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.”

Thursday’s Schedule & Scoreboard – 05/31/18


Today’s games are listed below.

Baseball
Mansfield, 6 @ King Philip, 1 – FinalMansfield scored in each of the first four innings on its way to a win over King Philip, clinching the Kelley-Rex division title with the result. The Hornets scored two runs in the first and third innings while tacking on single runs in the second and fourth. Tyler Dalton earned the win on the mound, allowing just three hits and one unearned run in the seventh inning, and struck out 12. Dalton helped his cause at the place by going 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs. Cullin Anastasia added two hits and an RBI for Mansfield.

North Attleboro, 7 @ Taunton, 3 – FinalNorth Attleboro plated four runs in the third inning, including what turned out to be the winning run, to conclude the regular season with a victory on the road at Taunton. Brendan McHugh (three runs) started the third with a leadoff walk and scored on a double from Zach DeMattio (2-for-4). DeMattio scored on a two-out double from Jeff Gale, and Nick Raneri (HBP) scored on an errant throw. Gale came in to score on a base hit from Nolan Buckley. Taunton scored two in the fifth behind three straight singles from Jack Moynihan, Evan Melo, and Tyler Pietrzyk, and then a sacrifice fly from Jacob Crawford. But North put the game away with two more runs in the top of the sixth. Shawn Watters (double) scored on a triple from McHugh, and McHugh came home on a sacrifice fly from Nick Sinacola.

Softball
North Attleboro, 7 @ Milford, 4 – Final (9 inn.)North Attleboro struck for three runs in the top of the ninth inning, all with two outs, to hand Milford its second straight loss. Olivia Capobianco drove in Katherine Munley and came around to score herself on a base hit from Abby Gallagher. Gallagher scored on a hit from Ashley Cangiano. Annabelle Hebard had two doubles and scored a run for North. Bella Erti struck out five in the win.

Girls Lacrosse
North Attleboro, 7 vs. Walpole, 18 – Final

Girls Tennis
Sharon vs. Martha’s Vineyard, 3:45

Boys Volleyball
#5 Milford, 3 vs. #12 Burncoat, 1 – FinalClick here for a Recap and Photo Gallery from this game.


McHugh, Wanless Lead North Attleboro Past Milford

By Brian Hines, HockomockSports.com Contributor

NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The North Attleboro offense has been tough to quiet all season, and that was again the case for the Milford Hawks on Wednesday afternoon at Community Field.

The Red Rocketeers used a pair of home runs, a grand slam by junior Brendan McHugh and a solo shot by senior captain Zach DeMattio, to beat the Hawks 5-1.

McHugh’s grand slam was set up by three consecutive two-out singles by seniors Nolan Buckley and Aidan Harding and junior Shawn Watters. McHugh’s shot hit the bleachers in left field, and after a long discussion between the umpires and two coaches, was ruled a home run.

The very next inning, DeMattio led off with a solo shot, also into the left field bleachers, for his second home run of the season.

“I thought their pitcher, [Andrew] Fauerbach, did a great job mixing up his speeds, which can flummox any team,” said North Attleboro head coach Mike Hart. “But I thought the second time around we definitely stayed back on the ball and looked to keep it simple and just drive it. If we do those things, not worrying about where the balls actually going to go, things will turn out well for us.”

The 5-0 lead was all North needed, especially with junior Matt Wanless on the mound. Wanless pitched six innings, striking out three batters while allowing just one run.

“Matt did a great job,” said Hart. “His big thing is throwing strikes and he did that. He got a lot of first-pitch strikes which sets up the count for him, hit his spots.”

Milford’s lone run came during a sixth-inning rally. After a single and two-out walk, Cameron Soloman’s base hit scored Matt Swanson, but North Attleboro catcher Todd Robinson caught the Hawks trying to advance to third, which ended the inning.

Wanless was able to avoid damage from the other Milford rallies. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the third, along with an early threat when Milford put runners on second and third in the first inning.

“[Matts] been in some tough spots this year and he’s done well through them,” said Hart. “I feel as though the couple times he got into situations today he did a very good job of getting out of them.”

North Attleboro baseball (13-2 Hockomock, 17-2 overall) will travel to Taunton on Thursday for the final game of their regular season. Milford finishes the season 5-15 overall and 4-12 in Hockomock play.

