Alex Mowatt wins 5th feature

Alex Mowatt (11) uses the high side in the feature
The order of finish was established early in the feature.

(Oxford ME) He’s the Bandits points leader at Oxford Plains Speedway.

But it had been five weeks since his last win.

Tonight, Alex Mowatt added to his point total and ended his five-week non-winning streak.

“I’m leading in points,” said Alex afterwards, “My car is in one piece.  I can’t complain.”

Luke Mowatt (2nd) and Alex Mowatt (1st)

Luke Mowatt (Alex’s younger brother) took second and continued his run of quality races.

Luke runs second to his brother Alex

After starting the season fifth, seventh, and tenth, Luke had been either first (six times) or second (four times) for ten straight weeks!  That’s consistency.

No question that both the Mowatts have fast cars and can keep up with each other.  What they can’t do is pass each other.  It’s not that they aren’t trying to do it!

In the lone Bandits heat and the 20-lap feature, Alex successfully used the same strategy.  He went to the upper part of the track and was quickly past the front cars.  Once in front he basically ran out the laps.

Alex dominated the Bandits heat

“I jumped right into the early lead,” said Alex.  “I took my opportunity and didn’t look back.”

“He got to the front quick,” recalled Luke.  “It took me about five laps to get into second.”

Once both Mowatts were in the top positions the outcome wasn’t hard to figure.

“The Mowatts are tough,” said 3rd place finisher Jeff Libby.  “They’re fast.  I don’t know what to do with them.  You’ve got to get to the front first and fight them.”

Luke tried to get by his brother, but it didn’t work.  “I knew he wasn’t going to give me the bottom and I definitely couldn’t get by him on the outside.”

On the 12th lap, Luke gave his brother a bump.  “I just wanted him to know that I was there,” said Luke laughing. “I think he enjoyed the bump I gave him.”

Alex finishes first with Luke (22) second

Alex held onto the lead and won by several car lengths.

The Bandits spent a long time getting checked over after the race. 

Two weeks ago, Jeff Libby was disqualified after a lengthy post-race checkout.

“They were trying to figure out some of our transmission codes tonight,” said Jeff.  “Some didn’t match but it got figured out.”

I asked Jeff about the disqualification: “I was a little hot-headed when it happened.  It was over something we didn’t know about.  It had to do with the wheels.  We thought they were all the same, but they weren’t.  We were wrong.  Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.”

Karmann, Jeff, and Tony

“Tonight, was a good race,” said Jeff.  “We are a little bit off from where we should be, but we still managed to come home third.  You can’t complain about that.”

Luke said that the track was “wicked” slippery.  Jeff said, “The track lost a lot of grip with all the rain we’ve had.”

There was plenty of action in the Street Stock Division.  I caught Shawn Knight (#25) spinning out in one of their heats.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Contact in the Bandits feature

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford Plains Speedway

Chris Sale continues to rehab nicely

Chris Sale did a rehab start in Portland today
Chris Sale struck out nine Senators

(Portland ME) It’s been nearly two years since Chris Sale last pitched at the major league level.

He needed surgery (Tommy John) and he had it. Then the lengthy process to get back with the Red Sox and contribute began.

In the early weeks and months, it was easy to wonder if he would ever pitch again. Many of us lost track of him.

Lose track of him no more.  He is back and his chances of helping the first-place Red Sox are beginning to seem like a real possibility.

This afternoon Chris pitched for the first-place Portland Sea Dogs.  It was his third rehab effort in game conditions.

“Today was good,” said Chris afterwards.  “I don’t think that I was quite as consistent, however, with all my pitches.  All of my mistakes and misfires today caught too much zone.”

Osvaldo Duarte had a double and a homer against Chris Sale

Today’s opponent was the Harrisburg Senators.  Chris faced the same team on Tuesday.

“On Tuesday, when I would make a bad pitch, they were more on the outside of the plate,” he said. “If I made a bad pitch today it was in the middle of the plate, and they obviously capitalized on it.  They came out swinging.”

In 3 2/3 innings Chris gave up six hits to go with nine strikeouts.

The Sea Dogs ended up winning, 6-5, on a walk-off hit by Devlin Granberg.

Portland was ahead when Chris finished.  He noted that in the during-the-game press conference: “We’re still ahead.  The point of this is winning the game.  We’re on track.”

Chris Sale strikes out Jackson Cluff to end the third inning

Chris downplayed pitch velocity as too important so far.  “I threw a couple of 4’s and 5’s which is good for me.  Velocity is not the Number One thing on my list when I’m going out there to pitch.  That’ll take care of itself.”

Credit Harrisburg.  This is a 25-46 team, in last place, that Chris held hitless on Tuesday.  Today they came out hacking and making some contact. 

Osvaldo Duarte (ninth in the Harrisburg batting order) had a career day with three hits.  Two of them were off Chris who praised Osvaldo for his at-bats against him.

“He put a really good swing on that changeup (442-foot homer).  In his last at bat (double), I threw him a 1-1 fastball right off the plate.  He did exactly what he’s supposed to do: He took it the other way and didn’t try to do too much.”

The best part of Chris’s afternoon, in my opinion, was the third inning.  After Osvaldo’s homer tied the score, the Senators quickly had runners on first and third with no outs.  Big inning?  Chris would have none of it.  It was almost as if he was on as the closer in the World Series.  (Who can forget that performance!)  He mixed pitches and pounded the zone and Harrisburg couldn’t score.

KJ Harrison swings and misses

“I had to pitch out of some stuff,” said Chris.  “It was actually a good situation for me to be in.  It’s the time when your back is up against the wall.  Between the catcher (Ronaldo Hernandez) and I, we worked through that pretty well.”

