Black Knights Bow Out With Loss To Raiders

Stoughton baseball
Stoughton’s Ruben Gonzalez appeared to slide in safely at home in the first inning but was ruled to be tagged out. (Ryan Lanigan/
STOUGHTON, Mass. – If not for the perfect relay throw, Stoughton very well could have been looking at a different outcome against #9 Somerset-Berkley.

Trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh, senior Ruben Gonzalez, one of the fastest players in the area, hit an RBI triple that rolled to the edge of right field at Noviello Field at Stoughton High School.

Gonzalez sped around third and nearly made the turn home but the perfect relay throw forced Stoughton head coach Mike Armour to hold Gonzalez at third with two outs. At the next at-bat. SB pitcher Chase Stafford induced a chopper down the third base line and the throw to first was just in time for the final out, giving the Raiders a 3-2 win over the Black Knights.

Stoughton entered the bottom half of the inning facing a two-run deficit, down 3-1 after the Raiders scored twice in the second and once in the fourth. Stafford got the first two outs – a 6-3 groundout and an F8 – before Stoughton senior Zak Paquette battled his way to a walk.

Gonzalez smacked the first pitch he saw into right, the ball rolling all the way to the edge of the playing field to bring pinch runner Cameron DiRosa home to make it a one-run game.

“Ruben…I expect nothing less, coming through there,” Armour said. “If they don’t the cut there, then he’s still going and tying it up. He is such a special player, I think he showed what he’s about today. But we just came up a little short.”

Gonzalez nearly stole home, but on a 2-2 count, Matt Hadley was forced to put the ball in play and the senior came inches away from legging out the infield single to tie the game.

“We couldn’t string enough hits today on offense,” Armour said. “You have to tip your cap to Somerset-Berkley. Their pitcher was hitting his spots but we weren’t really squaring them up that well today. They had that one big inning, they got some bloop hits. But that’s baseball…..if you only score two runs, chances are you’re not going to win that game.”

It was a bright start for the Black Knights. Gonzalez led off with a single in the bottom of the first and went to third on a single from Evan Gibb. With sophomore James Genest at the plate, the ball got behind the catcher and Gonzalez took off for home, but the umpire called the speedy shortstop out at home.

Gibb moved to third on the same ball and Genest singled into left field to give Stoughton a 1-0 lead.

Somerset-Berkley loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the second inning. Kyle Vieira singled into center for a run before Paquette got the first out with an infield fly. Jacob Rebello hit one deep enough to center allowing the run to just beat Cian Swierzewski’s throw for a sacrifice fly and a 2-1 advantage.

The Raiders tacked on a run in the fourth inning. Vieira and Rebello had singles and Matt Shea reached on a bunt and overthrow. That same overthrow allowed Vieira to come around and make it 3-1.

After an intentional walk, Paquette got a pop up to right field and sophomore George Currier fired to first for a double play. Paquette followed up with a strikeout.

“Zak has been heart, guts, everything for us all year,” Armour said. “He plans to go seven [innings] every time he’s out there. He makes it very difficult to not have that come to fruition. He was falling behind a couple of times but he kept coming back and getting the outs in the later innings so you tip your cap to him.”

Stoughton had a chance to strike back in the bottom of the fourth but uncharacteristic errors hurt the Black Knights. Genest singled and Currier followed with a one-out base hit of his own to put runners on first and second.

But a ground ball not only got the force out at second, Stoughton’s pinch runner accidentally overran third and the Raiders capitalized, firing to third and getting the tag.

Swierzewski was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the fifth but a sac bunt attempt turned into a double play when Stafford caught the bunt and fired to first.

“We had a couple base running errors, we had that sac bunt turn into the double play so it was just little things. And at the same time, George made that nice play in right and doubled them up. It was a good game…[Somerset] got their three runs early and we just couldn’t get enough to overcome.”

Stoughton baseball, which had just two players back from the 2017 squad with varsity experience, finishes the season at 10-9 overall. Six of the nine Black Knight starters are set to return next season.

“I’m proud of these guys,” Armour said. “Two of them played varsity baseball last year…so to qualify, get a game at our home field. The town has been going through a lot, I think that’s what I’m most upset about because we really wanted to give Stoughton something to smile about, something to get behind. But we just came up a little short and I think that hurts more than anything else.”

Stoughton Picks Up Emotional Win Over Canton

Stoughton baseball
Stoughton’s Matt Hadley (1) greets Ruben Gonzalez (right) after his inside the park home run. (Ryan Lanigan/
STOUGHTON, Mass. – It has been a long week for students at Stoughton High School.

