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.
Similar to a boxing match, the Tigers countered any punch that the Dragons landed with a blow of their own. In the end, it was a unanimous decision, 11-7, in favor of the Tigers.
Oliver Ames advances to the D2 South Final to play Hockomock rival North Attleboro.
The Tigers opened the bout by landing a big shot away, scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth. But as big as the opening inning was, it was the other two innings in which Oliver Ames scored that mattered most.
Duxbury connected with a jab in the top of the third in the form of two runs, cutting OA’s four-run lead in half. In the bottom half, the Tigers landed a clean shot of their own with their second four-run inning, pushing the lead to 8-2.
And again, when Duxbury landed another attempt in the top of the fifth with two more runs, making it a four-run game with just a couple innings to go, the Tigers responded. The fifth-seeded Tigers quickly striking back for three runs, restoring a comfortable lead at 11-4.
“That’s something that we said is one of our team priorities offensively,” said Oliver Ames head coach Joe Abarr. “When we’re scored on, our goal is to answer back immediately. I know from being around the game that if you’re the team playing catchup, and every time you get on the board, and the other team comes right back, it’s a very uphill battle. I think that was something really positive about our offense today, they did a good job with that.
“We put ourselves in good counts to hit the ball when we needed to and we got a ton of walks that really helped us down the line.”
After Duxbury failed to cash in in the top of the first inning, stranding a runner at third, the Tigers took advantage of their chance in the bottom half.
Senior Matt Muir led off with a single while senior Michael Friel and junior Chris Pearsons followed with walks to load the bases with one out. Mitch Goulet brought in a run when he was hit by a pitch and Jake Erlich smacked a two-run single up the middle for a 3-0 advantage.
“That was huge and this time we didn’t take our foot off the gas,” Abarr said of the opening offense. “We were able to keep putting runs up there. The top of our order has guys that at any given at-bat can do big things. It’s nice to see them stringing them together consistently.”
OA starter Michael Mulrean (5.2 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 1 K) ran into a bit of trouble in the top of the third. Not only was he taking on a strong Duxbury lineup, an issue with the mound caused issues for both pitchers. North Attleboro starter Peter Cohen had a similar issue during the game prior.
John Roberts led off the third with a walk but was erased when Sam Reagan reached on a fielder’s choice. A soft line drive from Luke Eggers put runners on the corners and then the ump called a balk, bring a run in and moving Eggers to second. A passed by and a single from Charles Coon brought in another run, making it 4-2. Coon made it into scoring position at second but Mulrean got back-to-back outs on two pitches to escape further damage.
Arguably OA’s most important was the bottom of the third. After Duxbury made a move to get back into it, the Tigers landed a deflating shot in the form of four runs.
Goulet walked and took second on an errant pickoff attempt. Erlich drew a walk and Deveau, who tried to sacrifice them both over, ended up safe at first after his speed down the first base line forced a high throw.
Nick Zwerle delivered a one-run base hit through the left side and O’Brien brought a run home on a groundout. With runners on second and third, Muir roped a hard line drive to right center field for a two-run triple to give OA an 8-2 advantage.
Mulrean was picked up by some solid defense in the fourth inning. A hard hit high bouncing ground ball was picked up by Zwerle on the first base line for an out. After a walk, Muir nearly made a spectacular leaping grab at short. The ball fell down but the senior stuck with it and got the force at second. And Friel snagged a tailing line drive at second for the third out.
“This isn’t a knock on the facilities but that mound was tough, I saw it when I went out for warmups,” Abarr said. “I think both sides really had to deal with that adversity. You could see their guy slipping and sliding. And the way Mulrean pitches, he pushes himself down and really does land in a slide with his front foot. He was almost doing a little split at times. I have to hand it to him, he did a good job hanging in there and gave us a chance to win and that’s all we can ask for.”
A leadoff single from Reagan sparked another comeback attempt for Duxbury in the top of the fifth. Eggers and Coon both walked to load the bases with no outs. Pat Melampy singled in one run and Frank Tower’s sacrifice fly made it 8-4.
