Monthly Archives: June 2013

Middleboro wins 4-3 thriller over Hopedale to gain Division 3 baseball title

Sam Yost slides across with the game winner for Middleboro

Sam Yost slides across with the game winner for Middleboro

Kevin Huscher celebrates his 2-run game winning hit

Kevin Huscher celebrates his 2-run game winning hit

(Lowell)  “Exciting,” wouldn’t justly describe this game.  Ask anyone who was there at sunny LeLacheur Park on Saturday morning!

Middleboro got a 2-out, 2-run walkoff single by senior Kevin Huscher to pull out a 4-3 win over Hopedale and capture the 2013 Division 3 baseball title.

Hopedale (21-4) scratched out a go-ahead run in the top of the seventh and then brought on senior Ian Strom to seal the deal.  Ian came in with a 9-1 record having K’d twelve batters in his last outing.

The sequence in the last inning elevated the tension: walk (Taylor Frazier), strikeout (Cody Braga), walk (Brandon Lavelle – Sam Yost runs for him), strikeout (Paul Sances), and walk (Neil Perry).

So you can see the pattern the inning was going in.  The outcome rested on the arm of Ian Strom and the bat of Kevin Huscher.  During the at-bat, Kevin hit a long foul fly down the rightfield line that rightfielder sophomore Kevin Lynch came close to getting.  But he didn’t, and then Kevin hit a sharp grounder up the middle.  With two outs, all runners were on the move.  Junior Taylor Frazier scored easily and pinch runner senior Sam Yost was home from second long before the throw came in.

It was clearly the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat right in front of our eyes!

Senior Alex Bean pitched two innings of relief to get the win for the Sachems (21-5).

Middleboro picked up their first run in the second inning and took a 1-0 lead.  Senior Andrew Card singled and reached second on a wild pickoff attempt by Blue Raiders starter senior Dan Mantoni.  Taylor Frazier bunted Andrew to third before sophomore Cody Braga’s sacrifice fly delivered Andrew.

Chris Embree rounds third

Chris Embree rounds third

Hopedale took the lead in the fourth with two runs, both unearned.  MHS second baseman junior Neil Perry dropped a popup and then had a hard one-hopper glance off his glove enabling Ian Strom and senior Chris Embree to score a pair of gift runs.

Dan Mantoni had limited the Sachems to three hits over five innings but in the sixth inning Middleboro got a 2-out/2 strike triple from Andrew Card to right bringing Kevin Huscher across from third tying this game at, 2-2.

Hopedale celebrates their run in the 7th inning

Hopedale celebrates their run in the 7th inning

But back came Hopedale in the seventh.  Kevin Lynch singled to deep short leading off and Luke Manoli bunted him to second.  A ground ball to short (Kevin Huscher) went well for Hopedale. Kevin tried for the runner (Kevin Lynch) at third and didn’t get him…….it was close.  Cole DeDonato followed with a slow grounder to second that allowed Kevin Lynch to give Hopedale a big one-run lead.

However, six batters later, that one-run Hopedale lead was gone as well as a chance for their first state baseball title.

2013 Division 3 champs

2013 Division 3 champs

Instead, it was Middleboro winning a second title (they won in 1997) in a dramatic way.

There were plenty of memorable plays in this game.

(1) On a single to left by Chris Embree in the second, senior Tyler D’Urso was held at third (from second) even though LF Paul Sances bobbled the ball.  Chris tried for second on the play and was thrown out on a good throw.  Might have been a run there for Hopedale.

(2) Pitcher Dan Mantoni picked Alex Bean off second (1-6) to end the Middleboro second.

(3) Sophomore Kevin Bresciani reached third with two outs but Middleboro starter Cody Younger K’d Cole DeDonato looking to end inning.

Paul Sances dives

Paul Sances dives

(4) Leftfielder Paul Sances saves a run with two straight diving catches in the fifth inning.

(5) Centerfielder Ian Strom got the tip of his glove on Kevin Huscher’s double in the sixth inning.  Kevin later scored the tying run.

On this hot day, Middleboro coach Bill Lawrence probably wasn’t unhappy to get the ice water poured over him in the post-game celebrating.

Kevin Huscher had the game of his life: a walk, a steal, scored tying run, and drove in the final two runs.

Andrew Card had two hits, an RBI, and scored a run.

Kevin Lynch paced Hopedale with two hits and a run.  And I’m sure he’d like another try at Kevin Huscher’s foul fly in the bottom of the seventh!

