Fraser Field

North Shore Navigators Post-Game Fireworks

Fun and affordable family entertainment. Great college summer baseball. You don’t need to drive to Fenway to see quality baseball and our prices are affordable. Tickets are $6 and $7 and hot dogs are a buck at every game. Fireworks at every Friday Night home game thanks to WAYNE ALARM. Full concession menu including Budweiser and local Bent Water Brewery products. If you have not been to a game, what are you waiting for? Click NOW!

7:00 p.m. First Pitch

Post-Game Fireworks on the following Fridays:

  • June 16
  • June 30
  • July 7
  • July 14
  • July 21
  • July 28
  • Aug. 4

Fraser Field, 365 Western Ave., Lynn

Agganis softball teams play to a tie

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Lynn Tech’s Coral Gonzalez gets set to throw to first from her knees after making a play on the pitcher’s mound during the Agganis All-Star Softball game. 

By SCOT COOPER

LYNN —  If you’re going to hold an all-star game in Lynn for the area’s top high school softball players, you might as well have great performances by the girls from the city’s four high schools.

That’s what happened Sunday afternoon at Fraser Field as the North stars rallied to tie the South stars, 4-4.

The South got on the board in the top of the first off of Danvers’ Dara Papamichael. St. Mary’s battery mates, Mia Nowicki and Emily Stephenson got on base to start things off. Nowicki, a pitcher, drew a walk, and Stephenson followed with a single. Classical’s Alaina Gridley scored Nowicki with a sacrifice, and Stephenson strolled home on a single by Malden’s Caitlin Leonard.

The game stayed at 2-0 through the first three innings, Papamichael didn’t allow another South run in her three innings, and Nowicki whiffed eight of the first 12 batters she saw, allowing only a single to Triton’s Kendall Mitchell in the bottom of the second. Papamichael was helped by English infielder Emma Trahant, who made several great plays at second base, taking sure base hits away from the South team.

The South pushed another run across in the top of the fourth to make it 3-0. Once again it was the Lynn connection coming through, Stephenson reached on a single and came home on a groundout by Gridley, her second RBI of the game.

South coach Paige Licata of St. Mary’s usually sends a runner in for Stephenson, but her catcher told her before the game that she would be doing her own running Sunday if she got on.

“Emily told me before the game that she was running today and she certainly got some running in, scoring two runs and stealing a couple of bases,” Licata said. “We usually have a courtesy runner for her, but she wanted to run today, it’s a fun game and she certainly was having fun on the bases.”

Down by three, the North got in the board when Georgetown’s Kylie Hayward and Swampscott’s Kasey Kennedy scored a pair of unearned runs to make it 3-2 with the South up after four innings.

Stephenson gave the South a two run lead, driving in Everett’s Samantha Uga with her second hit of the ballgame, this one off of Lindsey Lannon of English. Lannon got that run back for the North in their half of the fifth, knocking in her Bulldog teammate Sarah Tobin to make it 4-3.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Lawrence’s Brianna Rivera scored on a South error, and the game ended tied at four.  And that’s how it ended.

At the conclusion of the 20th Agganis softball game, Trahant was named the game MVP for the North team and Nowicki took the honors for the South. Trahant, who will play soccer at Curry next fall, said it was really great to play with so many good players.

“It was a lot of fun to be out there with this group of girls, it means a lot, being a Lynn player and playing in this game,” Trahant said. “It was an honor to be picked to play in this game.”

Nowicki, who will play at Assumption, said it was great fun to play in the Agganis game.

“If it looked like I was having fun out there, it’s because I was, I always have fun playing softball,” Nowicki said.

Swampscott’s Gary Moran, the coach of the North team, said he had the easiest job Sunday.

“I just roll them out there, all these girls can play, and play well, no signs, no nothing just send them out and let them play,” Moran said.

“A lot of these girls had a loss in their last high school game, so to wrap up their career’s in a fun game like this one today is great,” Licata added.

Tech’s Coral Gonzalez, St. Mary’s Victoria DiCenso, Casey Fraher, and Classical’s Emma Dejoie were also on the South squad, and Rachel Calnan, from English, was picked for the North squad.

Lauria continues a family tradition in Agganis games

FILE PHOTO
Lynn Classical’s Matt Lauria will play in the Agganis baseball and football games. 

By STEVE KRAUSE 

LYNN — When it comes to the Agganis All-Star games, it’s been an extended family affair for Lynn Classical’s Matt Lauria.

Lauria will play two games next week, one of them Sunday (baseball, 2 p.m., at Fraser Field) and the other on Thursday (football, 7 p.m., at Manning). He’ll have the extra-added privilege of wearing the coveted No. 33 in Thursday’s football game, which was the number the game’s namesake, Classical great Harry Agganis, wore in high school.

But most importantly, Lauria, Classical’s quarterback last fall, joins a host of extended family members who have played in these games in the past. His sister Kristen played basketball, as did cousins Meghan and Jill Reddy. Another cousin, Liam Reddy, will be playing with him in the football game Thursday.

And then there are the Kolodziajs. Brian played football, and Lauren played softball. And believe it or not, there are still two more from the extended Reddy/Lauria family to go: Lauria’s brother, Daniel; and Liam Reddy’s younger brother Colin.

Both Lauria and Liam Reddy will be on the South team, and as incredible as this may sound, they’ve never played on the same team formally.

“Liam and I have been playing in some similar sports for years,” he said, “but this is the first time we’ll be together on the same team. It’s pretty special.”

Beyond any of that, he said, he’s honored to play in the Agganis games.

“When you look at them, and see the people they select, it’s a huge honor to make one,” he said. “To make two is even more special.”

He considers baseball his best sport, and will be going to Bridgewater State to play. This spring, he was the catcher on Classical’s 19-1 Northeastern Conference/North-winning team. The Rams’ season came to an abrupt halt when Marblehead defeated them in Division 3 North tournament. Lauria admits it was a tough pill to swallow.

“You have such a great season, and it ends so suddenly,” he said. “So it’s great to play at Fraser Field one more time, and with some of my friends who have also played with me and against me. It’ll be fun. We can swap stories and all that fun stuff.”

Lauria had a front-row seat for what had to be the play of the year in high school football last season — Marcus Rivera’s electrifying 83-yard kickoff return to win the Thanksgiving game against English, 21-20.

“Marcus had missed a huge part of the season due to injury,” Lauria said, “so to be able to knock off English in the last game was the season was special, and awesome.”

Lauria wants to make sure he gives all his coaches a proper shoutout.

“I have an appreciation for all my coaches,” Lauria said. They’ve all helped me in different ways. I want to give them a shout out for everything they’d done for me in the past four years. I’ll miss them a lot.” 

As for the game?

“It’s a nice way to give myself a sendoff,” said Lauria. “I’ll be playing among all-stars from the area, and both the games are going to be on my home field. It’s a pleasure, and I cannot wait.”

Stanley pitches Connery past Peabody/Middleton

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Matt Stanley pitched Connery to its second win of the season. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN — Coming into Monday night’s game against Peabody/Middleton, the Connery Post 6 American Legion baseball team knew it was in for a battle. Luckily for Connery (2-2), starting pitcher Matt Stanley was ready for a battle.

Stanley tossed five strong innings on the mound en route to a 4-2 win over Peabody/Middleton at Fraser Field.

Connery coach Doug Collins was pleased with Stanley’s effort in the win.

“Matt was coming off a tough outing the other day,” Collins said. “I was very confident that he was going to bounce back and he had a great game. He was a little rusty coming into this but he found his groove for sure. He picked us up in a big spot.”

Stanley worked himself out of jams with runners in scoring position in four of his five innings and allowed the Connery bats to earn the win with timely hits.

The first of those was an RBI double from David Barnard, scoring A.J. Luciano for the 1-0 Connery lead with two outs in the bottom of the first inning.

“We knew with the pitcher we have (Stanley) that we just had to stay in the game offensively,” Collins said. “They’re a good team, they play good defense but we just had to have a good approach up there.”

Stanley sent Peabody/Middleton down in order in the top of the second but ran into trouble in the third. After Peabody/Middleton starting pitcher Jake Zeuli forced Connery to leave the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, the visitors took advantage with a two-run rally to claim the lead.

Peabody/Middleton’s Justin Juliano reached on an infield error and took second on a comebacker to Stanley off Blaise Romanowski’s bat. Andrew Manni followed with an RBI double, scoring Juliano for the 1-1 tie. Mike Stellato kept the rally alive with a laser that became Connery’s second infield error of the inning, allowing Manni to score for the 2-1 lead.

Connery answered quickly in the bottom of the third. Ryan Turenne walked to lead the inning and Barnard followed with a single. Turenne and Barnard found themselves on second and third after a wild pitch and Tyler Donovan brought the pair home with a two-RBI single. Donovan’s key hit made it a 3-2 game in Connery’s favor.

“We never settled,” Mullins said. “Our guys never got down when we went down 2-1. We felt like we were still playing with a lead and we played well.”

Connery added another run in the bottom of the fifth when Jackson Allard drew a walk with the bases loaded. Connery’s patience paid off in the fifth as the team drew three walks, with a single in between, to bump its lead to 4-2.