Duxbury loaded the bases again but Mulrean got a big ground out to third to prevent any further damage.
True to form, Oliver Ames responded to recreate a comfortable separation. Sophomore pinch hitter Jacob Levine crushed a ball to left center field for a one-out triple and scored on an RBI single from Pearsons. A single from Goulet pushed Pearsons to third after, after Goulet stole second, Erlich walked to load the bases.
It looked as though Duxbury had its second out when Deveau hit a slow roller up the first base line. But once again, his effort down the line forced a second of indecision by the fielder and he slid in safely at first and Pearsons came racing in to score.
“It’s stuff like that that you need in these games,” Abarr said of Deveau’s two hustle plays. “That was unbelievable, they were both great hustle plays. We said last night, it’s going to be tough for everyone, so don’t take anything granted, we have to run everything out. And I have to really hand it to these guys, I don’t think I’ve had to talk to anyone about not running a play out, which is awesome.
With O’Brien up, Goulet sprinted home on a wild pitch to make it 11-4.
Duxbury pushed back with three runs in the top of the sixth inning but reliever Tom Parker came in and eventually got the third out – a swinging strikeout – to strand runners at second and third.
OA’s Reid Latham inherited a runner at first when he came in to pitch in the top of the seventh. Latham got a strikeout, fly ball to center field, allowed a two-out walk, but closed the door on a groundout to second base.
“We were here last year, we got knocked out here [by a similar score],” Abarr said, the Tigers having lost 10-6 to Westwood at this point a season ago. “We battled back [in that game] but came up short. We’ve tried to work on specific things throughout the season. And these guys, from top to bottom, have done a tremendous job working on those things in order to get better.”
Oliver Ames baseball (16-7) will take on the Rocketeers in the D2 South Final on Saturday at 10:00AM at Campanelli Stadium.
The two teams opened the season against one another back on April 9th with Big Red prevailing 5-2. The Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh before North got the final out to secure the win.
“We faced [Nick] Sinacola, who is the real deal and their catcher [Zach DeMattio] is unbelievable, he crushes the ball, he’s one of the best high school hitters I’ve ever seen,” Abarr said. “Just thinking back, we had a couple of errors, we aren’t on time with our hitters. I’m hoping with two and a half months under our belt now, we’ll come in and give them a better game. I think we lost by three runs but they were just a step ahead. Hopefully we’re even now and have a good game on Saturday.”
But by the end, the Tigers were just happy to survive and advance.
OA built a 5-0 lead through the first three innings of play but saw that advantage shrink to just one run after the next two. The Tigers added a big insurance run in the fifth and escaped a seventh-inning threat from Nauset to emerge with a 6-4 win.
“I tip my cap to Nauset,” said OA head coach Joe Abarr. “Their first base coach just kept saying ‘play the game’ which I thought was a cool mantra. You could see their guys stay in the moment and getting hits when they needed to. But we were able to get enough runs across early in the game and protect the lead in the end.”
“As soon [Nasuet] battled back it was like a wake-up call and all the guys got behind each other. I’m hoping they remember that and keep that attitude moving forward because the games won’t be any easier moving forward.”
Some heads up base running in the bottom of the first inning helped the Tigers grab an early lead. Michael Friel (4-for-4, RBI, run) had a one-out single and stole second with two outs. Chris Pearsons (3-for-4, RBI, run) hit a ground ball to the left side of the infield but raced down the line and beat the throw for an infield hit.
With two outs, Friel was off and running, but didn’t stop at first. The senior infielder alertly sped around third and took off for home. The Nauset first baseman held the catch at first while the ump made the call and Friel crossed without a throw home. With no one covering second, Pearsons sprinted to the open bag for a free base but was stranded there.
“My assistant coach was just saying that’s what wins tournament games,” Abarr said of the alert base running. “I really can’t say enough about both of those guys, their baseball instincts are tremendous. But it’s not just instincts, they work at it. We have two rounds during batting practice that you have to run the bases after and those two guys take all their reps very seriously and it pays dividends. We’re hoping to get more guys to buy into that too because it makes a big difference.”
