Boston High School: Dan Sylvia

D2 South: Case 6, Bishop Stang 5

June, 8, 2014
TAUNTON, Mass. - Despite having a young team, having battled injuries, and playing against a different level of competition, it has been business as usual for the Case softball team.

The Cardinals (18-5), who have dominated Division 3 for the past several seasons, will be playing in their first D2 South sectional final after a 6-5 victory over Bishop Stang (17-6) on Sunday afternoon at Jack Tripp Field.

“For a team with just one varsity [player] returning and the injuries that we’ve had…it’s amazing,” said Case coach Don DiBiasio.

He added, “The girls are stepping it up, you know. They’re a small school playing with the big girls and they’re handling it well. The South Coast Conference is a strong conference and they play up all year.”

Case jumped into the lead in the bottom of the first. Allison DiCesare led-off with a walk and moved to third on a base hit by Jenna Santerre. After a groundout, DiCesare would come home on a hard hit grounder that bounced off the shoulder of Stang shortstop Madison Machado.

The Cardinals added another run in the second and again it came after a walk to the leadoff hitter. Kaitlyn Kopecky drew the free pass and Julean Newman reached on a fielder’s choice as she attempted to bunt. Ellie Roberts dropped down a perfect bunt and then Kopecky scored on a sac fly by DiCesare.

Both teams struggled at times in the field and errors would get Stang back into the game in the top of the third. MacKenzie Shurtleff singled to start the inning and Addison Landry dropped down a bunt to mover her into scoring position. The throw to first got away allowing Shurtleff to come all the way around and then the throw back in was wild and Landry was able to come home and tie the game.

“The nerves got the best of them,” said DiBiasio. “They played the last five games with errorless ball, so to give up four unearned runs was unacceptable. Hopefully, tomorrow night the bugs will be out of them and they’ll come back and play errorless ball.”

Stang benefited from errors to get back in the game, but an error in the bottom of the third gifted Case a pair of runs to regain the lead. The first two hitters reached -- one on an error and the second from a walk. After Stang pitcher Hannah Carvalho got the lead runner at third twice, she struck out Kopecky, but the ball got away from the catcher and the inning continued.

Newman, the No. 8 hitter in the Case lineup, made Stang pay for the mistake with a single that drove in a pair of runs.

“Our youth showed today; we made some mistakes,” said Stang coach Dan Sylvia. “Maybe it was nerves or maybe the game was too big for them today. It’s a good learning experience for next season.”

DiBiasio was thrilled with the contributions from the bottom of the order. The bottom three hitters accounted for two RBI and scored three runs.

DiBiasio said, “They’ve been doing it all year long…helping us out making the runs go across [and] hitting the ball hard. They’ve been working hard.”

Stang got another unearned run in the fourth inning to make it 4-3 and it stayed that way into the top of the sixth. Machado (2-for-4, two runs scored) led off the inning with a double to left. Two batters later, with Machado at third, Courtney Carroll came through with a two-out single to tie the game again.

Case came right back in the bottom half with a pair of runs. A lead-off walk to Kopecky would be the spark. Newman bunted her into scoring position and Roberts was hit by a pitch. DiCesare drove in her second RBI of the game with a single to left. After a great sliding catch by junior captain Lindsey Florent in left, pitcher Leslie Denis helped her own cause with an RBI single.

“She was keeping us off-balance, keeping everything outside, and changing it up but the kids were on her all day, so I knew they would keep hitting her,” said DiBiasio about the response from his team in the sixth.

In the top of the seventh, Stang had its chance to keep the season alive. An error allowed Florent, who reached on a fielder’s choice, to score and make it 6-5. With runners at second and third and the heart of the order at the plate, Denis induced a pop-up to third from Machado and a grounder from Ferreira to send the Cardinals to another sectional final.

“When we needed a hit, typically we’d get it -- unfortunately not today,” said Sylvia. “We had plenty of opportunities at the end but unfortunately we didn’t do much with it. When your four [hitter] pops up and five [hitter] grounds out to end the game…that’s tough.”

When asked what his message was to his team heading into the seventh, DiBiasio smiled and responded, “Just get the outs; we just need three outs. Again, they played a little sloppy but they managed to pull through it.”

Case will play Bellingham in the D2 South final on Monday night at 7 p.m. at Jack Tripp Field in Taunton.

