Stoughton's Mike Gallagher knocked in two runs and scored twice himself. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-ChiefPat Jackman had two stolen bases.
NORTON, Mass. – Stoughton scored runs in five of the six innings that they came to the plate that offensive onslaught carried the Black Knights to a 12-6 win over rival Sharon and secured a spot in the Division 2 South Finals.
The Black Knights pounded out 14 hits off three different Sharon players as ten different players scored runs for sixth-seeded Stoughton.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the guys,” Stoughton head coach Mike Armour said. “They’re great kids and they believe in one another. They’re attitudes are unbelievable and we’re looking to keep going.”
Senior captain Pat Jackman went 3-4 with two RBIs, two runs, and two stolen bases while junior Mike Gallagher was 2-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Pat Raeke was also 3-4 with two RBIs for Stoughton.
“One through nine we know we can all hit,” Gallagher said. “We always say hitting is contagious. It starts with Pat [Jackman] and it goes all the way through nine to the bench.”
Sharon jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first when leadoff hitter Brad Kaufman drew a walk and senior Jake Fishman singled to get aboard. Nate Pederson’s double into center scored them both to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.
But Stoughton pulled one back in the bottom half after Jackman scored off a single from Gallagher. The Black Knights took their first lead in the bottom of the second when Jackman knocked in Kaleb Ballou (single) and Zach Gibb (reached on fielder’s choice) to make it 3-2 Stoughton.
Sharon once again jumped ahead in the top of the third as Michael Birschbach reached on a fielder’s choice and scored Fishman. When Birschbach took off for second on a steal attempt, an errant throw allowed Frank Sullivan (walk) to score to give the Eagles a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom half of the third, the Stoughton offense continued to push runs across the plate. With the bases loaded, Will McGrath hit a ground ball to Birschbach at second base, but junior’s throw was off target at home, allowing both Gallagher and Raeke to come across. Zach Gibb’s squeeze bunt scored sophomore Luke Butera from third for Stoughton’s third run to give the Black Knights a 6-4 lead.
Stoughton wasn’t content with a two-run lead though, and pushed three more runs across in the bottom of the fourth. Jackman crossed the plate after a leadoff single paved the way for a Mike Connelly single. After Connelly reached second on an error, Gallagher knocked in the catcher with a double. Raeke picked up his first RBI with a single that scored Gallagher.
Armour knows that no lead is safe in the postseason and will take all the runs that he can.
“It’s the tournament,” he said. “Anything can happen. We were up 7-0 yesterday against Greater New Bedford and it was looking like a cake walk and then all of a sudden it was 7-5. It’s big boy time and we aren’t going to take our foot off the pedal.”
The Black Knights tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth as Jovani Pires, Raeke, and McGrath all came around to score. Sharon picked up two runs in the bottom of the seventh to round out the scoring.
Mike Dixon picked up the win for Stoughton, going 6.1 innings and giving up six runs. Sharon’s Kevin McLaughlin picked up the loss.
Stoughton will now play the winner of Nauset and Hingham in the D2 South Finals.
TOUGH END FOR SHARON
Sharon saw the high school baseball careers end for 16 seniors, but for three of them, it ended a little sooner.
Senior captains Nate Pederson and Brad Kaufman along with classmate Eric Lesser all left the game with injuries. Kaufman picked up a knock in the top of the first when he dove back to second base, leaving clutching his left shoulder. Pederson left in the bottom of the third after trying to dig out a ball at first, twisting his leg. Lesser, the shortstop, left the game with a hand injury.
Starting pitcher Jake Fishman also ends his career as an Eagle, but not before gaining the respect from opponents and his coach Joel Peckham.
“Jake Fishman is a hell of a player they have over there,” Stoughton head coach Mike Armour said. “I know he’s thrown a lot but it just shows his guts and his make up and try to just put this team on his back..”
Stoughton’s Mike Gallagher called Fishman “a great pitcher” and after Sharon’s win yesterday over Oliver Ames, Tigers skipper Leo Duggan called him the “best pitcher in the league.”
“One of the best,” Peckham said of where Fishman ranks among the players he has coached. “He’s a great pitcher and he does a lot of different things at the plate.”