Chris said that he threw more changeups today than he did on Tuesday.  “One of those changeups got hit pretty far,” he laughed.  “That pitch is one that I’ve got to get back on top of.  It was a good pitch for me a while ago and I need to refine it a little bit more and have some confidence in throwing it.”

Reading about Chris and listening to him this afternoon, I think that the part of the rehab that pleases him the most is the time between starts.  “My in-between days have been locked in for a while,” he said.  “It’s been a bright spot.  I’ve gotten into a better routine to know what my arm, body, and mind need in the days between starts.  Even the first couple of days after a start I’m bouncing back pretty good.  Just got to keep it rolling.”

Conference at the mound as Chris finishes pitching

“Rolling” is certainly what the Sea Dogs are doing.  They have now won eighteen of their last nineteen games.  They own the best record (45-24) in Double A.  Players get called up to Worcester.  Players are missing because they’re in the Olympics.  Nothing changes.  The team keeps winning. 

Chris loved being with the Sea Dogs

This is what Chris Sale had to say about being with the Sea Dogs this week: “I love this team.  They asked me if I wanted to go back to Boston in between starts and I said, ‘Absolutely, not!’  I wanted to stay here.  This is fun for me.  I appreciate these guys letting me be part of the team.  They’ve had something going for a few months now.  They made me feel welcome.  This is a gritty team.  They’re very talented.  These guys swing the bat about as well as anybody I’ve ever seen.  I’ve been talking a lot with the pitching staff bouncing ideas off; arm angles, pitch sequences etc..  Just pitching stuff.  I’ve appreciated how they’ve let me walk into their house and hang out for a week.”

The soggy weather delayed the start of the game for fifty minutes.  That sure helped me because I hesitated to even come because of the rainy forecast.  I arrived at 1:15 thinking I was late but soon happily realized that I was early.

Very attentive crowd.  The need for entertainment, other than baseball, was minimal.  Not too many kids in the crowd.  Most attending were adults who saw a chance to watch one of baseball’s best pitchers closeup and took it.  I was one of them!

Chris gets checked after an inning

Thanks, as always, to Chris Cameron for the arrangements he made on my behalf.

The Sea Dogs are home for six games with New Hampshire starting Tuesday.  They are well worth a look.

Chris Sale will probably get a start in Worcester (AAA) this week.  I wish him the best.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Tyreque Reed
Drinking Poland Springs in front of Wymans
Chris in his windup
2B Nick Sogard
Jake Alu had a double off Chris Sale
Chris leaves the mound after the first inning
Harrisburg starter Jackson Tetreault
Pedro Castellanos at bat
Ryan Fitzgerald homered
Tyreque Reed homered
Chris looks in to pitch

Leave a comment

Filed under Chris Sale, Harrisburg Senators, Portland Sea Dogs

Nick Wilson wins first Bandits feature

Nick Wilson wins his first Bandits feature

(Oxford ME) What a night!

Maybe it was the full moon.

Things happened.

Karson Hewins and Nick Wilson became first-time winners tonight.

Very young Karson Hewins wins a feature

Ten-year-old Karson led wire-to-wire in the Rookies Division and Nick used the same formula in the Bandits Division.

According to the announcer, Karson may have been the youngest driver to ever win a race at Oxford Plains Speedway.

If you’re going to win a Bandits feature you must be able to hold off the Mowatt brothers.

Jeff Libby did it on July 5th.  Brandon Caston did it on May 8th.  The other ten Bandits features?  Won by either Luke Mowatt (6 times) or his brother Alex (4 times).

Tonight, it was young Nick Wilson’s turn to hold off the Mowatts.

Nick started in the pole position for the first time this season.

“I started up front and had a good car,” explained Nick afterwards.

The question was whether Nick could hold onto the top spot. 

Very quickly the race had Nick in front with one of the Mowatts beside him and another behind him. 

Nick Wilson chased by Alex Mowatt (11) and Luke Mowatt

“I was nervous the whole race seeing them there, but I knew that they’d run me clean,” said Nick.

A spinout away from the front in Lap Eight bunched up everyone including Nick, Luke, and Alex.

“I didn’t want to see that caution, but we got it done after that,” said Nick.

Nick did not give up his front position on the restart and held on to get his first win.

Nick Wilson maintained his lead after the restart

“I’ve had a couple of seconds,” said Nick, “it feels really good to finally win.”

Getting to the front early in crucial and Alex and Luke know it.

Bandits get off the track

“Whoever gets to the front first is going to get the position,” explained Alex (3rd) afterwards.  “Passing is hard.  Our cars are even.  I can’t pass him, and he can’t pass me.”

“Nick ran a good race,” said Luke (2nd).  “It was a lot of fun.”

Luke won his first Bandits feature last August.  I asked Alex how his brother has become a six-time winner this year.

“He has more experience.  More seat time.  He also has another car that is not as tired as the old one.”

Nice night for racing.  The bad weather on Friday night pushed that night’s schedule into the regular Saturday night schedule.  Talk about a long night!

But there were, “Do-you-remember-the-time?” moments on this evening.  Four times vehicles flipped over, and red flags came out.  Four times, not once!

In each instance, twice with trucks and twice with cruisers, the drivers got out of the vehicles without life-threatening injuries.  One of the drivers, however, was taken away in an ambulance.

I tend to keep a camera “eye” on the OPS first turn early in races because often trouble shows up there.  I got a pretty good look at the accident that Drew Hayward (Cruiser Division) got into.

(All of the pictures will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Leave a comment

Filed under Oxford Plains Speedway

Portland rallies past Hartford 7-5

Jameson Hannah scores the first Hartford run

(Portland ME) The Hartford Yard Goats got off to a great start.