On Friday morning, the Black Knights baseball team were among the hundreds of students that attended the funeral of classmate David Bell, one of four Stoughton High students, along with Nick Joyce, Eryck Sarblah, and Christopher Desir, who tragically passed away in an accident this past Saturday.

On Friday afternoon, the Black Knights took the field for the third time this season and came away with a 14-5 win over rival Canton, their second win over the Bulldogs this week.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind they’d want to play today, I’m just so proud of these young men,” said Stoughton head coach Mike Armour. Many of the players on the team were teammates with Bell for football or basketball.

“Going back to Monday, tip of the cap to Canton. They had ribbons and everything when we got there, and then over to Attleboro, it was their senior day but their parents were all wearing orange ribbons and they had stuff hanging up for us. The support we’ve felt from the rest of the league has been amazing. Just to see everyone come out and pick us up has been great. You’re OK one minute and then it kind of hits you, the kids and coaches included. These kids lost four friends. We were at one funeral today. It was a long day, it was a long week, but unsurprisingly these kids dug down and I was proud of them.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton’s offense had its best game of the season, scoring a season-high 14 runs on 16 hits. The Black Knights scored in every inning except the third, scoring at least three runs in the second, fifth, and sixth innings.

Senior Ruben Gonzalez, who was teammates with Bell in both football and basketball, earned the win on the mound with two strikeouts in five innings of work. He walked four and allowed just three hits and three runs.

Matt Hadley got Stoughton’s offense going in the bottom of the first with a one-out single. A pickoff error allowed Hadley to get to third and he scored on a groundout from sophomore James Genest for a 1-0 lead after one.

The Black Knights had their best inning in the bottom of the second. Will Eckhart (walk), Cian Swierzewski (single) and Zak Paquette (error) all reached to load the bases with one out. Gonzalez and Hadley reached on back-to-back infield singles, each driving a run in to make it 3-0.

Evan Gibb drove in a run on a fielder’s choice to make it 4-0 and then a single from James Genest turned into two runs. Genest’s line drive to center was misplayed, allowing both Hadley and Gibb to score but Genest was thrown out at home on a nice relay throw from shortstop Nate Quan.

Canton stuck back for two runs in the top of the third. Niko Donovan singled and then scored on a two-out inside the park home run from Matt Pigeon to cut Stoughton lead to 6-2.

Stoughton loaded the bases in the fourth inning but Canton reliever Ryan Hickey limited the damage to one run. Gonzalez (double), Hadley (single), and Gibb (walk) were on base with one out. Gonzalez scored on a sacrifice fly from Genest to make it 7-2 but Hickey got the final out to escape further damage.

Quan helped Canton cut into Stoughton’s lead with a run in the top of the fifth. Quan had a leadoff walk, took second on a walk to Tommy DiLello and scored on an RBI single up the middle from Hickey to make it 7-3.

But Stoughton was quick to respond, scoring three runs in the bottom half. Swierzewski (fielder’s choice) and Paquette (single) were on first and second with two outs before Gonzalez ripped a shot to right-center field. Gonzalez used his speed to round the bases for a three-run inside the park home run, his third, fourth, and fifth RBI of the day.

“Ruben didn’t have any RBIs coming into this week,” Armour said. “He got his first one on Monday, got another against Attleboro and then the big day today. He’s been due, he’s a heck of a ballplayer.”

Mike Konzal led off with a triple for Canton in the top of the sixth and scored on an RBI groundout from sophomore Owen Lehane. An error allowed Rob Sullivan to reach, and a throwing error brought him to third and Lucas Bryant to second. Matt Casamento drove Sullivan in with an RBI single up the middle to make it 10-5.

But the Black Knights put the game out of reach with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, all with two outs. George Currier got things going with a single and scored after a triple from Robbie Seaman. Eckhart followed up with an RBI triple of his own and scored on a single from Ryan Semler to make it 14-5.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

With the win, Stoughton qualifies for the postseason by securing a 0.500 record or better. The Black Knights were already headed to the playoffs because of a second place finish in the Davenport division.

While the offense has been a constant throughout the season, Armour is excited about the progress of the pitching.

“More important our pitching is coming along,” Armour said. “Ruben’s developed into a starter for us, Evan [Gibb] has been throwing, Will [Echkart] is getting back in the mix, and Zak [Paquette] is eating a ton of innings for us. We feel we have four guys that can man the mound and that puts us in a good position for the postseason. We’re looking forward to competing.”

