Category Archives: Middleboro

Quarterback Evan Gwozdz guides Middleboro to 43-20 Division 6 title over Littleton

Nothing but end zone ahead for Evan Gwozdz (12). He passed for four TDs and ran for two others.

Jeremy Soule had 102 yards on twelve carries

(Foxboro MA) I guess I’ll never know.

Know what?  Who the punters were for Middleboro and Littleton.

No need of them as the two Division Six finalists vied for the 2017 football state championship in the “sunrise” game at Gillette Stadium on Saturday morning.

Tons of offense (628 yards between the two of them) but it was the point-producing offense of Middleboro that carried them to a 43-20 title.

Evan Gwozdz was the star of the show for the Sachems (10-3).  The 5-8 senior passed for four TDs and ran for two others.

Unlike his number-sake (TB12 of the Patriots), however, Evan also showed up in one of my pictures in the “good hands” section of Middleboro’s kickoff return team.  No surprise on this day, Evan recovered the onsides kick!

Luke Elliott (with ball) gets first Littleton score

Anyone sitting through the first quarter of this game might not have been certain that Middleboro would even win it.  Why?  Littleton (11-1) controlled over 90% of that quarter (20 plays) and had the only points on the board.

Harrison LaPierre snuffed out Brad Klock’s two-point conversion attempt.

When Middleboro finally did get a chance on offense they quickly showed that they would be a handful to defend.

“We like to get the ball to the perimeter and we are fast,” said MHS coach Paul Kingman afterwards.  You put a fast team on the extremely fast surface at Gillette and containment will be tough.

The key to Middleboro’s answering touchdown early in the 2nd quarter was a remarkable 4th-and-4 scramble by QB Evan Grozdz.  Evan rolled left and was being dropped by Kevin Frisoli when he spotted, and connected with, Colin O’Brien.  “He (Colin) broke off his route when he saw me scrambling,” said Evan.  “We practice that a lot.”

The strategy of Middleboro was to let the Littleton defense determine their attack.  “If they (Littleton) were going to shut down Jeremy (Soule) we would pass and if they defended the pass we would run Jeremy,” explained Evan.

Pass catchers from left to right – Davis Riendeau, Colin O’Brien, Harry LaPierre, and Matthew Crowley

That strategy worked to perfection in the final three quarters.  Jeremy Soule collected 102 yards on 12 carries while there were fifteen catches, and four touchdowns, among five Middleboro receivers.

It was one of those days in which, after the first quarter, Littleton was competitive but not able to neutralize the Sachems on either side of the ball.

I thought that Littleton, after the first quarter TD, would always be able to put long marches together and answer Middleboro TDs.  But that Middleboro quickness on offense showed up on defense too.

Evan Gwozdz (with ball) looks for an opening

There was a remarkable turnout of Middleboro support. That will happen when a town realizes that a thirty-four year football state championship drought could end.

Evan Gwozdz (15-for-17) had two incompletions.  One was a spike to stop the clock and the other was a prayer at the very end of the first half.

Those three onsides kicks by Littleton in the second half not only failed but they gave the quick-scoring Sachems half a field to work with each time.  I know, that’s second guessing of the highest order.

Mitch Beaudoin (8) versus Harry LaPierre

One of the luxuries of doing a game at Gillette is that you get to see instant replays.  A couple of decisions by officials drew some serious groans from each team.  One time, Littleton was assessed a penalty for a sideline’s hit.  The replay showed that there was hardly contact.  Another time, Middleboro had an interception denied when the replay suggested otherwise.

Turned out to be an excellent day for December football in Massachusetts.

Middleboro coach Pat Kingman: “Evan Gwozdz was the best player in the South Shore League and he’s an even better person than he is a quarterback.”

A win by Littleton would have enabled them to be the first Central Mass team to win two state championships.

Harry LaPierre

Coach Kingman: “Harry LaPierre has been our best defensive player all year.”

Evan Gwozdz: “We knew that they would score.  We didn’t let it get us down because we knew that we could score too.”

Colin O’Brien’s two touchdowns give him twelve for the season.