Portland’s best pitcher (Josh Winckowski) was out in less than an inning.

Portland starter Josh Winckowski was gone early but the Sea Dogs rallied back

The visitors had a 5-0 lead.

Ryan Fitzgerald and Tanner Nishioka each had two hits and two rbi

But it didn’t last.

The Portland pitching improved, and their bats turned lively.

The Sea Dogs finished a six-game sweep of Hartford, 7-5, on a sultry Sunday afternoon at Hadlock Field.

When I attend a game in Portland, I do my homework to be sure I know the top prospects in the game.

Hartford is a Colorado Rockies affiliate.

The top two CR prospects on the Yard Goat’s roster are Elehuris Montero (#9) and Jameson Hannah (#13).

First pitch of the game Jameson doubled.  Several batters later in the same inning, Elehuris drove him in.

Both prospects ended up with two hits, so I had several opportunities to get pictures of them.

Taylor Snyder leads EL in homers

There are still limitations on where photographers can shoot from at Hadlock Field but my 600mm lens keeps me in range of most action.

It would be nice to see what that lens could do from the edge of the dugout.

This shot of Taylor Snyder is a close-range picture.  (He was leaving the nearby Hartford locker room.)

Triston Casas is Boston’s top prospect although someone on Twitter claimed that tonight’s draft pick might immediately go to the top.

As long as the newcomer goes through Portland or New Hampshire, I’ll enjoy the pick.

I was stunned by the way Hartford roughed up Josh Winckowski.  I’ve seen Josh several times and he’s pitched well enough to get wins each time. Josh came from the Mets in a three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City.

Triston Casas

Willie Abreu (lefty) stuck his bat out at an outside pitch, thrown by Josh, with two outs and ended up with a two-run double down the leftfield line.  When Josh hit the next batter, his afternoon was over.

But Josh’s teammates rallied back, and the subpar outing didn’t get him a loss.

I continue to be impressed with Triston Casas.  There’s no joking around pregame.  He does plenty of stretching and running.  Triston is big but I see his swing as compact.  I wonder if he’ll get to Worcester (AAA) before the season ends.

Bobby Dalbec has got to be hearing his footsteps.

Both of the CR prospects (Jameson Hannah & Elehuris Montero) had two hits. 

Jameson and Elehuris came to Colorado in trades in 2020. Jameson was with Cincinnati and Elehuris was with St. Louis. 

Elehuris Montero (#9 CR prospect)

It must be a little frustrating for them to be on a team in last place in the Eastern League (18-41).

Taylor Snyder of Hartford leads the Eastern League in home runs with sixteen.

Willie Abreu had a home run for Hartford and drove four runs across.

The Yard Goats play at Dunkin’ Donuts Park which was recently voted the best Double-A ballpark in the country.  I need to get down there.  I also need to check out the Woo Sox.

I was happy today to see Slugger off the wide screen in centerfield and on the field and on the dugout.  His usual antics have not resumed but seeing him in the crowd is a step in the right direction.  The Portland staff did orchestrate some young fan competitions in rightfield.  

Slugger gives a wave

My Slugger attraction is watching him challenge a young fan to a race around the bases.  When that event resumes, then I’ll know that the old normal has returned.  Slugger will be well rested by then and might be able to end his losing streak. No one deserves to lose for as long as he has!

Good crowd today with plenty of kids.  Parking is nearby and the price (low) is right. 

Thanks to Chris Cameron for arranging my visit.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Pregame fun and games
Catcher Ronaldo Hernandez
Jameson Hannah (#13 CR prospect)
Triston Casas set to swing
Kids racing
Willie Abreu near home after a home run
Max George steals 2B as Ryan Fitzgerald takes throw
Devlin Granberg
Ryan Fitzgerald and Coco Montes
Jameson Hannah steals 2B as Tanner Nishioka takes throw
Denys Reyes
Ryan Feltner was the Hartford starter
Ryan Feltner being checked by the umpires

Leave a comment

Filed under Hartford Yard Goats, Portland Sea Dogs

Jesse Orach/Heather Gallant – 4 on the Fourth winners

Jesse Orach (1116) and Heather Gallant (806) at the start
Jesse Orach gets first

(Bridgton ME) They were happy for the rain and the opportunity.

The 45th annual 4 on the Fourth road race started this morning in rain and 55 degrees temperature.

But the runners I talked to afterwards were happy with the weather and equally happy to finally get back to competitive racing again.

“This was the first real race I’ve done in six to eight months,” said this year’s winner Jesse Orach.

“The weather was nice,” he added. “It actually stopped raining as hard about halfway through the race.  It was certainly nice to have it cooler than it’s been the last couple of weeks.”

Jesse’s time was 20:08.  He finished alone with a nineteen-second spread over Luke Bailey.

Both Luke and Jesse were on the Bridgton course for the first time.

“I loved the course,” said Luke.  “I didn’t think the hill was too bad.  I loved the straightaway flat finish.”

Heather Gallant leads the women

Heather Gallant finished 20th which was first among the women.  She was also new to the course.

“I almost missed the turn at Dugway Road but there were people there to redirect me,” she said.

“This is my first race since Covid and my leg injury,” she added. “It’s been 1 ½ years.”

But after the race everything turned out “good” for the runner from Wayne (Maine).  “The temperature felt good.  The rain felt good, and my leg feels good.”

Dominic Sclafani (Harrison Maine) chased Luke Bailey to the finish but lost out by a second.

Jesse Orach described the race this way: “I kind of pulled away in the first quarter mile.  A couple of guys (Luke & Dominic) caught me in the middle. Down the last hill in Mile 3, I kind of pulled away.”