Stoughton baseball (9-6 Hockomock, 9-8 overall) will finish the regular season with a visit from Sharon on Wednesday. Canton finishes the season 4-15 in the Hock and 5-15 overall.

Stoughton’s Calixte Making the Leap to Big 12

Aaron Calixte
Former Stoughton star Aaron Calixte has announced that he is transferring from Maine to the University of Oklahoma for his senior season. (UMaine Athletics)

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After four years of trips to Vermont, Albany, and Hartford, former Stoughton star Aaron Calixte will be taking his game to a whole new level next season. The redshirt junior guard has decided to transfer from the University of Maine and will play his last season of college eligibility at the University of Oklahoma and take on the powerhouse programs of the Big 12.

With the graduation of standout Trae Young and the transfer of his backup Jordan Shepherd, the Sooners had an opening at point guard and Calixte is confident that his game is ready so that he can step in and perform for a perennial NCAA Tournament contender.

“We played against a couple of high majors throughout my college career so it will be just an adjustment more than anything,” Calixte said in a phone call from Maine, where he is completing his senior year of classes. As a senior, Calixte is a graduate transfer, which means he won’t have to sit out a year and will join the Sooners for a preseason camp in June.

“I’m definitely excited,” he said. “I think one of the main things for me during this transfer process was me getting to a school that plays on a high level to showcase what I can do. I think that can help my career going forward, so I’m more than excited.”

Coming into this past winter, Calixte had considered the possibility of transferring to a larger program, but it wasn’t until after the Black Bears completed their season with a loss to Vermont in the America East Tournament and head coach Bob Walsh elected to opt out of his contract that he made the decision to move on.

He admitted that his coach’s decision to leave was an impetus for his own move and that if Coach Walsh had remained in charge, his transfer would have been a more difficult choice.

“If he had stayed, I would have had to have a conversation with him and my family to see if I was going to take that route,” Calixte explained. “With him not being here anymore, it just made the decision that much easier. I came in with that guy and it would’ve been weird if I was here and he wasn’t my coach.”

A positive relationship with the coaching staff was important to Calixte ending up in Orono and it has also played a part in his move to Norman. Just a couple days after the Sooners lost to URI in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Calixte said that OU coach Lon Kruger and his son, and assistant coach, Kevin were sitting in his living room talking about the opportunities in Oklahoma. That relationship grew over the next month, while Calixte weighed his options, and just two days after his official visit to Norman he declared his move on April 17.

The coaches played a role, but he also wanted to go someplace where he could take advantage of his senior year by being on the court. “I definitely didn’t want to go to a school where I was going to have to play spot minutes or anything like that,” he said. “This is my last year, so I definitely want to play a lot. That was definitely one of the main things that I considered going into the transfer process.”

When asked if the transfer process was any different than being recruited after high school, Calixte joked, “It was similar just because coaches were calling and telling you the same things trying to get you to come, but this time it was Tom Crean (Georgia), Coach Kruger, Fran McCaffery (Iowa), coaches like that calling me.”

As a junior at Stoughton, Calixte had built a strong case for himself as a potential DI college player but he lacked the national profile of his rival from King Philip, Jake Layman, who went on to play for Maryland and is now with the Portland Trailblazers. Calixte attended Lee Academy to build his recruiting profile and got his collegiate chance at Maine.

He started 28 games as a freshman with the Black Bears and 26 games as a sophomore, scoring 10.8 points per game, which was third best on the team. Five games into his junior season, one in which Calixte had high expectations for what he could achieve, a foot injury in November cost him the year.

“Me missing that whole year, I felt like I was forgotten about,” Calixte reflected. “Preseason polls came out and there was a bunch of guys that made preseason teams that I thought I was much better than. It was just another chip on my shoulder.

“Me missing out on a whole year and not being able to do what I wanted to last year, there was a sense of urgency coming into this year. I kind of started off a little slow but I got better throughout the season.”

Calixte started all 32 games as a redshirt junior and was named America East Third Team All-Conference, averaging team-highs in points (16.9), assists (3.2), minutes (33.2), three-point percentage (38.0), and free throw percentage (89.0). Unfortunately, his personal success didn’t translate to wins, as the Black Bears finished 6-26.

While the team struggled, Calixte grew as a player, improving his decision-making, leadership, and his all-around game as a point guard. He credits Coach Walsh for making him a better player and a better person.

“The reason I went to Maine was that he told me I would have to work for my spot every year,” Calixte said. “If I wasn’t on my game, doing what I had to do, he would tell me right away.

