Michael Chavis homer gets Sea Dogs past New Hampshire 5-4

Michael Chavis is back with the Sea Dogs and tonight his 2-run homer was crucial in the Portland win over New Hampshire.

Michael Chavis has a determined look.

(Portland ME)  He’s baaack!

Michael Chavis, that is.

Boston’s #1 prospect stroked the big hit (2-run homer) leading the Portland Sea Dogs to a 5-4 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on a beautiful Thursday night of Eastern League baseball.

Michael has been away from the Red Sox for 80 games after testing positive to a banned substance.  But now he’s back where he left off with the Sea Dogs.

I took a few pictures of Michael tonight and, believe me, he had the look of someone with a chip on his shoulder.

What a segue!  The featured entertainment was the Axe Women.  They had me nervous when they started throwing axes at targets!  What could go wrong?  They also had some chain saws going which kept the Hadlock grounds crew busy clearing the wood chips off the playing surface.

Chips were flying

Good crowd watched this one.  Beautiful weather and the start of the second half of the Eastern League season.

I have been following tonight’s opponent (New Hampshire Fisher Cats) since I realized in early April that they had two of minor league’s best prospects (Vladi Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette) on their roster.

I saw Vladi’s last active game with the FC’s on June 6th.  He left that game with what looked like a minor leg injury.  Hasn’t played for them since.  Today I found out that he’s rehabbing in Florida and will play a few games in the Gulf Coast League.  His likely future destination is AAA Buffalo but maybe he’ll play for New Hampshire on the way there.

That still leaves Bo Bichette playing regularly for the Fisher Cats.  The NH shortstop reminds me of Mookie Betts because he has power, but he also can steal bases.

Bo also never gets cheated when he bats.  In that area, Bo has the Dustin Pedroia approach to swinging.

Dalton Pompey and Jantzen Witte

The Fisher Cats lost CF/leadoff batter Jonathan Davis recently via a promotion to Buffalo.  The Cats had Dalton Pompey in the leadoff spot tonight.  Dalton reached the majors and now is trying to get back there.

Another of the Toronto prospects (Harold Ramirez) is now batting cleanup for NH.  He has a very solid .310 batting average going for him.

Catcher Max Pentecost is yet another prospect playing in Manchester (NH).  Tonight, Max gave the Fisher Cats an early lead with a 3-run homer.

Cavan Biggio had an rbi

Another NH player, Cavan Biggio, who wasn’t even a Top Thirty Toronto prospect at the start of the season, is now in that category.  Cavan has recently switched from 2B to 3B.  He has turned into a power hitter.  Tonight, he drove in a run.

Boston’s #12 prospect (Josh Ockimey) pinch hit late in the game.

Surprised that there weren’t any other photographers at this one.

The 7PM start had part of the field in sun with the rest of it in shade.  Makes picture-taking a challenge.  The shade started on the NH side, so I started there.  When the field was all shade, I moved over to the Portland side.  I ended up with a pretty good look at some infield plays.

When possible, I will cheer on Slugger as he tries to end his lifelong losing streak racing youngsters.  Tonight was different.  I was stunned when Slugger took off while his very young opponent was getting instructions.  That’s just not fair and it troubled me.  And the opponent needed all the help he could get.  He was set to follow Slugger, when he was supposed to be going in the opposite direction!  But despite the big lead, Slugger got what he deserved for cheating.  The big guy was ten yards from that elusive first win when the belly whoppers kicked in.  I don’t know what Slugger dined on pre-race, but it certainly didn’t settle well.  He ended up bent over and I thought that the cleanup crew would be getting a call.  Fortunately, he didn’t leave any memories but he did keel over on his back to protect his upset stomach.  Meanwhile, the opponent trotted happily across home plate.  Yet another devastating setback for Slugger.  In previous losses I have questioned his training methods.  It may be time to check his eating habits too.

Sea Dogs President Charlie Eshbach was in the house.

Thanks to media connection Chris Cameron for arranging my visit.

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

Dan Mars

Cavan Biggio

Tossing an axe at a target

Sea Dogs dugout and crowd

Bo Bichette sets up for a big swing

Michael Chavis

Jeremy Rivera takes third

Bo Bichette

Max Pentecost had a 3-run homer

2B Nick Lovullo dives for a grounder

Harold Ramirez

Cavan Biggio signs

Pitcher Adam Lau was signing before the game





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Filed under New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Portland Sea Dogs

Dom Sclafani and Carissa Winning breeze in Harrison 5K Run by the Lake

Carissa Winning tops women

Dom Sclafani wins race

(Harrison ME) “Back so soon?”