Hopedale coach Joe Small is retiring after twenty-four years.

No team had gotten more than two runs off of the Blue Raiders in their 12-game winning streak leading into the Middleboro game.

Ian Strom

Ian Strom

Ian Strom will be pitching for UMass Lowell in 2014.  They play their home games at LeLacheur Park, also the home of the Lowell Spinners.

Middleboro ends their season winning ten straight.  A lot of serious baseball is played in that town.  Their Little League teams have reached the state semi-finals five times since the year 2000.

Their 2008 Little League team lost in the state finals.  Taylor Frazier, Cody Braga, and Andrew Card were on that team.

LeLacheur Park is a terrific place to view and photograph a game.  The parking?  Well, not so good.  The Spinners start their home season this week.

Middleboro boxscore

Hopedale boxscore

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

Ian Strom stretches out in the sixth

Ian Strom stretches out in the sixth

Kevin Huscher leaps in with tying run in sixth

Kevin Huscher leaps in with tying run in sixth

Cody Braga

Cody Braga

Middleboro starter Cody Younger

Middleboro starter Cody Younger

Kevin Huscher leaps and throws

Kevin Huscher leaps and throws

Andrew Card gets first Middleboro run

Andrew Card gets first Middleboro run

Neil Perry waits for throw

Neil Perry waits for throw

Hopedale starter Dan Mantoni

Hopedale starter Dan Mantoni

Brandon Lavelle gets bat on ball

Brandon Lavelle gets bat on ball

Tyler DUrso gets Taylor Frazier at third

Tyler DUrso gets Taylor Frazier at third

Winning pitcher Alex Bean

Winning pitcher Alex Bean

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Middleboro reaches D3 state finals with 10-1 win over Whittier

Middleboro starts to celebrate Division 3 semi-finals win over Whittier

Middleboro starts to celebrate Division 3 semi-finals win over Whittier

Pitcher Taylor Frasier dominated Whittier

Pitcher Taylor Frasier dominated Whittier

(Lynn)  A week ago Whittier committed five errors at Fraser Field against Newburyport in the D3 North semi-finals and still won, 6-2.

Today the Wildcats committed five errors at Fraser Field against Middleboro in the Division 3 state semi-finals and were not nearly as fortunate getting routed, 10-1, on a cloudy, drizzly Wednesday afternoon.

Middleboro (20-5) will be in Lowell on Saturday at Lelacheur Park facing Hopedale (21-3) for the D3 state title.

The Sachems had four tainted runs and a 4-1 lead before collecting five more runs in a three-error fifth inning to ice this one.

The pitching of Taylor Frazier (4 hits/7 K’s) and the tight Middleboro defense (one error) made the out-of-character performance by the Wildcats all the more noticeable.

Whittier (18-7) had won six straight before today’s game.

The Sachems have now won nine straight and eleven of their last twelve.  They are 15-2 in their last seventeen games and are averaging at least three runs each game.

The Wildcats had five errors.

The Wildcats had five errors.

The Whittier/Middleboro matchup was one in which either the bats of Whittier (27 runs in four tourney games) or the pitching of Middleboro (3 runs allowed in four tourney games) would prevail.

The Sachems pitching prevailed as junior Taylor Frasier faced only twenty-five batters which is four over the minimum.  Taylor recorded five of his seven K’s in the fifth and sixth innings.

Whittier got their run in the fourth inning.  Jaylin Deveau singled and took second on Paul Sances throwing error.  Ralph Francesconi’s single scored Jaylin.

The Sachems tallied a run (Neil Perry) in the first inning thanks to two walks and two wild pitches (starter Devan Doucette).

Middleboro added two more runs in the second inning.  An error (3B Jaylin Deveau), two steals, and a misplayed flyball to left enabled Taylor Frasier and Cody Braga to cross the plate.

Kevin Huscher

Kevin Huscher

In the third inning, Kevin Huscher singled, reached second on a fielder’s choice, and third on a wild pitch.  A sacrifice fly by Andrew Card brought Kevin home.

Three walks, three Whittier errors, and two Middleboro hits combined to give the D3 South champs five additional runs in the fifth inning.  The Wildcats turned a nice 6-4-3 double play in the inning but by then the damage was done.

Sophomore Kyle Flanagan pitched the sixth for Whittier.  Neil Perry reached on an error in that inning and was driven home by Alex Bean to garner the tenth Middleboro run.

