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Ruben Sanca wins YH ten-mile race

Ruben Sanca (10-mile winner 2022)

(2022 Yankee Homecoming Road Races)

(Newburyport) One runner knew the course.

The other runner didn’t.

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

Ezra Mutai

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ruben and Ezra one mile into the 10-miler

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

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

Then came the hills.

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

Ruben Sanca crosses first

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional pictures from the two races:

Paul DeRosa and Chris O’Donnell

Steve Dowsett (4th)

Ezra Mutai

Kulicki’s finish the 5K

Emilee Risteen after one mile

Ruben Sanca at one mile

Barbara Lopes (Lynnfield) cheers on Ezra and Ruben

5K dribbler

Anna Affolter

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

5K winner Joseph Walsh

Emilee Risteen signals to her friends

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Lynnfield turns Amesbury miscues into 10-8 win

Henry Caulfield and Cam Stanley
Alex Gentile drove in the winning runs in the 7th inning

(Amesbury) Lynnfield came in struggling.

They were 1-6, scoring only sixteen runs.

They had lost four straight.

But today the Pioneers got runs and a happy-ending, 10-8, win over Amesbury on Thursday afternoon.

Lynnfield trailed 8-6 after six innings but put a four-spot up and Amesbury (6-3) didn’t recover.

“Both teams hits balls pretty well and put them in play,” said Lynnfield coach John O’Brien afterwards.  “They made some mistakes.  We made some mistakes.”

1B Aiden Donovan

Only in the Lynnfield fifth did a side go in order.

Sophomore David Tracy came on in relief for the Pioneers in the fifth inning.  He limited Amesbury to one run over the final three innings to get the win.

“David Tracy was clutch.,” said junior Alex Gentile afterwards.  “He did the job for us.”

Alex paced the Lynnfield attack.  He had two hits, two RBI, and scored two runs.

Pinch-hitter Nick Razzaboni tied the game in the 7th with a double.  After a walk to Henry Caulfield, Alex’s long single brought in both runners to gain Lynnfield a 2-run lead. 

David Tracy

David Tracy gave up a double to Will Arsenault leading off the Amesbury seventh but then retired the next three batters to clinch the victory.

You sensed “long game” for Amesbury as the first inning played out.  The Indians had four throwing errors in the infield, rolling up pitches on starter Drew Scaldone’s arm and handing Lynnfield three runs.

“We gave up seven outs in the first inning,” said Amesbury coach Joel Brierley post-game.  “Can’t give a team like that extra outs.”

But Amesbury can hit, and they got two in the first and two more in the second to get the lead.  Jake Harring drove in a run in the second with a triple and came home on a bad throw from the outfield to allow Amesbury to jump ahead, 4-3.

Trevor Kimball had solo homer

Lynnfield regained the lead in the fifth inning.  An error, a wild pitch, and Dan Dorman’s sacrifice fly were factors.

Lynnfield gifted Amesbury back with two runs in the fifth thanks to an error, hit batsman, a wild pitch, and a passed ball.

But the Pioneers would recover and pull this one out in the final frame.

“I’m proud of the kids,” said Coach O’Brien.  “They didn’t give up even when we were down going into the last inning.”

Henry Caulfield scores the 10th Lynnfield run

“This was a tough loss,” said Coach Brierley.  “We’ve been hitting well and bailing out our errors.  If we’re going to be a team that plans to do something we’ve got to be able to make routine plays.”

There were sixteen walks and wild pitches and passed balls were frequent. 

Alex Gentile on his hit in the seventh: “He kept giving me curveballs in the count and I knew he was going to come back with another one.  Luckily, I got a good piece of it.”

Junior Trevor Kimball had a solo home run in the fifth inning.

Will Arsenault

Will Arsenault led Amesbury with two hits.  Both Cam Stanley and Jake Harring scored two runs.

Drew Scialdone started for Amesbury while Dan Dorman started for Lynnfield.

The weather was definitely unpleasant.  The temps were close to 50 with an unwelcome wind.

Lynnfield     3   0   0   2   0   1   4   =   10

Amesbury   2   2   0   2   1   1   0   =     8

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Chasing a popup
Adventures in the tough rightfield sun
Tyler Bartniski and Dan Dorman
Jake Harring – on base four times
Catcher Devin Bolger throws to first
Lynnfield unofficial box
Amesbury unofficial box
David Tracy out at second
Watching the action
Drew Scialdone holds onto third base
Shea Cuccinotta and Aidan Burke
John O’Brien and Joel Brierley
Drew Scialdone out at home

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Newburyport races by Hamilton-Wenham 20-10

Olivia McDonald (4 goals, 2 assists) was part of the fast Clippers start

(Newburyport) You have to be ready….or else.

For the second straight game Newburyport swarmed an opponent early and often.

Teammates Olivia McDonald and Anna Affolter look for a pass
Haley Hamilton – 8 goals

And for the second straight game an opponent needed an early timeout to try to get acclimated.