That’s what someone asked as Dom Sclafani came over the hill past the Harrison boat landing.

But he was back, and it was “soon.”

Dom finished the Harrison 5K Run by the Lake in 16:26 to win for the second straight year.

The recent graduate from Oxford Hills started fast and never let up.  His margin over Oxford Hills’ junior Noah Currier was over 2 ½ minutes.

I asked Dom afterwards about running a race with no challengers.  “I run for fun.  I keep track of how I’m doing in my head.”

Dom will be attending Wheaton College (Norton MA) in the fall.  “I plan to major in Bio/Chem,” he told me.  “Running had nothing to do with my going there but the cross-country coach at Wheaton wants me to run so I probably will.”

Dom (in orange) wastes little time separating from the rest of the runners

Carissa Winning of Norway (ME) ended up 8th overall and dominated the women’s division.  Carissa came across at the post-office finish two minutes and forty-three seconds ahead of the next woman, Carrie Bush.

Nice night for running.  The 7PM starting time makes plenty of sense temperature wise.

The number of runners was well below what it has been in the past.  Reason?  The race is run on Wednesday’s and this year the 4th was a Wednesday.  Usually the race is the night before Old Home Days starts but the 4th had the Bridgton race going.  It just didn’t work out.

The Bommer family took part – Amelia, Arno, Alyssa

This race is more of a family event anyhow.  Most of the spectators know the runners and there are plenty of smiles to be seen.

I asked Dom where his interest in running came from: “I started running toward the end of 8th grade.  I began to take it seriously during my junior year of cross-country at Oxford Hills.”

Dom’s running certainly has improved.  He ran over a minute faster this year.  He also keeps inching up the list of finishers in the prestigious Bridgton 4 on the 4th taking 8th last week.  “I was about 10-20 seconds out of 7th.  I will keep working and see if I can do better.”

I was impressed with the Back 40 stat service which covered this race.  Generally, with previous Harrison 5K’s the results aren’t posted online until the day after the race.  Tonight the results were already online when I left the awards ceremony.  That’s service!  However, the Back 40’s speediness does pressure me to get my coverage posted since I have no excuse to wait until tomorrow to do it.

Race results

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

Noah Currier 2nd

Erik Martin 3rd

Lokesh Kumar Meena 4th

Devyn Hatch 5th

Kyle Spangler 6th

Arno Bommer 7th

Last hill – Ashley Mayhan and Brailey Sands

Lilli Ackers and Kim Spangler

Dom comes over the hill past the town wharf

Back 40




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Filed under Harrison, Harrison 5K Run by the Lake, Harrison Old Home Days

Connecticut Tigers win 3rd straight 5-4 over Staten Island

Moises Nunez and Luke Sherley score for Connecticut in the second inning.

CT’s Luke Sherley walked to force in the winning run in the bottom of the 9th

(Norwich CT) The winner escaped the cellar.

On this summer evening it was the Connecticut Tigers (5-10) leaving the basement after a 5-4 win over the Staten Island Yankees (4-11) on Saturday in New York-Penn League action.

For the second straight night it was miscues by the Yankees in CT’s last at-bats that settled the outcome.

Tonight, Staten Island relief pitcher Chris Morris mishandled a bunt to load the bases with Tigers and then walked Luke Sherley on four pitches to hand the home team the winning run and end the game.

SI’s Eric Wagaman homered in the second inning

This was my first look at Class A Short Season baseball and my first trip to Dodd Stadium in Norwich.

When I realized, several weeks ago, that I would be in Connecticut, I looked for a game to get to and discovered the Connecticut Tigers.

CT media guy Kevin Gehl took care of the arrangements for me.

Dodd Stadium had the “Field of Dreams” feel to me.  Why?  It was out in the middle of nowhere!  Listed as in Norwich, there was nothing “city” about it.  There were a few houses nearby but that was it.

When Eric Wagaman of Staten Island hit a homer over the left-field fence it flew into the woods, not off a house, or cars, or the other usual things beyond baseball fences.

Happy times in the Tigers dugout

The field was in good shape with the normal collection of advertisements on the perimeter walls.  I am always confronted with those ads when my camera tries to figure out whether a player or an ad are to be in focus.

In looking over the roster information I quickly realized how young the players on these teams are.  Many of them were drafted in 2017 and some of them this year.  Not a great amount of paid-baseball experience.