Oliver Ames starter Reid Latham (3.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 2 K, 0 BB) worked around a hit in both the first and second innings. In the first, Nauset’s Stephen Kalnick was gunned down by Sean O’Brien after trying to turn a single into a double. And in the second, Harrison Field’s leadoff single didn’t result in anything when Latham got three straight outs.
Jake Erlich (2-for-4, RBI, run) got the bottom of the second started with a single and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt from Nick Zwerle. CJ Deveau battled his way through a nine-pitch at-bat, ending it with an RBI single to score Erlich. Matt Muir followed up with a two-out single to bring Deveau in and Muir took second on the throw.
Friel grabbed his second hit of the day with a double to bring Muir home to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead.
Pearsons led off the third with a bloop single into left field and made his way all the way to third after a throwing error. Junior Matt McCormack grounded out but Pearsons came in to score to make it 5-0.
Nauset came firing back in the top of the fourth, taking care of some miscues by the Tigers. Latham got the first out with a strikeout but a high fly ball from Kalnick dropped in left center field. Latham bounced back with another strikeout but Chris Beach singled with two outs to put runners on first and second.
Latham induced a ground ball to the left side but miscommunication allowed John Dysart to reach and load the bases. Kurtis Thomas and John Paul LaBarge hit back-to-back singles, though each only scoring one run apiece. Henry Blanchard was then awarded first after a catcher’s interference call, bringing a third run in.
“This was the first time he’s been on the mound in a real game in probably five or six weeks so I have to give it to him,” Abarr said about Latham. “He did a tremendous job. When he had the cast on his hand, he was still the first one at the park each day. As soon as he was able to get the hard cast off, he could throw some and he came straight from the doctors to practice and wanted to throw. I think this was a moment he’s been waiting for and as far as I’m concerned, he shouldn’t be deflated about that inning, he just didn’t have some things go his way, and that’s the way baseball goes.”
Abarr went to the bullpen and brought in junior Tom Parker (2.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 K, 3 H). The lefty needed just one pitch to get a fly ball to right to leave the bases loaded for Nauset.
“I give Tommy credit, coming in there and throwing that one pitch to get us out of it, which I thought was a huge momentum changer for us,” Abarr said.
A single from Friel and a walk to Mitch Goulet put runners on first and second for OA in the bottom half of the fourth but an infield pop up ended the threat.
Kalnick helped get Nauset one run closer with a one-out triple in the fifth inning. Harrison Field followed with a triple of his own to bring Kalnick in but Parker didn’t let Field get any further, getting two ground balls to end the inning.
OA got the insurance run it needed in the bottom of the fifth. McCormack led off with a walk and took second on a passed ball. Erlich hit a hard grounder down the third base line for an RBI double to plate McCormack to put the Tigers up 6-4.
After Zwerle was hit by a pitch, Deveau’s sac bunt moved the runners to second and third with one out but Kalnick, Nauset’s third pitcher of the day, prevented any further damage with a strikeout and 6-3 ground out.
Parker worked around a one-out error in the top of the sixth, getting back-to-back strikeouts after the runner reached. OA had a chance to blow the game open when it loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth behind three straight singles from Friel, Pearsons, and McCormack.
But this time it was Kalnick with back-to-back strikeouts to prevent any further damage.
Nauset threatened in the top of the seventh behind a one-out single from Kalnick and a walk to Field. Abarr brought in Muir to close the game out and the senior did just that, getting a line drive to center and a ground ball to short for the final two outs.
“[Parker] kept himself really composed when their three and four hitters had those triples,” Abarr said. “He was able to get out of that inning with just the one run which I’ll take all day. He was jacked up for that last inning and then we had that pause for the base runner and I think that hurt his momentum. And Matt Muir has probably been our most consistent guy out of the pen this season.”
Oliver Ames baseball (15-7) advances to the D2 South Semifinal for the second straight year. The Tigers, seeded sixth, will take #7 Duxbury (14-8) on Wednesday at 7:00 at Rockland Stadium.
But the Tigers showed just how quickly they can change a game with their offense. Three straight hits resulted in two runs and a tie game, sending the game to extras.