DeMattio, North Beat Attleboro to Win Blue-Red Cup

North Attleboro baseball
Senior catcher Zach DeMattio drove in two runs, including the game-winner in the fifth inning, as North beat Attleboro to win the annual Blue-Red Cup. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Last year it was North Attleboro that came into the rivalry game under the lights against Attleboro at Community Field needing a win to keep its playoff hopes alive. The Bombardiers pulled out that win to keep North out of the postseason, but on Wednesday night the roles were reversed and the Rocketeers exacted a measure of revenge.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Behind a complete game, four-hitter from senior Peter Cohen and a pair of RBI from senior catcher Zach DeMattio, the Davenport division champion Rocketeers pulled out a 3-1 victory, bringing home the Blue-Red Cup for the first time in three years and officially knocking their rivals out of tournament contention.

“I think that was in the back of their minds,” admitted North coach Mike Hart. “We knew they were going to come out jacked up and we had to match it and exceed it. I definitely think we matched the excitement and the energy. It’s probably the most energetic I’ve been this season and I think it’s the same with them.”

Offense was in short supply, as the two teams only combined for eight hits. Cohen kept the Bombardiers off-balance and junior Eoin Kelleher limited the high-powered North offense to just four hits as well.

“We’ve been in this situation before and came through,” said Hart. “We just stuck to our approach and believed that we could do it. I think it helps us coming towards the playoffs. It’s the Hockomock League and every game’s going to be a fight, no matter who it is.”

Attleboro coach Matt Bosh added, “That was a great game, two good teams, great crowd, rivalry, atmosphere, you know, and it was 3-1. That’s an awesome baseball game. Cohen pitched outstanding. He made good pitches when he had to. It was a great pitcher’s duel.”

The visitors took the lead in the top of the first. Tim Callahan led-off with a double into right center and, with one out, Alvaro Espinal drew a walk. Nick Raneri made a great barehand play on the run on a swinging bunt up the third baseline by Jon Candiales, but both runners moved into scoring position.

Corey McKenna singled to left, scoring Callahan, but Brendan McHugh came up firing and threw a strike to DeMattio at the plate, who managed to get the tag on Espinal just before the runner touched home.

The lead was short-lived. North answered back in the bottom half of the inning. McHugh started it with a single to left and then stole second. Nick Sinacola moved him to third with a grounder to the right side and DeMattio roped a line drive to right to bring McHugh home. McKenna ended the inning with a barehand pickup and throw on the infield grass to get Raneri.

Neither team would manage another hit until a two-out single by Sam Larkin in the top of the fourth. Both went in order in the second after Jeff Gale was caught stealing by Dakota Kirby and both had base runners in the third on a couple of walks, but the pitchers and the defenses were keeping scoring chances to a minimum.

That changed in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, nine-hole hitter Ryan Warren dropped down a perfect bunt up the third baseline for North’s first hit since the first. McHugh followed with a walk. Sinacola hit a grounder to second but Attleboro couldn’t complete the double play to end the inning, as the University of Maine-commit hustled down the line to keep the inning alive.

“Ryan does a very good job with that,” said Hart. “We were just trying to keep Attleboro on its toes too and it does spark some energy on the bench.” About Sinacola beating out the double play grounder, Hart added, “He’s been a great leader just hustling down there.”

DeMattio ripped a single through the left side for his second hit and second RBI of the night to put North back in front. After Nate Pearce walked to load the bases, Raneri took one off the top of his helmet to give North an insurance run.

Hart said, “Zach’s a special player. He’s definitely become a better hitter since last year. He may not have all the home runs that he’s had in the past but he’s definitely become a better hitter.”

Bosh joked, “I was kidding with DeMattio that’s why he hasn’t seen a pitch in four years because he hammers it every time.”

Attleboro went into the seventh down by two trying to keep its playoff hopes alive and Kirby gave the Bombardiers some added energy with a lead off single. Troy Van Vliet came up next and hit a soft liner that North first baseman Aidan Harding was able to snare at full stretch.

Cohen fed off the big defensive play and was able to bear down, closing the game out with a strikeout and then a grounder into the hole at short that Shawn Watters not only got to but was able to fire a strike to second to get the game-ending force.

