MILFORD — The Franklin baseball team had not scored in five innings while watching Milford turn a 6-1 deficit into an extra-innings ballgame in the Massachusetts American Legion Senior Baseball Tournament. Two outs into the bottom of the eighth, it had seen six pitches and struck out twice. Up came Luke Sidwell.
Franklin’s rising senior wasted no time, placing a bunt down the third base line on the first pitch. After a hit batter, Jack Marino stepped up to the plate, and his plate-protecting swing lofted a soft liner to left that fell in front of Scott Pagliuca and sealed the 7-6 victory at Milford’s Fino Field (Franklin was the home team, as decided by a coin toss).
“Right as I was touching home I saw it land and immediately I jumped up and down with excitement,” Sidwell said. “I took one second and then sprinted out to get Marino. Top ten most exciting moments of my life right there.”
The victory leaves Franklin as the only undefeated team left in the double-elimination tournament, with finals on Thursday.
“It’s really just a credit to them, they’re a resilient bunch,” said Franklin coach Tyler Pasquarosa. “They come out every night and play as hard as possible, do everything they’re asked.”
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Franklin scored six runs with Jacob Jette, Christopher Goode, Tyler Bellan, and Jase Lyons (2) driving in runs.
James Kuczmiec pitched well with the lead, giving up three runs in five innings, but was pulled with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth. One inherited runner scored off King Phillip graduate John Silveria, the only non-Franklin High member of the team.
“He’s a bulldog,” Milford coach Steve DiVitto said. “I think he just lost it a bit at the end. We wanted to attack them a little bit more and I think we gave them too good pitches for them to jump on.”
Though Silveria held Milford escaped the jam allowing just one run, he blew the save in the next inning. Dexter Southfield rising senior Dante Pavone, who’d allowed the six earlier runs, doubled in a run, then scored on Nipmuc graduate Noah Curley’s double to tie the game.
Hopedale graduate Sean Ryan and Hopkinton’s Nicholas Paharik had combined to keep Franklin scoreless after the second inning, but Poharik couldn’t get the third out in the eighth.
“It was great,” Marino said. “I saw [the outfielders] pretty deep and [my hit] was up there pretty good off the end of the bat. It wasn’t a great piece, but I was running down first, took a look and it looked pretty good.”
Greenfield, Leominster, and Milford (all with one loss), and Franklin remain vying for the championship. All four play tomorrow, but only Franklin is guaranteed to make it to the finals on Thursday. Milford will send Hopkinton’s Andrew Gaughan to the mound.
Greenfield stayed alive with its second consecutive seventh-inning comeback and walkoff victory, 3-2, over Beverly. Mike Bassett singled home Kyle Barnes with no outs to tie the game, before David Carey’s two-out single plated fellow Greenfield alum Jacob Sak.
A seven-run fifth inning propelled Leominster past Rockland, 11-2. Sean Dutton, a 2021 Leominster graduate, scored the first two runs before Fitchburg junior Declan Bourgault and Lunenburg graduate Nicholas Ouellette got the fifth-inning rally started with singles. Every Leominster starter scored in the dominating victory.
AJ Traub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.