Evan Gwozdz finished this season with sixteen rushing touchdowns and twenty-two passing touchdowns.  Amazing numbers!

Second guessing that didn’t materialize was over Coach Kingman’s decision to rest all his starters against Carver on Thanksgiving Day and take a loss versus Carver.

Today was Littleton’s third trip to Gillette in the past five years.

Middleboro’s Pat Kingman has had the Sachems in the playoffs the last four seasons.

Middleboro’s three previous state championships were in 1983, 1978, and 1977.

In the state semifinal game, Jeremy Soule had seventy-six yards on his first touch and totaled 246 yards in 13 carries including two touchdowns.

Colin O’Brien (7) runs under a perfect pass for a first-half TD

Littleton won their last state title in 2013.  They were undefeated in 1967, 1968, and 2013.

The Tigers are in the Midland-Wachusett League.

Middleboro opted for a trick play after their sixth touchdown.  Evan Gwozdz was the holder and Brandon Buote was the kicker.  Instead of holding the ball, Evan flipped the ball over his head to Brandon who swept right to gain two points.

This was my first time in Gillette.  Just the size of the complex is remarkable.  Trying to find my way around was an adventure but I managed.  I was well treated and well fed.  Their after-game stat sheet is a Godsend.

Final stats

(Clicking on the pictures will enlarge them considerably.)

Championship banner

Matthew Crowley

Anthony Silvestro

Brandon Buote

Kicker Brandon Buote (17) gets a 2-point conversion

Littleton QB Will Scott

Evan Gwozdz (12) faces an onsides kick………and recovers it.

Davis Riendeau (3) gets to the end zone

Mitchell Crory (11) sends Jeremy Soule flying and saves a touchdown

Evan Gwozdz (12) congratulates Harry LaPierre after a touchdown

Harry LaPierre (11) eyes the last Littleton defender Evan Lyons (3)

Loose ball

Matthew Crowley (24) intercepts

Battle in the air between Colin O’Brien (7) and Kerr Boyle (6)

Jackson Ellis

Colin O’Brien (7) takes a swing pass from Evan Gwozdz (12)

Jeremy Soule (34) uses a good block from Robert Nestor (62)

Colin O’Brien (7) gets first Middleboro touchdown

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Littleton, Middleboro

Middleboro wins 4-3 thriller over Hopedale to gain Division 3 baseball title

Sam Yost slides across with the game winner for Middleboro

Sam Yost slides across with the game winner for Middleboro

Kevin Huscher celebrates his 2-run game winning hit

Kevin Huscher celebrates his 2-run game winning hit

(Lowell)  “Exciting,” wouldn’t justly describe this game.  Ask anyone who was there at sunny LeLacheur Park on Saturday morning!

Middleboro got a 2-out, 2-run walkoff single by senior Kevin Huscher to pull out a 4-3 win over Hopedale and capture the 2013 Division 3 baseball title.

Hopedale (21-4) scratched out a go-ahead run in the top of the seventh and then brought on senior Ian Strom to seal the deal.  Ian came in with a 9-1 record having K’d twelve batters in his last outing.

The sequence in the last inning elevated the tension: walk (Taylor Frazier), strikeout (Cody Braga), walk (Brandon Lavelle – Sam Yost runs for him), strikeout (Paul Sances), and walk (Neil Perry).

So you can see the pattern the inning was going in.  The outcome rested on the arm of Ian Strom and the bat of Kevin Huscher.  During the at-bat, Kevin hit a long foul fly down the rightfield line that rightfielder sophomore Kevin Lynch came close to getting.  But he didn’t, and then Kevin hit a sharp grounder up the middle.  With two outs, all runners were on the move.  Junior Taylor Frazier scored easily and pinch runner senior Sam Yost was home from second long before the throw came in.

It was clearly the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat right in front of our eyes!

Senior Alex Bean pitched two innings of relief to get the win for the Sachems (21-5).

Middleboro picked up their first run in the second inning and took a 1-0 lead.  Senior Andrew Card singled and reached second on a wild pickoff attempt by Blue Raiders starter senior Dan Mantoni.  Taylor Frazier bunted Andrew to third before sophomore Cody Braga’s sacrifice fly delivered Andrew.

