Total Team Effort Lifts Taunton to First State Title

Taunton baseball Evan Melo Josh Lajoie Jack Moynihan
Taunton captains (L-R) Evan Melo, Josh Lajoie, and Jack Moynihan celebrate with the D1 State Championship trophy. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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LOWELL, Mass. – It was fitting that the final out bounced to sophomore shortstop Ty Cali. He jumped into the lineup in the playoffs after starter Danny MacDougall suffered an injury in the first game of the postseason. Cali had two hits and an RBI in Saturday night’s Div. 1 state championship game at Lowell’s LeLacheur Park and was an example of the way the whole Taunton program came together to send the Tigers on an improbable championship run.

That run came to a climax on Saturday, as Taunton (21-7) got four hits and a pair of RBI from the bottom three in its lineup, got four strong innings from senior Josh Lajoie, who was making his first start of the playoffs, and rallied with a pair of runs in the final two innings after seeing a 3-0 lead slip away.

The Tigers found a way to win, a common thread throughout the tournament, pulling out a 5-3 victory against Shrewsbury to secure the program’s first-ever state championship.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We knew it was going to be another tough game,” said Taunton coach Blair Bourque. “That’s a great team over there and they gave us everything we could handle. We were able to put some at-bats together. It’s a team effort.”

Senior pitcher Logan Lawrence, who picked up the win with three innings of relief, said, “It almost feels too good. First time in history winning sectionals, never mind winning states.”

A state championship seemed farfetched in April. The Tigers stumbled out of the gates, going 4-4 in their opening eight games, but they stayed the course and eventually things turned around. Taunton finished the season by going 17-3 over its final 20 games. Its only losses in that span were to Super 8 participants Mansfield (twice) and Franklin.

“At the beginning of the year we all talked about it in the weight room about how nice it would be, but we also knew how difficult it would be and all the hard work it would take, and how much better we’d have to get throughout the year,” said senior Jack Moynihan.
“We knew we’d have to keep fighting and everyone in the program has busted their butts.”

Bourque said, “This season we had a lot of adversity early and I think that helped us down the road. Obviously, the Mansfields and the Franklins are the teams we want to compete with. This is a step in the right direction.”

On Saturday, the Tigers faced Shrewsbury ace John West. The 6-foot-8 junior has already committed to Boston College and he lived up to the billing the first time through the Taunton order. He struck out five, held the Tigers hitless, and allowed only one base runner over the first three innings.

West may have drawn the headlines prior to the game, but he was matched over the first three innings by Lajoie. The St. John’s University-commit got the ball for the final and allowed only two hits through four innings. An error and a walk gave Shrewsbury its only rally in that stretch, but Lajoie responded with a strikeout and induced a pop up to get out of the jam.

Taunton grabbed the lead in the fourth. Colby Lariviere drew a one-out walk and would come all the way around to score when Lawrence’s line drive skipped past the centerfielder and turned into a triple. Nolan Melo came in to run at third base and he would score on a perfectly placed safety squeeze by Jared Roderick.

The Tigers tacked on another run in the fifth. Evan Melo led off the inning by drilling a double into the corner in right and he was quickly brought home by a Cali single. Gavin Leahy drew a walk and Lucas Martins had an infield single to load the bases with one out but a double play ended the inning.

“It’s great because as a pitcher you look at the bottom of the order and you think just breeze through them,” said Lawrence about Taunton getting production from its full lineup. “When you know for a fact that other teams aren’t going to be able to breeze through the bottom of your lineup, that helps you a lot mentally. A lot of confidence comes from that.”

Shrewsbury did not go quietly. In the bottom of the fifth, the Colonials had three straight singles, including a bunt single to load the bases with no outs. Lajoie was pulled for Lawrence, who gave up an RBI-single on his first pitch.

The next batter hit a shot down the first base line but Lariviere made a diving stop and got the lead runner at home. The batter had slipped so a return throw to first turned into a double play. With a chance to get out of the inning with the lead, Lawrence gave up a single to West, which scored a pair and tied the game.