Paul Sances and Cody Younger each had two RBI for Middleboro.  Neil Perry scored three runs and Kevin Huscher scored two runs for the winners.

Nate Frongillo, Jaylin Deveau, Ian Bates, and Ralph Francesconi had singles for the team from Haverhill.

The Wildcats had three different third basemen and each of them had an error.

Connor Manning eyes popup

Connor Manning eyes popup

Whittier had runners thrown out at first and at second.

The Wildcats were the champs of the Commonwealth Conference.

Middleboro won the Patriot Conference for the second straight year.

Middleboro boxscore

Whittier boxscore

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

Alex Bean caught in a rundown

Alex Bean caught in a rundown

Neil Perry

Neil Perry

Cody Younger

Cody Younger

Kyle Flanagan

Kyle Flanagan

Andrew Card

Andrew Card

Paul Sances

Paul Sances

Andrew Wells

Andrew Wells

pregame introductions

pregame introductions

play at first

play at first

Nate Frongillo steals second

Nate Frongillo steals second

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Burlington holds off Tewksbury 6-5 to take Division 2 North softball title

Burlington - Division 2 North softball champions

Burlington – Division 2 North softball champions

(Lowell)  Burlington (21-3) built up a 6-1 lead after four innings and hung on for dear life as Tewksbury (17-7) came at them late on Monday afternoon at UM Lowell‘s River View Field.

The Red Devils survived, 6-5, and are the Division 2 North champs.  They will face D2 South champs Bishop Stang on Wednesday (6PM) at Martin Field in Lowell in the state semi-finals.  The title game is scheduled for Saturday.

The Redmen looked done in trailing by four in the drizzle of the top of the seventh.  However, a near-disastrous Burlington mix of walks (2), hits (2), and throwing errors (2) garnered three of the runs Tewksbury needed to even things.

Catcher Krista Toscano eyes the final out as Meaghan McLaughlin runs for the plate

Catcher Krista Toscano eyes the final out as Meaghan McLaughlin runs for the plate

Senior Meaghan McLaughlin stood on third representing the tying run with two outs but with the season on the line Burlington pitcher senior Kelly McCarthy got sophomore Jessica Silva to pop out to junior catcher Krista Toscano to record the final out.

Melissa Cordwell heads home with the fifth Redman run on an overthrow in the 7th inning.

Melissa Cordwell heads home with the fifth Redman run on an overthrow in the 7th inning.

Yes, it was exciting.  Certainly more so with those in the UMass Lowell stands with a horse in the race.

Tewksbury (Merrimac Valley League) scored their first run in the third inning.  Senior Tiffanie Marsh doubled home senior Sam LaFerriare who had tripled.  Second baseman sophomore Michaela Mazure saved a second run later in the inning robbing senior Melissa Cordwell on a hot grounder.

Burlington (Middlesex League) answered with four runs batting around in their half of the third inning.  Michaela Mazure hit a two-run double over Erin Walsh’s head in left.  Sophomore Kaela Hersee and Kelly McCarthy also had RBI for the Red Devils.  Burlington had runners on second and third as the inning ended with senior Amy Hunter popping out.

costly throw to first

costly throw to first

Tewksbury will not have fond memories of the two-run Burlington 4th.  A throwing error (3B freshman Kirsten Dick) and a bad decision (1B Melissa Cordwell) opened the door for both runs.  After junior Sheldon Kayla singled (she had three hits), senior Danielle Coveno’s bunt was thrown past first and ended up in the right field corner.  Sheldon was able to score and Danielle reached third on the play.  Next batter junior April Adams grounded to first as Danielle broke for the plate.  I heard the Tewksbury coach yell to throw it home, and from where I was standing (next to the Tewksbury dugout), the chance of getting the runner was high.  But the runner going to first was tagged out and the opportunity for a play at the plate was lost.  Those two Burlington runs turned out to be awfully significant.

Brooke Hardy

Brooke Hardy

Tewksbury put three singles (junior Brooke Hardy, junior Shannon McLaughlin, Melissa Cordwell) together to get a run in their half of the fifth.  Nice catch of a foul popup by 3B senior Haley Currie during that inning.

Then came the Tewksbury 7th.  I briefly described the inning earlier.  Here are the specifics.  The inning started with a walk by Sam LaFerriere (Nora Butler pinchran) and a long double by Tiffanie Marsh to the base of the screen in center.

