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Franklin - Local Town Pages

FHS Nine Learned Valuable Life Lessons in Tourney

The 2022 Franklin High baseball team that finished second in the Division 1 State Tournament.

Staff Sports Writer
Losing in a state tourney final game is never easym and to lose in a baseball playoff final by a 2-1 score can be emotional and painful. 
The late Vince Lombardi, who coached the Green Bay Packers to triumphs in the first two Super Bowls, not only put a high priority on winning, but he went so far to say: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.’’ At the professional level, that’s a very acceptable quote.
Zach Brown, Franklin High’s baseball coach for the last eight years, regards winning as important, but he puts his team’s 2-1 loss to Taunton in the state final last month in perspective — a real life perspective.
“It’s not always about winning trophies that collect dust,’’ Brown emphasized. “It’s about building relationships, enjoying the camaraderie of the locker room and embracing the journey that, win or lose, ends with emotions.’’
Lombardi was a pro football coach; Brown is a high school coach. The pressure to win infiltrates both levels, but Brown, who guided the Panthers to a state championship in 2018, is dealing with student-athletes who compete as unpaid amateurs at the purest level. He knows where his emphasis needs to go.

 Franklin coach Zach Brown once again guided the Panthers to another deep run in the playoffs.

“We use baseball to build habits for success,’’ he said. “It’s about learning life lessons like overcoming adversity, developing mental toughness, building team chemistry and learning to be a leader. It’s not about being judged by wins and losses. That’s hollow. What’s valuable is to teach baseball correctly and help players learn life lessons.’’
The loss to Taunton obviously was painful for the players, for fans and for parents and relatives of the players. But, it’s not like the 2022 Franklin varsity failed. Far from it. 
Consider these achievements — a 23-4 record (the most wins in Brown’s eight-year tenure); a third straight Kelly-Rex Division championship; and a 20-game winning streak that began after the squad went 3-3. 
The Panthers’ baseball program has plenty of tradition, and Brown firmly believes his  squad added to the school’s success. “This team had high-character guys and quality leaders who achieved a lot and set high standards in practice and games,’’ he emphasized. “Their off-the-field standards also added big-time to Franklin’s tradition.’’
The starting lineup consisted of centerfielder Ryan Gerety, second baseman Jack Marino, left fielder Chris Goode, first baseman Evan Raider, shortstop Henry DiGiorgio, D-H Jase Lyons, right fielder Eisig Chin, third baseman Ben Jarosz, and catcher Joe Tirrell.
“Our lineup was relentless,’’ Brown said. “Of the nine players, seven hit over .300, the team’s batting average was .345 and they scored 199 runs. It was a strong lineup that competed in a variety of ways.’’
Franklin’s pitching had a one-two-three punch. Lefty Jacob Jette and right-hander Alfred Mucciarone started with James Kuczmiec serving as an occasional starter. More often, he worked as the Panthers’ closer. Jette was 8-2 and had an E.R.A. of 0.97; Mucciarone was 6-1 with an E.R.A. of 2.04; and Kuczmiec went 5-1, had 2 saves and posted an E.R.A. of 0.68.
“All three were tremendous competitors,’’ Brown said. “They overwhelmed the strike zone, attacked hitters and kept our defense active. They gave us a chance to win every game.’’
Seniors who started were Marino (tri-captain), Goode (tri-captain), Raider, Tirrell, Jette (tri-captain), and Kuczmiec.
Brown knows how valuable they were, but he also was acutely aware of the value of six other seniors who contributed when called on. They included pitcher Aidan Langmeyer, catcher Brendan McCormack, pitcher Ethan Voellmicke, first baseman Evan Rossi, outfielder Jacob Crisileo, and third baseman Michael Luccini. “These seniors worked hard every day, they were unselfish, they provided energy and helped to build team chemistry,’’ Brown said.
The Panthers’ tourney run included two shutouts and three close games. Franklin opened with a 14-0 rout of Lexington; a 3-2 triumph over Chelmsford; a 5-0 shutout of Bridgewater-Raynham; and a 4-3 victory over Shrewsbury in the state semifinal. The 2-1 loss to Taunton snapped a 20-game win streak. Ryan MacDougall’s solo home run to right field in the sixth inning was the difference on June 18 at LeLacheur Park in Lowell. 
“Some games were close, some weren’t,’’ Brown noted. “The tourney isn’t about style points, it’s about advancing. We faced very good teams, and they gave us their best effort. Before losing to Taunton, we were playing top-notch baseball. Our lineup was deep, we had good pitching and we played solid defense. I’m proud of the way we competed and pulled for one another.’’
The 43-year-old Brown is 8-for-8 in qualifying for the playoffs. And, he sees no reason why that streak might stop.
“Our future should be bright,’’ he said. “Our sub-varsity program is strong, and although we lose 12 seniors, we’ve got 13 players returning who gained valuable experience. We’ll be competitive again as long as they do what’s needed — like participating in the strength and conditioning program and playing summer baseball.’’
When the 2-1 final result was official and Franklin’s hopes for another crown dashed, Brown heard encouraging words from his parents. His father, Don, will be in his second stint at UMass-Amherst this fall as the college’s head football coach. “My mother and father said they were proud of Franklin High’s achievements, and they provided me with uplifting words because I felt I had let the community down,’’ Brown said.
Tri-captain Jack Marino, however, summed up the season in a very classy way. Brown recalled Marino’s words: “Jack said I love our players and our coaching staff. I couldn’t have had a better experience.’’
Brown concluded, saying: “All the players were emotional. Their concern for their teammates was genuine and their emotions said a lot about the program. That’s a great measure of success.
Indeed it is.