Rather than letting their heads drop, the Tigers got right back to the plate and promptly grabbed back the lead. Roderick reached on a fielder’s choice, moved to second on a wild pitch, and then took third on an error that allowed Andrew Gomes to reach. For the second time in the game, Bourque called for a squeeze and this time it was Evan Melo who dropped it down, pushing it up the first base line for a single and an RBI.

“We have confidence in ourselves and our ability to generate a couple of runs here and there,” Bourque explained. “There was no panic, we’ve been down before. Last game, we were down twice, so we had the confidence in our ability to generate some offense.

Taunton loaded the bases with one out for the second straight inning but both times failed to score a run. Lawrence made sure that it wouldn’t hurt too much by throwing a perfect sixth inning.

In the seventh, Taunton added an important insurance run. Nic Notarangelo, who’s inclusion in the starting lineup coincided with the Tigers’ improvement, started the inning by drilling a triple to the wall in right. Two batters later, Lariviere made it 5-3 with a sacrifice fly to left.

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As it turned out, the Tigers didn’t need the extra run. Lawrence got back to the mound for the seventh inning and threw another clean inning. He got a grounder to second, a strikeout, and then a grounder to short to seal the win and the championship.

“Nothing, just strictly adrenaline,” said Lawrence about what was going through his mind in the seventh. “When it was a 3-2 [count] and everyone was screaming, oh my god…” Lawrence shook his head, chuckled, and smiled.

Lajoie added, “It’s a dream come true. You dream of this at the beginning of the season and then you go through the season with your team, battling, and you see the pieces falling together…It’s unbelievable; I’m speechless.”

Walk-Off Win Over L-S Sends Taunton To State Final

Taunton baseball Nic Notarangelo
Taunton’s Nic Notarangelo (left) celebrates with Danny MacDougall and other teammates after his game-winning hit. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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LOWELL, Mass. – With the winning run standing at second base, Taunton juniors Logan Lawrence and Nolan Melo approached classmate Nic Notarangelo in the on-deck circle with a simple message.

“There’s no one better.”

Notarangelo, who has been the Tigers’ hottest hitter down the stretch, was 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, so Lawrence and Melo decided to deliver a vote of confidence right before he headed to the plate.

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Notarangelo delivered, smacking a hard hit double to right field in the bottom of the ninth inning to score Ty Cali from second and the Tigers walked off with a 6-5 win in over Lincoln-Sudbury in a D1 State Semifinal, sending Taunton to its first ever state championship.

“Nic came into the lineup about midway through the season and since then, he hasn’t stopped,” Lawrence said. “He knew he had a rough couple of at-bats, but we just wanted to let him know that we believe in him. He didn’t need us to do that but we wanted to show him support.”

It was Taunton’s only lead of the game as the Tigers trailed 3-0 after just a half inning and had to erase a two-run deficit in the sixth inning.

“They were telling me there was no one better,” Notarangelo said of the on-deck conversation. “The fact that they have confidence in me gave me confidence in the box. It’s a team game and we’re the most passionate team that I know. Whenever we’re down, you can’t count us out. We fight to the last out, the last pitch, you can’t count us out.

“I had seen the pitcher before and he wasn’t throwing anything funny so I was just waiting for one that was in my zone and luckily I got it.”


Sophomore Ty Cali legged out a one-out double and sophomore pinch hitter Alyjah Marshall earned a walk to bring Notarangelo to the plate. Three pitches later, Notarangelo delivered the game-winning hit to bring Cali in, sending the Tigers into a frenzy.

“They don’t quit,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque. “It’s something that from early on, we’ve played some really tough games and faced a lot of adversity. It’s tough to beat a team that doesn’t quit, and these guys don’t quit, they have each others backs. They work hard, they play hard, and I’m really proud to manage them. I can’t say enough about the camaraderie, hard work, and determination…you name it. It’s been there all year.

“Nic has been our guy, I was hoping he’d get a chance to swing the bat in the last inning. He had a difficult game so far so it was huge for him. It was only a matter of time until he broke out and put the barrel on the ball.”