Next, Michaela Mazure caught Shannon McLaughlin’s liner but then, trying for a double play, threw the ball past third allowing Nora Butler to score T’s 3rd run.  Tiffanie reached third on that play.

A ball-four wild pitch enabled Tiffanie Marsh to cross with T’s 4th run.

With Melissa Cordwell on first with the walk the Red Devils got Erin Walsh to pop to second for the second out.

Meaghan McLaughlin singled to right.  Melissa Cordwell headed for third and RF Danielle Coveno made a throw to get her.  The throw went past 3B Haley Currie allowing Melissa Cordwell to score (Run #5) and Meaghan McLaughlin to get to third.

That set the stage for the final-out popup to catcher Krista Toscano.

Shannon McLaughlin lobs to first

Shannon McLaughlin lobs to first

Burlington had eight hits off Shannon McLaughlin – three by Kayla Sheldon and two by Kaela Hersee.

Tewksbury had nine hits off Kelly McCarthy – two each by Tiffanie Marsh and Meaghan McLaughlin.

Burlington had four errors including two in the exciting 7th inning.

Tewksbury stranded nine runners while Burlington stranded six runners.

Burlington has now won ten of their last eleven games.  The Red Devils lost to Wahconah in the state title game in 2011.  Five years ago Burlington had a winless season.

Part of the Burlington success versus Tewksbury was in keeping Brooke Hardy under control.  Brooke scored all three Redmen runs in their 3-1 semi-finals win over Reading.  She had an inside-the-park homer in that game.  Brooke has already committed to play for the D1 Jacksonville Dolphins in 2014.

Burlington boxscore

Tewksbury boxscore

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

Michaela Mazure

Michaela Mazure

Jessica Silva

Jessica Silva

seniors with trophy

seniors with trophy

Kelly McCarthy

Kelly McCarthy

Jessica Silva goes after a bunt

Jessica Silva goes after a bunt

Melissa Cordwell throws to first

Melissa Cordwell throws to first

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St. Mary’s reaches the D3 North finals with 5-2 win over Matignon

Mia Nowicki closes out the win

Mia Nowicki closes out the win

Pitcher Brooke LAbbe cheers as the fourth inning ends with a double play

Pitcher Brooke LAbbe cheers as the fourth inning ends with a double play

(Lowell) The St. Mary’s Spartans got back to a familiar spot (D3 North finals) with a, 5-2, win over Matignon on a cloudy Thursday afternoon at Martin Field.

The Spartans will face Whittier on Sunday at noon in a battle for the D3 North title.

St. Mary’s (18-5) has won the D3 North championship in four of the last five years.  The lone miss was last year to Matignon (3-1 on June 10th).

Both teams are from the Central Catholic Large division.  They had faced each other twice this season and the Spartans registered a 2-1 win in April and a 2-0 win in May.

Obviously runs were scarce during the regular season which was why St. Mary’s 3-run fourth inning in this game was the difference maker.

In that crucial inning the team from Lynn turned little things into something big.  They started with a walk and a well-placed bunt to get the first two runners on.  A bloop single (Alex Fisher) to center brought home a run (pinch runner Alexis Mango) to give St. Mary’s a 2-1 edge.

Alison Butler - big double in the fourth inning

Alison Butler – big double in the fourth inning

If the inning had ended there the final outcome might have been different.  However, with two on and two out Alison Butler did a wonderful impersonation of Johnny Damon and Ichiro Suzuki before launching a 2-run double over Nat McAllister’s head in left.

Damon & Ichiro?  In their primes, those two were notorious for fouling off pitch after pitch to keep an at-bat going.  Alison did the same thing.  I’m guessing the left-handed batter fouled off at least five pitches before stoking the biggest hit of the game (in my opinion).

Matignon (16-7) cut a run off the Spartans’ 4-1 lead in the fifth but St. Mary’s got the run back in their half of the sixth.

Brooke L’Abbe and Jordan D’Orsi limited the Warriors to four hits over five inning.  Mia Nowicki pitched a hitless sixth and seventh for the save.

Sophomore Sydnee Bessler went six for Matignon yielding seven hits.  Three of those hits were in the game-deciding fourth inning.  Sydnee had eight of her ten strikeouts in the first three innings.

Two-base throwing error allows Julia Graf to score

Two-base throwing error allows Julia Graf to score

Julia Graf had two of Matignon’s four hits.