“Peabody/Middleton’s a solid team,” Mullins said. We knew we were in for a dogfight. It’s nice to play with people in the stands. That kind of gives the game a playoff atmosphere. It was a good win for our guys moving forward.”

A throwing error in the top of the seventh allowed Peabody/Middleton’s Cole Cuzzi to reach first base with no outs but Connery reliever Devin Curley forced a pop-up and a 6-4-3 double play to seal the 4-2 win.

“Connery’s a big, strong team,” Peabody/Middleton coach John Kowalski said. “Stanley was throwing strikes and they hit the ball. They had that double early in the game and played a little bit better than us tonight.

“We allowed too many guys to get on base with some walks and a couple errors, things that led to the runs,” Kowalski added. “In general, we have a good team as does Lynn.”

Both teams are back in action on Wednesday when Peabody/Middleton hopes to bounce back against Haverhill while Connery battles against Danvers.

 

North Shore Navigators Post-Game Fireworks

Fun and affordable family entertainment. Great college summer baseball. You don’t need to drive to Fenway to see quality baseball and our prices are affordable. Tickets are $6 and $7 and hot dogs are a buck at every game. Fireworks at every Friday Night home game. Full concession menu including Budweiser and local Bent Water Brewery products. If you have not been to a game, what are you waiting for? Click NOW!

7:00 p.m. First Pitch

Post-Game Fireworks on the following Fridays:

  • June 16
  • June 30
  • July 7
  • July 14
  • July 21
  • July 28
  • Aug. 4

Fraser Field, 365 Western Ave., Lynn

Eastern Mass baseball games features plenty of locals

FILE PHOTO
Classical’s Tyler Way will represent the Rams in the Eastern Mass. baseball all-star game. 

By STEVE KRAUSE

Dick Newton remembers being the first person in the history of the Eastern Mass. baseball all-star game to throw a pitch.

He also thinks he may be the only person in the game’s 40-year history to play, coach and umpire in the game.

“It was pretty special for me,” said Newton, who is the athletic director at Lynn English High School and a past president of the North Shore Baseball Umpires Association.

Frank Carey, who, with 736 victories is the winningest high school coach in Massachusetts history, has run the game, whose 40th edition will be Tuesday (7) at BC High’s Monan Field.

“The first game was 1978, at Fraser Field in Lynn,” said Carey. “At the time, I wasn’t aware that the shortstop for the South team was a kid named Greg Gagne of Somerset High.”

Gagne went onto play shortstop for the Minnesota Twins in the two seasons (1987 and 1991) they won the World Series.

Carey, a St. Mary’s high school teammate and lifelong friend of the late Tony Conigliaro, who played for the Boston Red Sox, said in 1978 that the all-star game featured the best baseball players in the northern and southern parts of the state. And that impressed Newton, who was a senior at Lynn English.

“That made it real special for me to play in the game,” Newton said.

In subsequent years, the game took on a wider significance. There is also a central/West game (which takes place Tuesday at 4), and players are selected from both games to play against the state of Connecticut later next week. For a time, that Mass.-Conn. Game was played at Fenway Park, but that hasn’t been the case in the last decade.

Newton umpired the game “a few years ago,” he said, and it struck him that while it was interesting in seeing the differences in the players, “you realize that there are still kids who can really play.”

Coaching the North team this year will be St. John’s Prep’s Danny Letarte and Lynn Classical’s Mike Zukowski.

The game will feature one player from Classical — leadoff hitter and center fielder Tyler Way. Also on the North roster is Louis Olivieri, a catcher from Swampscott.

Lynnfield will have two players participate in the game in shortstop Justin Juliano and pitcher Nick Aslanian.

Malden Catholic will also feature players in the game in pitcher Kellen Field and infielder Jake Horrigan.

St. John’s Prep center fielder Dan Frey, who batted clean-up for the Eagles, and Peabody left fielder Nick Palma will also play.

A handful of the top local juniors from the Class of 2018 will take part in the 8th Annual Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Junior Select State All-Star Game. The game will be played at Bentley University’s DeFelice Field on Sunday, June 18 at 2:00 p.m.

The game will feature Eastern Mass. (North/South) versus Central-Western Mass. Eastern Mass. Locals on the Eastern Mass. team include Malden Catholic’s Anthony Iannuzzi, Swampscott’s Luke Marshall, Peabody’s Jake Gustin, Beverly’s Matt Collins, Lynn Classical’s AJ Luciano and Lynnfield’s Cooper Marengi.

Award presentations will be made after the game. Also, an 18-player MBCA State Junior All-Star Team will be selected to take on the CSCA Connecticut Junior State All-Stars for the New England Championship on Saturday, June 24 at 2:00 p.m. at UMass Boston’s Monan Field.
  Game co-directors are Steve Freker, who coaches the baseball team at Malden High, and John O’Brien, who coaches at Lynnfield, of the MBCA.

 

Local pitchers aim to help Navs bounce back

FILE PHOTO
Lynn native Brendan Powicki is in his first season with the Navigators. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN– With the Futures Collegiate Baseball League season off and running, the North Shore Navigators are hopeful that the summer of 2017 brings them a strong season. The tough news, thus far, is the Navs are off to a sour start after losing nine of their first ten games. The good news, besides the fact that they’ve been here before after starting 1-12 last season, is the Navs have a trio of talented local arms to help them get over the hump.

Lynn native Brendan Powicki, Peabody’s Bobby Tramondozzi and Nahant’s Al Wallach are all striving to be key contributors from the mound for the Navs this summer.

Powicki, who played his high school baseball at St. John’s Prep, is in his first season as a Navigator. After a year of postgraduate baseball at Worcester Academy, Powicki will look to find a role on the pitching staff at Stonehill College this upcoming fall as a freshman.

The opportunity to spend his summer in his hometown with the Navs gives Powicki a chance to prepare for the level of competition he’ll face on the collegiate mound.

“It’s awesome to be playing for the Navs,” Powicki said. “I’ve been coming to games since the (North Shore) Spirit was here because I’m a local kid from Lynn. The opportunity to come here and play against some of the best competition around the country with a bunch of great players, it’s awesome.”

Although the Navs are off a tough a tough start, Powicki’s enjoying himself in his first season with the team. Thus far, Powicki’s made it a priority to learn from the more experienced players on the roster.

“It’s been good,” Powicki said. “I’m pretty young for the team but I’m learning a lot. I’m learning from all the older guys and that’s great.”

Wallach, a returning player, just wrapped up his junior campaign at Framingham State. The chance to play baseball in front of local fans at  Fraser Field, just a few miles away from Wallach’s hometown, makes the experience a special one for the Nahant native.

“It’s a great opportunity to play for the Navs,” Wallach, a Swampscott High alum, said. “Especially growing up around, playing in front of fans that I’ve grown up around makes it pretty cool. Playing baseball makes it a fun summer.”

Now that Wallach’s in his second go-round with the team, the right-hander comes into the season with high expectations.

“We returned a lot of guys from last year,” Wallach said. “I think the expectation is that we can make a big impact this year. We’ve had a slow start but everybody here knows this team’s capable of turning it around.”

Tramondozzi, also a returner, recently wrapped up a stellar sophomore season at UMass Boston. The Beacons reached the Division 3 College World Series for the second time in program history and finished the year at 38-12.

The turnaround from pitching for the Beacons to rejoining the Navs was a quick one for Tramondozzi but he’s looking forward to spending the summer working on his craft.

“I’m tired in a sense that it’s been a lot but it’s good to keep going,” Tramondozzi said. “It’s an all-year affair. Going from summer ball, to fall ball, winter workouts and then the spring season. Even though I’m tired, it’s good to be here getting work in.”

Playing for the Navs is an experience that has come full-circle for the Peabody native.

“I live the next town over so it’s only a 10 minute drive,” Tramondozzi said. “I went to these games when I was a kid. I used to look up to these guys when I was a kid and now I’m on the field. It’s a pretty cool experience.”

The positive for the Navs, through the first 10 games of the season, has been the team’s pitching. Tramondozzi noted that the team hasn’t allowed many runs, meaning a turnaround is certainly in the cards if the bats and gloves can find their rhythm.

“We haven’t been letting up many runs this season,” Tramondozzi said. “If we keep that going and start hitting well, we can get back to where we were last year and maybe even further.”

Powicki agreed that a turnaround isn’t out of reach as the team looks to build a winning streak in the young season. After a similar beginning in 2016, the Navs are taking a calm and confident approach.

“The team talks about how last year they were 1-12 so we’re not too worried or anything like that,” Powicki said. “We know we’re a good team so we’ll just continue to work hard and hopefully dig ourselves out.”

Tough inning buries Navs

A tough seventh-inning stung the North Shore Navigators as they fell to the Brockton Rox, 6-1, on Wednesday night at Fraser Field.  Brockton improves to 6-2 on the year while the Navs fall to a 1-9 record.

North Shore pitcher Austen Michel (Dartmouth) went six strong innings in his first start after moving from the bullpen. He struck out eight on the night and ended with a no-decision.

Brockton took the lead in the start of the fourth, as Daniel Jung and Nick Garland had back-to-back hits. They were advanced into scoring position by a wild pitch. Jung came around to score on a ground ball to the shortstop.