While Notarangelo delivered the winning hit, the Tigers might not have been in position to do so without the work of Lawrence. Not only did Lawrence club a two-run home run in the first inning the stemmed the tide, he came on in relief and pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and escaping a bases-loaded situation in the sixth to earn the win.

“He saved us, he’s been great throughout the whole tournament, the whole year,” Notarangelo said of Lawrence. “I couldn’t be more proud of what he’s done this year.”

Lawrence came on after five innings of work for Tiger ace Jack Moynihan, who struck out six and allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits and one walk.

“Jack [Moynihan] has picked us up all season long, he’s picked me up if I had a bad game,” Lawrence said. “You have to reciprocate that energy. He does good for me all the time so I’m going to do my best for him.”

L-S, who had lost just two games all season on its way to a North sectional title, jumped on the Tigers with three runs in the top of the first inning. Connor Lachman doubled, Jesse McCullough and James Dillon singled, and an RBI groundout from Andrew Cahill put the Warriors ahead 3-0.

But the lead was short lived as the Tigers offense answered immediately. Lucas Martins drew a one-out walk, stole second, and then scored after a single from Colby Lariviere. Lawrence smashed the fourth pitch he saw over the left field fence for a two-run home run, tying the game 3-3 after one.

“Our plan was to just chip away,” Obviously you don’t want to go down but we have faith in Jack being able to keep us in the game. [Lincoln-Sudbury] hit the ball really well, that’s a good team over there. We knew we were in for a dog fight and we were hoping to keep the damage to a minimum and Jack did a great job of doing that for us. Logan came in and pitched phenomenal, that was a gutsy effort from him. His home run got us back in the game and kind of took the edge off. That let us know we could compete with them.

Moynihan settled in, striking out the side in the second inning but the top half of L-S’ lineup struck again in the third inning. Lachman doubled again, advanced on a ground out, and Dillon walked to put runners on the corner. Dillon attempted to steal second, forcing a throw but it ended up in centerfield, allowing Lachman to score. But Taunton limited the damage as Dillon tried to go from second to home. Evan Melo fired to Martins and he fired to Andrew Gomes at home for the tag.

Lachman surprised the Tigers with a bunt to lead off the fifth, advanced to second on a passed ball, stole third, and scored when the throw from home on the pickoff attempt got past the third baseman.

Taunton had momentum in the third when Martins singled and advanced to second on an error. Lawrence walked and the Tigers executed a double steal but Martins was then called out for supposedly coming off the bag at third.

In the top of the sixth, Milind Lele reached on an error, advanced to second on a ground out, Matthew Ray was hit by a pitch, the Tigers intentionally walked Lachman to load the bases but Lawrence induced a grounder to first to prevent any damage.

Lawrence reached second on a two-base error to start the bottom of the sixth and took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a passed ball that was also ball four for Jared Roderick. Roderick stole second, Nolan Melo was hit by a pitch, Roderick stole third, and then scored on a squeeze bunt from Evan Melo up the first base line to make it 5-5.

“Execution has been huge for us all year, and those are the fundamentals we practice day in and day out. It’s one of those things, when it works its great because we spend a lot of time on it. For Evan to come through was huge, it’s still difficult to execute and he came through.

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“What’s happened before doesn’t faze these guys. They cheer for each other. Even when I told Gavin [Leahy], a senior, that’d he be pinch hit for [by Marshall in the ninth], he said OK. It’s fun to be able to coach a team that isn’t selfish and cheer for each other, even if they lose their spot. The bottom of the order has been different each game and it’s been someone different game.”

L-S had its lone hit against Lawrence to leadoff the seventh inning, but Gomes erased him at second on a steal attempt.

Taunton baseball (20-7) will play Central sectional champion Shrewsbury in the D1 State Final. Currently, there is no date or time listed on the MIAA website but it’s scheduled to be played at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.

“We’ve got one to go, might as well win it,” Notarangelo said.

