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.”