I can assure you that the pitchers I saw were well ahead of the hitters!  Strikeouts galore.  Sixteen Tigers and fourteen Yankees were rung up.

I do my homework so that I can get pictures of as many prospects as is possible.  Two of the Yankees prospects (Matt Sauer #10 and Juan De Paula #28) are pitchers and I missed them.  Matt pitched the day before.  The Tigers only Top Thirty prospect at Norwich is catcher Sam McMillan and he was rested for this game.  So I concentrated a bit on the Yankees 23rd prospect outfielder Canaan Smith.

Canaan Smith takes a healthy cut for Staten Island.

CT’s Jose Quero had two hits and an rbi

The Yankees were the best possible remedy for Connecticut’s 10-game losing streak as the Tigers swept the three-game series.

One thing I learned was that SI manager Lino Diaz has a loud voice.  After his Yankees fell apart in the field, his voice was easy to hear as he ranted at his team when they came off the field.  I’m trying to imagine a major league manager doing such a thing!  And I can’t.

The play that riled up the manager happened in the second inning. CT had a runner on second with one out.  The batter struck out but the 3rd strike was dropped as the runner on second tried to steal third.  The catcher threw to third too late.  The third baseman then threw to first trying to get the struck-out batter.  The first baseman caught the ball but lost it as the runner ran into the tag dislodging the ball.  The runner on third scored.  I guess the manager had several reasons to be upset!

Eric Wagaman of SI hit one high and deep into the trees in left in the third inning.  I can’t imagine a park, including Fenway, that would have contained his blast.

For a team that has struggled in the early going, it was good to see some happiness in the CT dugout.

Isrrael De La Cruz in the Connecticut dugout

The Tigers Teddy Hoffman had a two-run double and teammate Jose Quero followed with an RBI single.  That twosome was at the bottom of the Connecticut batting order.

Isrrael De La Cruz has been CT’s best hitter in the early going but he too was on the bench for this one.  I did get him in the dugout.

Dodd Stadium is one of those parks where you, as a spectator/photographer/player, need to be paying attention.  Why?  There is very little protection from batted balls.  No fencing over the dugouts and down the lines.  The announcer rightly alerted folks to tune in to the action.  I didn’t see anyone get hit but I did see a foul liner streak just over the concession stands on the concourse.  Someone serving or someone in line was fortunate.

Hadlock Field (Portland Sea Dogs) now has netting along their baselines.  The folks at Dodd might want to consider it.

The more I’m in dugouts the more I wish I knew Spanish.  So many players speak it.

Getting to the stadium (for the first time) from New Haven was an adventure.  The signs on 395 were posted for the stadium but my GPS chose an “indirect” route.  Going home was better.

Gio Arriera in the Tigers Den

I liked the baseball I saw.  It is refreshing to see players eager to please.  Autograph signing isn’t a struggle.  Quite a few Yankee fans chasing signatures.  Canaan Smith was the big draw.

Connecticut Tigers baseball is good entertainment at an affordable price.

I try to avoid stadium food but when it is readily available in the press box I cave in.  Did I really need the pizza?

I was alert enough to get a nice picture of CT pitcher Gio Arriera.  Gio was the winner the day before.  Today he was available for pictures in the Tigers’ Den.

I continue to wait for a mascot to outrun one of the young attendees.  I try to analyze the races to see where they get lost.  In today’s run, I think that the Tiger mascot was overmatched.  His opponent had plenty of speed and once he had the lead it was over.  In my opinion, the race was given away at the start.  The young opponent was past the first-base bag and heading to right field but benevolently the Tiger mascot redirected him.  That’s all this speedy kid needed!  Maybe next time.

Again, thanks to Kevin Gehl for making my visit possible.  I really enjoyed it.

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

Eduardo Torrealba and Jose Quero

3B Danienger Perez

Shane Cooper

1B Eric Wagaman

2B Alexis Garcia (2 hits)

Yankees catcher Jerry Seitz

3B Shane Cooper

Shortstop Luke Sherley

Cather Moises Nunez (20) slides under shortstop Eduardo Torrealba (13)

RF Ulrich Bojarski makes a nice catch

Canaan Smith on deck

Dive back to first

Jose Quero seems to realize that the team mascot is about to lose another race

CT the Tiger in trouble on the bases

CT the Tiger ignored after losing race

Dayton Dugas and Yomar Valentin


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Filed under Connecticut Tigers, Staten Island Yankees

North Attleboro gets first baseball title 4-3 over Beverly

Force out at second ends the game

North Attleboro – Division Two state champs

Zach DeMattio

(Lowell MA) North Attleboro held off Beverly, 4-3, to win the Division Two state baseball title on Thursday night at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.