Taunton Roars Past Attleboro For First Sectional Title

Taunton baseball Josh Lajoie Evan Melo Jack Moynihan
Taunton captains (L-R) Josh Lajoie, Evan Melo, and Jack Moynihan celebrate with the D1 South championship trophy. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
BROCKTON, Mass. – Taunton junior Nic Notarangelo joined the Tigers’ starting lineup on his birthday on May 16th in the City Championship against rival Coyle & Cassidy.

After going a perfect 3-for-3 that day, Notarangelo stuck in the lineup and hasn’t stopped doing damage since.

Notarangelo, patrolling left field for the Tigers since that game, had two hits and drove in three runs on Saturday, including the game-winner in the second inning with a triple, to pace fourth-seeded Taunton to a 6-1 win over #11 Attleboro in the D1 South Sectional Final at Campanelli Stadium.

It’s the first sectional title in program history for the Tigers.

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“This feels great, it’s all my team, my team is always there to back me up, I always hear them cheering,” Notarangelo said. “It gives me adrenaline, it gives me confidence at the plate. We were great in the field, our pitching was outstanding but we had some trouble getting the hitting going at the beginning of the year. But it’s all about practice, we all feed off each other. Every day, we’ve been in the cages whether we’ve had practice or not and now it’s all paid off.”

Notarangelo, who has hit safely in all but two games since joining the lineup (with eight multi-hit games), smoked a two-out triple to deep left centerfield to bring in Sean Quinlan (single) and Evan Melo (single) and put Taunton up 3-0, a lead it never relinquished.

One game that Notarangelo didn’t have a hit was the Tigers’ playoff win over Xaverian. But instead of a hit, he had arguably the biggest play of the game with a diving catch in the first inning, stranding two Hawks on base. Taunton went on to win 2-0.

“Nic had that diving catch against Xaverian that really changed the momentum even it was the first inning,” said Taunton head coach Blair Bourque. “And then he came up huge again this game. Those were huge runs for us to get. He’s a kid that is quiet, does the right things, works hard, stays after. I’m really proud of him, he’s come a long way this year. He started to get some at-bats later in the season and was doing some damage and hasn’t looked back since.”

Three runs was plenty for right-handed pitchers Logan Lawrence and Josh Lajoie. Lawrence, a junior, earned the win by allowing one unearned run in four innings of work, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out six.

Lajoie, a senior, allowed just three bases runners (one hit, two walks) in three innings of work while recording four strikeouts. None of the three Bombardiers advanced past first against Lajoie.

“Logan was great, he came up big and executed pitches when he needed to, which was important,” Bourque said. “He was scrapping and thew the ball well, his location was a little off today that got him in some trouble. Then Josh did a phenomenal job coming in and shutting the door, making sure they didn’t get too many guys on.

“Last year we lost to Durfee in a playoff game after beating them twice in the regular season. We knew it’d be tough coming in today, especially the second game against Attleboro when we were able to hit the ball pretty good but they had played five games in five days so we kind of threw that game away. We knew they are a good team, they are here for a reason. We knew the challenge that was ahead of us and we met that challenge and I’m really proud of these guys.”

Taunton’s Jared Roderick, Andrew Gomes, Quinlan, and Melo all clubbed consecutive singles to lead off the second inning, with Melo’s hit bringing Gomes home (Roderick was picked off at second by Attleboro starter Ryan Morry [5IP, 8H, 2BB, 6ER, 2K). After Morry got a ground out, Notarangelo smacked his third triple of the season to bring in two more runs.

“I think early on, we might have been pressing, I’m not sure what it was exactly,” Bourque said the offensive turnaround this season. “But as the weather warmed up, so did our bats. I think there were some games we needed the offense when the pitching wasn’t there and it came through. It’s a team game and I think we’ve proven that.”

Attleboro had a chance to respond right away as they loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the third. Both Troy Gamache and Nick McMahon singled and Tim Callahan reached on an error after a bunt. It looked like the Bombardiers would bring at least one run in on a bloop single to shallow left, but Taunton sophomore shortstop Ty Cali, who joined the starting lineup for the playoffs after the Tigers lost Danny MacDougall to injury, sprinted and made the catch on the run to hold the runners in place.

