North’s Sinacola Dominating on the Mound for Maine

Nick Sinacola
Former North Attleboro star Nick Sinacola has struck out 10 or more batters in all five of his starts for the University of Maine this spring, picking up the win in all five games. (University of Maine)

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After having the 2020 college baseball season wiped out by the Covid-19 pandemic, players could be forgiven for taking a few games to get into their strides this spring. That hasn’t been a problem for former North Attleboro star Nick Sinacola, who has been dominant on the hill for the University of Maine.

Sinacola, who helped the Rocketeers win their first state championship as a senior in high school, has won each of his first five starts (including Friday night’s win at NJIT) and has recorded double digit strikeouts in all five games. He has already been named the America East Conference Pitcher of the Week twice and earned national press when College Baseball News added him to their Players of the Week as well.

Before this weekend’s trip to New Jersey, Sinacola spoke about what it means not only to to be off to a strong start but to be able to get on the field at all.

“I think we’re all grateful,” he explained. “We’re just making the most of it, have a good year, and have some fun while we’re out there. That’s the number one thing is just having some fun, trying to win some games.”

Sinacola added, “It was a sense of normalcy that I think everyone is kind of looking for, so whether you’re playing or not playing, even just seeing it on TV or seeing videos of it gives people that sense of normalcy.”

The Black Bears were confident in the fall that the spring season would happen, although the team decided over the winter to pass up its usual season-opening trip to Florida because of the logistical issues that come with traveling during the ongoing pandemic. Maine’s season began on March 6 against Merrimack College with Sinacola getting the call to start.

“It was something special,” he said. “That first pitch, it felt really good to be back in that Maine uniform.” Sinacola struck out 11 in 5-2/3 innings, allowing only three hits and one run to open the year with his first collegiate victory.

As a freshman, two years ago, he made 19 appearances, including three starts. He struck out 35 batters in 35-2/3 innings and tossed five innings of no-hit relief against national power Florida State. He made four starts in the abbreviated 2020 season, losing all four despite striking out 23 batters in 21 innings.

This year, Sinacola has been on a different level. Over his first four starts, Sinacola struck out 11, 16, 15, and 12 batters (his total of 54 was tops in the America East) and had an ERA of just 1.01 (which was 13th in the country and would be the lowest in program history). He led the nation with a strikeout rate of 18.23 per nine innings, his 4.05 hits allowed per nine innings was 11th best in the nation, and he was 20th in WHIP (0.79). He was also halfway to the program’s single-season record for strikeouts (108).

“You spend really a whole year working on everything you can to be ready for when the season comes around,” Sinacola said about his great start, “and I felt like I was in a good spot at the beginning of the year. Having the confidence in myself to make a really good pitch, every single pitch, and confidence in my catcher Ryan Turenne, and trusting everyone behind me, really makes a big difference.”

Does he notice how many strikeouts he is racking up during a game? Can he tell that he is nearing double digits again?

“No, I can’t do that,” Sinacola laughed. “It’s so in the moment, you’re so focused on what you’re doing with this hitter in that specific situation. At the end of the day we’re just trying to get outs, regardless of how we do it.”

Part of Sinacola’s development was the two summers he has pitched with the Brockton Rox, where he had the chance to put into practice the instructions from his Maine coaches, while also being able to try different things to see what fit best.

“You’re off the leash with what you’re doing with the coaches here, so you get the chance to improve yourself and really learn through yourself,” he said. “You get the opportunity to grow on your own.”

Like most pitchers making the jump from a dominant high school career, Sinacola noted that his biggest development came from “learning to pitch, not just throw.” He talked about pitch sequences and planning how to approach to every hitter that he faces depending on circumstances of the game.

His approach at North worked pretty well too. During his senior season, Sinacola won all 10 of his starts, including three in the postseason, posted an ERA of 1.23 and struck out a league-high 71 batters. In the state title game, Beverly struck for three runs in the fifth, but Sinacola settled down to help Big Red lift the state championship trophy.