“We’ve worked all our lives for this,” said Zach DeMattio afterwards.  “There’s no better feeling.”

Zach was the hitting star for the Rockets (22-2) driving in all four runs with a single, double, and a sacrifice fly.

Zach’s sacrifice fly in the fifth inning gave NA a “comfortable” four-run lead, or so it seemed, with the way UMaine commit Nick Sinacola was pitching.

But Beverly (20-5) had other ideas.  In the bottom of the fifth the Panthers loaded the bases on a double (Ryan Munzing), single (Tim McCarthy), and a walk (Matt Collings).  That brought Northeast Conference MVP Spencer Brown to the plate.  Spencer reached the left field fence, cleared the bases, and BHS was within a run.

Spencer Brown cleared the bases of three teammates in the 5th inning

“That ball was hit 340 feet,” explained Beverly coach Dave Wilbur.  “In most parks that’s a home run.”

But it didn’t go out and that 4-3 held the rest of the way.

“They were a hitter or two better than we were today,” said Coach Wilbur.  “This game could have gone either way.”

The Panthers stranded two in the first and twice ended innings with a runner on third base.

“Nick (Sinacola) was going to stay out there no matter what,” said Coach Mike Hart afterwards.  “He has been our strength.”

There was little to choose between pitchers Spencer Brown and Nick Sinacola.  Both allowed six hits and struck out nine.

Nick Sinacola

Spencer twice had a runner on third with no outs and escaped both times.  In the North Attleboro second, he struck out three straight, to end the threat.

The Panthers were within a run with two innings left but costly baserunning hurt them in each of the last two innings.

In the 6th, Matt Ploszay tried to stretch a single to right into a double.  RF Jeff Gale threw a strike to nail him.

In the 7th, Ryan Munzing walked leading off. When next batter Connor Hanlon squared to bunt, the pitch got a short distance away from catcher Zach DeMattio.  Ryan went well off the base and Zach alertly got him in a rundown.  Nick Sinacola applied the tag although Ryan was already out for going wide to avoid the tag.

The Panthers had an infield single later in the 7th inning by Tim McCarthy but Matt Collins’ grounder to second turned into a game-ending forceout.

Ryan Munzing caught in a 7th inning rundown

The costly rundown in the seventh kept Spencer Brown from getting another crack at Nick Sinacola.

“They were doing the right thing to bunt him over,” said Coach Hart.  “He was the tying run.  Zach made a great play to get the out.”

Coach Wilbur may have been referring to those last two Beverly innings when he said, “These are high school kids.  Nothing is going to be perfect.  The kids played their butts off.”

Brendan McHugh gets one of NA’s six steals

Looking for another reason why the Rockets won the game?  Six stolen bases.  NA was able to move into scoring position via the steal in the run-producing first (Nick Sinacola) and fifth (Brendan McHugh) innings.

Nick Sinacola: “Early in the game my fast ball was working.  Later, my curve was too and that made a big difference.”

Coach Wilbur: “Spencer was right there with Nick Sinacola.  From the 4th inning on he was unhittable.  We had a great season winning two championships.”

The title was the first one ever for North Attleboro.

The Rockets (Hockomock League) only losses were to two Super Eight teams Mansfield and Franklin.

Matt Collins tripled in the 3rd inning

NA blew through the D2 South outscoring three opponents 41-4.

Beverly (Northeast Conference) upset #1 seed Masco to win the D2 North finals.

The Panthers were very disappointed by the loss, but Coach Wilbur saw the lighter side when he quipped regarding Spencer Brown’s wall-hitting triple, “If he had just done ten more pushups a day it would have gone over.”

NA coach Mike Hart was notified after the game that he had been selected as Division 2 Coach-of-the-Year.  The notifier was planning a photo-shoot in Braintree the next day.  Mike sheepishly said that he wouldn’t be able to attend.  Why?  He was getting married on Saturday!

Brendan McHugh (18) and Nick Sinacola (23) scored on Zach DeMattio’s double in the second inning.