Luke Bailey and Dominic Sclafani battle

This was how Luke Bailey recalled the race: “The leader (Jesse Orach) took the lead super early covering the first mile in 4:46 he said afterwards.  I caught him around the 2-mile mark and kind of chatted with him.  We ran side by side up the second hill right before the 3-mile mark.  I tried to make a move on him because I thought his legs had had it.  He responded and I couldn’t recover.  I just watched him pull away in the last mile.”

Both winners run for Dirigo.

“I had a lot of my Dirigo teammates with me,” said Heather.

Mary Pardi, also with Dirigo, was the second woman finisher. 

The lack of organized races created uncertainty.

“I’ve been trying to stay in shape the best that I can,” said Jesse (Auburn Maine) who is twenty-seven.  “I’m just trying to keep running as long as I can.”

Mary Pardi was the 2nd woman to finish

Jesse was a heralded runner at UMaine.  He told me that he ran there for five years and still holds the indoor 5K record.

Luke (22) is originally from northern Maine but moved to Wisconsin.  He was a state champ for the Xavier Hawks in the two mile race.  He went to South Dakota State after HS graduation.  He told me that he has the 4th fastest time in SDS history in the three mile.

“I had breathing problems out there because of the elevation so I came back to Maine,” he said.  “I am now training at Orono.”

“I hadn’t raced in 1 ½ years so I saw this race (Bridgton) as a great breakin race for me,” said Luke.

Heather: “I chose this race because when I was looking for a race to do, this was the only one that was open.”

Ready to start their watches
Tim Poitris 4th

Heather (40) said, “I’ve been running off-and-on my whole life.  I picked it back up in 2016.  I have the LA Triple Crown at the end of August and I’m looking ahead for some fall races.”

“I’m hoping to run the Maine Potato Blossom in Fort Fairfield and maybe the Caribou Marathon,” said Luke.

“I’m probably going to take some time off and get ready to race in the fall,” said Jesse.

There were 923 finishers according to the Granite City Race Services.  (Those folks were quick to get the results up.)

Laura Pulito was the third female finisher.

Silas Eastman continues to be a top-ten finisher.  It’s been a while since he ran for Fryeburg or the Colby Mules but he’s still in good shape.

Dominic Sclafani (Wheaton College and Harrison) has run this race many times and his 3rd place finish today was his best.  

Chris Garvin – 5th

The starting numbers were down.  Not surprising, since the area camps are restricted by virus concerns.  Several of the camps did attend, however.

The starting street of the race was paved recently.  The returning runners must have liked that.

That rain today was not as welcome to the spectators as it was to the runners.  Any good pictures you see today were taken by someone rolling the dice on camera damage….I speak as one of them.

Race Director Bill Graham had everything running smoothly.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Rob Hollis – 6th
Kelton Cullenberg – 7th
Silas Eastman – 8th
Caleb Grover (9th) and Kevin O’Brien (10th)
National Anthem
They’re off!
Jesse Orach breaks through the banner
Laura Pulito (76) was the 3rd woman finisher

Leave a comment

Filed under Bridgton 4 on the Fourth

Turners Falls holds off Amesbury 5-4

Turners Falls – 2021 Division Three state champions
TF starter Jade Tyler

(Amesbury MA) First it was their bats.

Then it was their gloves.

But eventually it required a strikeout to get Turners Falls the 2021 Division Three state softball title.

Amesbury came out on the short end of a 5-4 score on Thursday afternoon, but they were tough to the finish.

The Indians (16-1) trailed 5-1 with two outs in the seventh inning but put three runs across.  Amesbury, in fact, had the tying and winning runs on base when the final out was recorded.

“We didn’t give up,” said AHS coach Jacquie Waters afterwards, “and that makes me proud of them.”

Many from Amesbury turned out for the state finals and Turners Falls had plenty of folks make the two-hour trip from Western Massachusetts.

Coach Waters and captains with trophy

The concern pre-game was the weather, but it never rained.

The Thunder (18-0) came out hitting Amesbury starter Alana Delisle hard. 

Alana had pitched in relief to get the win versus St. Mary’s (D3 North title game) and had gone the route against Case (D3 state semi-final).

But TF had six hits and three runs after 1 1/3 innings, so Coach Waters brought on Liv DeLong.

Liv retired eight straight batters to end the Thunder’s momentum.

Liv DeLong had a homer in the first inning

Liv also put a run up for Amesbury in the bottom of the first inning with a shot over the rightfield fence.

This game stayed 3-1 until the seventh inning.

The Turners Falls bats gave them the lead.  In innings three through six, their gloves preserved it.

LF Liv Stafford
RF Holly Myers

“Oh, man!” exclaimed Turners coach Gary Mullins afterwards discussing the defense.  “I didn’t know you could make those catches…….and we had three of them.”

All three of the Thunder outfielders (LF Liv Stafford, CF Emily Young, RF Holly Myers) had highlight catches.

Interestingly, the spectators were restricted to watching from along the outfield fence and therefore had the best view of the fine plays.

Amesbury’s Izzy Levasseur was victimized twice. In the third, her chance for a two-out, two-run double was thwarted by Liv Stafford’s running grab near the LF fence.

In the sixth, rightfielder Holly Myers robbed Izzy, leading off, of a possible double or triple. 

Shortstop Hannah Marchefka had a defensive gem in the fourth inning.  She charged an infield blooper and converted it into a double play.

If you had to choose one TF defensive memory, however, it was Emily Young’s home-run robbing catch in the fifth inning.  Liv DeLong was the batter. She already had a home run and the strength to hit a ball out in any direction.  Liv lofted a long fly to center.  CF Emily Young raced back near the fence, caught the ball, and fell into the fence.  There was a moment of, “Does she have still have the ball,” but Emily showed her glove and Liv’s long flyball was in it.