The Navigators answered quickly with a run in the sixth, as Joey Pena (St. Thomas Aquinas) walked with one out. Nick Falkson singled but the Navigators lost a base runner when Pena was called out on a fielder’s choice. Alex Brickman (Siena) came through with an infield single to score Dane Berezo (VCU).

Cam Lanzilli (Eckard) came in the seventh to relieve Michel and gave up back-to-back triples to Silva and Tommy O’Hara. Lanzilli was pulled in favor of Brendan Powicki (Stonehill), who had no better luck against the Brockton bats.

O’Hara came in to score from third on a wild pitch during Kyle Ruth’s at-bat. Ruth would earn a walk and stole second. Sam Cochrane singled to score Ruth, putting the third run across the plate for the inning. Cochrane continued around the base paths, advancing to third on an error by Powicki and came around to score on a passed ball.

Alex Brickman (St. Petersburg) came in and struck out his first batter. Chris Berry singled and advanced to third on an error by the left fielder. Jung walked and pushed Kyle Simon to second, scoring Berry. A putout and a swinging strike ended the inning.

Brickman came in strong with three straight outs in the top of the eighth but it wasn’t enough to stem the tide for the Navigators. Matt Kerin came back for the Rox and struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to prevent any more North Shore scoring.

The Navigators head to Bristol on Thursday afternoon before hosting the first fireworks night of 2017 on Friday as they host Worcester.

Navs still seeking first win of season

By GABBI RIGGI

LYNN — The North Shore Navigators are still chasing their first victory of the season.

Saturday night at Fraser Field, the Navs fell to the Nashua Silver Knights, who scored early and often for an 8-3 victory. The Navigators are now 0-7.

Nashua pounded starter Evan Glew (Northern Essex Community College) for five runs and nine hits in his second start of the season.

The first inning kicked off with three consecutive singles that scored Kyle Bonicki before the Navigators could record an out.

The second run came in on a double off the bat of Silver Knight Andrew Jaehnig that dropped in shallow center field. Navigators’ right fielder Jeff Mejia provided a highlight play, though, going deep to snag a ball and catching it with his back to the wall.

The Navigators pushed back in the second with a triple by Nick Furmann (Frederick Community College) to score MacDaniel Singleton (Salem State), who was hit by a pitch. Nashua stomped right back in the top of the third as Jaehnig doubled again, scoring Sullivan. Two ground balls brought in another run for the Silver Knights.  

A three run sixth inning proved to be too much for the Navigators. Nashua’s Thomas Joyce hit a long solo shot to make it 6-2. Ryan Sullivan scored a two run double to the left field corner to add the final two Silver Knight tallies for the night.

Furmann tried to kick start a Navs’ comeback with a double in the bottle of the seventh but the Nashua bullpen prevented further scoring. A sacrifice fly by Ryan Collins (Northern Essex) put the last tally on the board for the North Shore on the night.

The Navigators have two road games in Worcester and Nashua on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Baseball returns to Fraser Field Wednesday (7) as the Navigators host the Brockton Rox.

 

Austin Prep ends Fenwick’s season

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Fenwick’s Nick Fowler trucks into third base as Austin Prep’s Alex Martinez awaits the throw.

By MIKE ALONGI 

LYNN — The cinderella run came to an end on Thursday night, as the No. 16 Bishop Fenwick baseball team fell to No. 5 Austin Prep, 13-4, in the Division 3 North semifinals at Fraser Field. The Crusaders, who had come from behind to win every game in the tournament, simply ran out of gas.

“I think we were pretty much running on fumes at this point,” said Fenwick coach Kevin Canty. “We used (Dave) Furtado and Tyler (Thompson) a lot, and they’ve thrown a ton of pitches over the past week. We’ve had to work so hard in every game so far, I think it just caught up to us tonight.”

Angelo McCullough, Ryan Murphy and Kasey O’Brien each had an RBI in the loss for Fenwick, while Furtado, Thompson and Nick Pignone all saw time on the mound.

Fenwick jumped right out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. After two hits and an error loaded up the bases, Murphy stepped in and hit an RBI groundout to put the Crusaders on the board.

Austin Prep answered back with a run in the bottom of the first when Brendan Barry hit an RBI single, then the Cougars jumped out in front the next inning with a four-run outburst. Two errors brought in two runs, then Alex Martinez knocked a two-run single into centerfield to make it 5-1. The score would’ve been 6-1, but Moore gunned down a runner at home to end the inning.

For Fenwick, it was the errors that were a major killer in this one. The Crusaders committed seven errors on the day that led to four unearned runs.

“Unfortunately we picked the worst day of the year to have our worst game,” said Canty. “Things happened tonight that hadn’t been happening over the last few games, and with a team like Austin Prep you can’t give them extra runners and extra at-bats, and we paid for it.”

Austin Prep was right back at it in the bottom of the fourth. A single and a walk put runners on first and second to open the inning, then Logan Bravo hit an RBI single to make it 6-1. From there, back-to-back sacrifice flies from Peter Burns and Josh Bartnicki moved the score to 8-1.

Fenwick got one back in the top of the fifth when McCullough hit an RBI single to centerfield. The Crusaders looked to start a rally after a runner scored on a passed ball to make it 8-3, but Seguin retired the next two batters to escape.

The Cougars added another run in the bottom of the fifth, then Fenwick responded with a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Kasey O’Brien to make it 9-4. But that was as close as the Crusaders would get, as Austin Prep added four more runs in the sixth to run away with the win.

For the five Fenwick seniors, it’s a bitter way to end the season but Canty says they have nothing to be ashamed of.

“Those guys stepped up every time we needed them to,” Canty said of his seniors, who were all captains of this year’s team. “We knew we would ride or die with them, and all of them made key hits and key plays in key situations to get us here. Tonight sucked, but those guys have nothing to hang their head about.”

As for the rest of his young team, things can only get better.

“I always thought that with this team, we’d really be at our best next year, so a lot of great things are still to come,” said Canty. “Every one of these young guys now has a ton of big tournament experience, and even this loss can only help us going forward.”

The Crusaders close out the year at 13-11.

Austin Prep ends Swampscott’s season

PHOTO BY BOB ROCHE
Swampscott first baseman A.J.Venuti made a great snag of a shot down the baseline. 

By STEVE KRAUSE

MELROSE — The Austin Prep baseball team has one player committed to Harvard, another to Boston College and a third to St. Joseph College in Maine. The Cougars’ 17-4 record coming into Wednesday’s MIAA Division 3 North quarterfinal game against Swampscott was testament to that.

Now it’s 18-4.

Swampscott, 12-11, hung with the sixth-seeded Cougars for three innings. But the long ball did in the Big Blue and because of that, it’ll be Austin Prep moving on to play Bishop Fenwick tonight (7) at Fraser Field in the sectional semifinal. The winner of that game faces No. 3 Lynnfield in the final. The Pioneers already locked up their spot with a 7-3 win Wednesday over No. 2 Latin Academy.

Austin Prep jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back. Dylan Arnold led off by getting hit with a pitch from Big Blue starter Luke Marshall. After Harvard-bound Logan Bravo — during whose at-bat Arnold stole second — BC-bound Peter Burns was walked intentionally.

Marshall appeared to be out of the inning when he fanned Kyle Barry for the second out. But first baseman Josh Bartnicki singled to score one run, and John Gilbride reached on an error allowing the second one to score.

“We really didn’t help ourselves in that first inning,” said Swampscott coach Jason Calichman. “They perhaps scored a run they shouldn’t have scored.

“But,” he said, “we can play with them. I wish we could play the again.”

Swampscott got one of those runs back in the second inning when David Peterson singled and came around to score on another base hit by Graham Inzana.

However, the Cougars negated that run in the bottom of the second when No. 9 hitter Alex Martinez cleared the left-field wall with a solo home run and it was 3-1.

Once again, Swampscott crept closer in the third. Sean Lahrizi led off by reaching on an error, took second on Lou Oliveri’s single, and scored on another base hit by Ryan Graciale. However, Austin turned a nifty double play when third baseman Martinez grabbed a hot grounder on the line, stepped on third, and threw to first to nail A.J. Venuti by a step.

Austin Prep put the game away in the bottom of the fourth with three runs, two of them on Bravo’s home run.

Swampscott got a run in the top of the seventh on Inzana’s home run that just cleared the left field fence.

Calichman had nothing but praise for Marshall, who is a junior.

“He battled,” he said. “He deserved far more than we gave him today. I think he’s one of the best pitchers in the Northeastern Conference, but three runs is not going to cut it.”

Austin Prep coach Steve Busby was happy with his pitcher, Cam Seguin, too.

“He keeps hitters off-balance, and he pitches to contact,” Busby said. “I thought he did well.

“And I thought we played well too,” he said. “We haven’t played in six days, so we were a little rusty.”

 

Tough opening weekend for Navigators

PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
North Shore Navigators mascot Chomps does a dance with James Benjamin, 6, of Boston, center, and Noah Garnder, 5, of Lynn, during the home opener on Saturday.

LYNN — The North Shore Navigators started off the home season with four innings of no-hit baseball, but weren’t able to hold on as the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks prevailed, 7-3.