Chris Embree rounds third

Chris Embree rounds third

Hopedale took the lead in the fourth with two runs, both unearned.  MHS second baseman junior Neil Perry dropped a popup and then had a hard one-hopper glance off his glove enabling Ian Strom and senior Chris Embree to score a pair of gift runs.

Dan Mantoni had limited the Sachems to three hits over five innings but in the sixth inning Middleboro got a 2-out/2 strike triple from Andrew Card to right bringing Kevin Huscher across from third tying this game at, 2-2.

Hopedale celebrates their run in the 7th inning

Hopedale celebrates their run in the 7th inning

But back came Hopedale in the seventh.  Kevin Lynch singled to deep short leading off and Luke Manoli bunted him to second.  A ground ball to short (Kevin Huscher) went well for Hopedale. Kevin tried for the runner (Kevin Lynch) at third and didn’t get him…….it was close.  Cole DeDonato followed with a slow grounder to second that allowed Kevin Lynch to give Hopedale a big one-run lead.

However, six batters later, that one-run Hopedale lead was gone as well as a chance for their first state baseball title.

2013 Division 3 champs

2013 Division 3 champs

Instead, it was Middleboro winning a second title (they won in 1997) in a dramatic way.

There were plenty of memorable plays in this game.

(1) On a single to left by Chris Embree in the second, senior Tyler D’Urso was held at third (from second) even though LF Paul Sances bobbled the ball.  Chris tried for second on the play and was thrown out on a good throw.  Might have been a run there for Hopedale.

(2) Pitcher Dan Mantoni picked Alex Bean off second (1-6) to end the Middleboro second.

(3) Sophomore Kevin Bresciani reached third with two outs but Middleboro starter Cody Younger K’d Cole DeDonato looking to end inning.

Paul Sances dives

Paul Sances dives

(4) Leftfielder Paul Sances saves a run with two straight diving catches in the fifth inning.

(5) Centerfielder Ian Strom got the tip of his glove on Kevin Huscher’s double in the sixth inning.  Kevin later scored the tying run.

On this hot day, Middleboro coach Bill Lawrence probably wasn’t unhappy to get the ice water poured over him in the post-game celebrating.

Kevin Huscher had the game of his life: a walk, a steal, scored tying run, and drove in the final two runs.

Andrew Card had two hits, an RBI, and scored a run.

Kevin Lynch paced Hopedale with two hits and a run.  And I’m sure he’d like another try at Kevin Huscher’s foul fly in the bottom of the seventh!

Hopedale coach Joe Small is retiring after twenty-four years.

No team had gotten more than two runs off of the Blue Raiders in their 12-game winning streak leading into the Middleboro game.

Ian Strom

Ian Strom

Ian Strom will be pitching for UMass Lowell in 2014.  They play their home games at LeLacheur Park, also the home of the Lowell Spinners.

Middleboro ends their season winning ten straight.  A lot of serious baseball is played in that town.  Their Little League teams have reached the state semi-finals five times since the year 2000.

Their 2008 Little League team lost in the state finals.  Taylor Frazier, Cody Braga, and Andrew Card were on that team.

LeLacheur Park is a terrific place to view and photograph a game.  The parking?  Well, not so good.  The Spinners start their home season this week.

Middleboro boxscore

Hopedale boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Ian Strom stretches out in the sixth

