Boston High School: Nick Burns

D2 South Baseball: Milford 3, Hopkinton 1

June, 1, 2013
MILFORD, Mass. -- In a deadlocked game heading into the late stages, both Hopkinton and Milford knew any opportunity that came its way needed to be seized.

The Scarlet Hawks got such a chance in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Hillers lefty pitcher Nick Burns was doing a yeoman-like job keeping Milford's bats in check through the first five frames, holding them to just one run. But in the sixth, the junior quickly ran into problems by issuing walks to Eric Fernandes and Chris Trafecante. Recomposing himself on the mound, Burns retired the next two Scarlet Hawks and appeared destined to tightrope out of the jam.

But Mike Tracy had other ideas. Staring at a 2-2 count, the senior ripped a fastball in the gap between left and center field scoring both base runners en route to a 3-1 triumph in a first round Division 2 South matchup Friday afternoon at Fino Field.

"I came up to the plate looking to be aggressive," said Tracy, also the winning pitcher. "He left a fastball over the plate and I took advantage of it. I was just hoping it would find the gap and it did."

No. 8 seed Milford (14-7) will face top-seed Nauset (16-4) in Monday's quarterfinals at Eldredge Field in Orleans beginning at 7 p.m.

As impressive as he was at the plate, Tracy shined on the mound as well. The tall, lanky righthander, who hopes to play at Boston College next season, limited the ninth-seeded Hillers (12-9) to five hits in his complete game effort.

"Mike was huge today," Milford head coach Paul Pellegini said. "He threw strikes most of the day and we played good defense. I thought all three of our outfielders played very well. They tracked down some balls that were hit pretty hard. The top strength of our defense is our outfield. We didn't hit all that well today but that's a credit to Burns who threw his stuff very well. But we made the hits when we had to. I'm just glad this game was only seven innings."

The Scarlet Hawks fired the first salvo in their half of the second. Alex Tonkonogy walked, took second on a Robert Benjamin single and came around to score on Mike Tarolli's hard single to left. Burns (5-2/3 IP, 3 hits, 8 Ks) settled down after that, allowing zero hits over the next three frames, mixing his pitches well to keep Milford off-balanced.

"It was a wonderful high school baseball game," Hopkinton head coach Jay Golden said. "Tracy pitched a great game and his at bat in the sixth was a really good swing. That's what it was going to take against Nick because I thought he pitched his heart out as well.

"He's a smart pitcher and has been our ace since he was a sophomore. We knew Milford was an aggressive team and like to swing early in the count so we tried to focus on keeping them off-balanced as much as we could and for the most part Nick did that."

With Burns doing his job, he, along with his teammates, obliged by scoring the tying run in the top of the sixth. Andrew McMillian led things off by reaching on a throwing error and moving to second base. Two outs later, Burns singled putting runners on the corners. Sophomore Matt Decina followed by lining a single into right plating McMillian. Tracy avoided further trouble by inducing Connor Hudson to fly out to end the inning.

The momentum the Hillers had conceived by getting back into this one was brief after the Scarlet Hawks came up big in the bottom of the frame to win their first Eastern Mass. postseason game since moving over from Central Mass. at the start of the year.

Recap: Sharon 7, Pembroke 6

November, 28, 2012
BRAINTREE, Mass. -– Sharon was far from an offensive juggernaut, but was extremely opportunistic and composed when it mattered in the program's first playoff appearance last night.

Forcing a red zone fumble on a punt-return for the winning score and stuffing a late conversion attempt, Sharon (9-3) edged Pembroke (7-4), 7-6, at Braintree High to advance to the Division 3 Super Bowl, its first Super Bowl berth in school history.

The Eagles, who combined for only 20 yards in the second half, will play Wayland (9-3) on Saturday.

“We have been preaching all year for a big play to happen on special teams and we have not had it yet,” said Sharon coach Dave Morse. “They stayed in their lanes and did their job. It was their time to shine.”

Sharon's Brad Schiff forced the important fumble on a reverse attempt by Pembroke which fellow senior Tobenna Modebelu recovered on the Titans' five-yard line. Senior Sean Asnes finished a four-yard sweep two plays later for a 7-0 Sharon lead at 5:14 in the third.

“We do situational football in practice to prepare for these different situations,” said Morse. “We have a lot of good weapons on offense. They kept their composure throughout and made plays when they had to.”

With Sharon pinned on its goal line with 5:40 remaining in the game, Pembroke forced a punt to start its final drive on the Eagles' 31-yard line. Junior quarterback Corey Brandon hit a seven-yard bootleg screen-pass to teammate sophomore Jake Coughlin to cut the margin to 7-6 with 1:09 remaining.

However, a short post-pass conversion attempt by Brandon fell off the hands of fellow junior Tom Johnson.

“We faked off tackle (on the score) because defensively you have to play for the run,” said Pembroke coach Bob Bancroft. “Coughlin catches the ball he just does extra stuff with it. We always hand off on (punt returns).”

After a 48-yard punt return by senior Nick Burns put the Titans on the Eagles 32-yard line with 34.2 seconds remaining in the third quarter, an illegal substitution set Pembroke up with fourth down and goal line on the Sharon 13-yard.

Titans' Senior Brian Tinkham scrambled 12-yards on a dive play, but fell just short as he hit Sharon defensive wall along the one-yard line.

Fall of the Titans: Pembroke looked to score with four minutes left in the first quarter when junior quarterback Corey Brandon nailed senior Nick Burns for a 23-yard streak pass in the endzone. However Burns was called for a 15-yard pass interference penalty while scrapping the receiver to kill the 39-yard drive.

The Titans drove 48-yards on its next drive to reach the Eagles'12-yard-line, including a pair of option pitches to seniors Brendan Morse and Nick Burns for 15- and eight-yards, respectively. After dropping three yards on a quarterback keeper, Brandon overthrew a corner pass toward a double-covered Burns in the endzone on a fourth down and 13 yards with 1:27 left in the first half.

Repeat Mistakes: Pembroke looked to avoid the mistakes they made in the program's first playoff appearance in a 20-12 loss to Oliver Ames last year.

However they dropped 35-yards on five penalties mostly in big moments and turned the ball over twice.

“I thought we would stay away from those mistake being our second time here,” said Bancroft. “However it was not like we were committing unsportsmanlike (penalties).”

Day for the Defense: Sharon senior Sean Asnes totaled 1,020 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season, but was held to 10 carries for 34 yards and one touchdown and one catch for 21 yards.

Tinkham (1,728 rushing yards this season) was held to eight yards in the first half and took nine total carries for 46 yards.


PEM (7-4) 0 0 0 6 -- 6
SHA (9-3) 0 0 7 0 -- 7

SH -- Sean Asnes 4 run (Eric Lesser kick)
PB – Jake Coughlin 7 pass from Cory Brandon (Pass failed)