Erie wins heat battle 6-4 vs Portland

Quincy Nieporte homered twice for the Erie Seawolves
Trying to awaken the princess

(Portland) You want hot?

That was Hadlock Field Sunday afternoon during the end-of-series Eastern League game between Portland and Erie.

The temperatures were in the 90’s and there were plenty of very warm empty metal seats.

The Sea Dogs dropped the game, 6-4, as their relief pitching betrayed them.  Sounds like a certain major league team south of here, doesn’t it.

I was planning to get my first look at two newcomers to Portland: Ceddane Rafaela and Nick Northcut.  I also wanted another look at the Eastern League’s top base stealer, David Hamilton.

David Hamilton

None of them were in the starting lineup!

But I knew them by number and figured out which ones they were as they sat in the dugout.  I probably got better shots of them in the dugout than I would have in the field.

It was the last game of a six-game series so I shouldn’t have been surprised by some backups getting some playing time.

Pitcher Ty Madden made his AA debut for Erie. Ty was drafted in the first round by the Tigers last year.

Ty went 4 2/3 innings before being pulled.  He gave up three earned runs, on four hits including two homers.  He did strike out six Sea Dogs.

Stephen Scott homered for Portland

Catcher Stephen Scott went deep for the Sea Dogs as did Izzy Wilson.  I was interested in how the home team would celebrate the homer in the Portland dugout.  What they did was teammates put a UMass football helmet on Stephen as he entered the dugout which he wore as he worked his way thought the dugout.

Quincy Nieporte homered twice for Erie.  His homers in the 7th and 8th innings were responsible for the two-run separation at the game’s end.

Quincy (27) was one of those fill-the-roster older players given, in this case, a chance to compete by Detroit. He has run with the opportunity currently leading the EL in homers (26) and RBI (69). 

Quincy was up early in this game with the bases loaded and two outs and sent Portland LF Wil Dalton to the warning track.  Later in the game, the Sea Dogs weren’t as lucky!

Christian Koss

Christian Koss has been Portland’s best player this season.  His numbers get your attention. He leads the team in five offensive categories.  The 24-year-old is an infielder who can hit.  I would expect him to get promoted to Worcester (AAA) soon.  He’s earned it.

Had trouble figuring out Slugger today.  Was he a prince or a princess?  The Sleeping Beauty routine would suggest princess, at least for this afternoon.

In the race with the youngster, Slugger was in costume wearing a skirt.  I promise you; you can’t do your best running when you’re encumbered with a bulky outfit.  The race today was never close.  Once they passed second base, the kid was long gone.  Slugger, as he sometimes does, took a very wide turn between second and first, and gave the outcome away entirely in the process.

How can Slugger be competitive in that outfit?

Slugger, however, does seem to be in good shape, so a win in the future is possible.  However, he can’t show up in a bulky costume and expect much.

I got into a seat just behind home plate and the backstop to get some shots of Ty Madden.  Those metal seats were nearly at the “grill” level!  I was wearing long pants, thankfully.

Ty Madden made his first AA start. Detroit picked him in the first round last year
Ty Madden sets to throw to first

I met an adult male on the elevator coming down from the sky-view seats.  He was wearing a baseball glove and I asked him how that had worked out for him.  I’m thinking he’ll tell me about catching a foul ball. He said he had it to protect his family from foul balls.  He reported that someone up there today had gotten hit in the face!  There isn’t much of a warning in those foul balls and they come fast.

Couldn’t have been happier afterwards to find a free-sample truck in front of Hadlock Field giving out ice cream sandwiches.  Perfect ending to my visit to a Sea Dogs’ game!

Thanks, as always, to Chris Cameron for arranging my visit. 

This coming Monday-Sunday will have Richmond at Hadlock.  They are in the San Francisco Giants farm system.

The price at Hadlock is always right.  Well worth a visit.

Wilyer Abreu steals second base

Wenceel Perez with Coach Gabe Alvarez in home run trot

Parker Meadows takes a cut

Nick Northcut and friend

Jon Rosoff leads off second base

Dillon Dingler

Daniel Cabrera after driving in two runs

Dane Myers slides into third base

Christian Koss

Ceddane Rafaela

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Ruben Sanca wins YH ten-mile race

Ruben Sanca (10-mile winner 2022)

(2022 Yankee Homecoming Road Races)

(Newburyport) One runner knew the course.

The other runner didn’t.

Those facts turned out to be significant as Ruben Sanca navigated the familiar (to him) Yankee Homecoming 10-mile course to his third straight victory.

