DeMattio Caps Career With MVP Performance

Zach DeMattio
North Attleboro’s Zach DeMattio looks to throw a runner at first against Beverly. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.


Despite falling behind 0-2, DeMattio roped the third pitch he saw into the gap in left-center field to bring both runs in and give the Rocketeers a 3-0 lead in the top of the third.

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.

North Attleboro Edges Beverly For First State Title

North Attleboro baseball
North Attleboro’s Nick Sinacola (left) and Aidan Harding celebrate after recording the final out to win the D2 State Championship. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.


“We’re just going play aggressive and that’s what it comes down to,” Hart said. “I think it was a point in the game where if we could get extra one, go for it. Brendan is extremely fast, so that makes us feel more comfortable about it too.”

“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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.”

Rocketeers Roll To D2 South Title Against Oliver Ames

North Attleboro baseball
North Attleboro’s Nate Pearce (right) is greeted at home plate after his sixth inning home run. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BROCKTON, Mass. – There’s hot, there’s red hot, and then there’s Big Red hot.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“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.”


“I give [OA] a lot of credit, they are an excellent hitting team,” Hart said. “In regards to answering back, I think it just puts us at ease. I think it made it 7-2 then and five runs with these two teams means nothing. So to get those runs back, it helps Nick on the mound.”

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Big Red Blasts Dartmouth, Books Trip To D2 South Final

North Attleboro baseball
North Attleboro’s Zach DeMattio celebrates after a two-run triple in the first inning. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
ROCKLAND, Mass. – Even though it was very early, things weren’t looking good for the top-seeded Rocketeers.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.

Sinacola Leads North Attleboro Past Somerset-Berkley

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.

Rocketeers’ Rally Comes Up Just Short Against Wamps

North Attleboro softball
North Attleboro’s Emily Nardelli tags out Braintree’s Lily Adams in the fifth inning. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – North Attleboro had the right defense in place and the pitch out of sophomore Bella Erti’s right hand was in the right spot.

But Braintree’s Meghan Duffy got just enough of the pitch, the two-out bloop single falling just fair in no man’s land in right field, bringing two runs across.

That was all the damage the Wamps did on the scoreboard, and despite a seventh-inning rally from the host Rocketeers, it was enough for a 2-1 victory for #9 Braintree.

“It was an inside pitch and she just fisted it out there,” said North Attleboro head coach Bill Wallace.
“What are you going to do? We had the right defense on for an inside pitch, but those things happen. I told the girls afterward, that’s why we play the games. You have to tip your hat to Braintree’s pitcher [Erin Barry]. I don’t think she walked a batter.”

Barry, in fact, didn’t issue a base on balls and struck out 11 Rocketeers. North had just two hits through six innings before nearly coming back to tie the game in the final frame.

Sophomore Abby Gallagher led off the inning with a double to left to start the rally and classmate Ashley Cangiano followed with a hard hit single through the right side for a single, putting runners on the corners with no outs.

Sophomore Annabelle Hebard grounded out to shortstop but Gallagher came racing home, cutting the deficit to 2-1, while Cangiano took second.

Barry put an end to the rally through, striking out the next two North Attleboro batters to secure the win.

Erti was equally as good to Barry, allowing just four hits with one walk and six strikeouts.

Braintree orchestrated its two-runs with a leadoff single from Barry before Erti got the first out with a strikeout. Lily Adams reached on an infield error and courtesy runner Delia McGuire advanced to second.

On a ground ball from Kara Paquin, McGuire was called out after a collision with North Attleboro freshman Emily Nardelli, keeping runners at first and second with two outs. But Samantha Hayes drew a two-out walk and Duffy followed with the bloop double.

Olivia Capobianco led off the fourth inning with a bunt single and ended up on second after a throwing error. Gallagher’s groundout to Capobianco at third with just one out but Barry once again got a big strikeout and then a soft liner to short to end the threat.

“I had a great group of seniors, there were 10 of them, they are going to be sorely missed,” Wallace said. “And then we also have a very good group coming back. We have seven starters coming back, including the pitcher and the catcher. It’s a tough way to go but they had a great season. If you had told them at the beginning of the year they’d be 16-5, I think they’d be pretty happy with that. But as you go, your expectations increase so it makes it harder.”

North Attleboro softball finishes the season at 16-5.

Walpole Pulls Away Late To Beat North Attleboro

By David James, HockomockSports.com Contributor

WALPOLE, Mass. — North Attleboro gave a perennial state power in Walpole all it could handle, but the Rebels put together a late run to end the game, earning a 7-4 win.

North’s staunch defense put together one of its most impressive performances of the year, forcing Walpole into an uncharacteristically low scoring affair. Time after time Big Red forced shots that went way off the cage, and goaltender Jake McNeany (10 saves) was everywhere for the state’s fifth-best scoring defense.

Senior captain Jason McNeany (three goals) saved one of his best performances for last, winning 11 out of 15 faceoffs to give North the chances it needed, as well as being the game’s leading scorer.

Fans of a defensive battle were in for a treat as 10 minutes passed before a shot on net took place when Walpole’s Thomas Shea opened up the scoring for the Rebels. There would be only one more shot on cage, as well as nine combined turnovers throughout the first, leaving the score at 1-0.

The second quarter saw both offenses settle down, but had a similar result. Cullen McGlynn had the lone tally making it 2-0 for the Rebels halfway through the quarter. North had chances to respond, as Walpole picked up a penalty with 1:35 remaining in the half, but hit the post twice. Walpole goalie Joseph McGrath made four saves in the quarter and kept the score at 2-0 going into the half.

Importantly for Big Red though, Walpole was hit with another penalty with just three seconds left on the clock. Carrying a man advantage into the second half, Jason McNeany won the faceoff, hit teammate Tommy Lindstrom (two assists), who gave it right back to McNeany, who buried the man-up ripper from straight on to give North their first goal of the game.

Both offenses went back and forth as Walpole’s Kyle Hirshom responded to make it a two-goal game again, quickly followed up by Andy DeMattio’s goal off a nifty feed from Nick Ward. Two minutes later Lindstrom was able to draw a penalty and find McNeany again, who scored on the continuation and tied the game, 3-3.

Unphased by the momentum, UMass Lowell commit Conor Foley was able to put one in the back of the net 30 seconds later to silence the North crowd.

Walpole got just the break they needed to steal all the momentum one minute into the fourth quarter. After a Jake McNeany save, a scrum formed in front of the net. After 10 seconds of fighting for it, Foley was able to poke it loose and hockey slap shot it into the back of the net, making it 5-3 in favor of Walpole.

Ryan Birch scored the Rebels’ sixth of the game to extend the lead to three with eight minutes to play. McNeany willed his way through a Walpole defender to make it a two-goal game again but two back-to-back North penalties and excellent goaltending by McGrath would make that the last opportunity for a comeback.

After North’s defense killed off a six on four penalty kill, McGlynn was able to add an insurance goal to make it 7-4, which would stand for the remainder of the game.

Although not the way the Rocketeers (15-5) wanted to end their season, they have plenty to hang their hats on, as they exceeded all expectations for this year. Replacing their entire starting offense from last year other than Lindstrom, as well as 2017 Hockomock League MVP goaltender Dan MacDonald, is no small task. Big Red proved that they’re at a point where they don’t have to rebuild, they reload.

Still a relatively young program, North has come a long way in 11 years. A program that had just eight wins in its first four years when head coach Kevin Young took over has now strung together 31 wins in the last two years, and everything is trending up for Big Red, as a boatload of talented underclassmen with lots of experience return to next year’s roster.