The Clippers defeated Hamilton-Wenham 20-10 on a chilly Thursday afternoon at Stehlin Field.

“I think we were a little stunned at the beginning,” said HW coach Abby Schibli afterwards.

The Clippers (4-0) had two goals in the first minute and a total of six unanswered goals after just five minutes played.

“We had to adjust to their level of play and their intensity,” added Coach Schibli.

Emily Fuller – 2 goals, 4 assists

The Generals (1-3) took a timeout down 6-0.  During those first five minutes already played, HW had only been into Newburyport territory once.

Senior Haley Hamilton (Middlebury commit) finally put HW on the board at 17:45 ending Newburyport’s seven-goal run.

Teammate Kara O’Shea and Haley combined to give the Generals their best run of scoring, transforming a 9-1 deficit into a competitive 10-5 game with five minutes left until halftime.

Izzy Rosa – 3 goals, 5 assists

The Clippers however finished the half with three straight goals (two by Olivia McDonald and one by Rita Cahalane) to move ahead by eight, 13-5.

In the second half an Izzy Rosa goal at the end of a long possession put the game into running time with a 16-6 score at 17:52.

The Generals, led by Haley Hamilton (eight goals), were able to get inside the ten-goal deficit and end running time several times in the second half but the Clippers just wouldn’t allow serious runs of goals against them.

Kara O’Shea (2 goals)

While Haley Hamilton and Kara O’Shea (2 goals) did all the scoring for HW, there were nine players contributing goals for Newburyport.

“On offense, the girls moved the ball really well,” said Newburyport coach Catherine Batchelder post-game.  “There were so many great assisted goals.”

“Assists on a goal show that we work well as a team,” said junior Izzy Rosa (3 goals, 5 assists).  “One-V-One works but assists are better for a team.”

Emily Fuller had two goals and four assists.  “On offense we played really well together,” she said.  “We did a good job of spreading out.”

Reese Bromby – 2 goals

Coach Batchelder saw the ten goals allowed as more than usual.  “We were trying out a new defense,” she said.  “We want to keep the team challenged and not just relying on what we always do.  As a result, we had some bumps and bruises along the way.  It’s a new zone.”

Coach Batchelder pointed out that Haley Hamilton would have been a problem against any defense.  “She plays fast and strong and we had a hard time stopping her.  She found lanes against our defense that aren’t always there.  We weren’t closing our zone as well as we should.”

Haley Hamilton looks to shoot

“She (Haley Hamilton) is a really good player,” said Emily Fuller.  “She made some strong dodges into our defense.  Playing against a good player like her only makes us better.”

“Haley is a special player,” added Coach Schibli.  “She scores a lot but also shares the ball.  She gives everyone a chance to finish.”

Coach Schibli didn’t make excuses for the loss.  “They have skilled players and Cat does a great job with them,” she said.

The Generals were missing three players, including Riley Clarke.

“Riley is one of our best players and it was hard without her in the mid-field,” said Coach Schibli.

Goalie Ava Vautour

“I ended up with a new player in our defense and that added to the obstacles we had to overcome,” she added.

Not the way you’d want to come out against a team that dominates the draws and scores early.

Holy Cross commit Anna Affolder had two of the Clippers first three goals.  Both goals had assists attached.  The first was set up by Izzy Rosa and the second by Emily Fuller.

Coach Schibli appreciated the play of Kara O’Shea (“She lifts everyone up with her energy.”) and goalie Ava Vautour (“She had some really great saves.”).

Newburyport           13   7   =   20

Hamilton-Wenham   5   5   =   10

The weather was close to unbearable.  Two days ago, at the same place, it was in the 60’s and sunny.  Today it was in the 40’s with a chilling breeze.

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Jackie Chapdelaine
Avery Tahnk
Ball on the turf
Dylan Whitman and McKenna Ward
Rita Cahalane (2 goals)
Lucy Ayers chased by a trio of Clippers
Reese Bromby (2 goals)
Coach Abby Schibli
Avery Tahnk
Maeve Sullivan (1 goal)
Ball in the air
Emily Fuller shoots
Congestion in front of the HW net

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Newburyport dominates Masco 15-3

Newburyport had plenty to celebrate today vs Masco
Anna Affolter had four goals

(Newburyport) Very surprising.

Both teams were 16-1 last year and both had won their first two games this year.

A girls lacrosse game between two such teams figured to be close………..but it wasn’t.

Newburyport started fast and Masconomet never recovered.

The final was 15-3 in a non-league game on Tuesday afternoon.

Kate Keller had nine saves

The entire second half was played using running time.

The Clippers (3-0) scored three times in the first 4 ½ minutes.  Masco called a timeout.  The Clippers came out of the timeout and added four more goals in the next 2 ½ minutes. This one had “long game” written all over it in a hurry for the team from Boxford.