Ezra Mutai

Meanwhile, Ezra Mutai, who finished second, had heard about the course and had seen a video of the route. 

The inexperience with the course influenced this excellent runner as he covered the same 10-mile course on Tuesday night.

Ezra, from Springfield and a former student/runner at American International College, took second but it was a distant second.

Ruben finished at 51:02 while Ezra finished at 52:27.

I like to start my race coverage at the one-mile point, which is down near Federal Street.

A look at this picture tells you that Ezra was in the lead at one mile and looking strong.

Ruben and Ezra one mile into the 10-miler

“The early going was good,” Ezra told me post-race. 

Ruben was close behind, however, and biding his time.  He told the PA announcer afterwards that he just tried methodically to gain a little bit of ground as the race progressed.

Then came the hills.

“Around eight miles it was too hilly,” recalled Ezra.  “That was the toughest place. I knew about the hills, but I had never run them.”

Ruben Sanca crosses first

Ruben, from Salisbury (MA), often runs the streets of Newburyport and knew what to expect. On those hills was where Ruben took the lead and built on it the rest of the way. 

“This was my first 10-mile race,” explained Ezra.  “I usually run shorter distances.  I’m working toward doing a half marathon.”

Ezra told me that he plans to give the Yankee Homecoming 10-miler another try next year.  “Next time I’ll know better what to expect,” he said with a smile.

Women’s ten-mile winner, Emilee Risteen, also had limited knowledge of the course.

“All I knew was that there were hills through the middle,” she said afterwards.

Emilee (Derry NH) started fast and left all her competition in the dust early.  There were no women to chase and there were no challengers to worry about.

At one mile, Emilee Risteen is keeping pace with Jack Chambers who finished 6th overall

Emilee (1:03.10) crossed with a time of 1:03.10., four minutes ahead of Beth Dollas (Amesbury) who finished second.

Emilee Risteen wins the women’s 10-miler
Emilee with her time in the background

“I was going for a time,” Emilee said, “but didn’t get it.  We’ll just pick it up and keep trying.”

“I learned about Mile Three that I couldn’t go for what I wanted,” she added.  “I then had to readjust and play it smart so that I could finish strong.”

Emilee was 11th overall of 650 runners in the 10-mile event.

Emilee graduated from Moody Bible Institute (Chicago IL) and has been coaching at Concord Christian Academy in New Hampshire.

My strategy of seeing both races one mile into each of them always prevents me from seeing the end of the 5K race.

My positioning, however, allows me to see the leaders of both races about a mile into each race.  Almost without fail, the leaders then win the races or come close.

The Walsh brothers (Joseph & Timothy) from Auburn (MA) dominated the 5K race.  They were one-two at the one-mile mark.

Joseph Walsh chased by his brother (Timothy) and Justin Freeman in the 5K

Justin Freeman did separate them by the end of the race.  Justin won the 10-mile race a few years ago when the end of the race was near the stadium entrance.

Yvonne Bungei and Betsy Suda were close at one mile, but it was Yvonne (18:48) edging Betsy (18:57) for the win in the women’s 5K. 

Betsy Suda and Yvonne Bungai after a mile in the 5K

Betsy has been the 5K women’s winner several times.  She may have defeated Yvonne in 2019.

The idea of starting the race at 6PM always assumes that things will be cooling down as the race takes place.  It never seems to work.  As Mark Twain said, “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it!”

Additional pictures from the two races:

Paul DeRosa and Chris O’Donnell

Steve Dowsett (4th)

Ezra Mutai

Kulicki’s finish the 5K

Emilee Risteen after one mile

Ruben Sanca at one mile

Barbara Lopes (Lynnfield) cheers on Ezra and Ruben

5K dribbler

Anna Affolter

Luke Devin (Danvers) and Joe Rand (Haverhill) in the 5K

5K winner Joseph Walsh

Emilee Risteen signals to her friends

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Breeanna Spaulding wins Ladies Feature

Breeanna Spaulding wins the Ladies Feature

(Oxford) Breeanna Spaulding has won a lot of Ladies Features at Oxford Plains Speedway.

This season the 28-year-old picked up where she left off winning three of the first four races.

But suddenly things changed, and Breeanna hadn’t won in over a month.

However, last night the also-rans ended, and it was time for that long-awaited victory lap.

“I was driving a different car tonight,” said Breeanna after the race.  “The other one had been running badly, and we finally found out why.  In the hold in the fuel tank there was plastic still in it.”

The different car made last night’s race a pleasant one.