Their woes continued Sunday night at home when the Seacoast Mavericks, who had defeated them in their season’s opener, scored two runs in the ninth for a 3-1 win.

The Navs were welcomed back to Fraser Field Satuday by a crowd of 2,100. The fans were in a festive mood early as when the Navs took a 2-0 lead, and the team’s efforts to provide something for everyone were much appreciated.

“It was my first visit to Fraser Field in about 20 years,” said Kris Horgan Mason, of Kingston, N.H. “I found it to be as friendly and fun-filled as when we used to watch the Lynn Sailors when I was a kid.

“It was my son’s (Brayden) first visit and he enjoyed being able to see players just a few years older than he is doing what he hopes to do one day.” Her son is 14 and plays baseball for his high school team and for a team in Portsmouth, N.H.

Mason also appreciated the effort of North Shore Christian student Isaac Toledo, 10, from Wenham, in singing the National Anthem.

“That took a lot of courage to sing in front of a large crowd,” she said.

The Navigators dropped to 0-3 on the young season.

“It’s awesome, I can’t imagine spending my summers anywhere else,” said catcher Keith Linnane (UMass-Amherst). “I mean the turnout was awesome, it’s too bad we couldn’t get a win. It was a great night, overall.”

Linnane, a three-time returner to the Navigators, contributed with two of the nine hits for the Navs, including his first double of the season. His teammates Mac Singleton (Salem State) also had two hits to kick start the offense for the Navigators.

Starter Evan Glew (Northern Essex) pitched four shutout innings, but was quickly inundated in the middle of the game by the Sharks.

“Every time Evan is out there he’s going to give our team the chance to win,” Linnane said. “That’s what he did tonight, we just couldn’t get a couple more runs for him.”

The Navigators’ offense was unable to come back against a four-run sixth inning by the Sharks. Glew only gave up two hits and an earned run before being taken out. Martha’s Vineyard scored in the third with a wild pitch and an error by the first baseman. After Glew was replaced the Sharks’ offense took off, and Martha’s Vineyard pulled to a 3-2 lead. After tacking on another run, Josh Partridge (St. Joseph’s College) put out the fire. After an attempted tag as the runner sprinted to second before throwing to first, the runner came in and scored the fourth run of the inning.

The Sharks kept the momentum going at the top of the ninth with back-to-back triples to score the sixth of the night. A long double up the first base line allowed another run to score. A closing hit posted another run to add on, giving the Sharks the win.

Sunday, the game was tied at 1-1 until the ninth. Confusion on a popup led to one run, and the other scored on a walk.

The Navigators are home tonight (7) against the Bristol Blues.

Weston ends St. Mary’s season

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Bobby Alcock was strong on the mound but Weston took the win. 

By KATIE MORRISON

LYNN — The baseball season at St. Mary’s came to an abrupt end Thursday at Fraser Field thanks to a 3-2 loss to Weston in a first-round Division 3 North tournament game.

The Spartans, 13-8, were held in check by senior pitcher Max Barsamian, who allowed only three hits — two of them in one inning — and struck out 12.

“It’s kind of the story of the season,” said Spartan coach Derek Dana of the team’s lack of hitting. “We didn’t hit enough to win consistently.”

The Wildcats, who were seeded 10th to St. Mary’s 7th, spotted the Spartans a 2-0 lead before roaring back with three runs in the fifth inning to overtake them.

Missed opportunities were the bane of St. Mary’s existence. In both of the innings the Spartans scored, they could have easily added more runs. In the second, after an infield hit by Jared Coppola drove home Connor Donahue, who was pinch-running for Anthony Nikolakakis (who had walked), St. Mary’s had runners on first and second with two outs. However, Barsmanian got the third out on a strikeout.

Then, in the fourth, it really looked as if the Spartans were going to get something going. With one out, Nikolakakis doubled and Kyle Ouellette followed with a triple. But the Spartans couldn’t get him in.

“We missed some opportunities,” agreed Dana. “And when you miss opportunities in games like this, they can find you.”

The Spartans spoiled a good effort from pitcher Bobby Alcock who — save for the fifth inning — was on his game. He ended up allowing seven hits and striking out 11.

“Bobby did great,” said Dana. “He really competed, and he’s only going to get better and better.”

In the top of the fifth, Alcock, after pitching his way out of a none-out, runner-on-third jam without giving up a run, got in trouble again, giving a bloop single just over the outstretched glove of second baseman Jack Ward; and walking No. 9 hitter Bryce McCanne. When leadoff hitter Peter Messervy followed with another single, a run scored.

Noah Hooper then followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners along and Saajan May followed with a well-placed single that Alcock couldn’t quite stab, scoring both runs and giving Weston a 3-2 lead.

Ironically enough, after the two runs scored, Alcock proceeded to strike out the side.

St. Mary’s had its best chance after that in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, pinch-hitter Louis Vidal walked. After Lee Pacheco went down swinging, Ryan Turenne followed with another walk.

That brought up designated hitter John Mulready, who hit one right on the screws to straight-away center. It looked as if it would go over center fielder Messervy’s head, but he had late-closing speed and caught up with the ball, catching it with his back to the diamond.

Dana wouldn’t bemoan the lack of luck.

“That’s the game,” he said, “and that’s the high school tournament. People rise up to the occasion.

“Another four or five inches, and that ball’s over his head and we score two runs. But that’s baseball.”

 

Krause: Navs found the winning combination

By STEVE KRAUSE

The North Shore Navigators open their season tonight on the road — in Portsmouth, N.H., against the Seacoast Mavericks. They’ll have their home opener Saturday at 6 p.m. against the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks.

The Navs are now in their 10th season at Fraser Field and it’s safe to say they’ve been a welcome addition to the city. But it’s hard to pile compliments on the team without sounding dismissive of that which came before, whether it’s the Lynn Sailors, Massachusetts Mad Dogs or North Shore Spirit.

That’s because all of these organizations — even the Navigators — are often swimming upstream when it comes to summer baseball in Lynn. The reason usually given is the spectre of the Red Sox just 10 miles down the road.

I don’t think that’s the reason. These days the Red Sox end up being a very expensive family night out when you consider the cost of a ticket, multiplied by four or five; parking (if you don’t take the T), the outrageous food prices, and other ancillary costs such as souvenirs.

All of the minor-league or college-league teams that have come into Fraser Field bill themselves as fun, affordable family entertainment — with the accent on affordable. You can see good baseball, have a little run, and still have money left over to buy groceries.

So no, it’s not the Red Sox. But it’s hard for these teams to come in here and play on a nightly basis with all the other baseball that goes on in the summer. Lynn may be down to five Little Leagues from the seven it had at its zenith, but every one of those five leagues field an all-star team that begins competing for a spot in the Little League World Series at the end of June. That tournament spills over into the first part of July, and the winner goes onto the next level. There’s also softball, which follows roughly the same process.

Add onto this Babe Ruth, which runs post-season tournaments at three age levels. Last year, the 15-year-olds went all the way to the Babe Ruth World Series.

All of these games draw clientele away from the Navigators (and Spirit … and Mad Dogs), especially in the beginning, when fans are fragmented into several locations so they can watch their sons and daughters play. It’s bound to affect the gate for the Navs.

So, like Avis, the Navs — and others — have to try harder. They’ve all modeled themselves after real minor league-affiliate teams, with between-innings games and contests, in an effort to make themselves more attractive to kids of all ages. If you’ve ever seen “Bull Durham,” that’s pretty much what you get at a Navigators game.

I will admit, way back in the beginning, I chafed at all this minor-league stuff. I remember complaining to Nick Lopardo, who owned the Spirit, that it was unnecessary, and that people around here were too sophisticated for that.

We had our healthy disagreements, but one thing nobody can deny is that without Lopardo, the Navigators wouldn’t exist, and neither, for all intents and purposes, would Fraser Field. At least not in its current capacity.

He’s the one who got the turf put in, and reconfigured the stadium to conform to standards that have allowed the facility to flourish both as a venue for the Navigators, but as a viable park for the state tournaments when they’re looking for neutral sites, and, last year, for the New England Regional Babe Ruth Tournament.

Lopardo tried, and it’s really a shame that it didn’t happen for him the way he’d wish it did.

You can also safely say that thanks to Lopardo, the Navigators came in, figuratively speaking, on third base. They had a ready-made facility and a market that had at least been tested enough for them to feel confident they could make a go of it.

Current general manager Bill Terlecky is smart enough to know, however, that the Navs didn’t hit a triple to get to third base. He’s worked arduously for more five years not only to build the Navigators up as a baseball team, but as an asset to the community. If there’s an event, the Navigators are represented. That included all of the Little League opening days in April, and it also included events such as Harrington Reads, a day where civic leaders read to the students at the school.

One thing that the Navs have going for them is that their roster is comprised of college players who are generally looking to improve themselves in summer ball. They are not professionals, which certainly reduces overhead compared to an independent league team full of players who are getting paid.

The Futures Collegiate Baseball League might not be on a par with the Cape Cod League, but it’s excellent baseball and the Navigators do a great job entertaining the kids. There really is a family atmosphere there, just as there was with the other organizations.

All of the aforementioned teams fought the label that semi-pro, or minor league, ball in Lynn would never take hold. There are some who still feel that way.

