketeers continued to stay hot at the plate and pushed across five more runs in the fifth inning. Sinacola doubled and DeMattio reached on an error to put runners on the corners. After DeMattio stole second, Pearce was intentionally walked and Raneri made the Indians pay with a two-run single through the right side.
Bolger was intentionally walked to load the bases again and Harding delivered with a two-run single. Watters followed with an RBI single to make it 17-2. The teams came off the field and started to leave the dugouts because of the 15-run mercy run.
The umps called both teams back saying the rule did not apply. A 30-minute delay occurred as officials figured it out. In the end, it was decided that the MIAA 15-run mercy run does not apply past the quarterfinal round.
After the long break, freshman Dennis Colleran took over on the mound for Cohen (5 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 5 BB, 4 K). Colleran retired the side in order in his first varsity experience.
North tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Ryan Pasquel was hit by a pitch and took second on a hit from Matt Seavey. Todd Robinson’s bloop single pushed Pasquel to third but Dartmouth got the force out at second. Bolger drove Pasquel in, Jake Palmer brought Robinson home with a single, and Harding scored Bolger with a base hit.
Ben Arrighi worked around a one-out walk, striking out a pair in the top of the seventh to end the game.
“Our guys came ready to play, they were really excited to get after it today,” Hart said.
North Attleboro baseball (20-2) will take on Oliver Ames in the D2 South Final on Saturday at 10:00AM at Campanelli Stadium.
By Brian Hines, HockomockSports.com Contributor
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Nearly two weeks off in between games didn’t seem to bother the North Attleboro Red Rocketeers, as they defeated the Somerset Berkley Raiders, 5-0, in a Division 2 South baseball quarterfinal matchup.
University of Maine commit Nick Sinacola tossed a complete game shutout for the Rocketeers, allowing just two baserunners all game (one hit). The right-hander struck out 12 Raiders, including six straight batters in the second and third inning.
“Nick has some great ability out there,” said North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart. “He trusts his stuff, he really is trying to pound the zone and come after hitters. A lot of the guys, when they’re up to bat, have faith in him to keep the game within reach and keep the other team’s hitters at bay and gives us confidence at the plate.”
And the lineup showed its confidence at the plate, striking early and often.
North was able to take an early lead in the first inning off a Zach DeMattio sacrifice fly, and they then doubled their lead in the third after a hard-hit single by Nate Pearce.
The duo struck again in the fifth, as a DeMattio single scored Sinacola and Pearce’s double plated pinch runner Billy Drummond.
North’s offense wasn’t done, however, as Brendan McHugh’s sacrifice fly in the fifth inning allowed the Rocketeers to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
McHugh, DeMattio, and Pearce accounted for six of the Rocketeers nine hits on the afternoon. McHugh, who batted leadoff, was 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. No. 3 batter DeMattio went 1-for-3 with RBI single and sacrifice fly, while Pearce, who batted clean-up, went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI.
“They have a lot of ability of up at the plate,” Hart said. “They’re great athletes, which translates into hitting. Those are the guys that we rely on, they’re at the top of the order for a reason.”
The North Attleboro base running and defense was also as terrific as it has been all year, stealing seven bases in seven attempts and not committing an error.
#9 Somerset Berkley ends their seasons 12-10, with one win in the playoffs. The top-seeded Red Rocketeers (19-2) now advance to the semifinals, where they play #5 Dartmouth (15-7) on Wednesday night at 5:00 at Rockland Stadium at Rockland High School
“We’re going to keep taking the same approach, one game, one pitch at a time and just worry about the things we need to do to win some games,” Hart said.
By Brian Hines, HockomockSports.com Contributor
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The North Attleboro offense has been tough to quiet all season, and that was again the case for the Milford Hawks on Wednesday afternoon at Community Field.
The Red Rocketeers used a pair of home runs, a grand slam by junior Brendan McHugh and a solo shot by senior captain Zach DeMattio, to beat the Hawks 5-1.
McHugh’s grand slam was set up by three consecutive two-out singles by seniors Nolan Buckley and Aidan Harding and junior Shawn Watters. McHugh’s shot hit the bleachers in left field, and after a long discussion between the umpires and two coaches, was ruled a home run.
The very next inning, DeMattio led off with a solo shot, also into the left field bleachers, for his second home run of the season.
“I thought their pitcher, [Andrew] Fauerbach, did a great job mixing up his speeds, which can flummox any team,” said North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart. “But I thought the second time around we definitely stayed back on the ball and looked to keep it simple and just drive it. If we do those things, not worrying about where the balls actually going to go, things will turn out well for us.”
