THE No. 19 NRHS baseball team marched on to the Div. 3 Round of 16 after their 9-2 win over No. 14 Greater New Bedford on Sunday. The Hornets played No. 3 Bishop Stang in Dartmouth on Wednesday after press time. The winner will play the winner of No. 6 Foxboro vs. No. 22 Archbishop Williams in the quarterfinals. (Eric Evans Photo)
North Reading falls to Bishop Stang 2-0 in the sweet 16 (6/7)
Hornet baseball moves on with 9-2 first round win
Published June 8, 2023
By DAN ZIMMERMAN
NEW BEDFORD – There are times when a two-hour school bus ride to a distant venue can be a miserable undertaking, but there are also those instances when the return trip is perfectly tolerable, if not downright enjoyable.
Last Sunday evening, the No. 19 North Reading Hornets thoroughly enjoyed their long bus ride home after handing No. 14 Greater New Bedford Vocational a 9-2 upset defeat in the Round of 32 in the 2023 MIAA Division 3 Baseball Tournament.
Under chilly, gray skies and the threat of rain, North Reading wasted little time introducing their offensive arsenal to their stunned host. In the top of the second inning, the Hornets churned out an 8-spot and never looked back.
“We were able to capitalize on a pair of their miscues and it led to a sizable lead,” said North Reading Coach Eric Archambault, currently 16-5 overall. “A couple of baseballs go the other way or find a glove and we’re out of that inning with just a couple of runs.”
Among other noteworthy contributions from the Hornet lineup, Aldo Vittozzi and Zach Rosatone were a combined 4-for-7 at the plate, providing key RBIs during the frenzied second frame.
“Aldo is an incredible athlete and for a coach, it’s such a luxury to have a player who is so versatile,” said Archambault. “He’s such a gamer and just wants to win.”
Down the stretch of the regular season, which featured three straight to wrap-up, the Hornets defense consistently impressed. The trend continued in New Bedford.
“At one point, we turned a double play, from (Alex) Carucci to (Ryan) Labb to (Jason) Curran that many high school ballplayers could not have managed,” said Archambault. “These kids have arm strength to spare.”
In the outfield, it was business as usual for centerfielder Ryan McGuire, leading the Hornets with nine putouts. His range once again paid dividends, allowing the coaching staff to widen the coverage with the corner outfielders, Vittozzi and Max Forristall.
“McGuire can cover everything, from gap-to-gap,” said Archambault. “He has great instincts and just flies around out there.”
Sizing up the opposition at the outset, Archambault admitted concern, particularly when he saw “some of the big bats in their dugout,” as he described it. “They had ample energy and even trailing by eight runs, they weren’t simply going to roll over.” But to offset the potent Greater New Bedford hitters, the Coach sent Dylan Matthews to the mound. It was a lot to ask of a freshman, but in important games, he had proven capable. Facing league-leading Triton in mid-May, for instance, Matthews pitched a gem, not only leading the Hornets to a 6-4 win but also snapping a two-game losing streak.
“He has the perfect mentality for this type of game,” stressed Archambault, when asked about the decision to go with a freshman in a ‘win or go home’ playoff situation. “He always wants the ball, he always wants to compete. There haven’t been too many freshmen I’ve coached at the varsity level over the years but Matthews ranks up there with some of the best.”
Matthews went the distance, keeping the Greater New Bedford bats at bay, allowing just a pair of unearned runs, one in the third inning and the other, in the seventh.
By virtue of the win over Greater New Bedford, North Reading advanced to face the No. 3-ranked Bishop Stang Spartans in the Tournament Sweet 16 on Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. in Dartmouth (results in after press time).
When asked about the prospect of yet another two-hour round trip bus journey, Archambault said, “Any time you have a long bus ride home, it’s much nicer after claiming a ‘W’. Bishop Stang is a great team. But that’s the beautiful thing about baseball. It’s not over until that 21st out is made.”