I think they’re wrong. Perhaps it was a matter of finding the right combination that would make it work.

It seems as if the Navigators have found that combination.

Having a ball in Swampscott

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Ryan Filipiak, Owen Pulaski, Gabe Bookman, Domenic Cella, Charlie Brogna and Cam Gold act silly with Chomps.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

SWAMPSCOTT — Following the success of the father-daughter dance, a bunch of moms approached For the Love of Swampscott members and asked about the potential for a mother and son event.

Last year, For the Love of Swampscott (FLOS) helped the Swampscott Police Association with the annual father-daughter dance, which will be Friday, June 16 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Swampscott High School.

But this year the local nonprofit decided to focus its energies on organizing an event for mothers and sons, according to Diane O’Brien, event chair for FLOS.

FLOS will host a “baseball-themed” Mother/Son event for Swampscott families on Saturday, June 10 at 5 p.m. at Fraser Field in Lynn for a North Shore Navigators game.

“We look forward to hosting this fun event for mothers and sons to spend time together,” said FLOS members in a statement. “And as always, all special someones are welcome.”

New Swampscott principal ‘a perfect fit’

O’Brien said the group wanted to do something outdoors and in the summer, so they came up with the idea for a baseball game and contacted the North Shore Navigators. She said the team’s owner is excited and is going to help FLOS produce an amazing event.

O’Brien said a tailgate party will be held in the parking lot at 5 p.m., where people can check in and get goody bags. Gymja Warriors will be doing a demo. Then, everyone will proceed into the ballpark, and some of the kids will hold American flags during the national anthem when players are introduced. A few of the kids will get to go onto the field and play some of the silly games the Navigators have, she said.

“I can’t reiterate enough that it is going to be off the charts,” O’Brien said. “I think it is going to be a lot of fun. Every time I go into that ballpark, I get more and more excited.”

Tickets are $40 per couple and $20 for each additional boy. The ticket price includes a pre-game tailgate party, keepsake photo, themed goody bag, on field activities, pizza and beverages. Parking is free, but carpooling is recommended. Tickets can be purchased at www.fortheloveofswampscott.org. They are limited and are expected to sell out.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at gcawley@itemlive.com. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.

 

Vidal’s reliability gives Spartans confidence

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
St. Mary’s pitcher Louis Vidal is having a stellar junior season for the Spartans. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

In baseball, there’s an adage that says a team can only go as far as its pitching carries it. A baseball team that boasts a talented and reliable starting rotation puts itself in position to be a contender. With starting pitchers like Louis Vidal on its rotation, the St. Mary’s baseball team is a prime example.

Vidal, a right-hander, has had a stellar season on the mound in his junior campaign with the Spartans. In 37 innings of work, Vidal carries a 3-0 record with 34 strikeouts and a 0.94 ERA. Opposing batters hit just .154 against Vidal.

For a St. Mary’s team that has clinched a spot in the Division 3 North state tournament, having reliable arms like Vidal brings a sense of relief to coach Derek Dana, who noted that his junior pitcher has made strong strides since last season.

“He grew from last year,” Dana said. “He’s hitting the strike zone a lot more. He’s still working on his off-speed stuff but this year he’s been able to finish games. In two of the games he’s pitched, he’s given up no runs and one run. Now he’s coming in for some relief. He works hard and he’s still young.”

Dana added, “His work ethic has improved. He understands that a little better now. We get nothing but compliments for Louis from the school. He’s a great kid and we expect big things from him.”

For Vidal, who’s in his third year under the tutelage of coach Dana and the St. Mary’s baseball program, the strong season he’s been having this spring was his main goal coming into it.

His ability to attack the strike zone has been the key to his success.

“I’m just trying to go out there and throw more strikes, with more consistency,” Vidal said. “I’m trying to keep the ball low in the zone and just work hard on the mound.”

Vidal, who’s of Dominican descent, also came into the season looking to make major contributions in hopes of sending his senior teammates out on a high note.

“We’re always trying to play for the seniors,” Vidal said. “You want to try and make sure that every senior has the best memories of high school baseball he possibly can, especially as a senior.”

A native of Lynn, Vidal was a member of the Spartans team that dropped a tough game in the second round of the state tournament last season to East Boston. From that loss, Vidal said, the Spartans learned a valuable lesson.

“That was definitely a lesson to never underestimate any of our opponents,” Vidal said. “We have to make sure that we’re fighting throughout the entire game, without giving up.”

With that mindset, the Spartans, who are 13-7, are looking bounce back from a tough 3-2 loss to Classical in the final of the Clancy Tournament. St. Mary’s, the No. 7 seed in Division 3 North, hosts No. 10 Weston in the first round on Thursday at Fraser Field.

“It’s always nice to have an opportunity to play for a state championship,” Vidal said. “I think we reached that goal pretty early in the season.”

Vidal, who cited fellow Dominican Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays as his favorite player, added, “We’re just hoping to make sure we have all the momentum we can have and go into the state tournament 100 percent confident.”

As the season has progressed, Vidal has seen the Spartans come together as a family. The chance to play for a team that carries a family vibe is his favorite aspect about being a Spartan.

“The whole team is like a family,” Vidal said. “We all joke around. None of us ever get too upset. None of us are too distant. We’re all a family and close. We can always pick each other up. We always fight no matter what inning it is or anything.”

Given the success Vidal has seen on the field this spring, Dana has plenty of confidence in handing him the ball for big games like the ones the Spartans will see in the state tournament.

“It’s the next guy up,” Dana said. “Whoever has the mound to start gets the ball and if he can’t finish it, the next guy’s up. Everyone here is in the mix and Louis is certainly one of those guys.”

It also helps that Vidal, as a junior,  has another season left at St. Mary’s. That means Dana and the Spartans will boast a strong rotation next spring as well.

“He’s been pitching varsity baseball since he was a sophomore,” Dana said. “Next year he comes back with more experience. We’re expecting big things from him this year and next year.”

Spartans stave off Bulldogs, advance to Clancy Final

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Anthony Nikolakakis and the Spartans will square off against Classical in Saturday’s Clancy Tournament Final. 

By STEVE KRAUSE 

LYNN — The game that most baseball fans in and around the city perhaps wanted to see will happen.

St. Mary’s made sure of that in the late game of the Nipper Clancy Tournament Friday night. The defending champs will face 18-1 Classical today (3 p.m.) at Fraser Field, with English and North Reading playing at noon in the consolation.

The Spartans defeated English, 5-4, by scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in a seesaw game that seemed to be affected more by the November-like weather than anything else. Each team misplayed popups that turned into hits. Both teams successfully squeezed runs home. Both teams were sloppy in the field (St. Mary’s made four errors). And both teams missed several chances to put the other away.

“We battled, and I’m proud of the kids,” said English coach Joe Caponigro. “We didn’t make some plays though that we should have made, and we killed ourselves. Same as all year. We have to make those plays.”
Both pitchers, Dax Billingsley (English) and Louis Vidal (St. Mary’s) were long gone by the time the game had ended. But both deserved better.

“Dax really battled,” said Caponigro. Billingsley pitched into the sixth inning before giving way to Geraldo Rojas after having hit Lee Pacheco to lead off the inning. At the time, English was clinging to a 4-3 lead.

“(Billingsley) gave us a chance to win the game,” said Caponigro, “but he was laboring.”

With Rojas in, pinch-hitter Mike Luciano was also hit by a pitch. A wild pitch moved both runners up, and English got a mild reprieve when Ryan Turenne flied out to shallow left. However, Anthony Nikolakakis, with two strikes on him, hit one deep enough to right for a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

“That was a great piece of hitting, because that’s what we talk about a lot,” said St. Mary’s coach Derek Dana, “two-strike hitting. He got it deep enough to score the run, that was a great at-bat.”

The winning run came across when Jack Ward skied one that English shortstop Geo Morales couldn’t find, and the ball bounced just beyond his outstretched glove.

Colin Reddy, in for Vidal, made things very interesting in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two outs before finally getting Alex Rodriguez to pop to short.

St. Mary’s took a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Ward and Kyle Bernardini got back-to-back singles and, after an infield hit by Kyle Ouellette loaded the bases, Tyler Donovan reached on an error that scored one run. As Bernardini came barreling down the line from third, Reddy dropped down a squeeze bunt.

Shoddy St. Mary’s defense allowed English to tie the game in the fourth. J.C. Gonzalez led off with a walk and went to third on Rojas’ single. Billy Allen reached on a two-base error, with both runs coming home.

English went ahead in the fifth when Morales reached on an error, scoring Brian Nunez, who had been hit by a pitch. St. Mary’s got that back when Aedan Leydon scorched a double to left.

“Another great at-bat,” said Dana, still baffled by the fact that St. Mary’s hasn’t had enough of them to satisfy him. “We talk about hitting line drives and ground balls. That was great hitting.”

English went back ahead in the sixth, again thanks to St. Mary’s errors.

“We’ve really got to clean this up,” said Dana. “Louis should have pitched a complete game. We made him get at least six extra outs because we were not outstanding on defense.”