I jokingly asked Mike what there was left for him to do!  This is a first-year coach leading North Attleboro to their first-ever state baseball title.  He answered by saying he wanted to develop baseball players and about his eight years with the program.  However, I’m guessing that in a week or so when the reality of all that has happened, including the wedding, hits him he will realize what an amazing time this has been for him.

The weather at LeLacheur was terrific. The internet?  Not so good afterwards, hence the delayed posting of this story.

Driving to Lowell during rush hour traffic is always a challenge when 495 is in the mix.

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

Zach DeMattio, Coach Mike Hart, Nick Sinacola

Brendan McHugh steals second in the 3rd inning

Aidan Harding leaps for a high throw and Matt Collins reaches first

Nick Sinacola scores the first Rockets’ run

Matt Collins, Coach Dave Wilbur, Tim McCarthy

Aidan Harding celebrates

Matt Collins at game’s end

Matt Ploszay out at second in the 6th inning

Brendan McHugh avoids a tag


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Filed under Beverly, North Attleboro

Austin Prep reaches D3 title game after 5-3 win over Dedham

Jason Leonard scores a run for Dedham in the first inning

Colin Jaena induced fourteen ground ball outs.

(Lynn MA) Austin Prep held off Dedham, 5-3, to advance to the Division 3 title game on Saturday at Holy Cross.

The Cougars (23-2) trailed 1-0 after a half inning but three batters into their half of the same inning they were up 3-1 partly due to senior Peter Burns’ two-run homer.

“I was looking to see a pitch deep and drive it,” said the BC commit afterwards.  “It was an inside fastball.”

Austin Prep added two more runs in the fourth inning and it was a good thing they did because Dedham got two of their own in the seventh and had the go-ahead run at the plate.

“Nick Cafarelli had a big hit (2-run single in 4th) and we needed those couple of extra runs at the end,” explained AP coach Steve Busby.

Junior Colin Jaena was the complete-game winner for Austin Prep.  His success was all about getting the Marauders to hit the ball on the ground. Dedham had fourteen groundball outs. “My two-seam fastball down in the zone was very effective,” said Colin after the game.  “Coach Merrick did an awesome job of calling the pitches.”

Peter Burns had a two-run homer for AP in the first

“Colin was hitting his spots,” said catcher Peter Burns.  “We wanted to attack batters early in the count and get up.”

Dedham coach Don Savi was okay with the loss: “I’m pretty sure that we’re the two best teams in Division Three. AP should have been a Super Eight team.”

The Marauders (20-5) got an unearned run in the first inning.  Shortstop Logan Bravo mishandled a two-out grounder and next batter David Logan drove in Jason Leonard with single to right.

Peter Burns (walk) and Logan Bravo (double) reached in the fourth inning ahead of Nick Cafarelli’s single to centerfield.  Both runners scored, and Nick was cut down at second.

Dedham had two on in the fourth, but Colin Jaena worked out of it by getting a fly to center (Peter Coughlin) and a groundout (Billy McCaig).

Shortstop Logan Bravo flips to 2B Jon Gilbride to end the game

The Cougars weren’t as fortune with that two-on, two-out thing in the seventh.  In that game-on-the-line spot, both Jason Leonard and Griffin O’Connor singled in runs.  That put the tying runs on base but Colin Jaena was able to get his 14th grounder of the game and teammates SS Logan Bravo and 2B Jon Gilbride combined to get a game-ending force-out at second.

“It was a little scary at the end,” admitted Colin Jaena afterwards.

Austin Prep had to come back earlier in the tournament after getting off to a bad start. “Swampscott scored four runs in the first inning and we came back with five,” said Coach Busby.

Peter Burns continued to impress Dedham coach Don Savi: “We knew that he can hit the ball well.  He hit another one that our centerfielder (Billy McCaig) made a ridiculous catch on.”

Griffin O’Connor takes a cut

Coach Savi was proud of what his seniors contributed to Dedham baseball: “Two years ago we won our conference for the first time in forty years.  Two years later we were battling for the state title.  It’s to their credit.”

Jason Leonard paced the Marauders with two hits.  He also scored a run and drove in a run.

Colin Jaena, Nick Cafarelli, and Jake Thain had two hits apiece in AP’s ten-hit night.

The Cougars move on to face Taconic. “They should do very well,” said Coach Savi.

AP coach Steve Busby

The game started late because the teams were late getting to Lynn.  Coach Savi referenced a three-hour bus ride from Dedham afterwards.

Nice night a Fraser Field.

Members of the Austin Prep softball team were at the game in uniform.  Must have come straight from practice.