Allison Butler and Tatiana Doucette each had two hits for St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s (#4 seed) tallied its first run in the second inning.  A double by Cassi LaFauci drove in teammate Molly Doyle who had started the inning with a double.

The team from Cambridge tied the game with an unearned run in the third.  A two-base, two-out throwing error by Spartans shortstop Molly Doyle allowed Julia Graf to score.

Matignon (#8 seed) picked up a run with some clever base running in the fifth inning.  The Warriors had runners on first and third with one out.  The runner on first (Julia Graf) broke for second drawing a throw from catcher Tatiana Doucette.  Once the throw was made, the runner on third (Nat McAllister) headed for home without drawing a throw.

St. Mary’s final run came in the sixth.  Tatiana Doucette led off with a triple and scored on Mia Nowicki’s grounder to second.  The second baseman (Julia Graf) tried to get Tatiana at the plate but the throw was high.

Alex Fisher is sent home in the fourth

Alex Fisher is sent home in the fourth

So, it was that fourth inning that extends the Spartans season at least into Sunday.

The mid-afternoon, weekday 3:15 PM start had forty folks in the stands when the game began.  Quite a few more arrived as the game progressed.

There were enough clouds in the sky to make me think that there would be rain before the game ended.  Thankfully, that didn‘t happen.

Nice to hear the National Anthem played before softball games.  I know that retiring Ipswich head coach Doug Woodworth had the Anthem played before his home games but I don’t know of anyone else who does it.

Spartan closer Mia Nowicki is an eighth grader.  She throws hard and has a very nice changeup.

Olivia McDonald

Olivia McDonald

Two of Matignon’s starters (Shawna McGaffigan and Olivia McDonald) are seniors.

St. Mary’s has won nine of their last ten games.

I have seen shifts but the one that St. Mary’s put on against freshman Sam McKean was unique.  With Sam’s reputation as a bunter in place, the Spartans had eight players in the infield dirt and one player a step out in the outfield grass.  It worked.  I kept thinking that any sort of hit into the outfield would be for extra bases if not a home run.

Matignon squandered a nice chance in the fourth inning.  Nicole Sylvester reached third after a double and a sacrifice bunt (Joe Tagher) with one out.  Kayla McKinnon then hit a hard grounder to third.  Spartans 3B Kaleigh Finigan made the stop, tagged Kayla and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.

Matignon had runners in scoring position in four different innings without cashing in.

St. Mary’s boxscore

Matignon boxscore

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

well placed bunt

well placed bunt

Joe Tagher and Olivia McDonald

Joe Tagher and Olivia McDonald

Jordan DOrsi

Jordan DOrsi

Tatiana Doucette slides in with the fifth Spartans run

Tatiana Doucette slides in with the fifth Spartans run

Nicole Sylvester

Nicole Sylvester

Sydnee Bessler

Sydnee Bessler

Kaleigh Finigan

Kaleigh Finigan

Cassi LaFauci drives in the first Spartans run

Cassi LaFauci drives in the first Spartans run

Elusive popup

Elusive popup

Victoria Viger squares to bunt

Victoria Viger squares to bunt

Nicole Sylvester races for second

Nicole Sylvester races for second

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Opportunistic Whittier defeats Newburyport 6-2 to reach Division 3 North finals

Whittier teammates gather around winning pitcher Andrew Wells

Whittier teammates gather around winning pitcher Andrew Wells

Andrew Wells gets a force-out at home

Andrew Wells gets a force-out at home

(Lynn)  Whittier Tech made the most of their chances and defeated Newburyport, 6-2, on Wednesday afternoon at Fraser Field.

The victory sends the #5 seed Wildcats to the D3 North finals to be played at Lelachuer Park in Lowell on Saturday.

Whittier (17-6) had two-out, two-run doubles (Ralph Francesconi and Anthony Licciardello) in the first and fifth innings.  They also scored a run in the sixth inning on a two-out wild pitch.

Scott Webster scambles into third

Scott Webster scambles into third

Newburyport (15-8) scored two runs but it will be the runs they didn’t score that they’ll be remembering for a while.  Let me list the opportunities they had:
(1) First inning – bases loaded with one out,
(2) Third inning – runner on second with no outs,
(3) Fourth inning – bases loaded with no outs,
(4) Fifth inning – leadoff double
(5) Sixth inning – bases loaded with two outs,
(6) Seventh inning – runners on first and second with no outs.