Maddy Herrick and Amara Parker follow Breeanna Spaulding

“It was kind of nice watching them in the mirror,” said Breeanna with a laugh afterwards.

The “them” she referenced were two 15-year-olds, Maddy Herrick and Amara Parker.

In eight weeks of racing, the winner has been either Breeanna (4), Maddy (2), or Amara (2).

Kasie Kolbe won the Ladies 8-lap heat last night and was off to a good start in the 20-lap feature before the front tire blew several laps into the feature. 

Flat tire for Kasie Kolbe

Kasie shares the car with her cousin Skip Tripp.  Ironically, Skip had a flat in the July 8th Outlaws feature on the same side and it cost him dearly in that race.

Kasie’s flat led to a caution and a restart with Breeanna on the pole and Maddy on the outside. 

Breeanna resumed the lead right away with Maddy and Amara close by in Lap 4. 

Amara Parker tries the second groove

Both Maddy and Amara tried, during the final sixteen laps, to use the second groove to get past Breeanna.  It didn’t work for either of them, in fact, they each gave up second when they attempted it.

“There was no second groove,” said Maddy Herrick who finished second afterwards.  “The track was wicked slick.  We’re still getting used to racing on hot days.”

Breeanna got a little wide on the final turn.  “It was the last lap,” she said.  “I was getting excited, and I gave up the bottom a little bit.”

Maddy has been first or second for the last four weeks.  “We were there speed wise,” she said.  “A few more laps and I probably could have got her.  I’ll take second.  She’s very good.”

Maddy Herrick finished second

“We think we have a winning car,” Maddy added.  “We’ll learn from this and be better next week.”

Maddy is also the goalie on the Oxford Hills girls’ soccer team.  I covered her game last year against Brunswick. “Soccer preseason starts soon,” she said.  “It’s a lot of work but I like it.”

My intention was to cover the Outlaws, but their feature was moved to last.  The Ladies were first.

Impressive run by Jake Dobson in the Outlaws’ heat.  Skip Tripp passed everyone else, but Jake won his first heat by holding Skip off for the final four laps of the 8-lap race.

Jake Dobson holds the lead over Skip Tripp in the final lap of the 8-lap heat

Skip Tripp starts to move on the upper groove in the Outlaws heat

The finish of the Ladies 8-lap heat

Heat action

Heat action

Heat action

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Portland Sea Dogs Excite Sold-Out Hadlock

Christian Koss slides home safely
Alex Binelas homered twice

(Portland) It was a happy Sunday at Hadlock.

Yes, the Sea Dogs won in last-inning, dramatic style but that was only part of it.

The park was busy with folks.  There was a buzz in every part of the place.

The Sea Dogs pulled out a 12-11 win against the AA Yankees.

I guess, that alone would make a Yankees’ disliker, like myself happy.

The best part may have been that the young Yanks grabbed the lead in the top of the ninth only to have the young Red Sox take it back.

Christian Koss at bat

The crowd got my attention. People were excited to be there and were enjoying themselves on a warm Sunday afternoon. 

The Sea Dogs management always has fun going on, but on this afternoon just being there was enough.

In the pre-game, one young man got to hand slap the players on both teams.

My biggest takeaway was a special needs young man taking on the National Anthem.  He gave it a shot and pulled it off.  It didn’t have quality, but it had heart and that put a lump in my throat.

I had hoped for a look at young Ceddanne Rafaela, but he was in Los Angeles taking part in the Futures Game.  I’m guessing that the Yankees’ top prospect (Anthony Volpe) was also there.

I saw Anthony at a New Hampshire/Somerset game earlier this year.

There was plenty of action on the field.  There were baserunners galore and several home runs.

Alex Binelas congratulated by Manager Chad Epperson

Young Alex Binelas (#17 Red Sox prospect) whacked two homers.  Alex moved up to AA in late June.  This was certainly his best game so far.

Impressed with Christian Koss.  He has the numbers to be Portland’s MVP to date. Today he homered and was aggressive on the bases.

Portland’s David Hamilton leads the Eastern League in steals with forty. 

I was on the edge of the Portland dugout and so when he was picking up his glove at the start of the game I said to him, “Steal, steal, steal!” He smiled.

David Hamilton steals second base in the first inning

David then went off to his position in the field but when he came back in, he led off with a hit and then immediately stole second.  From my location I had pretty good photographer’s positioning to catch that action.

When the inning ended, David again came by for his glove.  Again, I told him to steal.  He looked at me and said, “I already gave you one.”

David did steal second (again), and this time with no throw.  Later, he would steal home.  Wish I’d gotten that shot!

