Franklin Baseball Pushes Further this Season

By Christopher Tremblay Staff Sports Writer
Solid pitching and defense are what earned Franklin baseball the number one seed in the Division One South bracket this year, says Coach Zach Brown.
Issue Date: 
July, 2017
Article Body: 

Over the past four years, the Franklin baseball team has averaged 13.5 wins per season as they ventured into the Division 1 South Tournament. As the number four seed in 2015 tournament, the Panthers went all the way to the Semi Finals before finally getting eliminated. This year Franklin, who went 17-5 during the regular season, was awarded the number one seed in the Division 1 South bracket.
“I was cautiously optimistic that we could have a special season,” Franklin Coach Zach Brown said. “But we would still need things to break our way.”
Having starting catcher Tyler Gomes go down with a knee injury prior to the season didn’t bode well for the Panthers. The senior had been stationed behind the plate the past two years (platooning his sophomore campaign and owning the job outright last year as a junior). Unfortunately,when the season got under way in April Brown found out that his catcher was not going to be able to play the position this spring.
With Gomes settling in as the Panthers DH, sophomore catcher Jake Macchi got the call behind the plate, leaving the Coach a little worried.
“Any coach who loses his starting senior catcher and is forced to go with an unproven sophomore, there is some apprehension,” Brown said. “Jake did a great job for us; he was given the opportunity, and he ran with it. He’s handled this veteran staff quiet well despite his age.”
As his senior catcher watched from the bench, the newcomer took control of the pitching staff comprised of junior right hander Jake Noviello (6 wins), junior left hander Jason Ulrickson (7 wins) and Bryan Woelfel (3 wins and 4 saves). Woelfel not only saw spot starts but was also the Panthers closer. According to Brown, Noviello and Ulrickson were both competitors who pushed one another in a healthy competition.
“We are fortunate enough to have three guys who can take the ball and give us good performances,” the coach said.
Having the pitching depth is key as the Panthers exercise the right to add two exclusion teams to their regular season, giving Franklin a regular season of 22 games instead of the normal 20. Having two extra games on their dockets also makes it a little harder to get into the tournament as the team now needs 11 wins.
“The exclusion games don’t usually count in your tournament record,” the Franklin Coach said. “But I look at it in a different way – if we’re going to play those games, they should count. In addition, those games, I look at it from a player’s perspective; do the players want to extend their season? Of course they do.”
In addition to their extra regular season contests, the Franklin coach likes to incorporate challenging games when he schedules his non-league games. He also believes that playing in the Hockomock League, which is an under-rated league in his mind, is tough top to bottom.
Offensively the Panthers were led by seniors Jake Lyons, the team’s leadoff hitter who scored 19 runs in 22 games and Ryan Hodgkins, a well-rounded threat. The two outfielders are both disruptive once on the base paths.
Josh Macchi, the team’s first baseman and cleanup hitter, led the team in RBI, while sophomore shortstop Alex Haba had a breakout season hitting .360 and senior second baseman Cam Lupin put together a solid campaign.
As the Panthers look toward the State Tournament, Brown knows that they have to continue to find a way to get on base and advance the runners around the bases.
“We’re not a homerun built team. Our motto is solid pitching and defense; that’s what wins you games every day; bats come and go,” Brown said. “Seedings mean nothing in my opinion, it’s just a reflection of how you played during the regular season. You just need to go out and play a good clean game and control what you can.”
After securing the number one seed in the Division 1 South Tournament Franklin took out Marshfield 6-1 in the first round, but were then upset by number 8 seed Durfee 15-3 to end their season.