“Winning is so fun and that winning atmosphere is definitely something you want to be around,” Sinacola said. “It also pushed me to be better because winning the whole thing is something that we’re always chasing. We’re all just trying to win.”

He added, “More than anything, it was a humbling experience because going from being able to win as many games we did that year (18-2 overall) and then going immediately into fall ball here with crazy hitters and other great pitchers it was humbling to see that okay this is a whole other level. You have to adapt and grow your game.”

Sinacola is one of many former Hock baseball players from that season who are making their mark at the collegiate level and he noted that the strength of the league (the Hock sent two teams to the Super 8, had two D2 South finalists, and two state champions) forced him to improve his game.

“The Hock my senior year was one of the best leagues in the state that year,” he recalled. “Playing against good teams, definitely fuels the fire because every night you have to play well to get the win.”

With the America East changing its playoff structure, splitting into two divisions and with only the top two in each division reaching the conference tournament, Sinacola admits it will be a tough test for Maine but that the Black Bears have the talent to be in the mix. Currently, Maine (11-8, 6-5) leads its division by percentage points (UMass Lowell is second at 7-6 in the league) and has a weekend series with the University of Hartford coming up next.

Missing an entire season due to the pandemic adds unique perspective to the challenges and the opportunities the team faces this spring.

“The bus rides don’t get easier up here for us,” he joked, “but it definitely makes you more grateful for the game. The fact that there are other teams and other schools who aren’t able to have the opportunities we have to go out and play definitely adds a different level.

“We think we have the team to make the tournament and that’s the goal. I think it definitely pushes us to be better and we’re excited to play for that this year.”

DeMattio Drives North Attleboro Past Foxboro

North Attleboro football
North Attleboro senior Jacob Silva tries to break free from the grasp of a Foxboro defender in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 FOXBORO, Mass. – Years from now, members of the North Attleboro football team will still be talking about “the drive.”

After the Rocketeer defense stood its ground in the red zone and forced a turnover on downs, the North Attleboro offense put together a methodical drive that will define this year’s Davenport division champions.

Junior Tyler DeMattio (18 carries, 136 yards, two touchdowns) led the Big Red on a 20-play, 92-yard drive that took up 9:52 of game time, culminating in a gutsy 16-yard touchdown run from the quarterback with under three minutes to play, turning a three-point deficit into a 14-10 win for North Attleboro.

North Attleboro football Foxboro football Tyler DeMattio Luis Sulham Rashaad Way

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“That last drive was epic,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “That’s one you don’t see too often, [a championship drive], I was very proud of them.”

Foxboro denied the Rocketeers a chance at the go-ahead score one drive earlier when junior Rashaad Way took advantage of a rare miscue from DeMattio, intercepting a floated pass right before the goal line with 4:44 to go in the third quarter.

The Warriors used that momentum to march down field, putting themselves in position to increase their lead. Highlighted by back-to-back first down runs from Dylan Gordon (seven carries, 47 yards) and a 27-yard pass and catch from Cam Prescott to Way, the hosts moved across midfield.

Way hauled in a 23-yard pass to convert a third down and get down to the North 5-yard line. From there, North’s defense buckled down, sending the Warriors backward on first and then forced three straight incompletions, the final one knocked away in the end zone by Matt Penta to keep the Rocketeers down just three, 10-7, with 0:31 left in the third.

North Attleboro football Foxboro football Tyler DeMattio Luis Sulham Rashaad Way

DeMattio had nine carries on the drive for 71 yards, converting a 3rd down very early in the drive, keeping it himself to move the sticks on 4th and 1 from the North 33-yard line, scrambled for 7 yards and a first on 3rd and 5 just over midfield and then converted another 4th and short just before the touchdown. North also got key carries from Jacob Silva (10 carries, 52 yards), Tommy Whalen (nine carries, 36 yards), and Alex McCoy (eight carries, 37 yards) on the drive.