Ian Strom stretches out in the sixth

Kevin Huscher leaps in with tying run in sixth

Kevin Huscher leaps in with tying run in sixth

Cody Braga

Cody Braga

Middleboro starter Cody Younger

Middleboro starter Cody Younger

Kevin Huscher leaps and throws

Kevin Huscher leaps and throws

Andrew Card gets first Middleboro run

Andrew Card gets first Middleboro run

Neil Perry waits for throw

Neil Perry waits for throw

Hopedale starter Dan Mantoni

Hopedale starter Dan Mantoni

Brandon Lavelle gets bat on ball

Brandon Lavelle gets bat on ball

Tyler DUrso gets Taylor Frazier at third

Tyler DUrso gets Taylor Frazier at third

Winning pitcher Alex Bean

Winning pitcher Alex Bean

Leave a comment

Filed under Hopedale, Middleboro

Middleboro reaches D3 state finals with 10-1 win over Whittier

Middleboro starts to celebrate Division 3 semi-finals win over Whittier

Middleboro starts to celebrate Division 3 semi-finals win over Whittier

Pitcher Taylor Frasier dominated Whittier

Pitcher Taylor Frasier dominated Whittier

(Lynn)  A week ago Whittier committed five errors at Fraser Field against Newburyport in the D3 North semi-finals and still won, 6-2.

Today the Wildcats committed five errors at Fraser Field against Middleboro in the Division 3 state semi-finals and were not nearly as fortunate getting routed, 10-1, on a cloudy, drizzly Wednesday afternoon.

Middleboro (20-5) will be in Lowell on Saturday at Lelacheur Park facing Hopedale (21-3) for the D3 state title.

The Sachems had four tainted runs and a 4-1 lead before collecting five more runs in a three-error fifth inning to ice this one.

The pitching of Taylor Frazier (4 hits/7 K’s) and the tight Middleboro defense (one error) made the out-of-character performance by the Wildcats all the more noticeable.

Whittier (18-7) had won six straight before today’s game.

The Sachems have now won nine straight and eleven of their last twelve.  They are 15-2 in their last seventeen games and are averaging at least three runs each game.

The Wildcats had five errors.

The Wildcats had five errors.

The Whittier/Middleboro matchup was one in which either the bats of Whittier (27 runs in four tourney games) or the pitching of Middleboro (3 runs allowed in four tourney games) would prevail.

The Sachems pitching prevailed as junior Taylor Frasier faced only twenty-five batters which is four over the minimum.  Taylor recorded five of his seven K’s in the fifth and sixth innings.

Whittier got their run in the fourth inning.  Jaylin Deveau singled and took second on Paul Sances throwing error.  Ralph Francesconi’s single scored Jaylin.

The Sachems tallied a run (Neil Perry) in the first inning thanks to two walks and two wild pitches (starter Devan Doucette).

Middleboro added two more runs in the second inning.  An error (3B Jaylin Deveau), two steals, and a misplayed flyball to left enabled Taylor Frasier and Cody Braga to cross the plate.

Kevin Huscher

Kevin Huscher

In the third inning, Kevin Huscher singled, reached second on a fielder’s choice, and third on a wild pitch.  A sacrifice fly by Andrew Card brought Kevin home.

Three walks, three Whittier errors, and two Middleboro hits combined to give the D3 South champs five additional runs in the fifth inning.  The Wildcats turned a nice 6-4-3 double play in the inning but by then the damage was done.

Sophomore Kyle Flanagan pitched the sixth for Whittier.  Neil Perry reached on an error in that inning and was driven home by Alex Bean to garner the tenth Middleboro run.

Paul Sances and Cody Younger each had two RBI for Middleboro.  Neil Perry scored three runs and Kevin Huscher scored two runs for the winners.

Nate Frongillo, Jaylin Deveau, Ian Bates, and Ralph Francesconi had singles for the team from Haverhill.

The Wildcats had three different third basemen and each of them had an error.

Connor Manning eyes popup

Connor Manning eyes popup

Whittier had runners thrown out at first and at second.

The Wildcats were the champs of the Commonwealth Conference.

Middleboro won the Patriot Conference for the second straight year.

Middleboro boxscore

Whittier boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Alex Bean caught in a rundown

Alex Bean caught in a rundown

Neil Perry

Neil Perry

Cody Younger

Cody Younger

Kyle Flanagan

Kyle Flanagan

Andrew Card

Andrew Card

Paul Sances

Paul Sances

Andrew Wells

Andrew Wells

pregame introductions

pregame introductions

play at first

play at first

Nate Frongillo steals second

Nate Frongillo steals second

Leave a comment

Filed under Middleboro, Whittier