I did get Christian Voss sliding into home.

Christian Koss reaches for second base

A player I was looking for was Max Burt.  Max attended St. John’s (Danvers).  When I saw the Somerset team in NH, Max didn’t play.  However, the day before today’s game Max had hit two home runs.  Today, he collected a couple of hits.

St. John’s Prep’s Max Burt had two hits against Portland

One thing that Max did in the field that was unique was, just before a pitch was made, he would jump in the air.  I’m not sure what advantage there is to it, but he did it just before every pitch.

Max Burt gets ready

The Eastern League schedule is interesting.  Teams now play six-game series with each opponent.  What this means for Portland is that their next two series are away, so they won’t be at Hadlock until August 2nd versus Erie.

August works the other way for the Sea Dogs because most of the month they will be at Hadlock.

The weather was interesting.  There was sun, clouds, and a little bit of rain.  Welcome to New England!

Continued thanks to Chris Cameron for making my visits possible.  Hadlock Field is a great place to be.

Ricardo Cubillan

Chad Bell retrieves a loose ball in the infield

Alex Binelas

Christian Koss congratulated in the Portland dugout after his home run

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Drew Morse wins Outlaws Feature

Drew Morse gets the win and Will Dunphy finishes second
Skip Tripp and Will Dunphy 1-2

(Oxford) It looked like last week but then it didn’t.

Skip Tripp and Will Dunphy had finished 1-2 last week and there they were in the same order deep into Friday night’s 20-lap Outlaws feature.

A blown tire changed everything.

Skip Tripp suddenly lost speed with Will Dunphy close behind him.

Drew Morse makes his move

This turn of events opened the door for Opening Day winner Drew Morse.

“I saw Dunphy and the 12 messing around,” recalled Drew.  “I was like, ‘You know what, I’m gonna hang her out there and pray that I can get around them on the outside.’”

Get around he did, and Drew held the lead the rest of the way to gain his second win.

Will Dunphy

“I thought I had a chance,” said Will Dunphy afterwards.  “I’m still happy with second, in fact I’m happy to be in the top five.”

Will has now finished second four straight weeks.  He had a win before the run of seconds began.

Tonight, was the first night of three straight days of racing.  There were fewer races tonight and that effected the track significantly.

“We had a way better track this time because we didn’t have all the Super Late Model rubber on the track,” explained Will.

The increased traction opened the upper grooves as options and there were plenty of Outlaws’ takers.

Running four wide is usually a direct route to trouble but not tonight.  The feature had four-wide’s and they never led to cautions.  It was a bit tight for those in the middle of it, however.

Running four wide

“I felt like a pinball out there!” said Drew laughing.

Drew wasn’t pleased with the way his car has been handling since he won the feature the end of May.  “We’ve been struggling with the car being tight,” he said.  “We were still tight tonight, but it was good enough to get the win.”

Drew Morse

However, it wasn’t enough to get the win in the 8-lap heat for Drew. He ended up second to Betty Nelson.

“I just happened to be a little tighter than Betty and she got me,” added Drew.

Chris Foster heads for third

Chris Foster finished third in the feature.

Serious accident in the Rebels’ feature tonight.  The longer the medical people are on the track the more concerned I get.  Can’t help it. 

The prospect of injury is part of the reality that race-car drivers (and their families) face.

“It’s the chance you take every time you buckle in,” said Drew Morse.

The weather was just right. 

Between the heats and the features, kids got rides in race cars.

Victory lap

Last lap

Skip Tripp chases pole sitter Jake Dobson

Betty Nelson wins the heat

Spinout in the Ladies Heat

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Eric Ashe and Heather Gallant win 46th annual Bridgton 4 on the Fourth

46th annual Bridgton 4 on the Fourth gets underway

(Bridgton) Eric Ashe of Natick (MA) was the top finisher in the 46th annual Bridgton 4 on the Fourth road race.

Eric Ashe (Natick) wins the Bridgon 4 on the Fourth

Heather Gallant of Wayne (ME) was the repeat winner among the women.

Heather Gallant crosses first
Eric Ashe

Nearly 1500 runners participated under sunny skies departing from in front of Food City at 8AM.

Eric Ashe was visiting his mother in Greenwood during the holiday weekend.

“I talked myself into driving over and running the race,” said Eric afterwards.  “The cash price covers the gas expenses.”

Sasha/Scott Mindel (Burlington) have family on Moose Pond but hadn’t run the race before.

The two of them ran today, and both came in second.

“Our A goal was for both of us to come in first,” said Scott afterwards.