Impressed with the Dedham support for their team.  After every inning the coaches would talk with the team and the fans cheered them on.

Dedham had seven hits and stranded eight runners.

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

CF Dylan Arnold catches a fly in the 4th inning

Catcher Peter Burns dives for a wild throw

Dylan Arnold

Catcher Peter Burns and pitcher Colin Jaena

Cougars celebrate

Shortstop Logan Bravo

Starter Jason Leonard

2B David Logan gets a force at second

Austin Prep scored two runs in the 4th on Nick Cafarelli’s single

3B Alex Martinez throws to first

Austin Prep turned two to end the Dedham 6th




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Madison recovers to win Class C softball title 7-3 versus Narraguagus

The Class C title celebration begins around pitcher Lauria LeBlanc

Madison Bulldogs raise the Gold Glove

Pitcher Lanie Perry with the runnerup trophy

(Standish ME) The first half-inning was a three-run disaster for Madison and shortstop Virgina Worthen (3 errors).

But this was a seven-inning game and the Bulldogs, including Virginia, recovered strongly and won the Class C tile, 7-3, over Narragaugus on Saturday afternoon at St. Joseph’s.

“We settled down after the first inning,” said Madison coach Chris LeBlanc afterwards.  “Mistakes are going to be made.  They knew to leave them behind and go to the next play.”

The undefeated Bulldogs (20-0) got a run back in their half of the first and then gained significant separation with a five-run second.

I realize that there were five innings left and time for a Narraguagus comeback, but Madison’s Lauria LeBlanc (Coach LeBlanc’s cousin’s daughter) overwhelmed the team from Harrington after the dust cleared from those three unearned first-inning runs.

The sophomore retired fifteen straight Lady Knights before Kylee Joyce grounded a hard single to left with two outs in the sixth inning.

Lauria LeBlanc struck out fourteen Lady Knights

Lauria finished with fourteen strikeouts and no walks.  She allowed only two hits.

“Their pitcher pitched a great game,” said Narraguagus coach Tracie Martin.  “We got those three runs in the first inning and she shut us down for the next six.”

As Lauria began to settle in during the early innings, the Madison bats and baserunning started to unsettle the Lady Knights.

Senior Ashley Emery started the Madison first with a beautiful bunt.  Ashley then took advantage of a passed ball (catcher Kaci Alley) and not only reached second but third as well.  From there, Whitney Bess’s fielder’s choice brought Ashley in.

The Lady Knights, however, still held a 3-1 lead after the first inning.  That lead disappeared in the second inning.

Madison catcher Ashley Emery

A bad combination of walks and clutch hitting generated five runs for Madison.

Pitcher Lanie Perry walked three in that second inning and all of them scored.

Lauria LeBlanc walked harmlessly to lead off the inning.  Lanie then K’d the next two batters (She had eight strikeouts in the game).

But then sophomore Emily Edgerly, as she had done in the regional finals, whacked a triple into the gap in right center scoring Lauria.

The next two batters reached to load the bases for Sydney LeBlanc.  The MHS senior ripped a hard shot down the opposite line (she’s a left-handed batter) to clear the bases.  Suddenly, the Bulldogs were up 5-3.

Madison wasn’t done.  Senior Virgina Worthen drove Sydney across with a hard liner off 3B Kyle Joyce’s glove. That put the team from the Mountain Valley Conference in front 6-3.

“They (Narraguagus) hadn’t been in a big game like this before,” said Virgina.  “We knew we could come back.”  (2002 was the last time Narraguagus was in a title game.)

Shortstop Virginia Worthen’s wild throw allowed two Narraguagus runs in the first inning

Regarding the three first-inning errors: “For some reason I started off really nervous.  I was glad to put those three errors out of my system.”

Emily Edgerly, Ashley Emery (24), and Whitney Bess (4) all scored in the second on Sydney LeBlanc’s two-out double

Lauria LeBlanc dominated the rest of the game.  “They hadn’t face a lefty before,” explained Lauria.  “My ball spins outside to right-handed batters.”

Kristin Kennedy scores the first Narraguagus run

Coach LeBlanc had praise for catcher Ashley Emery: “I thought that Ashley called an outstanding game, mixing it up, calling for some changeups.”

Ashley Emery: “Lauria’s outside pitch was effective as well as her changeup.  Part of what I called was based on where the batter was standing.”

Madison added an unearned run in the sixth inning. A drop by LF Anna Strout and a bad throw by pitcher Lanie Perry enabled Emily Edgerly to give the Bulldogs an extra run.