And in extra innings, Oliver Ames needed just two innings to breakthrough, earning a 3-2 walk-off win over the Shamrocks in nine innings.
“I give my guys a lot of credit to come back in that seventh inning,” said OA head coach Joe Abarr. “[Feehan starting pitcher Colin Gauther] did a phenomenal job, he was mixing pitches and getting ahead of almost every batter and I could tell it was getting to our guys.
“Around the fourth or fifth inning it kind of occurred to me, in terms of coming from behind, we haven’t done it a lot. But looking back, it didn’t matter because our focus all season has been winning every pitch and treat every at-bat as the same. We had some guys step up and do the job.”
Gauthier tamed the Tigers through the first six innings, allowing just four hits and issuing one walk. And of those five baserunners, only Sean O’Brien (double) reached past third.
But Matt McCormack’s double to lead off the seventh inning gave the Tigers the spark they needed. McCormack had singled back in the second inning but was picked off at first. A half inning later, Feehan capitalized on that momentum and scored the game’s first run.
“I just didn’t let it get to me,” McCormack said of the second inning pickoff. “Coach came over and told me to shake it off. We knew the pressure was on the pitcher in the seventh inning so I just tried to make contact and put the ball in play. I was seeing it well and my timing was pretty good.”
With McCormack on second, junior Jake Erlich collected his first hit with a single into right field. That was enough for McCormack to sprint around third to bring OA within a run, down 2-1.
Abarr then called upon sophomore Jacob Levine to come in and pinch hit. Despite not playing all game, Levine answered the call in impressive fashion. The sophomore got a hold of one and ripped a deep shot to the gap in right-center field. Pinch runner Ezra Coyne came racing around from first to tie the game and Levine was into third with a stand up triple with no outs.
OA couldn’t get the winning run across though as Gauthier got three straight outs without the ball leaving the infield, sending the game to extras.
OA starter Michael Mulrean didn’t skip a beat in either the eighth or ninth innings. He got two fly balls to center and then made a nice play on a slow grounder for an unassisted out. In the top of the ninth, Mulrean sandwiched his 10th and 11th strikeouts around a 6-3 ground out.
“[McCormack] stepped up for us early in the year as a DH and then he had a slump where he was struggling a little bit,” Abarr said. “He took a great batting practice the other day, he was all over the ball in our scrimmage against Brockton. After that scrimmage, I told him he was going to be the DH for us and he really stepped up for us. He could have let that [pickoff] situation break him but he didn’t, he showed a lot of mental toughness.
Junior CJ Deveau, who entered the at-bat 0-for-2 on the day, tried to lay a bunt down on the first pitch but it went foul. Three pitches later and the junior drove a shot to center field just out of the reach of the outfielder and McCormack sprinted his way to the plate for the walk-off win.
“I was just thinking about having runners on second and third, and I was hoping CJ could put one down, put some pressure on the third baseman and make a play,” Abarr said of the original bunt call. “He struggled during his first couple at-bats but he did a nice job grinding through there. He could have counted himself out and said it wasn’t his day but he came through with an unbelievable hit for us.”
Feehan took the lead in the top of the third inning. Back to back singles put runners on first and second but a sacrifice bunt attempt turned into an out when the ball hit the batter. A chopper got just through the gap on the left side allowing Joe Castano to come home and score for the first run. Mulrean induced an infield fly and pop up to right to escape without further damage.
The Shamrocks capitalized on a pair of OA mistakes in the fifth inning to double their lead. Castano reached on an infield single and took second on an errant throw. He took third on an infield groundout and then came home to score on a passed ball to make it 2-0.
Beyond those chances, Mulrean had his way with the Shamrocks lineup. He allowed just five hits, only one of which dropped in shallow center field. He retired the side in each of the first, second, fourth, eighth and ninth innings. He had a pair of strikeouts in the second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and nine innings. He had just one walk all game.
“And he was ready to go back out there for the 10th inning if we needed it,” Abarr said of Mulrean. “He’s one of our most reliable strike throwers. He was dealing for us and he battled for us. He treats himself like a softball pitcher, if he could he would pitch every single game.”