Here are today's Hockomock playoff games.
#6 Stoughton, 12 vs. #10 Sharon, 6 - Final - Sharon is eliminated from the playoffs.
#11 Franklin, 4 @ #3 Sandwich, 3 - Final
#1 Milford vs. #2 Medfield (@ Medway, Central Championship), 7:00
Will Ginsberg was outstanding for Sharon, fanning nine and recording the victory. (Michael Birschbach/Photo)
By Ryan Lanigan, Editor-in-Chief
(Yoni Monat contributed to this report.)
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Sharon junior Will Ginsberg tossed five scoreless innings, striking out nine, and senior Jake Fishman struck out four in two innings of relief to combine to shut out Oliver Ames, 2-0 at Frothingham Park.
The Eagles scored twice with two outs – in the third and in the fifth – and it proved to be enough as Ginsberg and Fishman combined to limit the Tigers to just two hits.
“Will Ginsberg pitched a great game,” Sharon head coach Joel Peckham said. “He kept us in it and he threw strikes. That was big for us.”
Oliver Ames had a chance in the bottom of the seventh inning, loading the bases with just one out via their six, seven, and nine hitters, bringing up Hockomock Most Valuable Player David MacKinnon. But on a 1-1 count, Fishman got MacKinnon to pop up to shallow center for the second out. Fishman finished the game with a strikeout.
“He’s the real deal,” Peckham said of Fishman. “It got a little scruffy at the end but he came through when it counted.”
Oliver Ames had a bye in the first round and hadn’t played a game in over a week, but head coach Leo Duggan was quick to credit the Eagles.
“I think the nine-day layoff hurt us,” Duggan said. “But that kid Ginsberg did a good job and Fishman is probably the best pitcher in the league so give them credit. We finally got bases loaded in the last inning, we just couldn’t score.”
Sharon picked up their first run in the top of the third through number seven hitter Michael Birschbach. His hit into right field earned him a single and he advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Kevin McLaughlin. Leadoff hitter Brad Kaufman ripped one to shallow center and OA center fielder Michael McMillan looked to have made a great diving catch, but the ball bobbled out and Birschbach came around from second to score. McMillan – a senior captain – left the game with a left wrist injury.
“I think one through nine we have a good team,” Peckham said. “We’ve worked hard all year round. I told them if we scored two or three runs we’re going to win the game. The pitching did it for us.”
Sharon again proved their depth at the plate as number six hitter Eric Lesser led off the top of the fifth with a single up the middle. Birschbach came up with the sac bunt this time to advance Lesser to second. After McLaughlin grounded out, number nine hitter Max Bauman singled into left field to score Lesser for Sharon’s second run.
Ginsberg picked up the win, going five innings, with two hits, three walks, and the nine strikeouts.
“First inning, I ran into some trouble, and that’s when I really started to bear down," Ginsberg said. "It just helped me throughout the whole game…Today, I was really able to focus in on what we were doing. Even with runners in scoring position, there’s that little switch that goes off. You’re just like, ‘You’ve got to throw strikes.’ After the first inning, I just set in, and I was in the zone.”
Fishman inherited a two-on no out situation in the sixth and loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but the pressure didn't get to him.
"It's tough to jump right into an intense situation, but the way I'm able to get out of it is by keeping my confidence and staying calm," Fishman said. "After getting myself into the jam in the 7th inning, our fans in the bleachers helped me to get pumped up and get through the rest of the inning. This game was too important to our team for me to let go of our lead."
Sharon will now play #6 Stoughton in the D2 South Semifinals. The Eagles dropped both contests to the Black Knights this year, but not by much – a 5-2 loss in nine innings in early April, and a 2-1 loss on the road in early May.
“We’ll be ready for them,” Peckham said. “They’re a rival, we’ll be ready for them.”
Here are today's Hockomock playoff games.
#10 Sharon, 2 @ #2 Oliver Ames, 0 - Final - Oliver Ames is eliminated from the playoffs.
#6 Stoughton, 13 @ #3 Greater New Bedford Voc, 9 - Final
#8 Milford, 1 @ #1 Nauset, 8 - Final - Milford is eliminated from the playoffs.