CF Emily Young prevents a Liv DeLong home run

The Thunder defense collected outs in those innings where baserunners and runs would have been more likely. Remarkable performance!

Was it fatigue?  Late-game pressure? Both teams struggled in the seventh inning.

Liv DeLong, who had thrown 4 2/3 innings of shutout relief, walked the leadoff batter and, with two outs, hit a batter.

Madi Liimatainen had four RBI

That set up TF catcher Madi Liimatainen with the same two-on, two-out situation she faced in the first inning.  On that occasion, the eighth-grader tripled.  This time it was a double to left, and again two runs scored.

“Coach (Mullins) told us at the start of the seventh that we needed more runs,” said Madi afterwards.  “Off the bat, I knew it was going to go pretty far.  Might have gone out at home.”

A 3-1 lead seemed safe the way Turners Falls was defending.  Now the lead was 5-1.  Even safer?  Not on this afternoon.

Amesbury had a hit, but also had two outs to start the seventh inning. 

Elusive grounder in the seventh inning

Turners needed just one more out……….but the next four Amesbury batters reached and three runs scored. The Indians were suddenly within one, 5-4, with runners on first and second.

But senior starter Jade Tyler saved the day for Turners with a game-ending strikeout.

“My heart was beating back there,” said TF catcher Madi Liimatainen recalling the final at-bat.  “I knew Jade would come through in the clutch.  She always does.  I’m pretty sure the last pitch was a rise ball.  After strike three, I couldn’t help but go jump into Jade’s arms.”

Coach Mullins joked afterwards: “The more pressure like this they put on me the quicker I’ll die!”

Catcher Ella Delisle and pitcher Liv DeLong

Olivia Whittier, Holly Myers, Madi Liimatainen, and Taryn Thayer each had two hits for Turners Falls. 

Madi had four RBI and Olivia had one RBI.

Starter Jade Tyler yielded six hits and had six strikeouts.

Dominating performance by AHS junior Liv DeLong.  Liv had a home run and a double that led to three RBI.  She also scored twice.  In long relief, the lefty struck out seven while giving up five hits.

Coach Gary Mullins numbers come at you like Tom Brady’s do.  Gary has coached for forty-one years.  In that time, his teams have won over seven hundred softball games.  The Thunder have now won ten state softball titles.  Last one was in 2017.  They have won the West sectional twenty times including the last seven straight seasons.

You can tell by those numbers that Gary’s program doesn’t restart, it simply reloads.  Think of the different teams & players that Tom Brady has made look good!  The personnel may change but the ability to win continues.

Coach Gary Mullins visits the pitcher

This game was a unique matchup for me.  Why?  I lived in Turners Falls from grade one into my freshman year in high school.  And now I live in Amesbury.

When I lived in Turners Falls, their sports teams were called, “Indians.”  Pressure developed in recent years to change the mascot and that change was made to the “Thunder” in 2017.

Turners Falls graduates five starters including pitcher Jade Tyler.  Don’t be surprised if they reload for another big run next year.

Amesbury graduates one starter (Julia Campbell) and has talent throughout their returnees.  There are no certainties in life but it’s a safe assumption that the Indians will be contenders in next year’s Division 3 softball.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

3B Juliana Rode pregame
Liv DeLong – 2 hits, 2 runs, 3 RBI
2B Taylor Murphy
RF Lauren Celia – 1 run, 1 hit
Waiting on a pitching change
Ella Delisle watches a high pitch go by
LF Liv Stafford tracks a fly ball
Liv Stafford congratulated by teammates
3B Alana Delisle throws to first base
SS Hannah Marchefka starts a double play in the 4th
CF Emily Young congratulated after catch
2B Cali Catarius throws to first base in 6th inning
RF Holly Myers closes in on a fly ball in the 6th inning
Madi Liimatainen on 2B after two-run double in 7th inning
Turners Falls captains with D3 title trophy

Leave a comment

Filed under Amesbury, Turners Falls

Amesbury capitalizes on Case misplays to gain D3 state finals

Amesbury celebrates their win over Case
Megan Smith (white helmet) congratulated after scoring a run

(Amesbury MA) For 4 ½ innings one run looked big, and Case had it.

The next two innings?

“Defensive meltdown,” are the two words that come to mind.

Undefeated Amesbury turned errors into eleven runs during those two innings and won, 11-1, to gain a spot in the Division Three finals on Wednesday.

“It was certainly not our best day,” said Case coach Shannon Silva afterwards.

“We didn’t hit (Case had three) and I knew that one run wouldn’t be enough to win this game,” she added.

But that run looked awfully big for a while.

A Megan Smith single, a wild pitch, a sacrifice bunt, and another wild pitch put the Cardinals on the board in the third inning.

Ella Delisle had three hits for Amesbury

The Indians had runners on in the second, third, and fourth innings but Case starter Hailey Berube (six strikeouts) held them off.

“That run of theirs looked big for a long time,” said AHS coach Jacqui Waters. 

The Cardinals had their first error in the fourth inning, but Hailey Berube got a two-on strikeout to keep it from being costly.

In the fifth inning, Amesbury put two hits together (Lauren Celia double & Ella Delisle single) to tie the score.

This game was decided just five batters later.

Case, uncharacteristically, committed an error on each of the next five batters.  There were bad throws and grounders unstopped.  Six runs crossed for Amesbury.

Looking for the handle

“When I watched them play and read everything about them, this was one thing that didn’t happen to them,” said Coach Waters.

More misplays (two) for the Cardinals in the sixth inning and Amesbury added five more runs.  In that productive sixth inning, Izzy Lavasseur, Julia Campbell, and Cali Catarius had RBIs for the Indians.