“When we play that fast and move the ball that well, it’s even hard for another team to set up a defense,” explained Newburyport coach Catherine Batchelder afterwards.

Jolie Dalton surrounded by Clippers

The Clippers sped into the Masco end early and often and outnumbered their defenders.  Good passing then set up open looks and the goals started piling up.

“We played a really good team game,” said four-goal scorer Anna Affolder post-game.  “We had a lot of transition goals that were assisted.”

Anna and Izzy Rosa each had four goals.  Olivia McDonald and Lilly Pons both scored twice while Reese Bromby, Rita Cahalane, and Maeve Sullivan each had one goal.

Newburyport coach Catherine Batchelder

Almost every Newburyport goal was scored from in close.

The Clippers had an 11-1 lead at the half.  Emmy Clark had the Masco goal.

Newburyport tallied two goals in the first four minutes of the second half.  Izzy Rosa’s fourth goal was assisted by Lilly Pons.  Rita Cahalane moved the NHS lead to, 13-1, assisted by Olivia McDonald.

Both teams scored twice the rest of the way as the running time limited the opportunities.

Emmy Clark had two goals in the game for Masco while Bella Juliano had a solo goal.

The Clippers defense was also very good today.  Goalie Kate Keller set the tone.  “She had an unbelievable game making nine saves,” said Coach Batchelder.

“Masco is a very good team,” said Anna.  “They are always physical, and they always give us a run for our money.”

Anna Affolter races ahead
Lilly Pons surrounded

Anna, only a junior, has committed to Holy Cross.

I heard one of the Newburyport fans chanting, “D1, D1,” as Anna went from midfield to finish with a goal.

Masco lost to Chelmsford in the D1 North finals last year.  Newburyport reached the D2 state semifinals and lost at Dover-Sherborn.

The weather was terrific with sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s. 

Newburyport   11   4   =   15

            Masco      1   2   =     3

(The pictures will enlarge.)   


Tight defense
McKenna Ward defends
Bella Juliano had a goal for Masco
Emmy Clark (2 goals) chased by Josephine Palma
Izzy Rosa (4 goals) shoots
Ball loose
Masco coach Manuel Lopes
Rita Cahalane and Olivia McDonald
Audrey Cooper
Goalie MacKenzie Cronin
Anna Affolter
Olivia McDonald defends

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North Reading holds off Newburyport 11-8

Centerfielder Caitlin Reilly ended a Newburyport rally with an outfield assist
Newburyport shortstop Emma Keefe handles a grounder

(Newburyport) Everyone contributed.

Whether it was scoring a run, getting a hit, or having an RBI, everyone who played had at least one of those positives.

But the biggest positive, the W, belonged to North Reading, 11-8, against Newburyport on Tuesday afternoon at Pioneer Park.

The turning-point play in this game was in the Newburyport fifth inning.  The Clippers (0-2) trailed 4-0 but a walk (Lea Quintilliani), single (Nieve Morrissey), and a two-run double by Emily Meleedy cut the deficit in half.  When Emma Keefe singled to center, Emily tried to score from second.  However, Caitlin Reilly’s throw from center nailed Emily at the plate and limited the promising inning to just two runs.

Crucial play at the plate

“It was absolutely a big play,” said NR coach Nicole Zimmerman afterwards.  “Getting that out at home took the wind out of their sails a little bit. We had our big inning right after that.”

“The girl (Caitlin Reilly) in centerfield made a nice throw,” recalled Newburyport coach Bob Gillespie.  “There was an issue with their catcher (Kristen Galvin) blocking home plate.  The umpire said it was close, but he didn’t call it.”

The sixth inning was a run-fest for both teams.  The Hornets (1-0) sent eleven batters to the plate and collected seven runs.  Alyssa Cassarino and Jocelyn Ostrowsky each had two RBIs during this productive inning.

Mia Vittozzi heads for third base

Credit Newburyport.  Now behind, 11-2, and having only four hits to this point, the Clippers had their own big inning. 

They sent ten batters up and had five hits that turned into six runs.  Cassidy Bolcome had two RBIs, while teammates Nieve Morrissey, Emily Meleedy, Keira Dowell, and Isla Devivo had one RBI each during this scoring spree.

“I’m proud of the way we came back,” said Coach Gillespie.  “We’ve just got to figure out how to start faster.”

Keely Hannon

Sophomore Keely Hannon went the distance for the Hornets to get the win.  “Keely did an excellent job for us,” said Coach Zimmerman.

Both teams had defensive gems in the last inning.  Newburyport shortstop Emma Keefe made a diving catch on an infield popup while rightfielder Bella Duffy made a nice running catch toward the foul line.

Just before Bella’s catch, Coach Zimmerman had yelled for her to come in closer, which Bella did.  Those extra steps in were a factor in Bella getting to the ball she caught.

Bella Duffy makes a diving catch in the 7th inning

“I had just called her in,” said Coach Zimmerman. “I guess I do know what I’m talking about,” she laughed.

