By HockomockSports.com Staff
2018 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
2017 Record: 6-14
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Matt Bosh
After missing out on the postseason a year ago, Attleboro head coach Matt Bosh believes his team’s depth and versatility will help the Bombardiers get back there.
Junior Eoin Kelleher is back to lead the pitching staff after a stellar sophomore season in which he earned HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year honors. Kelleher posted a 1.00 ERA in 35 innings of work, including throwing a no-hitter against rival North. Senior captains Jason Weir and Jon Candiales, senior Drew Pagano along with junior Sam Larkin will all see time on the mound for Big Blue as well.
Candiales and Weir also anchor the offense with the former patrolling shortstop and the latter seeing time in both the outfield and first base. Candiales gives the Bombardiers power from the left side of the plate while Weir is a three-year starter that gives Bosh flexibility in the lineup. Larkin will be in the outfield when he isn’t pitching and can use his speed to hurt teams. Corey McKenna returns as the starting second baseman while senior Dakota Kirby is back behind the dish after a year off. Kirby will add pop to the lineup as he hit 0.425 as a sophomore with 10 RBI.
“The biggest improvement that I see from last year is our team speed and athleticism,” Bosh said. “We have a lot of guys that can play multiple positions and we’re very athletic. We have a high number of kids who can play anywhere.”
2017 Record: 6-12
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Greg Digirolamo
A strong core of returning players and a good amount of depth will be keys for the 2018 Canton Bulldogs baseball team.
After losing just four players from last year’s team, there is a good mix of experienced players and talented youth for head coach Greg Digirolamo to work with. The Bulldogs will look to three senior captains to the lead the way: Matt Casamento, Robbie Wilkinson, and Tommy DeLello. Casamento is a three-year starter in center field, DeLello will man first base and Wilkinson will try to carry over the momentum from an impressive junior year into 2018. Wilkinson went 3-1 last year with a 1.58 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched.
Wilkinson will be joined in the pitching staff by seniors Austin Maffie, Niko Donovan, and Ryan Hickey, along with juniors Paul Corcoran, Robbie Sullivan, and Kevin McGonigle. Freshman Matt Connolly will also figure into the mix on the mound.
Casamento anchors the defense from the center field spot while junior catcher Matt Pigeon and sophomore shortstop Nate Quan bolster the defense up the middle.
“It’s a good group of kids that like to compete every day, what else can you ask for as a coach?” Digirolamo said. “For us the biggest thing will be seeing live pitching. If we’re to have any success this year we’ll need to do a better job at the plate.”
2017 Record: 7-14
2017 Finish: Reached D3 South First Round
Coach: Derek Suess
New Foxboro head coach Derek Suess sees a little bit of the past in his first team as head coach. Suess, a former Warrior himself, said the 2018 version of Foxboro reminds him of a team that won 15 games during his senior year just over a decade ago.
“This team is hungry to put the program back on the map,” Suess said. “I couldn’t ask for a better senior group to lead us. They remind me of the senior group I was a part of in 2007 in which we won 15 games. With a good mix of underclassmen, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s hard work pay off on the field.”
After losing a painful eight games by just one run a season ago, including a near upset of third-seeded and D3 South Finalist Norton in the playoffs, the Warriors will be looking to turn those losses into wins this time around.
“We need to make more winning plays to put those tallies in the win column,” Suess said.
Junior Anthony Mollica will spearhead the offense after leading the Warriors with a 0.367 batting average a year ago. Senior Chad Bearce and sophomore Joe Cavaleri will bolster the middle of the lineup, freshman Sean Yoest has shown flashes early on at the dish, and seniors Joe Freitas, Matt Rongione, and Jack Franceschelli provide the Warriors with some speed.
Senior Steve McLaughlin returns after an impressive 2017 season. Despite posting an 0-6 record, McLaughlin struck out 24 batters in 32.2 innings of work and posted a 1.73 ERA. McLaughlin will be joined by Cavaleri, Yoest, and junior Guy Quartarone in the rotation while senior Robert Theriault returns behind the dish after getting a year of experience last season.