After Luis Sulham and Jon Moses combined for a tackle for loss, North was faced with 2nd and 13 from the 16-yard line. DeMattio brought Whalen in motion to the left and then kept it himself after the play action, sprinting to the left side of the line, following the block of both Silva and senior lineman Harry Bullock. DeMattio then split through two Foxboro defenders and bounced off two more in the secondary, diving across the goal line for the touchdown.

“I’m running out of words for him but that run typifies him,” Johnson said. “He looks exhausted and you wonder if he can do it on the next play, and you try not to give it to him every down but he just finds a way. He had to kick the extra point so I took a timeout just to rest him for a minute. He’s just a phenomenal kid, there aren’t many like him. He’s just so tough and he has the respect of all of his teammates.”

Foxboro’s ensuing drive got off to a strong start with a 9-yard run from Gordon and a 12-yard pass from Prescott to Sulham but two plays later, Bullock and Robbie Donovan came crashing in for a 10-yard sack. Two incompletions later, the final one on 4th and 22 following a false start, turned the ball over on downs to clinch the win and division title for the Rocketeers.

“They left everything they had, every ounce of their ability and then some,” said Foxboro head coach Jack Martinello about his team’s effort. “[North Attleboro] is a good football team, give credit where credit is due. We had our chances to put it away but if you don’t take those opportunities against a good team, you give them a shot.”

After a postgame handshake with Johnson, Martinelli made his way across to the North Attleboro sideline to shake hands with DeMattio.

“I do when I think they are special,” Martinelli said of the postgame meeting with the North QB. “As much we knew when he was going to take it, you still have to stop him and we just weren’t able to. The kid is tough, he’s their best running back, and his ability to throw the ball this year has made it more difficult to defend him.

North Attleboro football Foxboro football Tyler DeMattio Luis Sulham Rashaad Way

“He’s tough and they have other weapons, he has more around him this year than he did last year. So you have to respect all of them. It opens some space up but you have to watch out for their different formations with trips, two receivers, the motion, the whole nine yards. But they are a good team, [DeMattio] is special. We would have liked it to have ended a little differently but the kids left it all on the field.”




North Attleboro got off to a strong start, forcing Foxboro to go three-and-out on its opening drive. Starting at their own 37-line, the Rocketeers used 12 plays to cover 63 yards and took a 7-0 lead when DeMattio kept it himself for a 1-yard touchdown.

Foxboro’s defense forced a three-and-out on North’s second drive and the offense was able to take advantage. On first down, Prescott connected with Way down the left sideline for a 48-yard gain. Two plays later, Prescott fired a laser to Sulham right at the goal line for a 7-yard touchdown, making it 7-7 with 10 minutes left in the second.

North turned it over on downs in Foxboro territory and punted on its other two drives of the first half while Foxboro had its third punt of the game before halftime.

The Rocketeers started on offense in the second half but just two plays in, Foxboro’s Mike Norvish came in with a big hit to knock the ball free and junior Dylan Kerrigan, who had the original tackle, came up with the loose ball.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Helped along by a pass interference and misconduct call, Foxboro moved inside the red zone down to the North 10-yard line. After a pair of runs totaled just two yards and an incomplete pass in the end zone, Foxboro settled for a 25-yard field goal from Sam Carpenter to make it 10-7.

North had two turnovers and Foxboro was able to get inside the 10-yard line off both chances but ended up with just three points total.

North Attleboro (5-0) is taking next week off while Foxboro (3-2) will host Franklin on Friday at 5:30 in a crossover matchup.

North Attleboro football Foxboro football Tyler DeMattio Luis Sulham Rashaad Way

Big Red Back On Top After Win Over Stoughton

North Attleboro football Tyler DeMattio
North Attleboro junior quarterback Tyler DeMattio slips away from the grasp of Stoughton junior Jonah Ly in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Through the first three weeks of the Fall II season, North Attleboro’s high-powered offense has received plenty of attention and headlines.