Sophomore Jocelyn Ostrowsky led the Hornets statistically with two RBI, two hits, and three runs scored.

Caitlin Reilly (3 hits/2 runs/1 RBI) and Alyssa Cassarino (2 RBI/2 hits/1 run) also had big afternoons for North Reading.

Sophomore Emily Meleedy had three hits and three RBI from Newburyport.  Teammate Nieve Morrissey had an RBI, two hits, and two runs scored.

Emily Meleedy had three hits and three RBI

Coach Zimmerman: “It was definitely an interesting game.  It felt good to win our opener.”

Coach Gillespie: “We started slow and flat.  We didn’t hit the ball well and made some key errors.  We opened the door, and they came in.  The second half of the game was a lot different.  We made some plays and put the bat on the ball.  We’ll be back.”

North Reading was 13-2 last year while the Clippers were 8-6.

Caught off second base

Newburyport has now lost thirteen straight games to North Reading dating back to 2014.

There was sun this afternoon but the late start (4:30PM) brought on the evening chill before this high-scoring affair ended.  It is early April after all!

(The pictures will enlarge.)

North Reading unofficial box
Newburyport unofficial box
Keely Hannon congratulated
Sophie Lavallee
Mia Lava slides safely into second base
Nieve Morrissey under a fly ball
Grace Habib tags out Keely Hannon at home plate
Emily Meleedy
North Reading coach Nicole Zimmerman
Making a play in the outfield
Shortstop Alyssa Cassarino tags second base
Olivia Reilly tries to beat the throw
Jocelyn Ostrowsky
Matigan Richmond
Caitlin Reilly bats
Play at the plate after a wild pitch

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New Hampshire edges Binghamton 66-62

Marco Foster (14 points) hit consecutive three’s to give UNH separation late in the game
Coach Bill Herrion

(Durham NH) “It was a grind of a game,” said UNH coach Bill Herrion at the post-game press conference.

The Wildcats (14-12) had enough in this close/tough game to defeat Binghamton, 66-62, on Saturday afternoon at Durham.

Both teams entered the game tied at 8-8 in the American East Conference. 

Vermont stands alone at the top of the AEC with only one loss, but second place is hardly assured for anyone.

Christian Hinckson had a double/double for Binghamton

“I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the standings,” said Coach Herrion, “but I admit knowing that each game is big.  We’re all trying to survive.  The league has never been bunched the way it is this year.”

Evenly matched teams have trouble putting consecutive points together.  And that was the case today.

There were six lead changes, and the score was tied nine times.  Breathing room was non-existent!

Things went the Wildcats way after the last tie (50-50) with 4:19 remaining in the game.

Nick Guadarrama (16 points)

The sought-after string of consecutive offense happened as UNH scored seven straight points.

A Nick Guadarrama jump shot.  A Nick Johnson jumper (his only basket of the game, assisted by Nick Guadarrama).  And a three from Marco Foster.  The Wildcats had separation (7 points) with 1:49 remaining.

The Bearcats (11-15) stopped the run with a three, but Marco was back with another three returning the margin to seven points with fifty-four seconds left.

“Marco made two enormous three’s,” said Coach Herrion.  “He had five against NJIT and four today.  He’s a big-time shooter.”

Blondeau Tchoukulegano (13 points) guarded by John McGriff (12 points)

That last-minute three was discussed at the press conference because there was plenty of shot-clock left in what was then a four-point game.

“When you have an elite 3-point shooter you have to let them go when there’s space,” said Coach Herrion.

I asked Marco about the two shots. “It felt great to make them,” he said.  “You want to hit the big one.  You stay positive.”

Regarding the shot he took with time left on the shot clock in the last minute, he smiled and said, “I was very happy that one went in.”

Free throws late in the game

The Wildcats hit six straight free throws after Marco’s three to secure the victory.

The final regular-season game is Tuesday night at the Tsongas Arena vs UMass Lowell.

“It all comes down to playing well in March,” said Coach Herrion.  “We’re looking to get a home game in the tournament.  We’re 10-3 at home.  We’ve had a very good year here.”

Coach Herrion gave an explanation as to why, beyond Vermont, so many of the rest of the teams are so competitive.  “Teams are recruiting out of the transfer portal,” he said.  “Therefore, teams can reload quickly.  That’s why very few freshmen play.”

Christian Hinckson had a big game for Binghamton finishing with a double/double (fifteen points and fourteen rebounds).

Nick Guadarrama passes

UNH’s Nick Guadarrama had an impressive stat line: 16 points, 7-for-12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals.

“Nick was terrific the whole game,” said Coach Herrion.  “He was good around the basket where we didn’t have much of an inside presence.”

Marco Foster finished with fourteen points while teammate Blondeau Tchoukulegno added thirteen points.

Binghamton lost to UNH, 69-60, two weeks ago at Binghamton. 