Devin carries Classical to Clancy final

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Classical’s Christian Burt greets Sean Devin after his game-winning single in Friday’s victory over North Reading. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN — Coming into Friday’s Clancy Tournament opener between Classical and North Reading at Fraser Field, the Rams were 17-1 and the Hornets stood at 9-9. The disparity in records, however, didn’t stop North Reading from giving Classical a battle. The Rams won, 6-5 in 10 innings on Sean Devin’s game-winning RBI single, but the Hornets provided scares throughout the game.

“No matter the team or the record, you come into the Clancy Tournament expecting a game every year,” Classical coach Mike Zukowski said. “Whether it’s the first round, the consolation game or the championship game.”

North Reading coach Eric Archambault agreed.

“Part of the reason we love this tournament is because it’s four competitive teams and you get a tournament atmosphere right before the state tournament,” Archambault said. “It’s a good challenge and a good test. It’s four well-coached teams.”

In the early goings it seemed as though Classical, as it has often done this season, was ready to run away with a win. The Rams took advantage of five walks in the bottom of the first and turned North Reading’s miscues into a 3-0 lead without a base hit.

“It seemed like a great start but I’d like to see hits as opposed to no hits with those three runs,” Zukowski said.

After claiming a 3-0 lead, Classical’s offense froze. North Reading pitcher John Day, who relieved starter Robert Donohue in the first inning, kept Classical honest. Through the next six innings Day allowed just one hit, a single by Devin in the third inning.

“He (Day) shut us down,” Zukowski said. “Our bats were really quiet. I think we’re pressing a little too hard and I think when we get the lead early we step back a little bit.”

The Hornets struck for a pair of runs in the fifth inning. Donohue’s RBI single plated Ryan Connor for North Reading’s first run of the game. John Merullo drew a walk with the bases loaded on the ensuing at-bat, bringing home Jeffrey Mejia to slice Classical’s lead down to 3-2.

“We knew that Classical’s an excellent team coming in,” Archambault said. “We knew they’re in Super 8 contention. We knew we had to play our A-game and we played pretty close to that. We had plenty of opportunities to win the game but Classical’s a good team.”

North Reading took advantage of a Classical miscue in the seventh to bring home the tying run. Alex D’Ambrosio was hit by a pitch to start the frame and advanced to third on a single by Donohue. Merullo hit a liner at Classical reliever Jonathan Nicosia but after Nicosia caught the ball, he made an errant throw in attempt to pick off Donohue at first and D’Ambrosio scored to even the game at 3-3.

The Hornets carried their momentum into extra innings to take a 5-3 lead in top of the eighth. Michael McCauley’s RBI single made it 4-3 and Mejia raced home on a wild pitch on the following at-bat to pad North Reading’s lead at 5-3.

Classical woke up in the bottom half of the frame, tying the game on a pair of RBI sac flies from Devin and Andrew Moccia.

“We had a little meeting after the top of the eighth,” Zukowski said. “We told the guys that they had to have good at-bats and hit their pitches. We chased two runs so we couldn’t press, we had to be patient and we were.”

Neither team got anything going in the ninth and after Moccia, in relief, sent the Hornets down in order in the top of the tenth, Devin singled home Herbie Newton for the 6-5 win.

“Sean came up with a huge hit,” Zukowski said. “Herbie got on base and I wasn’t stopping him at third (on the single). We had to make them make a play and we capitalized.”

Classical advances to tomorrow’s championship game against St. Mary’s. North Reading battles English in the consolation.

Clancy Tournament comes full-circle for Lynn’s Tgettis

PHOTO BY ANDREW KRAUSE
St. Mary’s baseball coach Derek Dana (left) poses with Jim Tgettis (middle) and Classical coach Mike Zukowski. Both Dana and Zukowski played for Tgettis in their high school baseball careers. Dana played for him at St. Mary’s, while Zukowski did so in his senior season at Classical. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN — When Memorial Day weekend rolls around, memories of the Nipper Clancy Tournament fill Jim Tgettis with joy.

Tgettis, a Lynn native, is a former baseball player and coach, who has fond memories of his involvement with the Clancy Tournament in Lynn. That’s because there’s a good chance that nobody has ever been more closely involved with the annual tournament than Tgettis since its inception in 1982.

Tgettis is one of four coaches who founded the tournament, along with North Reading’s Frank Carey, Lynn Tech’s Bart Conlon, and Classical’s Dick Maag. Tgettis was then at the helm of a St. Mary’s baseball program that was looking to fill its schedule.

“I was appointed coach at St. Mary’s pretty late, so I had an 18-game schedule,” he said. “I was looking to fill it to 20 games and I was looking for a way to promote the school. In those days, you had to win 75 percent of your games to qualify for the state tournament. It was tough to put together a 20-game schedule and be competitive. Most teams didn’t want to make that type of a commitment.”

Tgettis and his three coaching counterparts decided to form a tournament in Clancy’s honor. At the time, Tgettis recalled, end-of-season tournaments weren’t as popular.

“We were looking to get into playing with Classical, Lynn Tech and North Reading,” Tgettis said. “Today there are a lot of tournaments at the end of the season, but back then we were one of the few.”

The unique connection between each of the four coaches is that they all, at one point in their careers, played for Clancy. Tgettis played under Clancy’s tutelage in 1961, and then again from 1968 to 1969.

“He was demanding,” Tgettis said. “He was a tremendous motivator and a very dedicated, smart baseball guy. If you made one of his teams, you felt something special. He made you feel that way.

“He made you enjoy baseball. As tough as he was, he made you enjoy working and playing for him. He had so many ways to motivate you. He was a fun guy, an enjoyable guy and one who demanded tremendous respect.”

The respect Clancy warranted wasn’t limited to his players. Winning a game against one of Clancy’s teams,Tgettis noted, was no small feat.

“If you played for him, he made you feel that you could do anything for your teammates,” Tgettis said. “If you played against him, and were fortunate enough to win, that was an accomplishment.”

When the tournament first began, Tgettis assumed the role of its director. He remained in that position until 1991, two years before he left St. Mary’s. Tgettis led the Spartans from 1981-1993, and returned to coach in Lynn when he took over at Classical from 1996-2008.

“It was always extremely important to me, having played for Nipper,” Tgettis said. “I played for him in Little League and then again in Legion Baseball. I had the utmost respect for him and his ability to motivate his players. He was way beyond his time.”

Aside from honoring Clancy, a Lynn baseball pioneer who also coached at St. Mary’s, the tournament was also designed to showcase top-notch local talent through a competitive schedule. To prove just how evenly-matched it was, the four teams involved split the first four tournaments. North Reading won it in 1982, St. Mary’s in 1983, Tech in 1984 and Classical in 1985. English joined the tournament in 1991, while Tech has since stayed away from it.

“The thing about it is you realize that you have to get up to play or you’re going to get embarrassed,” Tgettis said. “That goes back to the original plan. If we were going to do this, we had to make sure it was done right. That’s what made it so competitive. We had great teams in Lynn and a great team from North Reading. We had the recipe for success.”

Through its 35 years, a number of talented stars have played, including Classical’s Ken Hill, Jeff Waldron and current coach Mike Zukowski, St. Mary’s Tim Fila, Christian Howard and current coach Derek Dana,  English’s Ben Bowden, Roberto Reyes and Leo Estabrook and Tech’s Al Donovan, Jay Murphy, Jerson Perez, and Yuri Sanchez.

“The talent level was great year after year,” Tgettis said. “Just participating would get you ready for the state tournament, but winning it would pronounce you ready for state tournament play.”

Tgettis’ last coaching stint was at Salem, where he led the Witches from 2009-2012. Although he hasn’t coached in the Clancy Tournament since 2008, Tgettis still has a special connection to the annual event.

He became aware of that connection when he watched from the Fraser Field bleachers at last year’s tournament.

“I looked at the coaches and assistants at St. Mary’s and Classical and I realized that I coached them all,” Tgettis said. “Seeing a bunch of the guys that I coached, at the two schools that I coached, it kind of hit me.”

Among those who played for Tgettis are head coaches Dana of the Spartans and Zukowski of the Rams.

“I remember countless hours of coach Tgettis telling us about Nipper Clancy,” Dana said. “I’d like to think that I appreciated how great Nipper was. It was important to him, so it became important to me and it still is.”

Zukowski added, “The Clancy Tournament itself, you remember coming down to Fraser Field as a kid and it’s something special. It was always awesome to play against your friends and your rivals. All the guys that coached were legendary coaches and I was always lucky to play for coach Tgettis my senior year.”

Both Classical and St. Mary’s come into the tournament following strong seasons in which each clinched a state tournament berth.

Classical, the Northeastern Conference champion, is 17-1 and has a strong mix of veteran bats and young pitchers. St. Mary’s is 12-7 and carries a talented group of arms too. English is 6-12 but has fallen victim to tough luck in a handful of close games.

“I’ve seen Classical play,” Tgettis said. “They’re highly motivated and talented. I haven’t seen St. Mary’s but I speak with Derek regularly. I know how they play the game. North Reading has a lot of tradition and I know Joe (Caponigro) will have his team ready to play.”

Most recently, St. Mary’s has dominated the tournament by winning six of its last nine.

Both Dana and Zukowski expect this year’s tournament to be as competitive as it traditionally has been.