Narraguagus had only two hits including this one by Kylee Joyce in the sixth inning

The Lady Knights (18-2) were disappointed by the final result but hoped for better things next year.  Their lone graduate is shortstop Madison Leighton.

Lanie Perry: “We made some errors that were costly.  We need to keep our chins up.  Hopefully we come back better next year.”

Lanie also told me afterwards that now that the season is over she can get back to her lobster boat.  The Cherryfield native has a commercial license.

Coach Tracie Martin: “The second inning was the turning point.  Their 9th hitter (Emily Edgerly) had a big hit in the regional finals too.  It wasn’t a total shock that she did it again.”

Emily and Ashley Emery both scored two runs.  Sydney LeBlanc had three RBI.

Narraguagus, from the Penobscot Valley Conference, was 15-3 last year.

The Lady Knights came into today’s game averaging nearly 14 runs per outing.

The Bulldogs have been in thirteen title games including five of the last six.  They recently won titles in 2014 and 2016.

1B Aishah Malloy

Coach Chris LeBlanc was honored by the Madison faithful after the game.  It was his 100th win as head coach.  He has a remarkable 100-4 record counting today’s game.

The Bulldogs graduate six starters but pitcher Lauria LeBlanc is not one of them.

I saw junior Mckenna Smith get nineteen strikeouts in last year’s Class B Old Town win at St. Joe’s.  I was surprised that OT didn’t return to the Class B title game this year with Mckenna still pitching for them.

I got to Standish, from North Bridgton, over an hour early and it seemed as if I was the last one to arrive!  The teams were working out, the fans were in place, and the second-story pressbox was filled.  I was told that I could sit in an elevated seat beyond the fence in left field.  That turned out to be a great place to watch a game.  It was covered and elevated.  It was a poor man’s “green monster” seat!

I am posting my scorebook.  Understand that I was nearly 100 yards from the official scorer.

Narraguagus box

Madison box

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

Class C champion Madison Bulldogs2018

Narraguagus pregame

Madison pregame

Kirstin Kennedy bunts in the first inning

Shortstop Virginia Worthen chases a loose ball

Ashley Emery takes two bases on a passed ball

Emily Edgerly’s 2-out triple drove in the 2nd Madison run

Coach Chris LeBlanc talks with Virginia Worthen

Freshman Anna Strout chases a fly in the 7th

Ashley Emery’s bunt led to a 7th Madison run

Emily Edgerly scores in the 6th inning





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Amesbury softball surprises St. Mary’s 4-2 in Division 3 North semifinals

Hayley Catania ended the first and fifth with consecutive strikeouts

Emma DiPietro (triple) scored in the 5th inning to tie the game

(Lowell MA) Neither team expected to even be in this game!

St. Mary’s was young while Amesbury was seriously reconstructed.

On this afternoon, it was the reconstructed team that put enough pieces together to win the Division 3 North softball semifinals 4-2 at Martin Field in Lowell.

The top piece for Amesbury (15-8) was senior Hayley Catania.  The AHS pitcher allowed five hits (three of them in the first inning) and struck out ten Spartans.  But there’s more to the story: Hayley also had two hits and an RBI.  Her alert baserunning keyed one of the Indians runs in the 2-run fifth.

Shortstop Alyssa Grossi makes a nice running catch

Both teams had powered past quarter-final opponents.  St. Mary’s had four homers versus Pope John while Amesbury had three long ones against Lynnfield.

Today’s contest had only two loud hits and both of them were by Amesbury.  Emma DiPietro had a triple in the 2-run fifth and Hayley had an RBI double in the Indians 2-run seventh.

St. Mary’s (14-9) scratched out a run in the first.  Consecutive singles (Felicia D’Alessandro, Marina DiBiasio, Jordan Sullivan) produced a run.  This was where Amesbury’s Hayley Catania gave us a glimpse of the kind of game she would have as she then struck out Jennie Iudice and Taylor Sullivan to end the inning.

Amesbury had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but pitcher Lily Newhall kept the ball in the infield and escaped being scored on.

Starting with the 2 K’s in the first inning, Hayley retired eleven in a row including six strikeouts.

While the pitching was terrific for Amesbury they still trailed by a run until the fifth inning.

Emma Catania singled home a run in the 5th but was thrown out stretching it.