Oliver Ames baseball (14-7) advances to the D2 South quarterfinal round and will host #14 Nauset (7-12), who upset #3 Whitman-Hanson, 3-0, in the first round. The Tigers will welcome Nauset to Frothingham on Tuesday at 4:00.
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames is in the midst of the program’s best-ever season, finishing the regular season with 12 wins, but the Tigers were not content and went into Tuesday night’s Div. 2 South first round game with Old Rochester at Val Muscato Stadium looking to add another chapter to and already successful spring.
The Tigers turned to the youth on its midfield to keep the season alive. Sophomore Frankie Ireland scored five goals and classmate Shane Kilkelly added four more in their first playoff games, leading OA to a 14-10 victory and a spot in the quarterfinal.
“The advantage that I thought we had going in was athleticism,” said OA coach Ben Devlin. “We have some real fast middies that took advantage of their speed and took advantage of the situations.”
Ireland got the Tigers off to a strong start with four goals in the first half, including a hat trick in the second quarter, and Kilkelly stepped up with four goals of his own in the second half. The Bulldogs failed to contain either player one-on-one and OA took advantage of Old Rochester’s desire to press the attackers high up the field.
Devlin added, “Once they started going one-on-one and started to press us, the guys noticed that and they know they’re faster than a lot of those guys so they took advantage of their speed. We had a lot of guys who had big games.”
The sophomores added to the attacking prowess of senior Eric LeBlanc, who scored three goals and recorded three assists on Tuesday. The program’s first player to score 100 goals in his career drew a lot of attention from the visiting defense, but the Tigers showed that they can provide a balanced attack.
“We had seven different players with 20-plus goals this year,” Devlin explained. “It makes us tough to cover. You can’t just isolate a guy or two and take them away from us because, like today, Frankie steps up and has four goals early and they start concentrating on him and Shane has four goals.”
Ireland got the scoring started in the first quarter when he found himself all alone on the edge of the crease and Colin Bourne picked him out with a perfect pass. The lead was doubled two minutes later when sophomore Sam Stevens had his shot saved but another sophomore Sandro Masciarelli scooped the rebound and finished.
After scoring twice in the opening three minutes, the Tigers would fail to find the back of the net for the final nine minutes of the quarter. Masciarelli had a good chance in transition that was saved and LeBlanc saw a shot tipped onto the post by Old Rochester goalie Nathaniel King. The Bulldogs scored twice to tie the game after one.
A minute into the second Kilkelly received a pass from LeBlanc and ripped a lefty shot under the bar to give the Tigers back the lead. After a tying goal from the visitors, Ireland twice got free cutting across the middle and found the net with lefty shots to put OA ahead for good. After the Bulldogs cut the lead to one, Ireland scored for the fourth time with another shot on the run.
In the closing seconds of the half, Cullen Gallagher forced a turnover and scooped the ground ball. The junior long pole took off up field and fired a pass to freshman Remi Creighton, but the shot was off the post. On the restart, LeBlanc took it himself dodging from the ‘X’ and finishing to make it 7-4 at the break.
“None of those guys started a varsity game before this year so they’ve come a long way and they’re playing really well right now,” said Devlin of his defensive unit, which limited the Bulldogs chances in the first half with accurate checks and aggressive play in the passing lanes. Mark Vaspollo, Shane Murphy, Matt Saba, and Gallagher were consistently making plays on the defensive end.
OA broke the game open in the third quarter and it was Kilkelly that sparked the attack, scoring three times. The first goal was a rocket to the top corner and the second came off a one-on-one move where he left his marker behind and finished with a bouncing shot. The lead could have been much bigger if not for the play of King, who made 17 saves for the Bulldogs. In one sequence, he made a save on Bourne and then somehow recovered to stop Hunter Costello’s rebound effort and watch the follow-up from Spencer Kligman hit the post and stayed out.
Old Rochester scored on the break, but Kilkelly ensured the Bulldogs would not gain momentum with a spin move on the edge of the crease that freed his hands for his fourth goal of the night. LeBlanc again scored in the final minute of a quarter and made it 11-5 heading to the fourth.