“I had seen the recent results, so I thought that I had a chance to win,” Scott added.

Eric Ashe (885) and Scott Mindel (766) at the start of the race

That optimism suffered a bit of a jolt before the race started.

“At the warmups, I saw Eric (Ashe),” said Scott.  “He generally beats me, but I’ve beaten him a couple of times.”

For a mile the talented twosome stayed together.  Then came the hills.

“The uphill started, and I tried to maintain the same effort,” recalled Eric.  “Luckily, I was able to open a gap and keep it.  I think the gap got bigger.”

Scott Mindel

“He’s much better on the uphills than I am,” said Scott.  “When the uphill started today, I was hoping to keep him within close enough distance because I’m better on the downhills.”

“But Eric got too much on me and I couldn’t make a move until the downhill in the last mile,” said Scott.  “It was too late by then.”

“At least it was a fun last mile,” he added with a smile.

Eric finished at 20:06 and had a thirteen-second lead over Scott.

Heather Gallant (Wayne) won last year.

“I was happy with last year’s weather and this years’ time (23:26),” she said.

2021 was rainy with temperatures in the fifties.

Heather was 15th overall today.

Heather Gallant at the start

Heather didn’t face any serious challengers from today’s runners.  Her closing time was 23:26. The next woman to finish (Sasha Mindel) closed at 24:58.

“I hung out with a couple of guys during the race,” said Heather afterwards.  “I pace off them.  They’re good about doing that.”

Heather said she felt better prepared this time.  “I had a couple more races coming into this one compared to last year.  The hills here are still memorable.”

Sasha Mindel, who had a daughter last year, was glad just to be out there running.  “This is only my second race since having her,” she said.  “It was the first time it felt as if everything clicked.”

All four runners I talked with enjoyed the Bridgton race and would return if they could.

Scott Mindel told me that he had run at the University of Cincinnati.  “I now run for the Central Mass Striders. I do a lot of races including marathons.”

Race Director Bill Graham

Eric Ashe attended Boston University.  “I saw online that guys were doing twenty-flat here,” he said, “so I knew it would be competitive.  I am focusing on marathons.  I did one in Minnesota two weeks ago.”

Joseph Reynolds (3rd), Andrew Mongiat (4th), and Chris Harmon (5th) were in the top five.

Race Director Bill Graham again ran things smoothly.

The object is to have the male and female winners run through a banner at the finish line.  It’s always easy with the male.  The female…not always.  Today was an example.  Female leader Heather Gallant was close behind another runner near the finish and when the banner went up that runner (Thomad Lyons) got wrapped in it. 

(The pictures should enlarge if you click on them.)

Sasha Mindel finishes

Banner malfunction
Chris Harmon (5th)

Andrew Montiat (4th)
Joseph Reynold (3rd)

Sasha Mindel at the start

National Anthem

Eric Ashe wins

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Skip Tripp wins third straight Outlaws feature at Oxford Plains Speedway

Skip Tripp takes a victory spin after winning his third straight Outlaws feature

(Oxford ME) They each did it their way and they each made it work.

Skip Tripp had the fast car and the ability to get around cars. 

Skip Tripp (12) heads for the lead in the second lap of the Outlaws feature.
Will Dunphy

Will Dunphy envisioned chaos on the track and stayed back waiting for his chance.

Skip Tripp won his third straight Outlaws feature on Saturday night at Oxford Plains Speedway.

Skip started in the back because of his successes in the previous weeks.  It didn’t matter. 

Within two laps, in both the 8-lap heat and the 20-lap feature, Skip had used the outside lane to pass the field.  Once there, he didn’t look back.

Skip Tripp

“Everything went our way,” said Skip afterwards.  “We were pretty hooked up.  It was kind of easy tonight.”

Will Dunphy finished second.

Will also started in the back because of previous successes.  Unlike Skip, however, Will was content to stay there for a while.

“I hung back because I knew things were going to happen,” explained Will.  “I could tell the way drivers were acting at the get-go.”

“Some want to get to the top by Lap 2,” he added.  “They need to calm down and realize that there are twenty laps.”

Corey Morgan got spun and his car was totaled early in the Outlaws feature.

“A car getting totaled takes the fun out of it for me,” said Will.  “There were way too many cars wrecked tonight.  There is no need for it.  There are not enough of us out there for that to happen.”

The spin below in the feature gave Will (#4) his chance to move from the back to the front around the involved cars and he did:

Skip Tripp: “We’re just playing with this thing now until we get to Street Stocks for something else.  We’re just getting back into rhythm.  We’ve been out of it for so long.  The car is for my cousin.  I set it to her liking but it’s too loose now for her.  We need to change it.  We’ll tighten it up and hopefully she’ll have the same success.”