Sophomore catcher Ella Delisle had a big game for Amesbury.  She had three hits, an RBI, and threw a runner out at second base.

“We were down but came back,” said Ella.  “It shows how determined we are as a team.  The comeback felt good.”

Liv DeLong started for Amesbury and went three innings.  Alana Delisle went the next three innings and Liv covered the seventh inning.

“I brought in Alana after Liv had pitched through their lineup,” said Coach Waters, “and that worked in our favor. Defensively, we seem to better when Liv is at first base.”

Hailey Berube
Liv DeLong

Liv is a lefty and Alana is a righty.  “When a team sees a lefty and then a righty it kind of messes with them a little bit,” said Liv.

The game ended on what looked like a hit to right, but RF Lauren Celia charged the line drive and threw the runner out at first base. 

“We practice that play a lot,” said Lauren.

“Amesbury played a great game,” said Coach Silva.  “They played a clean game and they hit the ball consistently.  If you put the ball in play, things can happen.  We had eight errors.”

Case (10-4) is from the South Coast League.

The team from Swansea was the #8 seed in the South. 

Lauren Celia ties the score in the 5th

Case won the Division 3 South in 2019.

Amesbury gets Turners Falls next in the D3 state finals.  The game is scheduled for Wednesday with a coin toss deciding whether it will be at Turners Falls or at Amesbury.

Anyone remembering this game will probably start with the heat…..95 degrees and hazy.  I found, however, that once the game started, I wasn’t aware of either of those.

Nice catch by Case rightfielder Abby Sirois in fifth inning.  Abby caught the ball and then went flying over teammate 2B Alexandria Yost…..but still held on.

Izzy Levasseur had two hits and scored two runs for Amesbury.

Amesbury ended up with eight hits.  Case had three hits.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Liv DeLong pitches
Hailey Berube pitches
Amesbury looks for a handle
Hannah Pelletier tries to steal second
SS Olivia Levasseur makes the tag
Abby Sirois slides in with a double as Cali Catarius takes throw
3B Izzy Levasseur throws to first
Pitcher Hailey Berube sees Liv DeLong off 3B
Two Amesbury runs score on a bad throw
RF Abby Sirois comes in for a fly ball
Abby Sirois goes over 2B Alexandria Yost
Julia Campbell singles in a run

Leave a comment

Filed under Amesbury, Case

Liv DeLong hits walkoff winner

Amesbury Indians are the Division 3 North champions
Ella Bezanson hits home with the game winner

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury captured the Division 3 North title with a 3-2, eight-inning walkoff win over St. Mary’s on Saturday afternoon.

Amesbury takes on D3 South champs Case on Monday night at 5PM at the Amesbury Middle School.

Liv DeLong had the big hit for the (15-0) Indians. The hard-hitting junior drove in Ella Bezanson with the game-winner.

“I couldn’t have had a better setup in the eighth,” explained Amesbury coach Jacqui Waters post-game.  “Those are my top two hitters.”

Amesbury had only five hits off the Spartans Lily Newhall but two of them came in the decisive eighth.

Earlier, Lauren Celia gave the Indians the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning with a two-run single down the third-base line.

Lauren Celia had a two-run single

“It felt good to get a hit in a late-season game,” said Lauren.

But the runs didn’t hold up. 

St. Mary’s (21-3) took advantage of two Amesbury miscues and tied the score, 2-2, in their half of the sixth inning.

“I liked the way we came back after being down 2-0,” said St. Mary’s coach Frank Pagliuca afterwards.

The Spartans put the pressure on Amesbury in the seventh and eighth.

Felicia D’Alessandro singled with two out in the seventh.

Brooke Mohoney singled and reached second on a Jill Kirby sacrifice bunt with one out in the eighth.

St. Mary’s captains

In both situations, Amesbury pitcher Alana Delisle had the defense behind her to keep St. Mary’s from scoring.

“We had an opportunity in the eighth inning and didn’t take advantage of it,” said Coach Pagliuca.  “Amesbury had the same opportunity in the eighth inning and took advantage of it.”

That similar situation was having a runner on second base with one out.

After an Ella Delisle popup leading off the decisive eighth, the Indians had their two best hitters whack the two hardest hits of the game.

“I felt it on the end of my bat,” explained Ella Bezanson who doubled to the right centerfield fence, “and I knew it was a good hit.”

In the sixth inning, Amesbury had runners on second and third with two outs.  On that occasion St. Mary’s decided to pitch to Alana Delisle even though there was an empty base.  The strategy worked perfectly as Spartans’ ace Lily Newhall struck Alana out to end the inning.

Liv DeLong at bat in the 8th inning

Now in the eighth inning, with Ella Bezanson on second base, the option of walking the next batter (Liv DeLong) was again available.

There was a long conference on the mound as the Spartans planned what they would do.

They would pitch to Liv DeLong.

“Liv told me that she was going after the first pitch,” said Coach Waters.

“I was up there ready to hit,” recalled Liv.  “I was ready to swing at anything.  I saw the first pitch coming and I said, ‘this is it.’”

Liv hit a rope to center field.  It hasn’t rained much lately, and the ground out there is hard.  Liv’s hit took an up bounce on St. Mary’s CF Marina D’Biasio and Ella was on her way home.

Liv DeLong’s hard hit bounces up on CF Marina D’Biasio in the 8th iinning

“When Liv hit that ball, I was jumping up-and-down inside,” said Ella.

Lily Newhall
Alana Delisle

I asked Coach Pagliuca about choosing not to walk Liv DeLong: “I won’t comment on what I told the pitcher.  The girl hit the ball.  It is what it is at this point.  Liv is a good player, and she took advantage of the opportunity.”

