After a tough loss in the finals of the Babe Ruth District 6 Tournament on Sunday, the Norton American 13-year-old all-star baseball team was looking to get back on track when the squad returned to play in the Hockomock Summer League.
And the locals did just that on Monday night, playing a terrific all-around game in defeating Attleboro,7-1, at the David Mollica Baseball Complex at .
“The kids played a good game,” said Norton manager Jim Caramanica.
The win allowed Norton to remain undefeated in the Hockomock Summer League and move into a tie with rival Bridgewater atop the division standings.
Norton and Bridgewater are tied for first place in the Senior 13A Division with identical 7-0 records and 14 points. The two teams will battle for the top spot on Wednesday night. Norton has outscored its seven league opponents by a margin of 91-33. Walpole is third in the 10-team division with a 5-0 record and 10 points, while Mansfield stands fourth at 5-1 with 10 points. Foxborough rounds out the top five at 4-2 and eight points.
The Norton American 13-year-old team features Michael Capprini, Paul Caramanica, Keenan Coffey, Ryan DiGregorio, John Duranko, Zachary Feeney, Shinn Furakawa, Justin Ireland, Jacob John, Zachary McKenna, Cody O’Brien and Jason O’Neil.
It was a nice bounce-back win for Norton on Monday night after dropping a tough decision to Taunton in the finals of the Babe Ruth District 6 Tournament on Sunday afternoon at the .
“Going into this game (on Monday), we were hoping the kids would show some intensity,” said Caramanica. “They lacked intensity over the weekend during the district tournament. We have been focusing a lot on that of late. The kids have to play with a high level of intensity all the time. We have to improve our mental toughness. We can’t take time off during at-bats, innings or games.”
The Norton pitching trio of Furakawa, Capprini and John combined to hold Attleboro (2-6 record) to just one run over seven innings. The three pitchers allowed nine hits and walked four batters, but forced the visitors to leave eight runners on base.
Furakawa started on the mound for the locals and went the first three innings, surrendering no runs and five hits, while striking out one batter and walking one. Capprini pitched the fourth and fifth innings, allowing one run and two hits, while striking out one and walking three. John finished things up in the sixth and seventh innings. He allowed no runs and two hits.
Even though he took the loss, Ryan Gammons battled throughout the game on the mound for Attleboro. He went the distance and allowed seven runs and 13 hits. He struck out three batters, walked two and hit one.
John led the 13-hit Norton offensive attack, going 3-for-3 with two singles, a double, a stolen base and two runs scored. Duranko was also 3-for-3 with three singles, three RBI and one run scored. O’Neil went 2-for-3 with two singles, while McKenna was 2-for-3 with two singles and two RBI. Ireland had a double, walk, one RBI, two stolen bases and two runs scored. Coffey was 1-for-2 with a single and Feeney was 1-for-3 with a single. Caramanica had two stolen bases and two runs scored.
“We are hitting better this year than we have the last few years,” said Caramanica. “Our pitching has also been solid again this year.”
Norton took a 1-0 lead with a run in the bottom of the first when an RBI single to left-center field by Duranko scored Ireland. The locals went up 2-0 in the second inning when John doubled and scored on an RBI single to left field by McKenna.
Norton took control with a three-run outburst in the third. With one out, the locals had five straight batters reach base. A double to right-center by Ireland scored Caramanica.
An RBI single to center field by Duranko chased home Ireland to make it 4-0. Duranko then scored the third run of the rally when Feeney got into a rundown after singling to right field with Duranko crossing the plate before Feeney was tagged out.
Norton made it 6-0 in the fourth as John reached base on an infield single and scored on a single down the left-field line by McKenna. Attleboro got on the board with a run in the top of the fifth, but the locals answered right back with a run in the bottom of the frame to re-gain its five-run lead. A single by Duranko scored Caramanica to make it 7-1.
John then closed things out over the final two innings. The pitchers were also helped in the game by a pair of double plays turned by the Norton defense.
“Our defense has mostly been inconsistent this year, but the kids played well on defense in this game,” said Caramanica.
After getting a much-needed day off on Tuesday, Norton will head to Bridgewater-Raynham High School to battle Bridgewater on Wednesday night at 5:45 p.m.
“It should be a good game,” said Caramanica. “We always seem to have good games with them. They are usually good, hard-fought games. Bridgewater usually has good pitching and the games are always fairly close. The kids really want to make a good showing in the league. They really want to win the league title this year.”
The team will then compete in the Dighton Tournament, beginning on Thursday night.