Coming into the season, a tournament berth for the seemed like a goal that would be hard to reach according to many experts.
But, Stoughton was able to overcome the critics, and a 1-5 start, and earn a berth in the MIAA state tournament Monday afternoon when they defeated , 4-1.
With the win, the Black Knights are 9-4 in their last 13 games, improving to 10-9 overall. The team is assured of finishing the season with a record of at least .500 and tied for second place in the Hockomock League's Davenport Division. Stoughton had to reach at least one of these thresholds to qualify.
Junior Mike Dixon pitched yet another near-flawless game for Stoughton, as he earned his first win of the season, despite an ERA under 1.00. Dixon pitched all 7 innings only allowing one run to the Bulldogs.
The offense got off to a hot start when Dixon himself hit an RBI single, driving in Jamie Connors, to give him his first run of run support on the season in the bottom of the second.
Canton tied the game 1-1 in the top of the third.
But, Stoughton was able to capitalize on some Canton mistakes, had some timely bunting from sophomore Zach Gibb, and had some heads-up base running. The team scored three times in the fifth with Will McGrath, Mike Gallagher and pinch runner Michael Milavec crossing the plate, pushing the lead to 4-1.
Junior Captain Pat Jackman was pleased with his teams performance.
"This game is the true definition of Stoughton baseball. Good hitting, great pitching and most importantly great defense is what propelled us into the tournament today, and we are going to need to keep it up in order to make a deep run."
Gallagher, a sophomore, reflected on the adversity his team overcame this year.
"Not many people picked us to be a good team. We are not a team that gets a whole lot of attention, but we like it that way. We are a team that no one is going to want to face come tournament time."
"These kids really came together and worked hard. They played great ball," coach Mike Armour added. "Hopefully we have the type of team that can not only make the tourney, which is done now, which feels great, but hopefully make some noise in the tourney."
The Knights will look to move up in the seedings when they travel to North Attleboro for the Hockomock crossover Wednesday afternoon.
Stoughton Patch editor Jeffrey Pickette contributed reporting.