Kilkelly started the final quarter by flicking a pass to Ireland, who went behind his back for his fifth and most impressive goal of the night. OA was inches from another when goalie Nick Gillis made a save and quick outlet to Jack Lang to start a counterattack. The ball was advanced to Creighton and then Owen Gallagher alone in front but King saved it and the rebound bounced off the bar.
Gallagher would get on the score sheet to make it 13-6, but the Bulldogs scored two in a row to stay alive. LeBlanc completed his hat trick from a narrow angle, squeezing the ball into the top corner to push the lead back to six. Old Rochester kept coming, scoring twice more to make it a nervy final couple minutes and provide a learning experience for the Tigers on how to close out a game.
“We want to close out a little stronger,” Devlin admitted. “We had a lead and got a little sloppy. The defense played real well today. These guys (Old Rochester) have some great shooters and good offensive players and they took a little advantage of some tired defenders at the end.”
The Tigers finished the game off and earned another win, ensuring success did not end with the regular season. Devlin said, “I told them earlier, it was the best regular season in program history but it doesn’t really matter if you come out and lay an egg in the first round of the playoffs and go home early. Our goal is not a great regular season, it’s not one tournament win; we think we can make a run.”
Oliver Ames (13-6) will travel to fourth-seed Plymouth South in the quarterfinal on Thursday afternoon.
By Brian Hines, HockomockSports.com Contributor
MANSFIELD, Mass. – With runners on the corners and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Mansfield’s Justin Pena had the chance to play hero — and that’s exactly what he did.
Pena dropped a bloop single over the first base bag to drive in Dan Saraceno to give Mansfield a 1-0 walk-off victory over Oliver Ames.
“We kind of had tabbed [Pena] coming into the season as a pitcher only, and he’s taken on a whole new life as a designated hitter,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “He’s just been unbelievable the last few weeks, so I’m just really happy for him. He’s worked his butt off the last few years and he deserved that one.”
The eighth inning rally by Mansfield didn’t come easy, as Oliver Ames starter Michael Mulrean quieted the Hornets’ bats the majority of the afternoon. Mulrean pitched 7.2 innings, allowing just one run and seven strikeouts.
“I’m not sure we ever did figure [Mulrean] out,” Breen said. “He pitched a heck of a game, you got to tip your cap to a kid who goes out there and busts his butt like he did.”
But in the eighth, a strong at-bat by Saraceno and a single by Kevin Dow provided the spark the Hornets needed. A sacrifice fly was able to advance Saraceno to third, where he then scored on Pena’s walk-off single.
“We just got one more, one hit, that’s all we needed there in the end there,” said Breen. “Dan Saraceno obviously started up the rallying, getting that leadoff guy on with a great two-strike at-bat and then just keeping the inning alive. Getting him to third from Tyler’s sac fly and then Justin Pena.”
As brilliant as Mulrean was for Oliver Ames, Tyler Dalton was just as good on the hill for Mansfield. The senior right-hander pitched an eight-inning complete game shutout, piling up 11 strikeouts throughout.
“[Dalton’s] kind of hit his groove here,” said Breen. “The last few games he’s basically just taking the ball and refused to give it back to me until the game is over and we win.”
Dalton was able to retire 24 of the 27 batters he faced over his eight innings of work. Oliver Ames’ only real threat came in the fourth when leadoff batter Michael Friel reached first and proceeded to advance all the way to third.
The inning ended without Frier scoring, and it was the only player the Tigers’ saw reach third base all game.
With the win, Mansfield stays in control of the race for the Kelley-Rex division championship. The Hornets are currently tied with Franklin for league wins but have two league games left compared to just one for the Panthers.
“Honestly at this point just every win, doesn’t matter who you play, how you get the win, there all huge at this point,” said Breen. “We just got to keep battling and keep being led by our seniors, and hopefully we can pull a few more out.”
Mansfield baseball (11-3 Hockomock, 15-3 overall) returns to action on Wednesday, as they travel to take on Bridgewater-Raynham. Oliver Ames (9-5 Hockomock, 11-6 overall) retakes the field Tuesday at home against King Philip.