The 5-0 lead was all North needed, especially with junior Matt Wanless on the mound. Wanless pitched six innings, striking out three batters while allowing just one run.
“Matt did a great job,” said Hart. “His big thing is throwing strikes and he did that. He got a lot of first-pitch strikes which sets up the count for him, hit his spots.”
Milford’s lone run came during a sixth-inning rally. After a single and two-out walk, Cameron Soloman’s base hit scored Matt Swanson, but North Attleboro catcher Todd Robinson caught the Hawks trying to advance to third, which ended the inning.
Wanless was able to avoid damage from the other Milford rallies. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, along with an early threat when Milford put runners on second and third in the first inning.
“[Matts] been in some tough spots this year and he’s done well through them,” said Hart. “I feel as though the couple times he got into situations today he did a very good job of getting out of them.”
North Attleboro baseball (13-2 Hockomock, 17-2 overall) will travel to Taunton on Thursday for the final game of their regular season. Milford finishes the season 5-15 overall and 4-12 in Hockomock play.
Noviello allowed one earned run on five hits and one walk, striking out 11 in eight innings of work while Sinacola struck out 12, allowed four, four walks and one earned run in 7.1 innings.
It wasn’t until the top of the ninth when the Panthers finally cashed in, exploding for five runs in the top half of the inning to prevail with a 6-1 win over the Rocketeers.
“We knew we’d face Sinacola and he’s a great pitcher, and we knew it’d be a great game,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “So we talked about competition, and I think sometimes people forget that competition is back and forth — they answer, then you answer, back and forth. So that was the message prior to the game. We knew there’d be a lot of swings, we just had to stay the course and trust each other. North Attleboro is a great baseball team, they made it really difficult for us today, so hats off to them.
“I thought Jake did a great job just setting the tone. Each time we needed him to settle us back down, he was able to do that.”
North Attleboro’s Zach DeMattio connected on a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the first inning to put Big Red ahead 1-0.
But Franklin sophomore Jack Nally answered in the top half of the second, ripping a line drive solo shot down into the bleachers in left field to make it 1-1.
“[Nick] pitched his tail off, there’s not much more to say,” said North Attleboro coach Mike Hart. “He did everything we asked him to. The kids have been behind him all year. He’s a great leader for us too. We knew scoring chances would be tough to come by for both teams. You have to take them when you have the opportunity.”
Those would be the only runs that the starting pitchers gave up, though each team had a golden chance to take the lead late in the game.
North had its best chance in the bottom of the seventh when Nick Raneri reached on a one-out single, and pinch runner Nolan Buckley went all the way to third after an errant pickoff attempt. The Rocketeers tried for a suicide squeeze to bring the winning run in, but Franklin’s defense was prepared.
Noviello purposely pitched high and junior catcher Jake Macchi fired down the third base line. Shortstop Alex Haba made a nice play to get back to the bag, took the throw, and then ran down the runner for the second out. Noviello struck out the next batter to end the inning.
“We had talked about it and how we wanted to defend it,” Brown said. “We decided that if they were going to do it, it’d be the first pitch so we went pitch out there and we were fortunate enough to get it done. And our shortstop did a great job coming over the top of that play, because that’s not an easy play. The guys did a great job executing it.”
“We’ve been aggressive all season, I’m not going to make any excuses for doing it,” Hart said about the decision. “I thought it was the time to do it…that’s the way we play the game and that’s how we’re going to continue to do it.”
That momentum carried into the top of the eighth for the Panthers. Evan Wendell (walk) and Scott Elliott (single) reached and then advanced a base on a throwing error. After going up 3-0, Haba was intentionally walked to load the bases.
That put an end to Sinacola’s day but senior Ben Arrighi came in and got the job done. The senior made a nice play on a grounder near the first base line to get the force out at home and got a swinging strikeout for the third out to escape the inning without any damage.
“That’s his spot right there,” Hart said of Arrighi. “His innings are down because our starters have been able to go deep into games. I give him a lot of credit. He came in with some serious guts and got the job done for us in that inning.”
Noviello didn’t slow down in the bottom of the eighth, sandwiching a pair of strikeouts around a pop up to keep the momentum on the Panthers’ side.
Nally got things started in the top of the ninth with a leadoff single and then stole second. Shane O’Neil laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Nally over, and the sophomore scored on a base hit from senior Michael Langmeyer to make it 2-1.