John McGriff

After that game, BU coach Levell Sanders cited the 13 offensive rebounds which led to 14 second-chance points as a key in the loss.

Things didn’t improve too much for the Bearcats this time around.  UNH had 11 offensive rebounds that led to 15 second-chance points.

Vermont has now won the AEC six straight years.

Today was Senior Day at UNH.  Tayler Mattos, Qon Murphy, Nick Guadarrama, and Jayden Martinez were honored.

Senior Day

Jayden had ten points today.  He needs twelve more to reach 1000 points.  Maybe at Lowell on Tuesday?

Thanks again to Mike Murphy for enabling my visit to this game.

(The pictures will enlarge.)

UNH band
Battle on the boards
Nick Guadarrama in for two
Pressure defense
UNH cheerleaders
Kellen Amos
Jayden Martinez (10 points)

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Amesbury makes tourney after 78-69 win

Cam Keliher (23 points) and Ray Cuevas (38 points)
Ray Cuevas

(Amesbury MA) Ray Cuevas was impressive.

The Ipswich junior added thirty-eight points tonight to the thirty-two he had two days ago against Manchester-Essex.

“Our game plan was to try to take away #24 (Ray Cuevas),” said Amesbury coach Tom Comeau afterwards, “but it was tough to do that.”

The Indians (10-8) found ways to succeed defensively in the third quarter and that was where they gained the permanent separation that led to a, 78-69, victory on Saturday night.

Cam Keliher

Amesbury has now clinched a berth in the MIAA post-season tournament.

Matt Welch had sixteen points in the first half but went out early with a broken nose at the start of the second half.

Matt’s departure opened offensive opportunities for senior Cam Keliher who had some of his own health issues.

“Last night at practice I had some back spasms,” said Cam.  “It was pretty rough this morning and I didn’t think I would be able to go tonight.  But I got it treated. I didn’t want to miss a chance to qualify for the tournament.”

Matt Welch left with an injury

The Indians trailed, 37-34, at halftime.  A Rocco Kokinacis layup tied things at 46-46 with 4 ½ minutes left in the third quarter.

The next four minutes, Amesbury shut down the Tigers completely while Cam went on a nine-point scoring run.

“Cam took over like he can,” said Coach Comeau.

First there was a three and then a free throw.  Next was a steal that led to a layup followed by another three.  When that dust settled Ipswich was behind, 55-46, and never fully recovered.

Toby Adams (14 points)

Ray Cuevas went back to finding ways to score after that (17 points) but Amesbury on this evening displayed assorted weapons on offense that kept Ipswich from getting within one possession the rest of the way.

Cam ended up with a nineteen-point second half and twenty-three points for the game.

“We just gave up too many points,” said Ipswich coach Alan Laroche post-game.  “They had some guys who stepped up for them in the second half.  There were big three’s at the end.”

Rocco Kokinacis (9 points) and Matt Heidt (7 points) each had three-pointers for Amesbury in the final four minutes of playing time.

Tight defense

What a difference a month makes.  On January 14th, Amesbury defeated Ipswich, 80-59, in a game that the Indians led by twenty at halftime.

Ipswich’s most impressive win this season was two days ago when they defeated Manchester-Essex.  The Hornets had won nine straight and were undefeated (9-0) in the Cape Ann League, but the Tigers changed that.

“Ipswich is a real good team,” said Coach Comeau. 

Junior Toby Adams, who had nineteen against ME, had fourteen points tonight against Amesbury.

Defending against an inbounds pass

The Tigers (7-10) had an eight-point lead (13-5) in the first quarter.  In the same quarter the score was tied six times including at the end (19-19).

“24 (Ray Cuevas) was killing us in the first half,” said Cam.  “We pressed up on him and double-teamed him.  He’s a good player.”

Coach Laroche informed me that Ray has received some interest from several post-graduate schools. “Without a doubt, he can play at the next level,” he added.

Max Lapointe guards Tyler White

“Ray is learning how to get by guys,” said Coach Laroche, “and how to attack the corners.  He’s also finding open guys when he needs to.”

Coach Comeau: “When Matty went out the rest of the team stepped up, especially Cam.  To me, Cam should be the player-of-the-year in the Cape Ann League.”

Amesbury   19   15   21   23   =   78

Ipswich        19   18   11   21   =   69

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Max Chesley elevates
Jake Hallinan guarded by Ray Cuevas
Cam Keliher defended by Isaiah Gonzalez
Max Chesley
Matt Welch defends
Ray Cuevas
Nick Marden guards Ray Cuevas
Players on the floor
Thatch Phypers
Charlie Henderson
Henry O’Neill on defense
Amesbury box
Ipswich box

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Connecticut Shocker: Naugatuck 14, Ansonia 7

Naugatuck coach Chris Anderson with the NVL trophy
Coach Anderson gets a ride

(Ansonia CT) In eleven years you can build up a ton of frustration.