2017 Record: 18-6
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Zach Brown
Focusing on pitching and defense, the Panthers will be looking to get better each and every day as they try to replicate the success from a season ago.
Franklin won the Kelley-Rex division last year, its first league title since 2012. And the mix of pitching and offense put the Panthers in some conversations for Super 8, but the Panthers ended up in the D1 South and bowed out in the quarterfinals after being forced to play on back to back days.
The arms that helped the Panthers have so much success last year as almost all back, starting with staff ace senior Jake Noviello. The Fairfield-commit struck out a Hockomock-best 61 batters a year ago, going 6-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 55.1 innings of work. Noviello is complemented by lefty Jason Ulrickson (7-0, 0.80 ERA, 35 K), Bryan Woelfel (3-2, 0.91 ERA, 4 SV, 31 K) and senior James Leofanti.
The defense will be anchored by a pair of returning starters in junior shortstop Alex Haba (0.360, 12 runs) and junior catcher Jake Macchi.
“While we are returning a number of experienced arms we are also turning over a number of positions last season,” said Franklin head coach Zach Brown. “So, we will be young or inexperienced at a number of positions. Offensively, my hope is that as the season progressing we will be able to develop an identity and find a way to manufacture runs.”
2017 Record: 10-11
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Greg Kessler
After just squeaking into the postseason a year ago, first-year KP head coach Greg Kessler is hoping his team will be in contention for a Kelley-Rex division title in 2018.
One reason for that is the senior class and the handful of returning players that have plenty of experience at the varsity level. Ben Furfari returns as a key piece of the Warriors’ outfield and lineup. He hit 0.298 last season and will provide the power on offense. Senior Pat Limerick, committed to play at St. Joseph’s (ME), will set the tone as the leadoff hitter.
On the mound, senior Jeremy Rhines (2-1, 1.45 ERA) and junior David Morganelli will be the main options while hard-throwing senior Liam Rohan will also be in the mix. Nolan Bradley returns behind the plate as one of the top catchers in the league while sophomore Robbie Jarest will step in to take over at shortstop.
“We have a great group of senior this year,” Kessler said. “They have been dedicated to the weight room and leading our underclassmen. They continuously strive to build a team that will compete for the Hock championship. They deserve to have a great year. I guarantee that will be the most vocal and most energetic team in the Hock. We pride ourselves on being positive and enthusiastic every pitch.”
2017 Record: 14-8
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Joe Breen
There is a lot of optimism surrounding the Mansfield baseball program this season. And with the arms they have back, there’s good reason for it.
Senior Tyler Dalton, a UMass Amherst commit, returns after missing the majority of his junior year with an injury. Dalton was tremendous during the 2016 season as a sophomore, posting a 6-2 record while striking out 35 batters and posting a 1.78 ERA. He will be joined on the Hornets’ staff by senior Kevin Dow (UMass Amherst commit, 4-1, 1.93 ERA), junior lefty Connor Sheehan (2.82 ERA, 28 K), and junior Kyle Moran (three saves). Sophomore John Carney will also likely see time on the mound for the Hornets.
Senior catcher Cullin Anastasia returns after being named to the 2017 HockomockSports.com Second Team. Anastasia had 19 hits a year ago, knocking in 10 runs and scoring 10 runs as well. Sam Nugent will give the Hornets a spark in center field and on the base path with his speed, Moran picked up plenty of experience at third base last season, and Eric Longley will provide Mansfield with some pop in the middle of the lineup.
“We will rely heavily on our pitching staff this season to keep us in games and look to make the plays behind them and be aggressive with our offensive and baserunning approach to get those guys a few runs per game,” said Mansfield head coach Joe Breen. “As always, we will turn to our senior class to set the tone and for our underclassmen to blossom under their leadership.”
2017 Record: 12-10
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Alex Dion
Milford baseball starts a new chapter in its historic history as longtime assistant Alex Dion takes over the reigns of the program.