“I’ve seen English and they’re a better team than their record shows,” Dana said. “They’ve had some tough losses. Classical’s having an outstanding season, North Reading’s a great program. It was a great tournament from the start and it continues to be so.”

“North Reading is at the top of its league, English is always competitive and St. Mary’s is always at the top of its game,” Zukowski said. “Our guys will be pretty amped up to play in this. I think we’ll put some good games together.”

Navs prep for new season

FILE PHOTO
Shortstop Joey Pena will return as a key bat for the Navs this season. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

The Futures Collegiate Baseball League comes back into play next weekend, with the start of the North Shore Navigators season.

After a sour start to the 2016 season, the Navs managed to bounce back and remain competitive for the latter stretch of the schedule. With a strong finish and a good, consistent showing in the stands, it was a positive season for the team.

“After a really terrible start, where we started out 1-12, we managed to finish the season at 22-27,” Navs general manager Bill Terlecky said. “We managed to finish as one of the best teams in the league after the tough start. Attendance was slightly up, and all in all, it was a positive season for the Navigators.”

Manager John Zizzo will return to direct the Navs this season for his third go-round as the team’s skipper. After keeping the team together through a 1-12 start in 2016, Terlecky was impressed with Zizzo’s ability to keep the Navs calm and collected.

“You have to tip your hat to a guy whose team starts at 1-12,” Terlecky said. “In a summer league, guys can begin to pack it in. John never wavered, he kept a positive atmosphere and the kids like him. He’s a little bit of a no-nonsense guy with an old-school approach but you know where you stand with John.”

On the pitching staff, the Navs return a talented slate of arms who are coming off of strong spring seasons for their respective colleges. It starts with UMass Boston’s Bobby Tramandozzi, a Peabody native who’ll pitch in the College World Series this weekend in Wisconsin.

“We’re not surprised at what Bobby’s doing for UMass Boston,” Terlecky said. “He pitched like that for us last year as a starter.”

Other pitchers who’ll contribute for the Navs this season are Conor Baiwec (Elmira College), Fernando Burgos (UMass Boston), Evan Glew (Northern Essex), Sean O’Neill (Brandeis), Chris Pennell (St. Thomas Aquinas), Lynn native Brendan Powicki (Stonehill) and Nahant native Al Wallach (Framingham State).  

“It’s hard to not be optimistic right now,” Terlecky said. “We’ll have to see how it all plays out. We won’t be sure until they all get here, especially on the pitching staff when it comes to health, but we have enough arms to withstand that.”

The Navs are also set to carry a strong group of bats this season.

Shortstop Joey Pena (St. Thomas Aquinas) returns to the Navs after a positive showing with the team in 2016. Other players to keep an eye out for on offense are Alex Brickman (Sienna), Chris Cabrera (Broward Community College), Alex Carballo (Broward), Alec Cargin (Wofford), Brad Douglas (Rhode Island), Nick Fuhrman (Frederick Community College) and Tyler Kapuscinski (Marist).

As always, the goal heading into the season is for the Navs to notch a spot in the FCBL playoffs and put themselves in contention for a championship.

“We always go into it wanting to win a ring,” Terlecky said. “We want to win it all. Anybody that’s involved, I would hope that they do it because they’re competitive and want to be the best. That goes for what happens on the field and how we run our operations off the field.”

Terlecky added, “At the end of the year, when all is said and done, if we can be competitive, play hard, make the playoffs, which means that every regular season game meant something, I’d have to look back and say that it was a good year.”

The Navs will see one major FCBL rule change this season, as any game that’s tied beyond ten innings will be decided by a home run derby.

“I think it’ll be interesting,” Terlecky said. “I’m kind of anxious to see how it works. I’m fine with it and I think it’ll be fun.”  

The Navs open the season at Seacoast against the Mavericks on June 1. The home opener is scheduled for June 3 against the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks.

English bats quiet in loss to Everett

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
English’s Wilbur Rosario throws over Everett’s Mike Sullivan to try and turn a double play.

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN– Coming into Monday afternoon’s game against Everett, the Lynn English baseball team was searching for a win after a tough 10-6 loss to Classical last Friday. A three-run rally in the fourth inning was and a dominant performance from pitcher Jason Hennesey was all the Crimson Tide needed for a 3-1 win over the Bulldogs at Fraser Field.

“We got beat today,” English coach Joe Caponigro said. “I don’t feel as bad about is as some other games where we’ve beaten ourselves. Their pitcher (Hennesey) threw strikes, he was no mystery. The run we got we had to work for.”

English pitcher Geraldo Rojas was on his A game in the early goings. He sent the Crimson Tide down in order in his first three innings of work.

“It was an excellent start, Geraldo’s best start of the year,” Caponigro said. “We had a 1-0 performance earlier in the year by Devin Curley and that rivals his performance. He was getting ahead, spotting his fastball and throwing his curveball for strikes.”

English managed just one base runner through the first two innings, a threat that was erased when Wilbur Rosario was thrown out attempting to steal second base in the bottom of the first.

Things took a turn for the better in the bottom of third for English when Alex Rodriguez walked to lead off the frame. Rodriguez advanced to second a sac-bunt by Briston Maynard and then to third on a ground out by Geo Morales.  

Rosario brought Rodriguez home with an RBI single up the middle for the 1-0 lead. More impressive is that Rosario’s single came with two strikes in the at-bat.

“We had to work for that run,” Caponigro said. “It was a great at-bat by Wilbur.”

A pair of tough-luck plays hurt the Bulldogs in the top of the fourth. Rojas notched the first two outs of the inning but Brian Bessler reached first when his ground ball deflected off of second base. Evan Reynolds followed with a walk and a misplayed ball in the outfield scored Bessler and Reynolds to give Everett a 2-1 lead. Greg Reed added an RBI single to make it a 3-1 Crimson Tide advantage after three and a half innings.

“The ball hits the base and I don’t know if he had a play on it anyways but he was coming across,” Caponigro said, “and then a tough ball hit to left field. The wind was swirling today but that’s baseball.”

From there, the Bulldogs were forced to play catch-up.

A two-out single off Billy Allen’s bat in the bottom of the fourth came to no avail as the Bulldogs left him stranded at first. Morales singled with two outs in the bottom of the fifth but was thrown out attempting to stretch it into a double.

To Everett’s credit, Hennesey buckled down after allowing English to score a run in the third and found his rhythm.

“He (Hennesey) retired nine of our last ten batters,” Caponigro said. “He threw strikes and they made plays. That’s the recipe right there.”

The same can be said for Rojas, who forced Everett to strand a runner on second base in the sixth inning and another on third in the seventh. Rojas allowed four hits while fanning five Everett batters in seven innings of work.

English sent the heart of the order up to bat in the bottom of the seventh. JC Gonzalez beat out an infield single with two outs but the Bulldogs couldn’t string together a rally and Everett took the 3-1 win.
The Bulldogs (5-10) are back on Wednesday night with a rematch against Classical at Fraser Field.

Barnard leads Classical over Danvers

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
David Barnard pitched seven innings of shutout baseball in Classical’s win. 

By STEVE KRAUSE 

LYNN — For a game where both pitchers dominated, there were only four hits, and only one run, Wednesday’s 1-0 Lynn Classical baseball win over Danvers certainly had a lot of people talking afterward.

“That was a great ballgame,” said Danvers (11-2) coach Roger Day. “Tough way to lose, but then again, it’s tough to win when you get a game thrown against you like the one (Dave) Barnard threw against us.”

Barnard was brilliant. Going the distance while striking out only four, Barnard pitched to contact and got some great defense behind him in giving up only two hits while walking none.

“He started out trying too hard to spot his curveball,” said Classical coach Mike Zukowski. “We told him to just relax and throw it. And he started getting in there for strikes.

“David pounds the strike zone,” said Zukowski. “That’s why he’s been successful.”

Along the way, the Rams, now 13-0, threw the leather around pretty well. In the fourth inning, with one out, Danvers’ Matt Andreas hit one that looked ticketed to no-man’s land in short left. However, Andrew Moccia sprinted over to the foul line to make the grab with one hand, just as Sean Devin slid to get out of the way. Christian Burt and Herb Newton combined on a nifty play leading off the sixth inning, after Classical had scored its run, when he went far to his right to snare a grounder by Zach Turner, then threw across his body, bouncing the ball to first. Newton stayed with it, though, scooping it up for the out.

“We had to have those plays,” said Zukowski. “Without any one of them, it’s a different game.”
The lone run in the game came in the fifth inning, and it made a hard-luck loser out of Danvers pitcher Justin Roberto, who was just slightly less brilliant than Barnard. He, too, gave up only two hits and he also struck out four. But he walked a batter and, as is quite often the case, the base on balls led to the run.

Newton walked to leadoff, and Moccia, who tried to bunt, ended up striking out. Devin grounded into a force play for the second out, and when Kevin Durant hit a grounder to shortstop, the throw to second seemed a little slow. Tommy Mento caught it, but then dropped it, and Devin was safe.

That left it up to No. 9 hitter A.J. Luciano, who, earlier this season, found the hole between first and second to knock in two runs in Classical’s win over Saugus. He did the exact same thing again, only this time it was a soft line drive that fell in between second and right field. Devin scored all the way from second.