#7 King Philip, 0 @ #2 Milford, 1 - Final (9 innings) - King Philip is eliminated from the playoffs.
#8 Taunton, 1 @ #1 Bridgewater-Raynham, 7 - Final - Taunton is eliminated from the playoffs.
#4 Canton, 17 vs. #12 Archbishop Williams, 8 - Final
#2 Sharon, 4 vs. #10 Falmouth, 1 - Final
#3 King Philip, 0 vs. #11 Wellesley, 5 - Final - King Philip is eliminatd from the playoffs.
#5 Foxboro, 0 @ #4 Medfield, 5 - Final - Foxboro is eliminated from the playoffs.
#1 North Attleboro, 5 vs. #8 Durfee, 0 - Final
#7 King Philip, 0 @ #2 Barnstable, 5 - Final
#8 Sharon, 2 @ #1 Foxboro, 3 - Final - Sharon is eliminated from the playoffs.
Franklin senior Kristi Kirshe (right) was selected as the Hockomock League MVP. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
1. North Attleboro
By Josh Perry, Managing Editor
WESTWOOD, Mass. – The Franklin girls’ lacrosse team reached a number of milestones this season including another Hockomock League title, a huge win over perennial power Needham, and making it to the program’s second Division 1 South sectional semi-final.
Although the program has continued to grow, on Monday night at Flahive Field, the top seed (and widely considered top team in the state) Wolverines showed that there is still another level for which the Panthers should aspire.
Westwood (23-0), the defending state champions and winners of six of the last 10 state championships in D1, scored the first seven goals of the game and cruised to an 11-2 victory. Franklin (18-3) fought to the final whistle, but Westwood had too much talent, including All-Americans Marina Burke and Ella Hazar.
First-year head coach Kristin Igoe was proud of her team’s effort.
“We tried to hold the ball, but they’re just really good at causing turnovers, doubling and putting pressure on us, “she remarked. “But, I thought our girls did a great job today. They handled the pressure, they worked hard no matter what, but Westwood is just a great team.”
She added, “I’m glad these girls got to see where we want to be in a few years.”
Franklin started the game with several minutes of possession, but was unable to find space in the Wolverines defense to get a shot. Burke opened the scoring nearly seven minutes into the game with the first shot for either team. That goal seemed to open the floodgates and the Wolverines dominated the rest of the half.
The Panthers did get on the board just seconds before halftime. Senior midfielder Stephanie Pisani found junior Maegan Schmauder and the team’s leading scorer buried the Panthers first of the game. Pisani also scored the Panthers second goal with a little more than 10 minutes remaining. The goal came off of a great feed from sophomore Emily Jeffries.
Igoe noted that the biggest difference separating the two programs is the number of players that Westwood has on club teams, such as MassElite (which is coached by Westwood’s legendary coach Leslie Frank), and that play all year long.
“Our girls are fast, strong, athletic, but they have athletic lacrosse players,” explained Igoe. “We need to raise our lacrosse game a little bit…I mean they have sophomores and juniors that are already committed D1. So, we’re a team that’s getting there.”
The game marked the end of a remarkable run for several of the seniors on the squad, including defender and recently voted Hockomock League MVP Kristin Kirshe, who had success in several sports. Kirshe, who was also the MVP and Gatorade Player of the Year in soccer, spoke highly of her teammates and the fight they showed despite the scoreline.
“I think the second half showed a lot about who we are,” said Kirshe. “It was 7-1 at halftime, but just 4-1 in the second half and I think that shows a lot about our commitment and our hard work that we’re still going to play lacrosse no matter the score.”
Her head coach echoed those sentiments.
Igoe commented, “They’re just a group of kids that never quit. Just being down but never quitting shows a lot of where we can go in the future. If we just get those lacrosse skills up, we have the athletes, we have the talent, we have the discipline, and we have girls who are competitive that want to play a full 50 minutes.”
Kirshe was emotional about playing her final game of a spectacularly successful career at Franklin High, which included soccer and basketball, in addition to lacrosse.
“There was one point that I was looking at the clock and I thought that it’s my last five minutes as a Franklin athlete…I might as well run my ass off,” she reflected.