“That was the play of the day there,” Bourque said. “He played in the New Bedford game when Danny pitched so he had a couple of innings of varsity experience but not much. We were just asking for him to make the routine plays and he’s done a great job stepping in for us.”

After the first out, Lawrence came back with back-to-back strikeouts against the heart of the Bombardiers’ lineup to escape without any damage done.

Lawrence’s momentum carried to the plate as he clubbed a one-out triple in the bottom of the inning, and beat the throw on Roderick’s squeeze bunt to make it 4-0.

The Bombardiers had another chance to cut into the lead in the top of the fourth but only managed to put a dent into it. Troy Van Vliet reached on a one-out error, Gamache singled with two outs, and McMahon was hit by a pitch to load the bases. A wild pitch allowed Van Vliet to score but Lawrence induced a ground ball up the middle that Cali fielded and fired to first for the third out.

“They were definitely lacking,” Attleboro head coach Steve Dunlea said of timely hits. “Part of that is on us, part of it you tip your cap because they made some good pitches.

“That’s a talented pitching staff [Taunton] has, really talented. I was just saying to the kids how this is the farthest an Attleboro team has been in quite some time. I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished this year, this senior group. None of them had played in a tournament game before and made it all the way to here, that takes leadership. We started 0-2, kind of a tough 0-2, but we pulled together as a family and that’s how they played the rest of the season.”

Taunton canceled that run with one of its own in the bottom half. Evan Melo drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a chopper to second, and Lucas Martins brought the run in, slicing a single to right field just fair to make it 5-1.

The Tigers tacked on another insurance run in the sixth inning as Gomes led off with a walk, ending Morry’s day. Eoin Kelleher, the Bombardiers’ ace, came on in relief on just two days rest. Kelleher got a fly out to left before Evan Melo’s single put two on. A fielder’s choice advanced Gomes to third and Notarangelo singled to bring in pinch runner Nolan Melo in to make it 6-1.

Cali erased a leadoff single in the top of the seventh by turning a double play and Lajoie got the last out on called strikes to send the Tigers into a big celebration.

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“I don’t think its hit home yet but it’s something I’m really proud of the kids and what they’ve accomplished so far,” Bourque said. “You couldn’t ask for a better group of guys, of hard workers. The camaraderie they’ve had all season. The offseason weight room, the captain’s practices, you name it. They deserve everything they get.”

Attleboro finishes the season at 14-10, concluding a terrific postseason run that saw the Bombardiers knock off Barnstable on the road, Bridgewater-Raynham, and second-seeded Durfee.

“I think they are starting to figure what they’ve accomplished and obviously it hurts right now,” Dunlea said. “You want to continue on but for me, it was just a great experience with an unbelievable group of seniors. They really cared about the program, they had goals for this team, and it was just really fun to be a part of that.”

Taunton baseball (19-7) advances to the D1 State Semifinal and will take on North sectional champion Lincoln-Sudbury (21-2), the top seed in that bracket. The Tigers will take on the Warriors on Tuesday at Alumni Field in Lowell at 7:00.

Tigers Can’t Cash In Against Feehan In South Semifinal

Taunton softball Kelsey White
Taunton sophomore Kelsey White delivers a pitch in the first inning against Bishop Feehan. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – Sophomore Kelsey White and the Taunton softball team didn’t give third-seeded Bishop Feehan many chances, but the Shamrocks took advantage of the little opportunities they had.

Meanwhile, the Tigers had a handful of opportunities, putting at least one runner in scoring position in five innings, and a runner on base in six of the seven innings, but an uncharacteristic performance from second-seeded Taunton put an end to its season.

Bishop Feehan scored single runs in the first, sixth, and seventh innings while Taunton was limited to just one run, leaving six runners on base in scoring position as the Shamrocks earned a 3-1 win a D1 South Semifinal contest.