Junior Emma DiPietro tripled with one out over CF Christina Nowicki’s head.  Hayley Catania walked but on ball four the ball got away from catcher Jordan Sullivan allowing Emma to score and tie the game.  Hayley alertly took second when the Spartans concentrated too much on Emma crossing the plate.  That alertness paid off for AHS because when her sophomore sister Emma singled to center, Hayley came home with the go-ahead run.

Now down, 2-1, the pressure was on the St. Mary’s offense.  Alyssa Grossi singled to center opening the bottom of the 5th.  A sacrifice bunt (Katie O’Neill) moved her to second with one out.  But here came Hayley Catania, doing exactly as she had done in the first inning, striking out the next two batters (Angelina Catino and Christina Nowicki) to hold the slim lead.

Emma DiPietro’s triple goes over CF Christina Nowicki’s head

Both teams went down in order in the sixth.

The seventh was not for the weak of heart on either team!

Amesbury put two runners on with no one out on a walk (Emily O’Donnell) and Julia Campbell reaching on an error by pitcher Christina Nowicki.  Freshman Maddie DiPietro pinch ran for Emily.  That brought up Hayley and St. Mary’s coach Paige Licata had a meeting at the mound.

“We talked about walking her (Hayley),” said Coach Licata.  “I told Christina (Nowicki) to keep the ball away from her, and she did, but the ball was still pulled to left.  With a hitter like that you take your lumps and hope you can produce more runs.”

Hayley took that outside pitch over LF Julia Nickolau’s head bringing Maddie DiPietro across and getting Julia Campbell to third.  Senior Hannaih Burdick’s grounder to second enabled Julia to tally Amesbury’s 4th run.

Maddie DiPietro (8) and Julia Campbell (10) wait on the bases to see if Hayley Catania’s long fly will be caught….it wasn’t.

Hayley Catania happy to survive the St. Mary’s 7th

The Indians would need those extra runs in St. Mary’s final at-bats.  Things started harmlessly enough (for Amesbury) as two Spartans struck out.  Then Hayley walked Alyssa Grossi and Katie O’Neill followed with a 2-strike single to right.

Was a miracle comeback about to happen?

The Spartans created a rundown between first and second and Alyssa Grossi scored as Katie O’Neill got back to first safely.  Now the tying run was at the plate.

But Hayley got Angelina Catino to fly out to RF Karleigh Walker insuring Amesbury a trip to Saturday’s North final against Austin Prep.

The Indians reaching the D3 North surprised their coach (Jacqui Waters) as much as anyone: “I have only two players playing where they played last year.  This is all ecstasy to me.  I never thought we’d be here.”

Lily Newhall gave up five hits over six innings.

Coach Paige Licata was surprised that her team made it as well:  “We started 0-3 with a team with no seniors and two juniors.  Today we used a 7th grader (Angelina Catino) at first and an 8th grader (Lily Newhall) pitching.  There was no one crying afterwards because everyone will be back.”

Hayley Catania: “To beat St. Mary’s was a first for me.  My best pitch today (like against Lynnfield) was my drop curve.”

St. Mary’s had only three outfield outs, all to RF Karleigh Walker.

Coach Waters: “Our two seniors (Hannaih Burdick & Hayley Catania) have held this team together.  Often graduated seniors aren’t like that but our two have stayed attentive.  We practice three hours a day, six days a week on the basics and go at it as hard as we can.  We’ve gotten better and better as the season has progressed.  I learned that approach from previous coach Chris Perry and it has paid off.”

Weather looked as if it could rain at any time.

RF Karleigh Walker successfully handled three fly balls including the one that ended the game.

Funny moment: I asked Coach Licata about Hayley’s pitching and she said that she’d coached against her two years ago.  She then asked me laughing, “She’s a senior, I hope, isn’t she?”

No one I talked to afterwards knew when the last time was that Amesbury softball had beaten St. Mary’s.  Coach Waters guessed that it might have been 2005.  It had obviously been a while!

I did see Amesbury soccer defeat St. Mary’s in the tournament this season at Landry Stadium.

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

Christina Nowicki

Waiting for the game to start

Pitcher Christina Nowicki loses the ball attempting to tag Julia Campbell

Maddie DiPietro turns 3B and heads home in the 7th inning

Hayley Catania after the win

Victory hugs

2B Felicia D’Alessandro tosses to first

Hayley Catania throws to first

Shortstop Alyssa Grossi throws to first

Freshman Marina DiBiaso

3B Julia Campbell throws out bunter Katie O’Neill




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