“All these seniors are my best friends. We’ve been playing together for more than four years, so it’s really hard to say goodbye.”
Here are today's Hockomock playoff games. Baseball #10 Sharon @ #2 Oliver Ames - Postponed to 6/4, 4:00
#6 Stoughton @ #3 Greater New Bedford Voc - Postponed to 6/4 at 2:00
#8 Milford @ #1 Nauset (Eldredge Field, Orleans) - Postponed to 6/4 at 7:00 Softball #7 King Philip @ #2 Milford - Postponed to 6/4, 4:00
#8 Taunton @ #1 Bridgewater-Raynham - Postponed to 6/4, 3:30
#11 Franklin @ #3 Sandwich - Postponed to 6/5, 4:00 Girls Lacrosse
#4 Franklin @ #1 Westwood, 7:00 Boys Tennis
#2 Sharon vs. #10 Falmouth - Postponed to 6/4 at 2:00
#5 Foxboro @ #4 Medfield (Metacomet Park) - Postponed to 6/4, 4:00 Girls Tennis
#1 Foxboro, 4 vs. #16 Bishop Stang, 1 - Final
Here are today's playoff Hockomock games.
#2 Milford, 7 vs. #18 Dartmouth, 0 - Final
#7 King Philip, 3 vs. #10 Norwood, 1 - Final
#17 Franklin, 6 @ #1 Lincoln-Sudbury, 14 - Final - Franklin is eliminated from the playoffs.
#14 North Attleboro, 2 @ #3 King Philip, 3 - Final - North Attleboro is eliminated from the playoffs.
#9 Taunton, 1 @ #8 Durfee, 4 - Final - Taunton is eliminated from the playoffs.
By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor
BRIDGEWATER, Mass.- The underdog Attleboro High School Blue Bombardiers put up a good fight, but would end up falling to the Old Colony League champion Bridgewater-Raynham Trojans 7-4 on a hot Friday afternoon, and eliminated from the tournament.
The Trojans took the early lead, with a run in the first and two in the third, but a four run batted around inning by the 12th seed Bombardiers saw them take the a narrow lead, but the fifth seeded B-R team, who's game it was to lose, would respond with four runs of their own off six hits in the seventh to seal a spot in the second round.
A leader for the Trojans both behind the plate and on the mound, which he moved to from left in the seventh, was Mike Bruemmel. The senior southpaw, along with going an impressive three for five at the plate with three singles, two runs, and an RBI, proved a dominant closer, striking out eight of the 11 batters he faced and giving up only one hit to take the win for his team.
Shortstop Tyler Glavin and catcher Joe Freiday also put up top offensive numbers for their team, the first going three for four with three singles, two runs, and a stolen base, while being caught stealing once, and the latter going two for four with two doubles, a run, and a walk.
B-R's young ace, sophomore Jack Connolly, started off strong, other than some control problems, but feel victim to the Attleboro rally in the fifth, and would finish the game with a no decision, having tossed 5.0 innings giving up four runs, three earned, six hits, three walks, hit one batter, and struck out four. Josh Monson came in next, and the junior would only throw one inning before being replaced by Bruemmel, giving up a hit and striking out one.
For the Bombardiers, they showed the effort against a higher ranked opponent, and it wasn't that they lost, rather one where they were defeated. URI-bound senior ace Adam Woodhead would go 4 2/3 innings giving up three runs and four hits while striking out two, but had some struggles with control, walking four batters and hitting another. Sean Curran moved in from right to replace him midway through the fifth, and started out impressive, but would end up taking the loss two innings later as a string of Trojan hits would bring in four runs. He finished having thrown 2 1/3 giving up four runs, seven hits, and a walk. Travis Tanguay would take the mound for the top of the ninth, and faced four batters while giving up a hit.
Woodhead and Curran helped out on the offensive side, the first going one for three with an RBI and the latter one for four with two RBIs.
First baseman Keith Drucker went two for four with a single and double, and second baseman Pat Dunn would also go two for four, but off two singles and with a run.
Following the game, Attleboro coach Matt Bosh praised the efforts of his team, which won 11 games and qualified for the tournament for the third year in a row, and that he "couldn't have a group of better guys... and seniors" than the ones he coached in this 2013 season.