Langmeyer stole second, took third on a groundout, and crossed the plate on an RBI single from Colby Fitzgibbons. Elliott followed with a walk to put runners on first and second and then Haba — who had a two-run home run taken away by a leaping grab from North’s Nathan Pearce in the sixth inning — delivered the knock out blow with a three-run bomb over the press box at Community Field to give Franklin a 6-1 lead.
“[Alex] has been real steady for us,” Brown said. “He really stepped up big and delivered in a big spot for us. We really needed those insurance runs to beat a team like that because North is capable of scoring in bunches.”
Franklin senior Bryan Woelfel needed just 10 pitches to set North down in order in the ninth inning to close the door.
Franklin baseball finishes the regular season 17-5 overall and 12-4 in the Hockomock. If King Philip defeats Mansfield on Thursday, the Panthers will share the Kelley-Rex title with the Hornets. Franklin will find out its postseason fate June 3rd (Super 8) or June 5th (D1 South). North Attleboro (16-2 overall, 12-2 Hock) is back in action on Wednesday against Milford.
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Last year it was North Attleboro that came into the rivalry game under the lights against Attleboro at Community Field needing a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. The Bombardiers pulled out that win to keep North out of the postseason, but on Wednesday night the roles were reversed and the Rocketeers exacted a measure of revenge.
Behind a complete game, four-hitter from senior Peter Cohen and a pair of RBI from senior catcher Zach DeMattio, the Davenport division champion Rocketeers pulled out a 3-1 victory, bringing home the Blue-Red Cup for the first time in three years and officially knocking their rivals out of tournament contention.
“I think that was in the back of their minds,” admitted North coach Mike Hart. “We knew they were going to come out jacked up and we had to match it and exceed it. I definitely think we matched the excitement and the energy. It’s probably the most energetic I’ve been this season and I think it’s the same with them.”
Offense was in short supply, as the two teams only combined for eight hits. Cohen kept the Bombardiers off-balance and junior Eoin Kelleher limited the high-powered North offense to just four hits as well.
“We’ve been in this situation before and came through,” said Hart. “We just stuck to our approach and believed that we could do it. I think it helps us coming towards the playoffs. It’s the Hockomock League and every game’s going to be a fight, no matter who it is.”
Attleboro coach Matt Bosh added, “That was a great game, two good teams, great crowd, rivalry, atmosphere, you know, and it was 3-1. That’s an awesome baseball game. Cohen pitched outstanding. He made good pitches when he had to. It was a great pitcher’s duel.”
The visitors took the lead in the top of the first. Tim Callahan led-off with a double into right center and, with one out, Alvaro Espinal drew a walk. Nick Raneri made a great barehand play on the run on a swinging bunt up the third baseline by Jon Candiales, but both runners moved into scoring position.
Corey McKenna singled to left, scoring Callahan, but Brendan McHugh came up firing and threw a strike to DeMattio at the plate, who managed to get the tag on Espinal just before the runner touched home.
The lead was short-lived. North answered back in the bottom half of the inning. McHugh started it with a single to left and then stole second. Nick Sinacola moved him to third with a grounder to the right side and DeMattio roped a line drive to right to bring McHugh home. McKenna ended the inning with a barehand pickup and throw on the infield grass to get Raneri.
Neither team would manage another hit until a two-out single by Sam Larkin in the top of the fourth. Both went in order in the second after Jeff Gale was caught stealing by Dakota Kirby and both had base runners in the third on a couple of walks, but the pitchers and the defenses were keeping scoring chances to a minimum.
That changed in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, nine-hole hitter Ryan Warren dropped down a perfect bunt up the third baseline for North’s first hit since the first. McHugh followed with a walk. Sinacola hit a grounder to second but Attleboro couldn’t complete the double play to end the inning, as the University of Maine-commit hustled down the line to keep the inning alive.
“Ryan does a very good job with that,” said Hart. “We were just trying to keep Attleboro on its toes too and it does spark some energy on the bench.” About Sinacola beating out the double play grounder, Hart added, “He’s been a great leader just hustling down there.”
DeMattio ripped a single through the left side for his second hit and second RBI of the night to put North back in front. After Nate Pearce walked to load the bases, Raneri took one off the top of his helmet to give North an insurance run.
Hart said, “Zach’s a special player. He’s definitely become a better hitter since last year. He may not have all the home runs that he’s had in the past but he’s definitely become a better hitter.”
Bosh joked, “I was kidding with DeMattio that’s why he hasn’t seen a pitch in four years because he hammers it every time.”