“Peter’s a bulldog. He’s out there and he’s battling every single pitch,” Hart said. “He has good stuff and he trusts his fastball, which has got a little movement on it. He just gets out there and battles and I think that’s really what a lot of our seniors and our whole team bring to the table.”

This has been the type of loss that has defined Attleboro’s season. The Bombardiers have lost six games by three runs or less this spring, including four by just a single run.

“Our kids battled but yeah it’s been the story of our season. We lose games like that,” said Bosh. “Our pitching has been great…but late in the year a lot of teams are pitching well so your runs aren’t going to be in bunches. I’m proud of my kids, they fought hard.”

North Attleboro (15-1, 12-1) will continue to prepare for the state tournament on Friday night against Bishop Feehan, again under the lights at Community Field. Attleboro (8-11, 6-9) will close out its season on Thursday at home against Stoughton.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Early Offense Launches Rocketeers Over King Philip

North Attleboro junior pitcher Matt Wanless tossed six scoreless innings for the Red Rocketeers Friday, giving up five hits and a walk while striking out three. (Cameron Merritt/HockomockSports.com).
By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor

NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – A five-run first inning gave the Davenport division-leading North Attleboro Red Rocketeers the boost they needed Friday as they cruised to an 11-4 win over the King Philip Warriors at Community Field.

“We just stuck to our whole batting approach that we keep pushing, just being at the plate and getting our pitches to drive,” said North Attleboro coach Mike Hart. “It worked out early for us and guys are starting to feel good… We stuck to our approach and it worked out for us today.”

The top of the Red Rocketeer batting order did much of the team’s heavy hitting, as senior outfielder Nate Pearce went 3-for-3 with a double, three runs and an RBI. Senior catcher Zach DeMattio went 2-for-4 with three RBI, two runs and a double, while junior outfielder Brendan McHugh went 2-for-2 with two runs, a double and a pair of walks from the leadoff spot.

On the mound, North Attleboro had a solid outing from junior pitcher Matt Wanless, who struck out three while surrendering five hits and a walk through six scoreless innings in the win. King Philip struck for four runs in the top of the seventh inning.

The Rocketeer offense launched right off the bat in the bottom of the first, as McHugh sent the first pitch he saw deep into right-center field for a double. The next pitch hit senior shortstop Nick Sinacola, and the pair would be driven in through a two-RBI double from DeMattio. A double by Pearce the next at-bat sent DeMattio home and gave North Attleboro the early 3-0 lead.

Junior third baseman Nick Raneri nearly had an inside-the-park home run, which drove in Pearce, though he would be thrown at the plate on the relay from KP junior second baseman Ian Zimmerman.

Senior outfielder Jeff Gale reached base due to an error, and after batting through the order, the hosts emerged from the inning with a 5-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the second, the Rocketeers nearly batted around again, coming up one player short as junior outfielder Ryan Warren flew out to center to end the inning. Before that, however, McHugh reached on a full-count count, only to be driven in again by DeMattio two batters later. Pearce walked during the next at-bat, and both were driven in by a two-RBI single from senior first baseman Aidan Harding, giving the hosts a commanding 8-0 lead.

The game evened out for much of the middle innings, with the Warriors having their first solid scoring opportunity in the fourth soiled as DeMattio picked off a runner at third from behind the plate.

The scoreline stayed the same until the bottom of the sixth when a leadoff single by Pearce was turned into the ninth run by Raneri an at-bat later. Junior pinch hitter Matt Seavey drove in Raneri for the tenth run on an RBI single, while pinch hitter Shawn Watters drove Seavey in on another RBI single to extend the lead to 11-0.

In the top of the seventh, facing a new pitcher, the Warrior offense roared to life. After senior pinch hitter Jackson Siebler reached base on a fielder’s choice, he stole second and would come home through a bases-loaded walk to fellow senior pinch hitter Ben Furfari, as junior pinch hitters David Morganelli and Matt Dix would reach base through singles.

Third baseman Chris Sawyer drove in Morganelli on an RBI single to double the Warrior lead, while a double from Jeremey Rhines drove in both Dix and Furfari to make it 11-4.

The comeback effort, however, would be cut short for the Warriors, as the Rocketeers secured another win.

Both teams return to action Monday, as North Attleboro (12-1 Hockomock, 13-1 overall) travels to Foxboro while King Philip (5-9 Hockomock, 5-10 overall) will face Franklin.