Sharon's Jake Fishman struck out 11 on Friday. (Michael Birschbach/Photo)
By Yoni Monat, HockomockSports.com Contributor
From superb pitching from Jake Fishman to consistent offensive production to sharp defense, the Sharon High baseball team performed superbly in every department on Friday.
The Eagles convincingly downed Dighton-Rehoboth, 6-1, to open the playoffs, setting up a matchup with rival Oliver Ames in the Division II South Quarterfinals on Monday.
“I thought today was a great win. Pretty much everyone on the team played well,” Fishman said of Friday’s showing. “We hit the ball, pitched well, and made the defensive plays. Everything in the game today was very good.”
Junior third baseman Frank Sullivan said, “We just brought it all together. The best parts of our game shined through in every single aspect. Everything just came together and synched.”
After a lengthy bus ride to face 7-seed Dighton-Rehoboth, the 10-seed Eagles came ready to play. Senior captain Colin Gray singled in the top of the first inning and advanced to second on a walk to Fishman.
The Eagles then attempted a double steal. The throw to third base sailed into the outfield, and Gray scampered home with the game’s first run.
“I think a real strength of ours is speed, and our ability to run the bases,” said Sharon Head Coach Joel Peckham. “We caused mistakes by running the bases, and we got a couple of runs that way. We’ve got some kids who are really quick.”
Sharon’s heavy hitters made their presences felt during the third inning. After a line-drive single by Fishman, Sullivan powered a double deep into right-center-field, plating Fishman. Senior captain Nathan Pedersen then added an RBI double of his own, scoring Sullivan to provide Sharon a 3-0 advantage.
“They both are tough kids,” Peckham said of Sullivan and Pedersen. “That was huge. Your 4th and 5th hitters coming through, making contact, hitting the ball – they’re capable of that.”
Fishman said, “I thought we were just ready to play the game. We were ready to go up and hit. We knew what we had to do and we got it done.”
Sullivan says that the strong hitting, which came off of Dighton-Rehoboth’s top pitcher, senior righthander Brandon Shileikis, became contagious throughout the Eagle lineup.
“It’s really motivational to see one kid get a hit, and another kid get a hit, to show, ‘We can hit this kid.’ We’re a great hitting team, but it doesn’t always fall into place. Everybody hit really well [Friday],” Sullivan said.
Sharon added two more in the fourth inning. With two outs, senior captain Brad Kaufman began matters with a single and swiped second base. Gray then knocked an RBI single.
After a walk, Gray stole third base and came in to score on a fielder’s choice error on a grounder by Sullivan, providing Sharon a 5-0 lead.
On the mound, Fishman mowed through the Falcon order. The senior captain and southpaw, who last week was named a Hockomock League All-Star, faced the minimum number of hitters through four innings, fanning eight during that time.
“I definitely located my pitches much better than I had in the past,” Fishman said. “I was getting my inside fastball for strikes - that was good - and my curveball was working.”
Peckham said, “I knew [D-R] was going to be a competitive team, but Jake controlled the game for us. That made a big difference.”
The hosts grabbed an unearned run in the fifth inning. Shileikis opened the frame by reaching second on an infield single and a throwing error. St. John then hit an RBI single, putting Dighton-Rehoboth on the scoreboard. Falcon supporters began making some noise.
But Fishman allowed no further damage that inning, and Sharon tallied another run in the sixth. Gray, Fishman, and Sullivan all singled, with Gray coming in to score his third run of the contest.
Fishman then shut the door in the sixth and seventh innings. On the afternoon, the lefthander allowed just three hits, no earned runs, and struck out 11, bringing his season total to 103.
In 16.1 career innings in the postseason, Fishman is 2-0 and has not allowed an earned run. As for the most important factor to his success win-or-go-home games, Fishman said, “You have to come in there with a confident mind. Going into the game, you have to believe in yourself.”
Sharon (13-8) has two days off before facing Oliver Ames (#2-seed, 15-5) in Easton, with a berth in the sectional semifinals on the line.
Peckham said, “I just hope we can get by OA and give [Fishman] a chance to win that next game, because we can beat anybody with him on the mound.”