The Clippers did come out of those opportunities with two runs but their chance to have a really big inning was in place over and over again.  But it didn’t happen on this season-ending day.

Whittier starter Andrew Wells allowed only six hits.  Two of those hits (Colton Fontaine and Connor Wile) came in the first inning when a Connor MacRae fielder’s choice drove home the first Newburyport run.

Anthony Licciardello

Anthony Licciardello

The Wildcats set the tone for the afternoon in their half of the first inning.  They took what the Clippers gave them (first two batters were walked by NHS starter Connor MacRae) and followed with an infield single by Anthony Licciardello to load the bases with no outs.  A fielder’s choice (Jaylin Deveau) brought home one run and a 2-out double delivered two more.

Whittier added to their 3-1 lead in the fifth inning.  A bunt single by Connor Manning and an infield error by Travis Wile set the stage for the second 2-out, 2-run double.  Anthony Licciardello’s two-bagger to deep center put the Wildcats ahead, 5-1.

The Clippers got a run back in the sixth.  Connor MacRae reached on an error and his pinch runner (Caleb Stott) came around on Scott Webster’s triple to left.

The Wildcats put up a run in their half of the sixth.  Jaylin Deveau doubled to right center leading off.  Evan Habib came on to relieve NHS starter Connor MacRae.  Jaylin took third without a throw and with two outs came home on a wild pitch.  That gave Whittier a 6-2 lead which they preserved in the seventh inning.

Third baseman Colton Fontaine throws out a bunter

Third baseman Colton Fontaine throws out a bunter

The Clippers ended up stranding eleven runners.  The Wildcats stranded just three runners.

Whittier had five errors including two in the final inning.

Terrific execution by Whittier in the fifth inning.  After Brian Fiascone doubled to lead off the inning, Connor Wile hit a grounder to third baseman Stefano Zarro.  The freshman looked Brian back toward second and threw to first.  Brian took off for third when the throw was made but first baseman Jorge Martinez gunned a throw back to Stefano to nail Brian for a double play.

Andrew Wells

Andrew Wells

Coach Joe Boland opted to walk Colton Fontaine to load the bases in the sixth inning with two outs.  That strategy worked as Andrew Wells struck out Brian Fiascone to end the threat with only one run scored.

Anthony Licciardello had two hits and two RBI for Whittier.

Colton Fontaine paced Newburyport with two hits and also scored a run.

The Clippers best game of the season could well have been the 4-0 upset of North Reading yesterday.

Next year looks to be a serious rebuilding year for the Clippers.  Seven of their nine starters today are seniors.

The last time Newburyport played at Fraser Field was in 2011 and it was for the D3 state title against Pioneer Valley.  It was also on the same day that the Bruins paraded the Stanley Cup through the streets of Boston.

Whittier boxscore

Newburyport boxscore

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

Stefano Zarro gets a force at third

Stefano Zarro gets a force at third

Alex LoGuidice gets the fifth Whittier run

Alex LoGuidice gets the fifth Whittier run

Andrew Fiascone and Scott Webster

Andrew Fiascone and Scott Webster

watching warmups

watching warmups

Connor MacRae

Connor MacRae

Clippers head for final handshakes

Clippers head for final handshakes

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Newburyport upsets North Reading 4-0 to reach Division 3 North semi-finals

Pitcher Colby Morris celebrates after the final out

Pitcher Colby Morris celebrates after the final out

Ian Michaels dives into third with an RBI triple in the sixth inning

Ian Michaels dives into third with an RBI triple in the sixth inning

(North Reading) Newburyport lost twice to North Reading during the regular season but it didn’t matter as the Clippers upset the #1 seed Hornets, 4-0, in the Division 3 North quarterfinals at North Reading on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.

Newburyport (15-7) scored two unearned runs in the fourth and two insurance runs in the sixth and, combined with the shutout pitching of Colby Morris (6 hits/5 K’s), had enough to stun the D3 defending champions.

The # 8 seed Clippers have now won eight straight and return to action tomorrow (Wednesday) at Fraser Field in Lynn (4PM) to face Whittier in the D3 North semi-finals.

The last time Newburyport played at Fraser Field was when they won the Division 3 state title in June of 2011.

Ryan McAuliffe took the loss for the Hornets.  Ryan had defeated Newburyport, 9-1,  on April 17th striking out fifteen Clippers in a special victory that was Coach Frank Carey’s 700th win.  This time around Ryan registered eight strikeouts but surrendered eight hits including a triple (Ian Michaels) and two doubles (Colton Fontaine and Scott Webster).