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“We had many chances,” said Taunton head coach Dave Lewry. “It comes down to a game of execution. You have to execute at the plate, in the field, and on the bases, and we picked the wrong game not to execute. It wasn’t a good game for us all around. We didn’t execute. We took too many called strike threes. We played well all year, but the wrong game to play poorly.”

The Shamrocks got off to an ideal start with leadoff hitter Jessica Levesque clubbing a triple to right center field. White (7IP, 6H, 1BB, 3R, 1ER, 3K) induced a ground ball to shortstop and the runner originally held, but after a brief bobble a throwing error allowed Levesque to score and the Feehan runner to get to second.

After a walk, McKenzie McAloon started a double play to get two outs and White got a fly ball to center to strand a runner at third and minimize the damage to just one run.

Taunton had a bevy of chances to tie the game and even take a lead, but couldn’t find the timely hit necessary.

“We had timely hitting,” said Feehan coach Bill Milot. “We did not play a flawless game but fortunately [Taunton] wasn’t able to capitalize on our mistakes and we were able to capitalize on theirs.”

In the bottom of the first, sophomore Hanna Aldrich ripped a two-out double but Feehan pitcher Brooke Scorzinski (7IP, 4H, 4BB, 1ER, 9K) got a pop up in foul territory behind the plate for the third out.

Heads up base running allowed White to get to second on an error in the second with one out, and quickly moved to third on a ground out. But the Tigers couldn’t get the run in as Scorzinski got one of her nine strikeouts to end the frame.

Jaime Brown doubled with one out in the third inning, Alexa White walked, and both advanced on a passed ball to put runners in scoring position with one out. But again Scorzinski got a big strikeout (looking) for the second out. McAloon was hit by the pitch to load the bases but Taunton couldn’t manufacture anything as Scorzinski got a soft line drive back to the circle.

A walk and an error put Kelsey White and Paige Silvia on first and second with no outs but neither runner would advance any further as the Tigers failed on a sac bunt attempt and had three straight fly ball outs.

“I would definitely say it was uncharacteristic,” Lewry said. “Defensively we had a couple of silly little plays, not being aware of the base runners…not being able to get down bunts, that was critical. We tried three or four times and we didn’t get one down. We talked about executing bunts all year, we’ve practiced it all year, we just didn’t do it tonight.

Meanwhile, Kelsey White was cruising on the mound. She retired the side in order in each the second and fourth innings and didn’t let a one-out single past first in the second. A two-out single from Sierra Basara went nowhere in the fifth went nowhere when White got a big strikeout.

“Kelsey had to really battle tonight,” Lewry said. “Some of her pitches weren’t working the way they normally do so we had to go a different way and I thought she did a heck of a job. We could have been out of there allowing one run if we made a couple of plays, it came down to execution and we didn’t get it done.”

The Shamrocks added to their lead with a run in the top of the sixth inning as Caroline Deem blooped a one-out single and took second on a ground ball. Scorzinski sliced a single to right field that Abbie McDonough fielded, firing a throw home but it wasn’t handled at the plate and the runner from second came across.

Taunton finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth but again left runners in scoring position. Silvia had a one-out single and moved to second on a two-out walk from Rylie Murphy. Brown sliced an RBI double to left field to bring a one run in and make it 2-1. With runners on second and third, Scorzinski got the third out with a strikeout.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Feehan tacked on a big insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Haley Coupal had a one-out single and moved to third on a soft grounder in front of the plate. With two outs, Levesque was able to reach when her grounder was bobbled at first, and Coupal ran all the way from second to home before the Tigers could fire a throw home.

The Tigers brought the heart of their lineup for the seventh inning but Scorzinski retired the side in order for the first time all game.

Taunton softball finishes the season at 22-3 while Bishop Feehan will play Bridgewater-Raynham in the D1 South Final on Sunday.