But when it ends, the elation is notable.

The Naugatuck faithful poured onto the Jarvis Stadium field after the Greyhounds stunned Ansonia, 14-7, on Thanksgiving Day.

“We don’t own the NVL (Naugatuck Valley League) anymore,” surmised Ansonia coach Tom Brockett afterwards.  “We just got beat.”

Mikey Deitelbaum had the game winner

In the last 103 meetings against NVL opposition, the Chargers had “owned” the league.  But no longer.

The last NVL win against Ansonia was exactly eleven years ago.

The behavior of the Naugatuck afterwards said a lot about the stifled pain they had in falling short year after year.  Everyone was hugging someone.  Greyhounds’ coach Chris Anderson was up on the players’ shoulders. 

Comparable for me was the American League playoffs in 2004 against the Yankees.  Down three games to one with a lengthy history of losses to New York, the four-win recovery was about as sweet (for me) as it will ever get. What happened after that is a faded memory, but that playoff win over the Yankees will never die.

Darell McKnight

And I’m sure that many will recall today’s game in a similar light even though it was only a regular-season event. 

There are playoffs ahead this week for both teams.  Class L Naugatuck (#2 seed) will host Masuk on Tuesday night.  Class S Ansonia (#3 seed) gets Seymour on Tuesday night.

After today’s victory, the Greyhounds (9-1) will enter the playoffs as the NVL champions.

The NVL title was the prize for the winner of today’s game.  Ansonia (9-1) was certainly the favorite. Both reporters from the Connecticut Post picked them. Despite Naugatuck’s impressive record, you knew their history against Ansonia.

Ansonia coach Tom Brockett

The last time the teams met on Thanksgiving (2019) it turned into a 52-8 Ansonia rout.

The Chargers also had a nine-game win streak going against Naugatuck.  The game was at Ansonia.  No reason to expect a Chargers’ surprise.

But it happened.


“Our coaches had a great game plan for us,” explained Naugatuck senior Mikey Deitelbaum afterwards.  “We left everything we had on the field.”

Turnovers plagued Ansonia

Mikey had a remarkable game for the Greyhounds. Some of his highlights: scored the game winner in the 4th quarter, recovered a fumble in the 4th quarter, snapped on punts.

“It’s crazy to think that it has been so long since they were beaten in the league,” added Mikey. “For us to be the one to beat them is pretty remarkable.”

To win this game, Naugatuck had to be almost perfect.  And that they were.

Chris Kaminski chased by Arron Barnes (68)

Ansonia needed to be off their usual game for Naugatuck to have a chance.  And they definitely were that.

“What we did today really surprised me,” said Coach Brockett.  “What Naugy did, didn’t surprise me. They’re a good football team.”

No fumbles, interceptions, costly penalties for the visitors.  For the home team? Multiples in each area.

When Ansonia had its act together, they marched seventy-five yards in the last five minutes of the first half to a touchdown.

Ansonia QB Chris Kaminski under pressure

Key play in the drive was a catch-and-run by star tailback Darell McKnight. 

Quarterback Chris Kaminski plowed in from a yard away after Dave Cassetti nearly scored the play before.

Ansonia’s halftime lead (7-0) was significant because, despite numerous miscues, they were leading.  Also, Ansonia’s defense was able to stuff all three of Naugatuck’s first-half possessions on fourth downs.

Ansonia gang tackles

“We knew that this game would be won on the defensive end,” said Mikey Deitelbaum.  “We allowed a first-half score off a lot of mistakes.  In the second half, we fixed those mistakes.  We shut down the run and made them a little uncomfortable and took the game from there.”

The combination of Naugatuck’s upgraded defense and a continuation of Ansonia mistakes keyed the final result.

“They made plays,” said Coach Brockett, “and we didn’t.  We dropped balls all over the place.  We roughed a punter.  We couldn’t have been any sloppier.  You play like that, and you deserve to lose.”

Carlos Pinto (66) sends Jett Hall (30) flying

In Naugatuck’s productive second half, they used big plays on their first two possessions to produce points.

Meanwhile, Ansonia had THREE fumbles on their first second-half possession, and a long run called back because of a penalty.

Sophomore Jett Hall was huge in the two Greyhounds’ scores.

On Naugatuck’s first touchdown, Jett turned the right corner and outran three Ansonia defenders fifty-two yards to the end zone.

Jett Hall turns the right end
Jett Hall pulls away from the Ansonia defenders
Jett Hall near the end zone

The extra-point kick evened things.

Jett Hall looks to pass

Next possession, Ansonia continued with its miscue tendencies.  Two more fumbles, a dropped pass, and a snap over the quarterback’s head, ruined this possession for the Chargers.

The Greyhounds followed with the game winner.

Jett Hall, the runner, keyed the touchdown on the previous possession.  On the game-winning possession, which stretched into the 4th quarter, we saw Jett the passer. 

