With Franklin trailing, 2-1, in the second inning, Jake Fitzgibbons dug into the batter’s box.
Facing Walpole High senior Matt Donato, a 6-foot-2-inch Tufts commit, Fitzgibbons knew he needed to swing at any scent of a strike. Eyeing a fastball over the plate, the sophomore righthanded-hitter smacked a double deep to left field at Franklin High, plating two runs and propelling the top-ranked Panthers to a 6-2 nonleague baseball win over No. 7 Walpole Friday afternoon.
“He hadn’t thrown me a strike all at-bat, so I was waiting for that first-pitch strike,” said Fitzgibbons. “He threw me a pitch right down the middle and I had to go with the pitch.
“The hit put us back in the game and got us all fired up.”
The Rebels (4-2) had taken a 2-0 lead on a pair of two-out RBI singles from junior Will Jarvis and senior Matt Falvey. Donato retired his first three batters of the game, but surrendered back-to-back singles to start the second.
With one out, sophomore Dan Markowski lined a run-scoring single to center field for the first Panther run, setting the stage for the double by Fitzgibbons.
Fitzgibbons pitched into the fourth inning, handing a 3-2 lead to junior Will Pacheco, who allowed just one baserunner the final 3⅓ innings, striking out three.
“It’s really easy to pitch with these guys behind you,” said Pacheco. “Our defense is the best of the best. Ground balls get fielded and put out real easy. Pitching with that support gets you real confident.”
The Panthers loaded the baseds in the fourth before JB Floris singled in two more runs for a 5-2 cushion. In the sixth, Franklin scored its final run on a groundout by Joe Lizotte. Pacheco ended the game with a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out the final batter.
“When you’re going to play a team like Walpole, they’re outstanding and we knew they could beat us in a whole lot of ways,” said Franklin coach Zach Brown. “But we were able to counter with a lot of opportunities of our own. Will did a great job of shutting it down for us and a great outing out of the [bullpen].”
Arlington 7, Watertown 0 — Drew Malatesta threw a complete-game, one-hitter and Adam Bowler had 3 hits and 4 RBIs for the Spy Ponders (2-2).
North Andover 9, Billerica 4 — Senior Jake McElroy went 3-for-3 with 4 RBIs for the Scarlet Knights (5-0).
Sandwich 8, East Bridgewater 7 — Pinch-runner Wes Horan scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh as the Blue Knights walked it off over East Bridgewater.
Malden 10, Greater Lawrence 6 — Christian Monahan-DaSilva struck out 12 in his complete game effort while Billy Stickney finished 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs as the Golden Tornadoes advanced to the championship round of the Chris Serino Memorial Tournament against East Boston.
Dighton-Rehoboth 8, Case 7 — Senior Zach Lyne drove in two runs on two hits to help lead the Falcons (2-3) over the Cardinals in a South Coast League tilt.
Lawrence Academy 5, Winchendon 2 — Junior James Broderick logged two doubles and two RBIs to lead the Spartans (4-1).
Thayer 13, Providence Country Day 2 — Senior Mark Monahan went 2-for-3 with a home run and 4 RBIs for the Tigers (6-3).
Cohasset 13, Scituate 5 — Down by five, the Skippers (4-3) rallied to score 13 unanswered runs, including seven in the sixth inning. Senior Mark Mahoney capped the scoring with a three-run homer.
Amesbury 8, Masconomet 7 — The Indians (3-0) staved off a late comeback effort as the Chieftains scored six times in the bottom of the seventh but fell just short. Emma DiPietro went 3-for-4 with 3 runs and 4 stolen bases for Amesbury and Liv Delong picked up the winning RBI in the 6th inning.
Dartmouth 10, Brockton 3 — Lindsey Oliveira went 4-for-5 to lead the Indians (4-1).
Dighton-Rehoboth 6, Case 3 — Andrea Braga, Eliana Raposo, and Kyleigh McGreevey all had two hits and an RBI for the Falcons (6-1).
North Andover 2, Billerica 1 — Alyssa Roderick had both RBIs, including a run-scoring single in the bottom of the 7th, for the Scarlet Knights (3-2).
Plymouth North 5, Hanover 2 — Jenna Crowell went 2-for-3 with 4 RBIs, including a three-run home run in the first inning and a solo shot in the seventh for the Eagles (5-0).
Taunton 2, Pittsfield 1 — Payton Ceglarski drove in both runs for the Tigers (7-0) and pitcher Kelsey White tossed seven innings scattering four hits to extend Taunton’s winning streak to 28 games.
Methuen 24, Lawrence 0 — Sophomore Steph Tardugno threw three innings of scoreless relief, striking out six. She also went 4 for 6 at the plate with 2 runs for the Rangers (3-1). Coach Jason Smith earned his 200th career win.
Apponequet 9, Fairhaven 8 — Senior Abby Moynihan scored four goals, including the winner with seven minutes remaining, to lift the Lakers (4-0).
Framingham 9, Grafton 5 — Junior Georgia Parker and freshman Olivia Robitaille each tallied three goals and an assist for the Flyers (1-6) and senior goalie Hannah Carroll made 10 saves.