Monday, June 18, 2018

Franklin Puts Finishing Touches on Magical Season, Captures Super Eight Crown

By Matt Feld (@Mattyfeld612)

Brockton, Mass. – As Jake Noviello walked around the mound, the rain pouring down, he pondered back over his high school career. The Franklin ace was ready for a fairytale ending.

With the Panthers and Central Catholic tied at two in the bottom of the eighth inning, Noviello came in and struck out three consecutive hitters to leave the go-ahead run in scoring position. 

After an Evan Wendell suicide squeeze gave Franklin a one-run lead, Noviello went back to the mound and slammed the door as Franklin claimed the Super Eight title with a 3-2 win over No. 4 Central Catholic on Monday night at Campanelli Stadium.

Franklin (21-5) finished a perfect 4-0 in Super Eight play to claim its first baseball state championship since 1986.

“That’s the best possible ending I can think of,” said Noviello. “Standing out there, I reflected on my whole high school career. I just wanted to do the best for my guys behind me who gave me their best all year.”

Franklin starter Bryan Woelfel went the first seven innings, but the Raiders got to him to begin the eighth as a single and Noah Lucier double put two in scoring position with nobody out.

On came the Panthers’ ace in Noviello who generated three strikeouts to keep the game tied.

“Jake is a tremendous competitor,” said Franklin coach Zach Brown. “We really wanted this opportunity to be here. From there, we just let it all hang out. We were not going to play afraid, we wanted to be aggressive, and it worked out." 

Now with a chance to take the lead, Steve Lutazzi led with the top of the ninth with a base hit. After an errant back pick allowed Lutazzi to get all the way to third, Wendell laid down a perfectly executed suicide squeeze to give Franklin a 3-2 lead.

Trailing by a run, and down its final three outs, Dominic Keegan led off Central Catholic's share of the ninth with a walk. Three batters later, Michael Pierro grounded a single through the right side to put the tying and winning runs on base.

Noviello, however, refused to give in and picked up his fifth and final strikeout of the night with his curveball to give Franklin its first Super Eight championship.

“It was a great ending,” said Noviello. “I know I have more baseball ahead of me but it was the last time playing with my best friends so it was a special way to go out.”

Jake Macchi gave Franklin the early lead, belting a two run home run to left to put the Panthers on top 2-0.

Woelfel kept Central Catholic off the scoreboard for the first three innings, but in the fourth the Raiders got to the Franklin right-hander. Pierro walked, moved over to third, and scored on a Sean Thompson RBI double to pull Central Catholic within 2-1. Two batters later, Joe Sanchez chopped an RBI fielder’s choice to tie the score at two.

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