Corey Morgan’s car taken off

Will Dunphy: “Tripp’s car is definitely fast.  It wasn’t that fast before but maybe a lot of experience has something to do with the way it’s now going for them.  There was too much rubber on the track today from the Super Late Models.  It was super icy.  I couldn’t stay up there very long.  This is my second year with the Outlaws.  I was told to move up from the Cruiser Class.  It’s been a fun venture so far.”

This was the fifth week of Outlaws’ racing.

Skip Tripp’s lowest finish so far has been third.

Skip Tripp working the outside in Lap 1 of the 8-lap heat

Will Dunphy has been either first or second during the past four weeks.

Car 26 near the Grandstand

Matt Veinott earned third today.  His highest previous finish had been fifth.

Combining two days of racing with fireworks brought out a good crowd.  The weather was ideal too.

Yes, I gave the Bandits coverage last year.  Their demise set me searching for another group to cover.  The Outlaws have a small roster….less confusion initially for me. I’ll see what I can do over the next three months.  There will be pictures and interviews.

(The pictures should enlarge if you click on them.)

Pushing to the lineup

Pre-race family time

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Austin Prep takes Division 3 title 2-1 over Newburyport

Austin Prep wins Division Three title
Winning pitcher Jack Iannibelli

(Lowell) #1 Austin Prep belonged here.

#10 Newburyport?  Not so much.

But the Clippers found a way to reach the Division 3 state finals.

Unfortunately, reaching the finals was the best Newburyport could do, as Austin Prep took the D3 title this afternoon, 2-1, at LeLacheur Park.

The Cougars finish 25-0 in a season in which their notoriety went from local to state to national.

“We have had all kinds of pressure on us this season because of how well we’ve done,” said Austin Prep coach AP Pollard afterwards. “The expectations got higher as the season went along.”

Today’s game was tied at 1-1 with two outs in Austin Prep half of the fourth inning.

At that point, Brenden Walsh, who had struck out his first at bat, got into a Jack Fehlner curve.

Brenden’s line drive to center went over CF Owen Roberts’ head and rolled to the 400-foot sign.

“I thought I had lined out,” said Brenden post-game.  “When I reached second and the outfielder still didn’t have the ball, I knew that I could score.”

Brenden Walsh completes an inside-the-park homer

And score he did.  That inside-the-park homer turned out to be the game winner.

Jack Fehlner

“Credit the pitcher,” added Brenden, “he knew how to work inside.  That’s how he beat Medfield which is a very good hitting team. I was sitting on the curve because he beat me a few times inside with it in my first at-bat.”

Senior Jack Iannibelli was the complete-game winner for the Cougars. 

Jack gave up three hits but none after the third inning.  He registered nine strikeouts including the last two outs of the game.

“Jack did what he’s done his whole career today,” said Coach Pollard.  “He only had one loss the whole time.”

The Cougars scored in the first inning.  Jake Zawatsky singled, reached second on an infield error, and took third on a wild pitch.  Matt Chatelle’s sacrifice fly drove in the run.

Newburyport responded with a run in the second inning.  Jack Fehlner tripled and scored on Max Puleo’s infield out.

The Clippers threatened to take the lead in the third inning.  After one-out singles by Jack Sullivan and Connor Stick, Jack Iannibelli, however, got Luke Stallard to fly out and Jack Fehlner to strike out to keep the game tied.

Jack Fehlner scores the Newburyport run in the second inning

AP put runners in scoring position in the second, third, and fifth but Jack Fehlner pitched his way out of each dangerous situation.

“Jack Fehlner is a tremendous competitor,” said Austin Prep coach AP Pollard.  “He challenged us and wasn’t afraid of anybody.”  Jack will pitch for Roanoke College (Virginia) next year.

Coach Rowe talks with Brady Ford

Newburyport coach Mark Rowe was disappointed with the loss but added, “How can I be anything but proud to have been here and played the way we did?”

The Clippers (18-7) lost three straight games near the end of the regular season and looked to be heading for an early exit in the tournament ahead.  However, they caught fire and won four straight tournament games including a last inning upset of #2 Medfield.

“We made a couple of mistakes out there today which you can’t do against a team like Austin Prep,” said Coach Rowe.

Austin Prep finished their 25-0 season with thirteen shutouts and only sixteen runs allowed.

The Cougars are now leaving the MIAA and venturing into the NEPSAC. 