By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Oliver Ames softball team outlasted the Mansfield Hornets in an offensive showdown Monday afternoon at the East Street Fields.
“I think it was a really great team win,” Oliver Ames coach Lindsey Allison said, praising her team for never giving up. “Everybody kind of had a piece of it, which was really nice, and we just battled through adversity.”
Most of the Tiger runs came during an offensive burst in the top of the fourth, where they put up six runs and batted through the lineup. The Hornets a six-run inning of their own in the sixth inning, but the Tigers added on two insurance runs in the seventh to get the win.
On the mound, OA freshman pitcher Emma Varella tossed 5.2 innings, giving up four runs and on six hits and seven walks while striking out three for the win. In relief, senior Lexie Campbell moved over from second and gave up a run and two hits in 1.1 innings.
Oliver Ames broke through first in the top of the second, as a walk to sophomore shortstop Katie Abreu was turned into a run by a single to left from senior third baseman Rachel Han two at-bats later to give the visitors the run advantage.
The game remained much of a pitcher’s duel up until the top of the fourth when the Tiger offense roared to life as seven straight batters made it on base. A leadoff single by senior designated hitter Caroline Mahoney was followed by a walk to junior first baseman Katie Mills and a single by Abreu loaded up the bases for Oliver Ames. A walk to senior right fielder Sarah Tetrault drove in Mahoney to make it 2-0, and Han drove in Mills for her second RBI of the afternoon.
With the bases still loaded and no outs, Allison called on junior Kayla Georgeu to pinch hit.
“[Georgeu] has a serious power stick, so I can always count on her to swing for the fences almost every time she’s up there,” Allison said.
Her decision was proven right as the junior sent a shot into deep left field, clearing the bases with a three-run triple and doubling her team’s lead.
“It was just a good hit,” Georgeu said. “I got all of it and it was great for the team.”
Senior catcher Antonia Peretti drove Georgeu home on a single in the next at-bat, extending the lead to 7-0.
The scoreline remained the same until the bottom of the sixth when Mansfield staged a comeback effort with a six-run inning of their own. Junior third baseman Kara Bendanillo and junior second baseman Megan Letendre drew back-to-back two-out walks and the pair advanced into scoring position on a couple of wild pitches.
With two outs, junior catcher Caty DeMassi drove in the pair of juniors for the first two Hornet runs and would come home herself via a single by infielder Grace Benton to make it 7-3. After Sarah Cahill walked, a single down the right-field line from Felicity McMullin allowed Benton and Cahill to score, bringing the hosts within two.
Varella, who was coming off 10 innings of work in her previous outing, was replaced by Campbell, and after McMullin came home through a wild pitch and a throwing error to first , the inning ended with the Hornets trailing the Tigers by just a run, 7-6, with another inning left to play.
The Tigers, however, were quick to respond as Mahoney, Mills, and Abreu all singled to start off the inning. While OA grounded into a double play at first that denied a run at the plate, Han hit a double into deep left field to bring in Mills and Abreu for two more runs, and the Tigers headed into the bottom half of the inning with a three-run advantage.
Kara Bendanillo lead off the bottom half for Mansfield with an infield single and may have very well scored off Letendre’s gap shot the next at-bat had it not been grabbed in a diving catch by senior center fielder Marissa Guarino. Junior center fielder Mady Bendanillo drove her in off a single, but the Hornets comeback effort would fall short as Campbell sealed the deal for the Tigers.
Though her team is out of tournament contention, Allison felt the win was still very important to the team overall.
“We’re just trying to catch some more people off guard,” she said. “We just want to finish out the season strong, finish it positive, enjoy our seniors for the last couple games and also make sure we’re getting people in to get them ready for next year.”
Oliver Ames (2-12 Hockomock, 2-16 overall) returns to action Tuesday as they host Kelley-Rex co-leaders Taunton while Mansfield (3-12 Hockomock, 5-12 overall) travels to Duxbury Wednesday for a non-league outing against the Dragons.