Naugatuck QB Jibree Bartell rolled left and handed off to Jett going the other direction.  The trickery enabled Jett to set himself and get off a pass to 6-5 Aidan Robertson.

Just as the ball reached Aidan, the defender slipped eliminating a battle in the air.  Aidan wasn’t tackled until the play covered forty-nine yards to set Naugatuck up at the Ansonia 12.

Ansonia defender slips as ball reaches Aidan Robertson (1)
Aidan Robertson (1) gained yards after the catch

On the first play after the productive flea flicker, Mikey Deitelbaum entered a big hole up the middle and reached the end zone.

Mikey Deitelbaum carries tackler (8) into end zone

The EP gave Naugatuck a, 14-7, lead with eight minutes remaining.

Plenty of time left for Ansonia but their luck continued to be very bad.  Their final two possessions ended in turnovers (fumble and interception).

Dave Bien interception

The interception, by Dave Bien in the final minute, put the Greyhounds into kneel-down territory and the celebrations began for Naugatuck.

A frustrated Coach Brockett certainly had it right afterwards when he said, “We didn’t take advantage of opportunities.”

“Ansonia is a great team,” said Mikey Deitelbaum.  “They’ll always be a great team. To beat them you have to leave it all out there, and we did.”

I was very impressed with Ansonia defenders Carlos Pinto and Alex Romanowski.

Carlos Pinto (66) and Darell McKnight (9) pregame

Mikey scored three touchdowns in their win over Woodland on November 12th.

Naugatuck coach Chris Anderson had two state champions while coaching Woodland.  Chris was also an All-State player at Derby.

The Greyhounds have qualified for the playoffs four times since 2010.  They haven’t, however, won a playoff game since 1993. Maybe this year?

Coach Tom Brockett has led Ansonia to the playoffs in all fifteen years of his being head coach there.

Jett Hall (30) sweeps right

In the Naugatuck/Ansonia Thanksgiving series, the Chargers have seventy-six wins, thirty-five losses, and ten ties.

The atmosphere at today’s game was special.  There was a lot at stake, and you could feel it.

Weather was perfect with temperatures close to fifty degrees with plenty of sunshine.

Continue to wonder why team rosters are so hard to find.  There was a program but only Ansonia had a roster in it.  Trying to identify players shouldn’t have to be such an adventure IMO.

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

Chris Kaminski passes
Greyhound interception
Stopping the Chargers running game in the second half
Jett Hall touchdown celebrated
Chance Conklin (3) ready to make a tackle
Dave Cassetti swarmed
Alex Romanowski
Mikey Deitelbaum (38) finds hole up the middle for game winner
Darell McKnight

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Newburyport stays undefeated (5-0) after 2-0 win over Lynnfield

Sophomore Owen Tahnk allowed five hits and had six strikeouts in a complete game win.
Michael Habib scored the first Newburyport run

(Newburyport MA) The Clippers continue to win.

This afternoon it was, 2-0, over Lynnfield.

Coach Mark Rowe said afterwards that he was happy with the 5-0 start but wasn’t thrilled with the way his team played today.

“I think that we were a little flat,” he said.  “Maybe it was because it was the first really warm day we’ve played in.”

There were popups and weak grounders by a team that has been making solid connections regularly.

“The majority of our at bats were disappointing,” Coach Rowe added.

But steady pitching by sophomore Owen Tahnk kept Newburyport in the game despite only three hits.

Senior Trent Balian pitched very effectively for the Pioneers.

Trent Balian allowed just three hits

Good teams find ways to win.

“We took advantage of our opportunities,” said Coach Rowe.

THE opportunity was the fifth inning.  A one-out single by senior Michael Habib was followed by two walks (Jack Fehlner & Tony Lucci). 

Luke Stallard’s long fly to center delivered Michael while Jake Buontempo’s sharp single to center brought Jack home.

Those two runs held up.

Lynnfield (1-4) had chances.

Spencer Riley doubled off the fence in left

The Pioneers collected five hits and had runners in scoring position in the first four innings as well as the sixth inning.

“We couldn’t get him in,” said Lynnfield coach John O’Brien post-game, “that was the story of the game.”

“Newburyport took advantage of a couple of walks that hurt us,” said Coach O’Brien referencing Newburyport’s two-run fifth inning.  “They got the timely hit.”

Evan Balian paced Lynnfield with two hits.

Spencer Riley hit a part of the leftfield fence in the fourth inning in a section of fencing that doesn’t exist in most of the rest of the field.  Could have gone out if it wasn’t pulled so much.  He had to settle for a double.

Jake Buontempo dives back to first

Newburyport pitcher Owen Tahnk remembered it: “That double off the fence was a scare.”

Owen limited Lynnfield to five hits and yielded only two walks.

“His limiting the walks was important,” said Coach Rowe.

Owen had six strikeouts getting two each in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings.  In each of those innings the Pioneers had runners in scoring position.