“From the basketball lessons he taught me, they weren’t just about basketball they were life lessons – being able to be accountable, being able to take criticism, being a good teammate. Him being the coach he is, it just helped me a ton not only with basketball situations but life situations as well.”

Walsh recently tweeted his support for Calixte’s move to Oklahoma and in an article for the OU Daily, Walsh said, “I think he can be an elite scorer, he’s proven that. But if that’s not what the team needs on a given night and he needs to be a great defender, he needs to make his teammates better and get them open shots on the ball or off the ball, he can do that. I expect him to have a significant impact on whatever areas Coach Kruger needs him to impact to win.”

Calixte went back to Stoughton the weekend before this interview, talking to friends and family and former teammates, and he was grateful for the support that he received from his hometown.

“It just kind of means more than just for me,” he remarked. “I’m doing a deed for the Town of Stoughton, my teammates here at Maine, you know, so it’s more than just an opportunity for me. I’m kind of a small town kid, I wasn’t nationally-known, so for me to have that chance to showcase myself against the best guys in the world is something I’m looking forward to. I want to play against the best and make a name for myself.”

It has been a whirlwind few years – from competing in the Hockomock League to the America East to now a chance to take on the likes of Kansas, Texas Tech, and other national powers and play on some of the biggest stages in college basketball.

Calixte reflected, “It’s been an extremely long ride from Stoughton to going to prep school for two years to being at Maine, especially the way things went at Maine with us not winning and me getting hurt…It’s been a roller coaster. It’s been a unique journey, but I’m happy with where I’m at.”

The roller coaster ride continues for Calixte in June when he joins up with the Sooners for the preseason and all of Stoughton, and the country, will be watching in November when he laces up for Oklahoma next winter.

Franklin Rides Strong Offense Against Stoughton

By Joe Clark, Student Reporter

FRANKLIN, Mass. – Coming off of a 12-6 win over Canton, the Franklin softball team knew it would have to continue its success at the plate to get a win over Stoughton. The Panthers did that as its offense started fast and came away with a 12-2 win over the visiting Black Knights on Wednesday afternoon.

After Emily Valentino (complete game, seven hits, 11 strikeouts) set Stoughton down 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Franklin got right to work in the bottom half of the inning as Tara Hartnett (1-for-1, two walks, two RBI) hit an RBI triple to bring home Anna Balkus (2-for-4, two RBI), who reached on a bunt single earlier in the inning.

After a scoreless top of the second, Franklin got back at it in the bottom half of the inning, sending every batter to the plate as Meg Caron led off the inning with a single, and after a lineout, Gabby Colace singled. A force out at third left Franklin with runners on first and second and two outs, but Balkus singled home Colace to put Franklin up 2-0. Kylie Bouzan followed that up with an RBI single, and following a walk by Hartnett, Jackie Cherry scored two on another RBI single. Maddy White then singled home Hartnett to extend Franklin’s lead to 7-0.

“We did it all [offensively] with two outs, which really makes me happy,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon-Comeau about Franklin’s offensive output.

In the bottom of the third, Colace reached on an error and was moved over to third after a double by Ally Shea. After a throwing error at first on a Balkus bunt, Colace and Shea both scored to give Franklin a 9-0 lead. They would threaten with runners on second and third but a flyout would end the inning.

In the top of the fourth, Stoughton started to come alive offensively, as Nikki Coppola led off the inning with a single, and after a groundout by Jordan Lyons, Gina Carafa hit a double that one-hopped the right field wall and allowed Coppola to score. Lexi Baptista then drew a walk, and following a single by Taylor Levine, Stoughton had the bases loaded. Another single by Stoughton catcher Bri Ferrandiz scored Carafa and cut the Franklin lead to 9-2. Valentino managed to get the last two outs via the strikeout, and that inning was the only minor hiccup she would have all day.

“She threw a nice game, mixed her locations, mixed her speeds, had a nice game with her command today,” Fallon-Comeau said about Valentino.

In the bottom of the fourth, Franklin hit the run column again, as a sacrifice fly from = Caron scored White after she tripled, and Franklin took a 10-2 lead. In the bottom of the fifth Franklin scored on another sac fly, this time from Hartnett which scored Shea. In the bottom of the sixth, Natalie Stott, pinch-hitting for Cherry, singled home Bouzan to score Franklin’s final run of the game as the walked away with a 12-2 victory.

Franklin (4-4) will look to keep their bats hot against Sharon (0-7) on Thursday afternoon at Sharon High School.

Stoughton (2-6) will look to rebound on Friday afternoon as they host a talented Taunton team (7-2).