Dion’s first challenge will be having to overcome the loss of a dozen seniors, including team ace Alex Macek, reliable infielders Zack Tamagni and Anthony Arcudi, and hard-hitting outfielder Ryan Goncalves. However, the good news is that Dion has one of the best players at his disposal in Stonehill-commit Aidan Wilde. Wilde had 59 hits between his freshman and sophomore years and added 21 more in the regular season a year ago. After seeing time as a catcher last season, Wilde will mainly man the corner infield positions in 2018.
Wilde will be complemented by junior Matt Shaver, who picked up some experience a year ago at both shortstop and on the mound. The Hawks will rely on Shaver to anchor the defense from short and give the offense a spark from the leadoff position. Junior Tyler Almeida will step in behind the dish and will provide some offense from the left side of the plate. Sophomores Luke Rosa and Colby Pires look to be in the mix as well as junior Nick Marcolini, who will pitch and patrol the outfield.
“We graduated a strong senior class this past year and are now in a situation where we have a lot of new players who we will look to take advantage of new opportunities,” Dion said. “I am excited about the athleticism that we have on our roster and the energy that these guys bring to practice each day. I think our philosophy is simple, but we preach a team-first mentality to our guys and strive to get quality pitching, play clean defense and get timely hits to win games.”
2017 Record: 8-10
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Mike Hart
North Attleboro didn’t have to go far to find its new coach. Mike Hart takes over for Paul Tobin and Hart truly bleeds Big Red – a graduate from the school and three-sport coach.
And expectations are high for the Rocketeers after just missing out on the postseason a year ago. Senior captain Nick Sinacola returns after having an MVP-caliber junior season. Big Red will rely on Sinacola on both sides of the plate, leading the offense (he batted 0.415 last year with 15 runs scored) and being the ace of the staff (48.1 IP, 49 K, 2.01 ERA). Senior captain Zach DeMattio is also back after being named to the 2017 HockomockSports.com First Team, batting 0.333 with 15 RBI and three home runs. Big Red also gets senior Nate Pearce (0.371) back after a strong junior year.
Senior Peter Cohen (24 IP, 0.29 ERA) will look to build upon a superb junior year while Nolan Buckley and Jeff Gale bring experience to the outfield. Aidan Harding also has varsity experience and will be in the mix to get innings on the mound along with juniors Matt Wanless, Jake Palmer, Matt Seavey, Nick Raneri, and Ben Arrighi.
“We have a truly industrious group of players,” Hart said. “We’re going to keep moving guys around until we find the lineup that works for us. Some may have to play multiple positions, depending on whose pitching on any given day. We had a decent season last year, with many guys getting some varsity time, but we’re still unproven. We need to continue to improve every day and only worry about the things we can control. Guys will be competing every day all season, which will only make us better. We will approach each day, with a great attitude, high effort, and a steadfast approach.”
2017 Record: 14-9
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South Semifinals
Coach: Joe Abarr
A lot of the players that helped Joe Abarr have a successful first season as head coach last year are back, which means the Tigers are aiming to replicate that success.
Despite finishing in a tie for third in the Kelley-Rex, the Tigers put together the best playoff run of any Hock team, knocking off #2 Dighton-Rehoboth on the road to reach the sectional semifinals. Junior Matt McCormack is back after earning a spot on varsity late in the season this year, and along with classmate Tom Parker, should give OA a solid 1-2 punch. With a handful of capable arms in the mix, the third spot in the rotation is still up for grabs.
Abarr won’t have to worry much about anything hit to the left side of the infield as the Tigers return third basemen Chris Pearsons and shortstop Matt Muir, two of the top defensive players at their positions. Both are capable hitters as well and will provide some pop to the lineup. Another returning starter is senior Mitch Goulet. Goulet had a breakout junior campaign in center field (0.347, 7 RBI), catching fire in the second half of the year. Abarr is hoping that momentum will carry over to this season.
The Tigers have a battle for the spot behind the plate as both junior Jake Erlich and junior Reid Latham are back, both with experience behind the dish.
“We have a great core of returning players that will be the backbone of the program,” Abarr said. “We have to fill positions in the outfield and at first. If we have some guys step up in that role we should have a decent lineup from top to bottom.”
2017 Record: 6-14
2017 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Kee Arguimbau
Sharon is aiming to improve on its six-win season in 2017, and will be looking to ride its senior leadership to do so.