In the biggest game of the year to date, however, it was the Rocketeers’ defense that received rave reviews after containing a dangerous Stoughton offense — all the way to the final play of the game — to the tune of a 14-6 victory, clinching at least a share of the Davenport division title in the process.

The North Attleboro defense forced four straight punts to start the game, ended a pair of Stoughton drives on downs inside their own territory, created back-to-back turnovers in the fourth quarter, and denied the visitors a chance at tying the game as time expired.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We were worried because it’s a physical matchup against those guys with their big backs and all of our little guys coming up trying to tackle them,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “I think we kept them off balance enough. We learned last year one guy isn’t going to bring down their backs so we worked all week on getting guys to the football, and we have some speed on defense so that helps.

“It felt like the whole second half we kept giving them chances, we could never get that third score. We felt like if we could get that third score we could relax a little but we never got it, we never finished it on offense but the defense kept stepping up and making plays.”

It marked a quick one-season turnaround for the program, which finished under .500 for the first time in over 25 years during the 2019 season. Now, the Rocketeers are division champions for the fifth time in the past six years.

“These kids were really motivated throughout the whole offseason, they wanted to get North Attleboro back to where it should be,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them, they’ve done everything we’ve asked of them for the past 15, 16 months now and it’s been awesome, it’s a great group of kids.”

Stoughton’s defense, down three starters to injury including top pass-rusher Christian Georges, put in a solid shift as well as the Black Knights continued to make big stops in the second half to give themselves a chance. The visitors made things interesting by scoring on the first play of the fourth quarter as senior quarterback John Burke read the blitz and got the pass out quickly, hitting an open Christian Ais. Ais turned on the jets and sprinted up the left sideline for a 43-yard score and Stoughton trailed by just one possession, 14-6.

North nearly answered right away but couldn’t quite finish off the drive. The Rocketeers used all of their weapons on the drive to march down the field, as junior quarterback Tyler DeMattio (24 carries, 150 yards) started with a 24-yard run, Tommy Whalen followed with a 10-yard carry, and Jacob Silva moved the sticks for the third straight play with a 16-yard rush.










DeMattio ran for 11 yards later in the drive to get into the red zone but on 4th and 5, Stoughton’s Christopher Ais came up with a sack and the Knights took over on downs.

But just three plays into the ensuing drive, North Attleboro got the ball back as junior Tyler Bannon ripped the ball free from the ball carrier and recovered the fumble himself, setting the Rocketeers up with the ball at the Stoughton 30.

The Black Knights once again came up with a red zone stop to stay in the contest. Christian Ais had a tackle for a loss on second down, and on fourth and 2 from the 8-yard line, Stoughton’s Davin Swierzewski met DeMattio up the middle to deny him the first down with 3:24 to play.

A 20-yard rush from Burke plus a personal foul followed by an 11-yard reception from Jake Queeney moved Stoughton over midfield. But Stoughton’s drive came to another screeching halt as Bannon came flying in and jarred the ball free and the ref ruled it was a fumble and not an incomplete pass, allowing sophomore Greg Berthiaume to slide into the loose ball before it went out of bounds, seemingly ending Stoughton’s chance at a comeback with just 1:17 to go.

Stoughton used its two timeouts on first and third down, denying the Rocketeers a first down and making the hosts punt with just seconds to go. A high snap forced punter Max Bumpus to chase the ball down, falling on it at his own 20-yard line for a turnover on downs, giving Stoughton one last chance.

Burke’s first pass was knocked down as Christian Ais was triple covered in the end zone, and his second toss was just out of the end zone as he tried to hit Queeney in the corner.