Attleboro went into the seventh down by two trying to keep its playoff hopes alive and Kirby gave the Bombardiers some added energy with a lead off single. Troy Van Vliet came up next and hit a soft liner that North first baseman Aidan Harding was able to snare at full stretch.
Cohen fed off the big defensive play and was able to bear down, closing the game out with a strikeout and then a grounder into the hole at short that Shawn Watters not only got to but was able to fire a strike to second to get the game-ending force.
“Peter’s a bulldog. He’s out there and he’s battling every single pitch,” Hart said. “He has good stuff and he trusts his fastball, which has got a little movement on it. He just gets out there and battles and I think that’s really what a lot of our seniors and our whole team bring to the table.”
This has been the type of loss that has defined Attleboro’s season. The Bombardiers have lost six games by three runs or less this spring, including four by just a single run.
“Our kids battled but yeah it’s been the story of our season. We lose games like that,” said Bosh. “Our pitching has been great…but late in the year a lot of teams are pitching well so your runs aren’t going to be in bunches. I’m proud of my kids, they fought hard.”
North Attleboro (15-1, 12-1) will continue to prepare for the state tournament on Friday night against Bishop Feehan, again under the lights at Community Field. Attleboro (8-11, 6-9) will close out its season on Thursday at home against Stoughton.
By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – A five-run first inning gave the Davenport division-leading North Attleboro Red Rocketeers the boost they needed Friday as they cruised to an 11-4 win over the King Philip Warriors at Community Field.
“We just stuck to our whole batting approach that we keep pushing, just being at the plate and getting our pitches to drive,” said North Attleboro coach Mike Hart. “It worked out early for us and guys are starting to feel good… We stuck to our approach and it worked out for us today.”
The top of the Red Rocketeer batting order did much of the team’s heavy hitting, as senior outfielder Nate Pearce went 3-for-3 with a double, three runs and an RBI. Senior catcher Zach DeMattio went 2-for-4 with three RBI, two runs and a double, while junior outfielder Brendan McHugh went 2-for-2 with two runs, a double and a pair of walks from the leadoff spot.
On the mound, North Attleboro had a solid outing from junior pitcher Matt Wanless, who struck out three while surrendering five hits and a walk through six scoreless innings in the win. King Philip struck for four runs in the top of the seventh inning.
The Rocketeer offense launched right off the bat in the bottom of the first, as McHugh sent the first pitch he saw deep into right-center field for a double. The next pitch hit senior shortstop Nick Sinacola, and the pair would be driven in through a two-RBI double from DeMattio. A double by Pearce the next at-bat sent DeMattio home and gave North Attleboro the early 3-0 lead.
Junior third baseman Nick Raneri nearly had an inside-the-park home run, which drove in Pearce, though he would be thrown at the plate on the relay from KP junior second baseman Ian Zimmerman.
Senior outfielder Jeff Gale reached base due to an error, and after batting through the order, the hosts emerged from the inning with a 5-0 advantage.
In the bottom of the second, the Rocketeers nearly batted around again, coming up one player short as junior outfielder Ryan Warren flew out to center to end the inning. Before that, however, McHugh reached on a full-count count, only to be driven in again by DeMattio two batters later. Pearce walked during the next at-bat, and both were driven in by a two-RBI single from senior first baseman Aidan Harding, giving the hosts a commanding 8-0 lead.
The game evened out for much of the middle innings, with the Warriors having their first solid scoring opportunity in the fourth soiled as DeMattio picked off a runner at third from behind the plate.
The scoreline stayed the same until the bottom of the sixth when a leadoff single by Pearce was turned into the ninth run by Raneri an at-bat later. Junior pinch hitter Matt Seavey drove in Raneri for the tenth run on an RBI single, while pinch hitter Shawn Watters drove Seavey in on another RBI single to extend the lead to 11-0.
In the top of the seventh, facing a new pitcher, the Warrior offense roared to life. After senior pinch hitter Jackson Siebler reached base on a fielder’s choice, he stole second and would come home through a bases-loaded walk to fellow senior pinch hitter Ben Furfari, as junior pinch hitters David Morganelli and Matt Dix would reach base through singles.
Third baseman Chris Sawyer drove in Morganelli on an RBI single to double the Warrior lead, while a double from Jeremey Rhines drove in both Dix and Furfari to make it 11-4.
The comeback effort, however, would be cut short for the Warriors, as the Rocketeers secured another win.
Both teams return to action Monday, as North Attleboro (12-1 Hockomock, 13-1 overall) travels to Foxboro while King Philip (5-9 Hockomock, 5-10 overall) will face Franklin.