“My slider and curve were working well today,” said Owen.  “I got grounders and fly balls on off-speed pitches.”

Coach O’Brien: “We’re back to ground zero after getting a nice win the other day.”

Clippers celebrate the win

Ryan Archer: “Our goal every day is to go 1-0.  We have two games coming up and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

I didn’t hear the news, but I saw the news.  The players weren’t wearing masks!  Is this where I say, “It’s about time!” and give away my politics?

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

Tony Lucci makes a catch
Baserunner Michael Habib and SS Henry Caulfield
Aidan Burke out stealing as Tony Lucci takes throw
Nick White had one of the three Newburyport hits
2B Jack Bird tries for a force at second
Catcher Evan Balian looks for a sign
Tangle in the Lynnfield outfield
Ryan Archer about to be tagged out by SS Henry Caulfield
3B Luke Stallard catches a popup
Trent Balian slides into 3B in the second inning
Evan Balian had two hits
CF Luke Martinho made some nice running catches
How would you caption this one?
Lynnfield box
Newburyport box

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Excellent pitching and hitting send Amesbury past Ipswich 15-0

Alana Delisle allowed 1 hit to go with 14 K’s
Ella Delisle had a HR and 4 RBI

(Amesbury MA) Consider yourselves warned future opponents.

Amesbury has a terrific softball team.

Ipswich (2-3) found that out today losing 15-0 on Monday afternoon via the mercy rule.

The Indians (3-0) have a brand-new field to play on and unlike their nearby former field, this one has a fence.

“This is the first time we’ve had an actual fence,” said junior Liv DeLong afterwards.  “It was really exciting to see three home runs go over it.”

Liv had one of the long ones and Ella Delisle and Ella Bezanson had the other two.

AHS had fifteen hits and all of the Amesbury starters scored at least one run in the 4 ½ innings played.

Ella Bezanson had the first of 3 Amesbury homers

The Indians had a six-run second inning and a seven-run fourth inning.

And then there was the pitching of AHS starter Alana Delisle.

Amesbury coach Jacqui Waters told me afterwards that she had originally planned on using several of her pitchers in each game.

Today she couldn’t do it as Alana put on a show.

“She was on fire,” said Coach Waters, “I wasn’t taking her out.”

Alana struck out fourteen Tigers and allowed just one hit.

“She took control of the whole game with fourteen strikeouts,” said Coach Waters.  “She was outstanding.”

“Alana was awesome today,” said her sister Ella, who was the catcher.  “Everything she had worked.”

The combination of Alana’s pitching and an offense, that on this sunny afternoon had hits and loud outs, made it tough for Ipswich.

Cassidy Smith dropped in the only Ipswich hit

Leftfielder Alexa Eliopoulos and shortstop Lexi James made outstanding plays in the field, but the sheer volume of tough chances made it difficult for the visitors to stop the runs from coming.

SS Lexi James made a nice running catch

The Indians didn’t bunt, just hacked away.  Ella Bezanson and Izzy Levasseur each had three hits for Amesbury.  Ella Delisle had four RBI.

Alana struck out the first eight batters she faced before walking Piper Reily in the third inning.

In the Ipswich fourth, Cassidy Smith dropped a short popup over Alan’s head and just in front of charging shortstop Liv Levasseur.  That was the Tigers first and only hit.

One thing I didn’t learn about today was the quality of the Amesbury defense.  Not one ball got out of the infield.  Alana got an assist on the final out of the game but there were no other infield chances other than Cassidy Smith’s hit.

Impressive, to say the least.

Liv DeLong celebrates a home run

The new field has bleachers beyond centerfield although most spectators chose the 3B/LF foul territory to view from.

Coach Waters: “We owe this field to the alumni.  They raised some money.  The infield cost $16,000.  We needed a new field.  The other one was a mess.  Mayor Gove came through with funds for the backstop and all the fencing.  We have a brand-new scoreboard which is not in yet.  It was a gift from the Newburyport Institution for Savings.”

Alana Delisle: “Today was really fun.  Ella did a great job catching.  Everyone hit.  Ella calls the pitches. I just throw them.”

Ella Delisle: “I’ve been catching her my whole life.  Her curve was moving really well.”

LF Alex Eliopoulos made several nice catches in the outfield

The Indians haven’t given up a run yet in three starts.  Liv Delong had fifteen strikeouts in the season opener against Rockport.

Coach Waters informed me that there will be a state tournament following the regular season.  How far can the Indians go?

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

Alana Delisle
Lauren Celia
Caroline Spencer in for a grounder
Ella Delisle celebrates her 3-run homer in the fourth inning
Grounder up the middle
Lexi James
Annabel Morris set to pitch
Piper Reily
Veronica Deacon
Liv Levasseur
Amesbury pre-game gathering
Ella Bezanson
Julia Campbell
Liv Levasseur
Alana Delisle pregame

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