“We had a chance at the end,” said Stoughton head coach Greg Burke. “I was happy we didn’t let them score in the second half and we got one, but we can’t give up the two scores. They certainly deserved at least one [score] in the first half, they were pushing us around and I thought we’d do a little better upfront so hats off to them. Their quarterback is tough, every time you think you got him he just squirms awayWe lost the ball a couple of times, and you can’t do that in games like this.

“It’s a consolation but the kids played hard, we didn’t get blown out. Our kids are never going to quit, no matter what, no matter who we play so I’m happy about that.”

North Attleboro orchestrated back-to-back scoring drives on its second and third chances of the game. After going three-and-out to start the game, the Rocketeers took advantage of good field position both times.

On the first drive, the Big Red needed seven plays to cover 45 yards before finding the end zone. Silva had a 15-yard carry to set the tone to start the drive and then hauled in a 3-yard catch inside the 5-yard line to move the chains. DeMattio kept it himself from a yard out to give North a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.




North’s next drive started in the first quarter and ended in the end zone with 8:29 left to play in the second quarter. Again starting in Stoughton territory, North marched 41 yards on 10 plays, twice converting on fourth down, to double its lead.

The Rocketeers went to Silva to covert 4th and 1 early in the drive, and then DeMattio kept it himself for 10 yards on 4th and 2. North kept going with DeMattio up the middle and two plays later, he kept it for a 5-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

“With their speed, they were doing a good job of shutting down the edge on us early so it was leaving a little bit of a seam up inside,” Johnson said. “He’s the safest way to run off tackle, you don’t have to risk a handoff or anything. So that’s why it ended up being him more than some of the other running backs.

“[Tyler’s] the guy you want in your fox hole. There’s no stop to him, he’s just constantly going hard in everything that he does. He’s pound-for-pound the toughest kid that I’ve seen in a long time.”

After four punts to open the game, Stoughton finally got something going on offense late in the first half. Jonah Ly sprinted for 12 yards on first down, Christian Ais followed with a 13-yard carry, and Christopher Ais went up the middle to convert third and short. The Black Knights moved inside the red zone but back-to-back incompletions, including one near the pylon in the front of the end zone, stopped the drive.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton’s defense forced a turnover on downs on North’s first drive of the second half (10 plays, 51 yards) and the Black Knights carried some momentum to offense. Christian Ais scampered his way for a 41-yard carry to start the drive but three plays later, Burke’s pass to Christian Ais was spotted a yard short on fourth down.

“They have great speed, they were able to use that,” Burke said. “We had some success going right at them but we didn’t continue with it, but shoulda, coulda, woulda, and we just didn’t do enough. We had some chances but came up short on some fourth downs. They did a good job using their speed, brought an extra guy in on us. I thought we’d hit a few more passes but we didn’t. And we had turnovers, you can’t do that.”

North Attleboro (4-0) can clinch the Davenport title outright when it travels to Foxboro on Friday for a 5:30 kickoff. Stoughton (3-1) will compete in crossover action when it hosts Milford (3-1) on Saturday at 11:00 AM.

DeMattio, North Attleboro Score Big Win Over Canton

North Attleboro football Tyler DeMattio
North Attleboro junior quarterback Tyler DeMattio carries the ball on a run in the first half against Canton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 CANTON, Mass. – The chance to put last season in the rearview mirror couldn’t come soon enough for the North Attleboro football team.

The Rocketeers had a rare sub-.500 season in the Fall of 2019 but with the majority of its roster back, including eight starters on each side of the ball, the Big Red was ready to get back on track as one of the most successful programs in the state.

North Attleboro needed less than a minute to do so.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The Rocketeers scored just three plays into the new season and then really hit their stride on offense in the middle of the game, scoring on four straight possessions between the second and third quarters, to run away with a 41-13 win over host Canton.

After a drop on the first play, North senior Jared Penta (three carries, 65 yards) ripped off a 20-yard run and on the next play, junior quarterback Tyler DeMattio (8/12, 138 yards, touchdown, nine carries, 73 yards, three touchdowns) kept it himself and weaved his way through the defense for a 45-yard score and a 7-0 lead just 53 seconds into the game.