Winning pitcher Colby Morris struck out five while allowing six hits.  The key for Colby was keeping the ball down as he limited NR to two flyball outs.

A low throw from shortstop Ryley Warnock gets away from Mike Brandano

A low throw from shortstop Ryley Warnock gets away from Mike Brandano

A throw from Mike Brandano goes wide of Ryley Warnock

A throw from Mike Brandano goes wide of Ryley Warnock

The unearned runs (4th inning) came after both Colby Morris and Connor Wiles singled with one out.  First baseman Mike Brandano tried for a force at second, after fielding Connor MacRae’s grounder, but threw wide left of shortstop Ryley Warnock allowing Colby Morris to score.  Later shortstop Ryley Warnock took a chance at getting Scott Webster on a slow roller and his throw went past Mike Brandano enabling Connor Wiles to come home with the second Clippers run.

Coach Carey visits Ryan McAuliffe in the sixth inning

Coach Carey visits Ryan McAuliffe in the sixth inning

The 2-0 lead grew to 4-0 in the sixth inning.  Connor MacRae reached on a fielder’s choice with two outs.  Ian Michaels, who had struck out twice previously against Ryan McAuliffe, blasted a high 2-strike pitch over Dennis Rollfs’ head in left field for a triple scoring Connor MacRae.  Next batter, freshman Scott Webster, singled to left bringing Ian Michaels home.

The Hornets put two on with two out in the bottom of the sixth but Eric Gordon grounded out to second to end that threat.

In the bottom of the seventh, Shane Driscoll singled to lead off.  However, Colby Morris struck out Ryan Sanborn looking and got Dennis Rolffs to ground into a 6-3 double play to end it.

NR had two on and two out in the third inning.  However, Colby Maiola’s hard shot down the first baseline was snared by Travis Wile.

Scott Webster caught in a rundown

Scott Webster caught in a rundown

Newburyport tried a suicide squeeze in third inning but the bunt didn’t happen.  Scott Webster, however, found a way to get back to third.

North Reading caught Colton Fontaine (he had doubled) in a rundown in the first inning.

An interference call on Hornets baserunner Dennis Rollfs turned a force-out at second into an inning-ending double play in the NR fifth.

The Clippers loaded the bases in the seventh inning but Ryan McAuliffe whiffed Connor Wile and got Connor MacRae to fly to centerfield.

North Reading was 22-4 in 2012.  This season ends for them at 19-3.  Coach Frank Carey’s career record now stands at 716-273.

Scott Webster had three hits for Newburyport and drove in a run.

Dennis Rollfs led NR with two hits.

Newburyport boxscore

North Reading boxscore

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

Keith Linnane steals second

Keith Linnane steals second

Colton Fontaine caught in a rundown

Colton Fontaine caught in a rundown

Steve Malenfant and Frank Carey discuss the rules

Steve Malenfant and Frank Carey discuss the rules

Travis Wile stretches for the last out

Travis Wile stretches for the last out

Colby Morris

Colby Morris

Newburyport dugout

Newburyport dugout

Ryley Warnock gets a forceout at second base

Ryley Warnock gets a forceout at second base

Connor Wiles crosses with the second Newburyport run

Connor Wiles crosses with the second Newburyport run

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Amesbury downs Newburyport 11-1 in Division 2 North softball quarterfinals

Indians celebrate quarterfinals win over Newburyport

Indians celebrate quarterfinals win over Newburyport

Amanda Schell had three hits, three RBI, and scored three runs

Amanda Schell had three hits, three RBI, and scored three runs

(Amesbury) The stars were out and so was the sun screen as (#2 seed) Amesbury defeated neighboring Newburyport, 11-1, in the Division 2 North quarterfinals at toasty Amesbury on Saturday afternoon.

Impressive win for Amesbury (19-2).  They will play again on June 5th (Wednesday) in the D2 North semi-finals.

Good news for Amesbury today was that Tewksbury took out #1 seed Danvers.  Last year in the tourney, the Falcons ended Amesbury’s season, 2-1, at Danvers.

Five of the Indians were honored by the Cape Ann League a few days ago for their play in the 2013 season.  Against the Clippers those selections looked golden.  Let me take you through what each of those players did today:

(1) Pitcher Carolina Merrill – Gave up an unearned run in the first and survived a bases loaded jam in the second.   The Amesbury senior then retired 16 of the last 17 Clippers she faced.

