Nic Notarangelo received some inspirational words from his Taunton teammates before stepping to the plate in the most crucial moment of Wednesday’s Division 1 state semifinal. Beaming from the boost of confidence, the junior came through, lining a walk-off single to right field to give Tigers a 6-5 win in nine innings over North champion Lincoln-Sudbury at Alumni Field in Lowell.
The Tigers (20-7) advance to play Shrewsbury in Saturday’s state title game at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.
“They were telling me that there was no one better,” Notarangelo said. “The fact they have confidence in me, gave me confidence. We are the most passionate team I know. We fight to the last out and you can’t count us out.”
The No. 4 seed from the South sectional, Taunton overcame a pair of deficits. Lincoln-Sudbury took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first on James Dillon’s RBI hit. But the Tigers answered in the home half on a two-run homer from Logan Lawrence that made it 3-3.
Trailing 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Taunton rallied again as Evan Melo executed a safety squeeze to tie it 5-5. Lawrence then fired four scoreless innings in relief of ace Jack Moynihan (5 innings, 3 earned runs, 6 strikeouts), setting the stage for Notarangelo’s decisive hit in the ninth, which scored Ty Cali from second.
“We don’t give up,” Taunton coach Blair Bourque said. “They have great camaraderie and they cheer for each other. It’s fun to be able to coach a team that isn’t selfish. It’s tough to beat a team that doesn’t quit.”
Division 3 State
Medway 5, Bishop Fenwick 1 — Days after the Mustangs (17-6) took home the program’s first sectional title, seniors Justin Pratt and Eli Joyce-Vorce dazzled on the mound. The pair helped punch a ticket to Saturday’s Division 3 state title game against Taconic at LaLacheur Park in Lowell.
“We are psyched. We are pumped up,” Pratt said. “This is the first time we have made it to a state championship, or even this round.”
The Mustangs entered the South sectional tournament as the seventh seed, but have ridden their pitching on their historic run.
The Mustangs staff has yielded two total runs in the tournament.
On Wednesday, Pratt had a healthy 3-0 cushion against the Crusaders before he even took the mound, thanks to his own run-scoring single and another from senior Trent Flood.
Bishop Fenwick (18-7) cut into the lead on an RBI double from Cory Bright to center in the bottom of the fourth.
Junior Matt Peterson added a two-run single in the seventh for insurance, and Joyce-Vorce shut the door in the final two innings.
“[These kids] are tough. They are a tough group of guys,” said Medway coach Mike Coppinger. “We knew Justin was going to give everything he had, and having Eli come in is always a nice weapon.”
Division 4 State
Manchester Essex 7, St. John Paul II 3 — Harry Painter was sidelined his entire junior season at Manchester Essex with an elbow injury. Earlier this season, he faced a limited workload. Now back at full strength, the 6-foot-2 righthander guided the Hornets to the D4 state final with a semifinal win over St. John Paul II at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton. Manchester-Essex (19-5) draws Tahanto Regional in Saturday’s final at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.
“I feel outstanding,” Painter said. “I couldn’t feel better right now. I'm so happy for myself and my team.”
Painter, the MVP of the Cape Ann League’s Baker Division, limited the Lions (22-3) to two runs on three hits over five innings, walking two and striking out 10 in addition to hitting two batters. He got SJPII to leave a runner in scoring position in four of his five innings, including the fifth, when the Lions scored two runs off Painter.
The Hornets never trailed, pushing two runs across in the top of the first inning on a Dylan Wilson RBI single and a Michael Quill sacrifice fly to left.
Karl Capen also reported from Lowell, and Jake Levin from Brockton.