The pitching of St. Mary’s Lily Newhall and Amesbury’s Alana Delisle was very impressive.

“Lily kept a powerful lineup off-balance all game,” said Coach Pagliuca.

Lily gave up five hits and had eight strikeouts.  The junior had a no-hitter through four innings.

Alana also yielded five hits but had ten strikeouts.

“Alana is probably the hero of the game,” said Coach Waters.  “I had no doubt that I was pitching her today.”

SS Sam Porazinski makes a nice catch

“Alana did so well today,” said her sister Ella who is the team’s catcher.  “She hit every spot.  She’s so good.”

Ella calls the pitches for her older sister. 

“Rise balls and changeups were working, as well as a few screwballs,” said Alana.  “Ella was smart about how we used them.”

St. Mary’s had won twelve straight.  Their losses were to Gloucester and Bishop Feehan.

This season Amesbury has rolled through the Cape Ann League getting no-hitters from Alana Delisle and Liv DeLong as well as mercy-rule endings in most games.

The weather was pleasantly warm.

Good turnout with the spectators located beyond the outfield fence.

St. Mary’s box
Amesbury box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Amesbury team
Coach Waters with the AHS captains
Ella Bezanson and Liv DeLong with the team about to join
SS Olivia Levasseur throws to first
Alyssa Grossi on her way home with the Spartans 2nd run
Brooke Moloney scores St. Mary’s first run
Olivia Levasseur scores Amesbury’s 2nd run
Izzy Levasseur scores Amesbury’s first run
Lily Newhall throws to first base
Alana Delisle throws to first base
Lauren Celia tagged out at second by SS Sam Porazinski
CF Ella Bezanson
Brooke Moloney
SS Sam Porazinski
Lily Newhall
1B Liv DeLong
Alana Delisle

Leave a comment

Filed under Amesbury, St. Mary's

Luis Medina: Still work to do

Yankees prospect Luis Medina has tremendous potential
Luis Medina had six walks and two wild pitches in 4 1/3 innings

(Portland ME) It had almost been two years.

August 19, 2019 was the last visit to Hadlock Field for me.

After that, Covid-19, and the reactions to it, took that pleasurable opportunity away from me.

But I was back yesterday.

My revisit was nicely arranged, as usual, by the Master Arranger, Chris Cameron.

I saw the first game of the Sea Dogs doubleheader with the Somerset Patriots.

Somerset is the AA representative of the New York Yankees.

I chase prospects and know that the good ones in AA will eventually be on the major league roster in time.

They’ll emerge on TV from Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park and I’ll recall seeing them earlier. 

Oswald Peraza drove in two with a double

The last Yankee prospect who has now made the big team, that I saw at Portland’s Hadlock Field, was Glebys Torres.

Oswald Peraza (#4 NY prospect) and Luis Medina (#7 NY prospect) are both on the current Somerset roster.

When I realized that Luis Medina was pitching, I was eager to attend the game.

Both Oswald (shortstop) and Luis were promoted to Someset earlier this month. They are impressing the Yankees’ future planners

Both of them were signed as 16-year-old’s.

Oswald Peraza is a shortstop

Oswald (21) is from Venezuela.  Luis (22) is from the Dominican Republic.

Oswald is a smooth fielder who is hitting nearly .300.

Luis was the intriguing one to me.  He was throwing 100MPH in the Dominican Republic when he was sixteen!

He’s rated to have the “best pure stuff” by Baseball America is the Yankees farm system.

He was coming off his first AA start (versus Richmond) in which he had ten strikeouts and two walks in five innings.

I saw a clip of the Richmond game. Luis had great control of his curve, changeup, and fastball.

Luis’ issue has been consistency.  Can he throw strikes?  I am no genius on these things but if I’m facing a pitcher with control issues, I am either going to be very patient (and make him throw strikes) or be teeing off on early pitches in the middle of the plate.

Luis Medina

The “inconsistent” Luis pitched against Portland and took the loss. 

He reached 99 on several pitches and may have reached 100 on some others that I didn’t check on.  But there were six walks and two wild pitches.  Only five strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

Portland scored a run on each wild pitch.

So, the 22-year-old has a distance to go but the “best pure stuff” will get you plenty more chances to fix things.

Oswalt was good in the field, and he also drove in two runs with a double.

I had seen Portland earlier this month against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Manchester (NH).

1B Triston Casas

Triston Casas (1B) is the #1 Boston Red Sox prospect.  He’s young (21) and big (6’4” – 252).

Triston works relentlessly on pre-game conditioning.  He seems determined to avoid injuries and to improve his foot speed. I saw him do a lot of stretching and sprinting.

In both parks, Triston took time to sign autographs.

If I’m Boston’s Bobby Dalbec, I’m well aware that Triston plays my position (1B), has similar power, and doesn’t strike out as much.

Newly arrived Devlin Granberg had two hits for the Sea Dogs.  He played college baseball at Dallas Baptist University.

Josh Winckowski was the Portland starter.  He came to Boston via the NY Mets in the Andrew Benintendi trade to Kansas City.

Portland starter Josh Winckowski had nine K’s and got the win
Josh Winckowski

Josh seems more than able to hold his own at the AA level.  Versus Somerset he went five innings for the win with nine strikeouts.

Other Sea Dogs I took pictures of: catcher Ronaldo Hernandez (#11 prospect), 3B Hudson Potts, and SS Ryan Fitzgerald. 

Busy night behind the plate for the Patriots catcher Donny Sands.  Luis Medina had two wild pitches and some others that were off the mark.  Addison Russ followed in relief, and he had a wild pitch.

The Sea Dogs were giving free bobbleheads of Xander Bogaerts pregame to the first five hundred fans.  An hour before the gates opened, the fans were in place.