Jake Zawatsky scores AP’s first run

Both Pentucket and Newburyport had 2-1 losses to Austin Prep. 

Talking to Coach Pollard afterwards had some unexpected excitement.  Twice, not just once, players with containers of ice/juice rushed my way to try and pour the contents on him.  I had to reach deep to locate the “quickness” to keep from getting soaked!

An interesting play occurred in the Newburyport fifth inning.  Connor Stick tried to steal second and was ruled safe by the infield umpire.  Then it looked like that umpire deferred to the home-plate umpire who then called Connor out to end the inning.  Luke Stallard was the batter at the plate when the Connor-incident occurred.  The next inning, Luke did not lead off.  My assumption is that Luke was called out on strikes before the play at second happened.  Most of the media coverage had winning pitcher Jack Iannibelli with nine strikeouts.  That one would have given him ten.

(I have since learned that the batter, Luke Stallard, was declared out because of “batter interference.” It means he got in the way of the catcher as he tried to throw out Connor Stick attempting to steal second base. AP pitcher Jack Iannibelli ends up with nine strikeouts, not the ten I assumed.)

The weather was in the low 60’s and too cold for June. 

Newburyport   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   =   1

   Austin Prep   1   0   0   1   0   0    –   =   2

Unofficial Newburyport box

Unofficial Austin Prep box

Steve Lawton out at third base

Newburyport tangled at second base

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#8 Cohasset ousts #1 Newburyport 12-9

Cohasset celebrates its Round of Eight win
Laney Larsen had 6 goals for Cohasset including this one

(Newburyport) “We knew that the rankings didn’t reflect our abilities,” said Cohasset senior Molly Stephens afterwards.

The #8 Skippers (16-3) took the lead four minutes into their game with #1 Newburyport and never gave it up.

The final was Cohasset 12, Newburyport 9 in the Division 3 state quarterfinals.

The Clippers (19-2) had won fifteen straight and were undefeated (13-0) at home.

It didn’t matter to the visitors from the South Shore League.

Rita Cahalane scored for the Clippers

“We are playing our best lacrosse at the right time,” said Cohasset coach Kully Reardon post-game. “This was our best game of the season this afternoon.”

Laney Larsen had six goals for the Skippers.

“Laney is a sophomore with the confidence of a senior,” said Coach Reardon.

Laney had the first two goals of the game, but Newburyport battled back on a goal by Rita Cahalane to make it 2-1 and later on a goal by Lilly Pons to make it 3-2.  But the Clippers couldn’t even the score.

The outcome-deciding portion of this game was the final 3:42 of the first half.  The visitors did all the scoring and led, 6-2, at the half.

The toughest goal for Newburyport was the one that Laney Larsen got with one tick left in the first half.

Ball in the middle

Coach Cat Batchelder’s short summary of the game was, “We didn’t play well.” 

Molly Stephens was excellent on draws

When asked for specifics, Coach Batchelder referenced the defense, the attack, the draws, as areas where the team had underperformed.

The Clippers started well in the second half.  Within the first three minutes both Anna Affolter (3 goals) and Lilly Pons (3 goals) scored to pull Newburyport within two goals, 6-4.

Later with 13:15 to go, the Clippers were again down two (7-5). Two minutes later, however, Laney Larsen (6 goals) had two more scores and Cohasset was up, 9-5.

Credit Newburyport.  Down by four (11-7) with eight minutes left, they scored two straight times (Anna Affolter and Lilly Pons) to move within two goals with 3:28 left.

Cohasset called timeout and returned to hold onto possession until freshman Reese Hansen drove home the clincher with 1:35 left.

“We like it when the other team has to come out and play us because we have so much firepower,” said Coach Reardon.

Anna Affolter on the attack

Brown commit Molly Stephens had the size, strength, and skills to give Cohasset a definite edge on the draws.

Molly was recently named the South Shore League MVP.  She had two goals today.  Her biggest contribution to the win was in the draws.

Both teams were very good at running their offenses.  The Clippers, however, struggled to finish.

One reason for the Newburyport goal-scoring troubles was Cohasset goalie Aizza Chase.  “Aizza is the best goalie I’ve had,” said 12th year Coach Reardon.  “She adds composure and confidence back there.”

Reese Bromby after CHS goalie Aizza Chase

Regarding Molly Stephens: “Molly had a brace on her leg earlier in the season.  Every game she has improved.  She got some possessions today that she wouldn’t have gotten earlier in the season.”

I was impressed with the long runs of Holy Cross commit Anna Affolter in the second half.