(2) Shortstop Amanda Schell – Had 3 RBI, 3 hits, and 3 runs scored and flawlessly handled six chances in the field.

(3) First baseman Erin Leary – Had a hit, an RBI, and scored a run.

(4) Catcher Cassie Schultz (D2 CAL POY) – Had three hits and drove in three runs.

Ashley Valme heads for home as Kendra Dow throws from the outfield

Ashley Valme heads for home as Kendra Dow throws from the outfield

(5) Leftfielder Ashley Valme – Had a two-run homer that reached the stadium wall beyond leftfield.

Newburyport had been blown out by Amesbury a month ago, 18-1, enduring a thirteen-run second inning along the way.  The Clippers obviously needed to stay away from the big inning against Amesbury.

And they did, until the bottom of the fifth inning.  The Indians lead was only 2-1 and NHS starter Vicki Allman had retired eleven straight Amesbury hitters.

The fifth, however, started ominously for Newburyport as errors by 3B Meghan Stanton and pitcher Vicki Allman gave Amesbury baserunners they shouldn’t have had.  Five of the next six Indians’ batters had hits, including a double (Amanda Schell), triple (Cassie Schultz), and a homer (Ashley Valme), and the home team had seven runs and the dreaded big inning Newburyport wanted to avoid.

NHS coach Lori Solazzo visits the mound

NHS coach Lori Solazzo visits the mound

Up 9-1, Amesbury added two more in the sixth.  Amanda Schell tripled in Jenna Bartley and later scored on a wild pitch to close the scoring.

The Clippers had only four hits (Kendra Dow, Lea Tomasz, Casey Barlow, and Meghan Stanton).  Carley Siemasko drove in their lone run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning.

Newburyport had the bases loaded with one out in the second inning but Carolina Merrill got a force out and a fly out to end the threat.

Amesbury answered with two runs in the bottom of the first thanks to their first three batters.  Cassie Schultz’s double brought in Amanda Schell and Erin Leary.

Weird ending to that Amesbury first.  Pitcher Vicki Allman thought she had struck out Autumn Kligerman so she headed off the field and everyone followed including baserunner Lucy Scholz who was on second base.  The problem was that it was only two strikes and everyone stopped exiting including baserunner Lucy.  Rightfielder Casey Barlow had reached second base during the exiting part and was there to take the throw from catcher Lauren Singer and tag Lucy out for the third out as she scrambled to get back.  That’s 2-to-9 for those scoring at home!

Jenna Bartley had two hits, scored two runs, and drove in a run for Amesbury.

AHS coach Chris Perry and NHS coach Lori Solazzo

AHS coach Chris Perry and NHS coach Lori Solazzo

The coaches-of-the-year for the CAL were on hand for this one – AHS Chris Perry and NHS Lori Solazzo.

Amesbury had a 10-game winning streak stopped by Division 1 Methuen in their last regular season game.

Newbury finished 15-7 winning four of their last six.  Their best game of the season may have been the 4-3 victory on Thursday over Marblehead with a nice combination of pitching, fielding, and hitting.

The Clippers will have to replace senior starters Jackie Krusemark, Lea Tomasz, Kendra Dow, and Casey Barlow.  Lea and Kendra have been starters for three (?) years.

Autumn Kligerman makes a nice catch to end the game

Autumn Kligerman makes a nice catch to end the game

Third baseman Autumn Kligerman made two key defensive plays for Amesbury.

The ice cream truck had the good business sense to drive into the parking lot adjacent to the field giving off its usual sound effects.  I was shocked that a good part of the sizable crowd didn’t temporarily exit to find something cool.

This was Amesbury’s fifth straight win over Newburyport.

Newburyport boxscore

Amesbury boxscore

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

Casey Barlow loses a battle to a tough sun.

Casey Barlow loses a battle to a tough sun.

Jenna Bartley scores the sisth run for Amesbury on a wild pitch

Jenna Bartley scores the sixth run for Amesbury on a wild pitch

Kendra Dow sets to throw

Kendra Dow sets to throw

pre-game prep

pre-game prep

parking lot diversion

parking lot diversion

Cassie Schultz loses the ball in the second inning

Cassie Schultz loses the ball in the second inning

Carley Siemasko drops a popup but recovers quickly to tag out Amanda Schell

Carley Siemasko drops a popup but recovers quickly to tag out Amanda Schell

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