Taunton Starts Title Defense with Shutout of KP

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Taunton senior Jaime Brown makes a play on a KP bunt in the opening round of the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – Defending state champion Taunton kicked off its title defense on Monday night at Jack Tripp Field against a familiar foe. It is never easy to play a team three times in a season, especially when it is a league rival and annual competitor for the league title.

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The Tigers made it a clean sweep against King Philip and earned their third shutout of the Warriors this season, earning a 4-0 victory and getting started on the road to a potential repeat.

“First game of the tournament is always tough,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry about facing an atypical No. 15 seed in the opening round. “We’ve been there before but all the kids were saying they had the butterflies and were a little nervous early on, so get this out of the way and we can move onto tomorrow.”

Senior outfielder Alexa White added, “It’s definitely a relief to have the first one in the books. We have a young team, so we made sure to talk to them yesterday at practice to be prepared that the atmosphere is different, everything’s different, so you need to keep the energy up and you need to relax, at the plate or in the field.”

King Philip (13-9) had been outscored 19-0 in two regular season meetings with Taunton, but the Warriors came into Monday confident that they could pull the upset and had an early chance to get on the board. Raegan Simeone bunted for a hit with one out in the first and then stole second. After a strikeout, Liliana Rolfe walked to put two on base, but Taunton starter Kelsey White snagged a comebacker by her opposite number, Faith Turinese, to end the inning.

The Warriors wouldn’t have another base runner until a one-out single by Rolfe in the fourth. Rolfe was controversially called out on a steal attempt and a pop up to first baseman Tayah DaCosta ended the threat.

“It’s been a struggle against most quality pitchers,” Beauchemin said about the lack of offense. “You’ve got to get that key hit, but we didn’t have many hits to begin with.”

Taunton wasted no time jumping in front. JJaime Brown led off the bottom frame with a double to right center. Abigail McDonough dropped down a bunt to move Brown to third and a wild pitch allowed her to come home with what would turn out to be the game-winning run.

Beauchemin said, “You can’t make any mistakes against this team. They’re as strong as they were last year, if not stronger.”

It stayed 1-0 until the third inning. With one out Brown drew a walk and again McDonough dropped down a bunt to move her into scoring position. Hanna Aldrich, who was robbed of a single in the first by KP shortstop Meghan Gorman, lined a base hit to left to double the lead.

Lewry said, “I just had a feeling it was going to be one of those games, so we want to get runs any way we can, chip away one at a time if we have to and it seemed to work out.”

In the fourth Taunton gave itself a cushion with a two-out rally. Turinese got a pair of fly balls, including one to deep center by Kelsey White, and seemed to be cruising through another inning, but Paige Silvia took a pitch off her thigh. Alexa White followed with a triple that was crushed into the gap in left center. White scored on a double by eighth grader Ava Venturelli.

“It brings the confidence in the next batter up to keep it going and it definitely gets the girls pumped,” said Alexa White about the importance of two-out rallies.

There was one more threat by the Warriors in the seventh, as they tried to keep their season alive. Rolfe was hit by a pitch with one out, reaching base for the third straight time, and Turinese hustled to beat out an infield single. Taunton’s defense made the plays it needed to with Aldrich and Brown grabbing grounders and getting the outs to seal the win.

“I think the kids gave a very good representation today, we played hard,” said Beauchemin. “We’re not young, but we’re inexperienced and I think next year we’re going to be a very formidable team.”

Lewry praised the Warriors and was happy to get through a third meeting with KP. He said, “I think they’re a much better team than they were at the beginning of the season and I thought they played an excellent game tonight. Their defense was good, their pitching was real good, and they just had some trouble hitting Kelsey, which is good for us.”

When asked if things felt any different entering the playoffs defending last year’s title, White said that the Tigers were just trying to focus on the moment rather than the ultimate destination.

“We’ve got a tough road ahead, we know that, but I think we have the talent to do it,” she said. “It’s about pulling everything together with clutch hits and keeping those rallies going. We have the mentality to take every game one step at a time. Just focus on the game you’re playing.”

Taunton (21-2) will host No. 10 seed Marshfield on Tuesday night at Jack Tripp Field.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.