Senior captains Max Tarlin and Drew Naisuler are two of the most experienced players in the league and will be spearheading the Eagles’ offense and defense this year. Tarlin (5-4, 46 K, 1.11 ERA) is the anchor of the pitching staff, picking up five of Sharon’s six wins last season. When he’s not on the mound, expect to see Tarlin patrolling shortstop. Naisuler returns as the team’s No. 4 hitter to provide some pop to the lineup and will be a key defensive piece at both center field and first base.
The Eagles will also rely on senior Ben Schwartz, who will mainly be catching this year as well as being a major offensive contributor. Junior Noah Kamens will be a major piece of the pitching puzzle after impressing during his sophomore year. Similar to Tarlin, Kamens will be a major player in the offensive lineup and will see time off the mound spent in the outfield. Spencer Singer is transitioning to the outfield and will continue to be one of the players the Eagles look at for offensive production.
“I have a lot of guys who are multifaceted baseball players and I can foresee a lot of games being played with straight nine in the lineup,” Arguimbau said. “We have great senior leadership and some very promising sophomores that are going to play a major role in our season’s success.”
2017 Record: 15-6
2017 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round
Coach: Mike Armour
There are a lot of questions to be answered for this year’s Stoughton baseball team, but head coach Mike Armour is excited for his players to rise to the challenge.
The Black Knights graduated nearly their entire team (10 of its 13 rostered players), which won its second straight Davenport division title. So not only will Armour be leaning heavily on his three returning players, he is looking for new faces to seize the opportunity.
“This is an exciting year for our program,” Armour said. “It’s an awesome opportunity for our younger guys. The JV and freshmen teams both over 15 or more games last year, so we’re looking for them to carry that winning attitude into this season. I expect our team to play with heart and execute the fundamentals to make us a competitive team.”
2017 HockomockSports.com First Team selection and senior captain Ruben Gonzalez returns as one of the top players in the league, both defensively at shortstop and offensively at the plate. Senior Matt Hadley and junior Evan Gibb, both captains, are the other two returning players for the Knights. Gibb has plenty of varsity experience behind the plate and Hadley, although he will miss some time with injury, will be key piece in the outfield.
Meanwhile, Armour is looking for sophomores James Genest (first base) and Michael Nazzaro (third base/catcher) to step up and play important roles both offensively and defensively this season. Juniors Kyle Gagnon, Kevin Dixon, and Cian Swierzewski will see time in the outfield and classmate Robbie Seaman will be in the mix for middle infield.
For pitching, Gibb will see time on the mound as well as behind the play. Senior Will Eckhart has some varsity experience and junior Zak Paquette will likely log some meaningful innings for the Knights. Seniors Tim Kellogg, Talyor Atkinson, and Mike Anderson provide infield depth and Jack Brown and Ryan Semler will be in the mix in the outfield.
2017 Record: 12-10
2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Blair Bourque
There are a lot of good pitchers in the Hockomock League this year, and it looks like the Tigers’ staff could be right near the top of the list.
Taunton returns senior Tyler Medeiros, who had a terrific junior campaign and will get junior Jack Moynihan back on the mound. Moynihan was impressive during his freshman year two seasons ago but an injury limited his action on the mound last season. Medeiros fanned 68 batters in 56.1 innings of work, posting a 1.98 ERA to anchor the staff. Look for senior Trevor Pietrzyk and juniors Griffin Tomaszycki and Josh Lajoie to get some meaningful innings on the mound as well.
“Tyler clearly emerged as our top pitcher last year,” said second-year head coach Blair Bourque. “Fortunately, he’s a big kid and was able to put us on his back and carry us. Hopefully, we’re able to provide more support for him this year.”
Moynihan will also play a big role in Taunton’s offense this year. While patrolling third base, Moynihan will try to provide some pop in the middle of the lineup. The Tigers also get their top two batters back with senior shortstop Jacob Crawford (0.350, 15 runs) and senior Christian Simoes (0.340, 12 RBI).
Taunton will carry nine seniors and eight juniors this season so experience will be key.