Recap: No. 11 Apponequet 9, No. 13 Stang 7

May, 21, 2014
DARTMOUTH, Mass. - For the second day in a row, Apponequet got the better of Bishop Stang in a match-up of league champions and Division 2 rivals, but Wednesday’s game was very different from the first meeting, according to Lakers coach Bob Huckabee.

“We played yesterday -- a battle of two heavyweights here in Southeastern Mass. -- and it was a softball game with bunting and running and everything,” he said about Tuesday’s 3-1 win. “Today, it was like round two of a heavyweight fight and everyone came out swinging for the knockout.”

On Wednesday in Dartmouth, the Lakers (16-2) overcame a four-run deficit after the first inning and stormed back to win 9-7 in a slugfest to sweep the season series behind a three-RBI day from Jill Miller and four strikeouts in a complete game from pitcher Sarah Eugenio.

“[It’s] a very satisfying win for us; these are those kind of statement games,” Huckabee said. “Down 4-0 early in the game and [Sarah’s] throwing well but they’re just dropping in and dropping in. It’s not like we were playing that bad -- they just kept dropping hits in.”

After a pop-up to begin the bottom of the first, the next six Spartans (15-4) would reach base. Nicole Vachon (1-for-2, RBI) would draw a walk and Hannah Carvalho followed with a single. Madison Machado loaded the bases with another hit then Miranda Ferreira got Stang on the board with a two-run double. Allie Thomas and Courtney Carroll each knocked in runs with singles, before Eugenio got out of the inning.

Bishop Stang coach Dan Sylvia said, “We started out and took advantage of a couple mistakes that they made and put four runs up on the board, which was the perfect start after the loss that we had yesterday.”

The lead would not last long, as the Lakers responded with four runs in the top of the second. Singles by Alee Wright, who picked up the win on Tuesday, and Eugenio got the inning started and both moved up on a groundout. An error on a grounder by Mackenzie Gomes would bring both runners around to score and cut the lead in half.

Lexi Valentin singled Gomes to third and stole second and leadoff hitter Kylie Barroso (3-for-4) picked up her second hit in as many innings to bring home both runners and tie the game.

“I was proud of the way that we answered,” said Huckabee. “We got down 4-0 and came right back and scored four so it was a whole new game. Then [Sarah] settled in and relaxed a little bit. I told her that this was one of the best games I’ve seen her pitch.”

The game would stay tied until the top of the fourth. With two outs, Barroso singled and then went first to third on a base hit by freshman Grace Boehler. Miller followed with a double to center that just bounced over the glove of the diving Carroll to score both runners. Jess DuBois singled to score Miller and make it 7-4.

Stang got one back in the bottom of the inning, but the Lakers tacked on two runs in the fifth. Eugenio walked and Gomes hit a grounder to short but the throw to second to get the lead runner ended up in right field. Valentin singled to get one run home and, after the bases were loaded, Miller would get a painful RBI when she was hit by a pitch to bring home the ninth run.

“The advantage they had too was they saw my pitcher two days in a row,” Sylvia said. “Hannah’s our ace and every time she goes out there we expect her to do the job. Unfortunately, we made some more uncharacteristic errors and mental mistakes…we have to do a better job of that.”

Huckabee said, “[Carvalho] threw a complete game yesterday against us, so we knew that she would get tired if we waited around a little bit longer and she left a couple pitches up that she normally doesn’t…and we put some good swings on them and hit the ball hard.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Lindsey Florent led-off with a triple to right center and would score when Vachon smacked a grounder through the right side. However, Valentin charged the ball and fired to first to get Vachon for the first out of the inning.

“I just pulled her in a couple steps…and we get the out,” said Huckabee. “That changed the whole game because he gets a run but we’re taking outs off the board and now he can’t come up and bunt, bunt and he can’t give away any outs.”

Stang would get one more in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single by Meaghan Shurtleff, but Eugenio got a grounder to short to end the game.

Despite the defeat, Sylvia, whose team won the South sectional as the No. 13 seed last year, saw the two games against Apponequet as good buildup to another run in the tournament.

He said, “This becomes a learning experience for the girls. Seedings mean nothing; we showed that last year -- it’s how you’re playing when you enter the tournament. “

Stang wraps up its season on Thursday against Old Rochester, while Apponequet will face Dartmouth in the first round of the Peter Looney Grand Slam Tournament (with the potential to play No. 1 Silver Lake in the championship game).