The combination of penalties, self-inflicted mistakes, and Canton’s defense stifled the Rocketeers over their next three drives, including two fourth down stops and one punt, which was set up by a sack from Canton senior Matt Connolly. North even got inside the 10-yard line on their third drive but a botched snap on a field goal attempt ended with an incomplete pass.

North Attleboro football

But while North’s offense worked out the early season jitters, the Rocketeers’ defense was smothering from the start against a Canton offense that featured new faces in almost every position. Canton went three-and-out on its first five possessions and the sixth came to an end just two plays in for the halftime whistle.

“We looked like a team that hadn’t played in 15 months…some stupid penalties early, procedure stuff, a bad snap on the field goal attempt…it was a lot of stuff that you get out of your system if you play a second scrimmage, which we normally do,” said North Attleboro head coach Don Johnson. “Once we got into a groove though…we still have a lot of work to do but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.”










Even though North’s fifth drive didn’t start in an ideal manner due to a false start and a two-yard loss on first down, the Rocketeers finally clicked into gear. DeMattio kept it himself for a 32 yard gain the move the chains and then hit Matt Penta (three catches, 74 yards, touchdown) for another first to move into the red zone.

Two plays later, DeMattio kept it himself up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 4:37 left in the second quarter.

“North Attleboro has a strong tradition, they are a great program, they have good coaches and good players over there, that’s a solid team for sure,” said first-year Canton head coach Anthony Fallon. “We’re working hard over here, we graduated a big senior class last year, and we’re getting better.”

Canton’s ensuing drive came to an end after a sack from North’s Jared Vacher. The Rocketeers needed two plays to tack on another score by halftime with DeMattio hooking up with Penta down the middle for a 47 yard gain. And then DeMattio kept it to the left and won the race to the pylon to make it 21-0 with 1:07 left in the first half.

A pair of sacks sent Canton backward on its first drive of the second half and North started with good field position after the punt. Helped along by a 15-yard penalty on the defense, DeMattio finished the drive by hitting Penta in the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown, extending the lead to 28-0 with 7:43 left in the third.

North Attleboro football




“I thought our defense was pretty good because I was worried about it with them having new players, a new coaching staff,” Johnson said. “We basically had half of a scrimmage to go off of and they played their starters for about 15 plays so there was definitely that fear of the unknown but I think the experience in our secondary and our linebackers paid off today.”

The Bulldogs put together their best drive of the game on the ensuing drive, Anthony Botelho (12/23, 160 yards) hitting Vincent O’Brienn to convert a third down, and then connecting with Cam Sanchez down the middle for 41 yards. Carson Campbell had a big lead block on a fourth-down run that allowed Sanchez to get the first down, and two plays later, Botelho scrambled into the end zone. Will Keefe’s extra point made it 28-7 with 2:19 left in the third.

North needed less than a minute to respond as Jacob Silva (six carries, 104 yards) broke free for 11 yards, DeMattio linked up with Jared Penta for 39 yards down the right sideline, and then Silva scampered into space for a 21-yard touchdown.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“[Tyler’s] a hard-nosed tough kid who has had to learn how to play the position,” Johnson said. “If it was up to him, I think he would run the ball every single down and just lower his shoulder and run through people. He’s had to learn how to play quarterback, learn to read coverages, learn when to throw it and when to dump it, and all that stuff. And he’s just getting better every year with it.”

Sanchez capped a 10 play, 77-yard drive for Canton with a touchdown from one-yard out but North blocked the point after. On the ensuing kickoff, North junior Danny Curran took the kickoff the distance to get the touchdown right back for the Rocketeers.

North Attleboro (1-0) is back on the road again next week when it takes on Sharon, who will host the game at Mansfield High. Canton (0-1) hits the road to Easton to take on Oliver Ames.