The weather was perfect.

Good crowd with quite a few of the Cohasset faithful in the stands.

Cohasset goals: Laney Larsen (6), Kira Fulton (2), Molly Stephens (2), Reese Hansen (1).

Newburyport goals: Lilly Pons (3), Anna Affolter (3), Rita Cahalane (1), Izzy Rosa (1), Reese Bromby (1).

        Cohasset   6   6   =   12

Newburyport   2   7   =     9

Bridget Mahoney chased by Rita Cahalane and Makenna Ward

Bridget Mahoney, Laney Larsen, Molly Stephens

Anna Affolter and Izzy Rosa try to get the ball away from Rorie Newman

Izzy Rosa

Makenna Ward pursued by Kira Fulton and Reese Hansen

Cohasset with Final Four banner

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#9 Abington starts fast and defeats #1 Amesbury 12-3 in D4 state quarterfinals

Abington reaches the Division 4 Final Four

(Amesbury) These tournament games can be tense. 

Last inning.

Last batter.

Last pitch.

Not this one.

#9 Abington took over the game from the get-go and never let up.

Aidan O’Donnell

#1 Amesbury was on the other end of things and lost 12-3 on Sunday afternoon in the Division 4 state quarterfinals.

“The well ran dry,” said Amesbury coach Joel Brierley afterwards.  “When we’ve been going well, we’ve been able to set the tone early.  Today was the complete opposite.”

Amesbury ace Drew MacDonald opened the first allowing two walks.  Stephen Madden and Spencer Merrick followed immediately with RBI doubles.  Before the first inning was over, AJ Nash added a sacrifice fly and the home team was down, 4-0.

Those early runs changed the whole complexion of the game. 

“Getting the run support right away really got a weight lifted off,” said Abington’s complete-game winner Aidan O’Donnell post-game.

“We came out in the first inning and scored some runs and took the pressure right off,” said Abington coach Steve Perakslis afterwards.

Amesbury coach Joel Brierley and Abington coach Steve Perakslis

The relaxed Green Wave had runners on in every inning and collected ten hits.

Amesbury home run celebration

Amesbury (18-5) did finish with seven hits, but they couldn’t package them into any multiple-run innings.

Amesbury’s hardest hit of the day was a long homer to left off the bat of St. Anselm’s commit Drew MacDonald in the second inning.

Aidan O’Donnell (UMass Dartmouth commit) had plenty of help from his defense.  The Green Wave (18-5) turned three double plays.  One was a standard 5-4-3 while the other two involved catches with Amesbury runners getting caught off first base afterwards.

1B AJ Nash puts the tag on Cam Stanley

Abington catcher Spencer Merrick also picked an Amesbury runner off first base.

You add good pitching to that kind of defense and the opponent is in for a long game.

“I tried to keep us in the game,” said pitcher Aidan O’Donnell.  “I was just trying to get outs.  I had full faith in the boys behind me.”

The Green Wave now moves on to the D4 state semi-finals against Manchester-Essex on Tuesday night (7PM) at Fraser Field in Lynn.

The Hornets won the state title in 2019.

Ryan Tobin scored three times

Eight different players from the Green Wave scored runs, with leadoff batter Ryan Tobin doing it three times.

Stephen Madden and Spencer Merrick led Abington in RBI’s with three each.

Drew MacDonald and Will Arsenault paced Amesbury with two hits apiece.  Drew also scored twice.

“We knew that we needed to play a good defensive game against a team like Amesbury,” said Coach Perakslis.  “We always know that we’re going to be in the game when Aidan O’Donnell is pitching.”

“Our offense had been a little stagnant for a while,” he added, “but we’ve been taking good swings in practice and in our two previous games.”

Stephen Madden had three RBI, two hits, and scored a run

Drew MacDonald, Aiden Donovan, and Josh Sorgini pitched for Amesbury.

Abington had five doubles.

Brady Burnham doubled off first

Besides the Drew MacDonald homer, Amesbury got RBI’s from Drew Scialdone and Will Arsenault.

Plenty of banter from both benches all game long.  It made it feel like an indoor event.

“There’s no reason to hold our heads down,” said Coach Brierley.  “Amesbury hasn’t had a season like this in a while.  I’m very proud of what the kids have done.”

The weather was perfect and the crowd, including many from Abington, was good-sized.

  Abington   4   0   2   2   3   1   0   =   12

Amesbury   0   1   1   0   0   1   0   =   3

Unofficial Abington box

Unofficial Amesbury box

Jake Harring leads off first base

Reaching for a runner

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