Newcomer Devlin Granberg had two hits

It was nice to be back in the park, but things were different for the fans and for me.

The fans, at the minor league level, expect to be entertained.  They don’t know the players and usually there are plenty of youngsters in the house.  The continued reaction to Covid-19 prevents any on-field activities.  Those activities are great at keeping the non-baseball types engaged.  Various contests appear between innings and there’s never a dull moment because the Sea Dogs’ staff fills the time so well.  And there was no Slugger!  I have pulled for that guy for years.  There’s always a race and he’s always in it. He’s been in a “bit” of a slump, but I also want to be there when the big guy gets that first elusive W.  Watching him on the video screen during this game in long-away centerfield is far from the same.  Can’t wait for the federal mandate insisting on Covid-19 restrictions to end!

Catcher Ronaldo Hernandez

Personally, I was kept from the field too.  Pregame is a nice chance to get some closeups.  Not being on the edge of the dugouts may keep me safer but I miss chances on good shots.  However, I do own a 600mm lens, so I’m not totally out of range. 

Nice weather, although the sun does set so that it’s right in my face in the only open spot I could shoot from. 

I have figured out where to park to avoid the $10 charge to locate near to the stadium. I can use the walk!

Thanks again to Chris Cameron.  On short notice, he made the needed arrangements.  I did have to sign a Covid-19 waiver when I checked in. 

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Stolen base by Tate Matheny
Triston Casas
Ball bounces up on Somerset catcher Donny Sands
Devlin Granberg rounds first after getting a hit
Luis Medina pitch in the dirt
Shortstop Oswald Peraza
Oswald Peraza at bat
Shortstop Ryan Fitzgerald
3B Hudson Potts
Triston Casas signs

Leave a comment

Filed under Portland Sea Dogs, Somerset Patriots

Hall-Dale wins first Maine softball title

Hall-Dale hoists the Gold Glove
Emma Soule had two hits and two RBI

(Standish ME) “We’ve accomplished every goal we set for ourselves,” said Hall-Dale winning pitcher Ashlynn Donahue afterwards.

The Bulldogs (17-0) had never won a state softball title before but with a 5-0 victory over Dexter (15-3) this afternoon they got it done.

“We made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes and they capitalized,” explained Dexter coach Jason Hardy.

A hit batsman, a wild pitch, and an error were the mistakes that contributed to three Bulldogs’ runs in the first inning and two more in the third inning.

“They got on the board early which put us on our heels,” added Coach Hardy.

“We got some runs early and that set the tone for us,” said HD coach Steve Acedo after his team won the Class C title.

Rita Benoit pitched the final two innings

Ashlynn Donahue and Rita Benoit combined for the shutout.

The Tigers had a hit in every inning and stranded at least one baserunner in every inning, except the sixth.

“We’ve got two really good pitchers that kept their bats under control,” said Coach Acedo.

Liz Kinney was the one hitter for Dexter that was trouble every time up.  Elizabeth had a walk, two singles, and a loud triple (over CF) in the Dexter 7th.

Liz ended up with half of the Tigers hits.

Junior Emma Soule paced Hall-Dale with a hit and an RBI in both innings that the Bulldogs scored.

“I don’t know if Emma had a hit in the last two playoff games,” said Coach Acedo, “but she showed up today.  She’s one of our leaders.”

“I’ve been struggling lately,” admitted Emma.

Sarah Benner heads home with the first Hall-Dale run
LF Lexi Rideout saved a run in the 4th

No struggles today.  Emma singled to centerfield in the first and put down an RBI suicide bunt in the third.  She was also good at second base handling popups and grounders.

The best defensive play was turned in by HD leftfielder Lexi Rideout in the fourth inning.  The Tigers had a runner on third with two outs.  Sydney Dyson hit a ball toward the gap to Lexi’s left but the HD sophomore was able to run it down and save a run.

Rita Benoit picked up the save pitching two complete innings.  The Hall-Dale sophomore fanned four including the final batter of the game.

Starter Ashlynn Donahue gave up five hits and struck out three during her five innings of work.

“We were prepared to pitch Ashlynn four or five innings,” explained Coach Acedo.  “She pitched the whole game on Thursday night.”

Liz Kinney had 3 hits for Dexter

In the fifth inning, Ashlynn had two outs, two runners on, and two strikes on the batter.  Coach Acedo then came out to the mound.

I asked him about it: “I told her, just finish this one and your job is done.”  Ashlynn’s next pitch was a strike and the inning ended.

Tough loss for Dexter senior starter Avery Herrick.  She only gave up five hits while striking out seven Bulldogs.  The team from Farmingdale didn’t have a hit over the final 3 2/3 innings.  But the early HD runs proved to be the difference.

The loss today ended the Tigers fourteen game win streak.  One of the Tigers losses was to Searsport which won the Class D title today.

Weather was good.  There was a forecast of possible rain.

St. Joseph’s has their own version of Fenway’s Green Monster seats.  I was blessed to be able to get a seat out there again this year.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge if you click on them.  Some of the pictures will appear on my Instagram account – McClellandMiscellanea).

Hall-Dale box
Dexter box
Tanley Tibbetts scores the second HD run
Lily Platt scores on a wild pitch
Battle for the ball
Rita Benoit rounds third heading for home in the 3rd inning
1B Sammy Thornton
Ashlynn Donahue gets a strikeout
Final strike of the game
Celebrating begins – Rita Benoit and Lily Platt
Catcher Cheyenne Beem
Dexter team
Ashlynn Donahue
Zoe Soule
Victory lap
Hall-Dale – 2021 Class C Maine softball champions

Leave a comment

Filed under Dexter, Hall-Dale