“He’s been hitting the ball really well,” said Zukowski. “We like where he is in the batting order, coming before the leadoff hitter. It’s a good turnaround.”

That left it up to Barnard, who retired the final six hitters without a baserunner. In the seventh, he got behind Mento 3-0 before coming back to get him on a fly ball to Devin in right, Andreas took Devin far over toward the left-field line for the second out, and Zach Dillon hit a grounder back to the box that Barnard fielded and threw to Newton for the final out.

KIPP shows early season struggles

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
KIPP’s Dionne Rodriguez delivers a pitch to Salem Academy’s Ryan Kaminsky.

By KATIE MORRISON

LYNN — There are a lot of kinks that need to be ironed out for the KIPP baseball team, but there will be time for that.

The Panthers scuffled on defense and their pitchers struggled to find the strike zone at times in a 17-7 loss in four innings to Salem Academy Charter Tuesday at Fraser Field in their season opener. But once KIPP settled in, things started to click a bit.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the same thing happened in the other dugout, making for a quick final two innings.

“We have a young team, so we only have three or four guys who have played before. A lot of newbies,” KIPP coach Alberto Cuevas said. “It’s going to be a hard season, but we’ll hang in there.”

After graduating a big group of players and fielding a somewhat depleted lineup Tuesday, it took some tweaking for KIPP to find its groove, especially on the mound.

Benny Reyes got the start and walked the leadoff man. Salem’s Carson Connor followed with a single, and Ryan Kaminsky followed with another hit. Whenever the Navigators got on base, they ran wild, getting huge jumps and testing the arm of KIPP’s Jordany Delgado, the team’s back-up catcher, in for Jhomar Cuevas who filled in at third base.

The Navigators did most of their damage with one out in the inning. Connor and Kaminsky scored on David Stepan’s single, and Stepan scored on a booming triple from Kolby Berube that rolled to the fence in left. Salem struck five times in the first on three hits and two walks before Reyes got Alex Quintin looking to end the inning.

Navigators starting pitcher Stepan also struggled, and the Panthers took advantage. A leadoff walk to Aubrey Connors got the ball rolling, and he came around to score on an error after stealing second. Dionne Rodriguez reached on an error and Carlos Herrera walked, and Kenneth Beato hit a two-run double. That’d be all the Panthers would get in the inning, but they cut into Salem’s lead at 5-3.

“The offense was pretty good, there are a couple things here and there to work on, but I like it,” Cuevas said. “It’ll take some time with new kids, we have to get the jitters out.”

The second inning is when things unraveled for KIPP. Reyes began the inning with a walk and hit batter, and Cuevas brought on Herrera to pitch. Things didn’t go much better for Herrera, who got two outs but allowed two inherited runners to score, as well as seven of his own (six earned) on four hits and three walks. Add in some errors behind him, and the Panthers were looking at a 14-3 deficit in the second.

Cuevas called on Rodriguez to stop the bleeding and he got Kaminsky to ground out to short.

Rodriguez ended up being the bright spot on the mound for KIPP, allowing three runs in 2 1/3 innings.

In the second, the Panthers were patient at the plate and Stepan struggled to find the zone. They tagged him for four runs in the second, capitalizing on five walks and an error. Salem coach Drew Betts called on Connor to relieve Stepan, which turned out to be the move of the game. Connor was efficient on the mound and shut down the KIPP offense, allowing one hit, walking three and striking out six batters.

Rodriguez struggled a bit in the third, but both the pitcher and his defense behind him settled in to log a 1-2-3 fourth inning. He allowed one walk and struck out four Navigators.

“He’s a new pitcher this year, he hasn’t pitched before,” Cuevas said of Rodriguez. “It took some time to teach him the basics, and I can see the potential he has in the future. He throws pretty hard.”

The Panthers will look to get into the win column when they visit Boston Collegiate Saturday.

 

English baseball sings the Blues in Swampscott

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
English second baseman Wilbur Rosario stretches to catch a pop fly during Saturday’s game at Swampscott

By KATIE MORRISON

SWAMPSCOTT — The Big Blue baseball team has a deep lineup and can make its opponents pay for every mistake.

That was the case Saturday at the baseball complex at Swampscott Middle School, as the Big Blue used a balanced offensive attack to top Lynn English, 13-6.

Dylan January led the way at the plate for Swampscott, who slamming two monster home runs to left center field. January went 3-for-4 with four RBI.

Louis Olivieri (2-for-4, 3 runs scored) got the game started on the right foot for Swampscott, which was actually the visiting team since Fraser Field was being used for the “Pitch in for Pete” baseball games, played in honor of former St. John’s Prep and Boston College athlete Peter Frates, who has been stricken with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Olivieri slammed a double to right center. Spencer Perkins (3-for-5, 3 runs scored) followed with a single, and A.J. Venuti brought home a run on a single and advanced to third on an error, which brought in another run. Ryan Graciale knocked home Venuti with a single, and it was 3-0 Big Blue before the Bulldogs could get an out.

“A deep lineup is what all teams want, you can’t get by with just your 2-3-4 guys, especially not in this league,” Swampscott coach Jason Calichman said. “I thought Louis set the table in the first at-bat of the game. He was down two strikes in the count and shot that double in the gap, I thought it set the tone for the whole team.”

English pitcher Geraldo Rojas walked the next batter, but settled down to fan the next two and get a weak grounder to end the inning.

English looked to have something cooking in the bottom half of the inning, but a bad break shut down a potential rally. Wilbur Rosario led off with a single, and with one out Rojas hit a pop-up in no man’s land between shortstop and left field. The ball dropped between the two fielders, but Rosario was running on the pitch, and had to retreat all the way to first, thinking the ball would be caught, making him a sitting duck at second.

On the mound, Rojas settled in, but still struggled with command at times. He held the Big Blue scoreless through the second and third, but ran into trouble again in the fourth. Two errors, a hit batter and a couple of wild pitches produced three runs for Swampscott. That would do it for Rojas, who allowed six runs in three-plus innings.

Julio Figuereo took over, and a single from Dave Quill set the stage for January’s first homer, a shot that sailed easily over the fence for an 8-0 Swampscott lead.

English struck back for two runs in the bottom of the inning behind a hit from Anderson Figuereo and a RBI single from Kevin De Pena to make it 8-2. But the Bulldogs struggled against starter Luke Marshall, who allowed five hits over six innings, striking out eight.

Swampscott wasn’t done, however. The Big Blue tagged English reliever Devin Curley for two runs in the sixth on January’s second home run, which was hit to almost the same exact spot as the one two innings earlier.

“He’s swung the bat well the last couple of days, then in batting practice he was crushing the ball, so I kind of felt like something was going to go well for him today,” Calichman said. “He crushed those two balls, those were no-doubters and we’ll take those anytime.”

Swampscott added three more runs in the top of the seventh as well. English didn’t go quietly in the bottom half, as doubles from pinch hitters Andy Duverge and Erick Ubri produced three runs, but it wouldn’t be enough.

“We gave up 16 free bases between errors, walks, hit batters, wild pitches and passed balls. You’re not going to compete with a good team when you do that,” English coach Joe Caponigro said. “That’s where it all starts.”

The Bulldogs have a few tough tests ahead, starting with Saugus Monday.

“We’re through our easy part of the season,” Caponigro said. “We’re 3-5, we’ve lost four games in a row, and it’s been the same story of not throwing strikes. We’re just having trouble getting the ball over the plate and making average high school plays.”

Swampscott (6-1) also has a tough road ahead with five games over the next six days, starting with Revere today.

Errors hurt Tech in loss to Mystic Valley

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Michael Calzado from Lynn Tech slides safely into second base despite Mystic Valley’s Matt Hogan’s best efforts to stop him.

By MIKE ALONGI 

LYNN — Despite a solid, complete-game performance on the mound by Mike Brown, the Lynn Tech baseball team fell to Mystic Valley, 8-2, at Fraser Field Friday afternoon. The Tigers simply made too many errors in the field, leading to the bulk of Mystic Valley’s runs.

“We let a lot go today,” said Tech coach Mike Kenney. “We played better against them today than we did the first time around, but in the end we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit too much.”

Brown gave up nine hits and walked two in his complete-game effort. On the offensive end, Chris Tejada and Michael Calzado each went 2-for-3, while Richie Mateo and Kenny Moore each went 1-for-3.

For Mystic Valley, Devin Aquino went 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and three RBI to lead the way. Vikram Alaggapan and Jonathan Lariviere each went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Hunter Kreis had a big day all-around, going 2-for-3 with an RBI at the plate and also grabbing the win on the mound after giving up two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts in six innings of work.

The Eagles got off to a quick start with two runs in the top of the first inning on RBIs from Kreis and Aquino. Mystic Valley threatened to put across more in the first, but Brown was able to work out of the inning.

From there, Brown was able to settle down and move through the second inning 1-2-3 and appeared to be finding a groove.

“He battled all day,” Kenney said of Brown. “He got a lot of ground-ball outs and some easy fly balls, but we’ve got to back him up. He goes out and gets us these easy outs, so we can’t be making errors behind him and then not driving in runs on the other end.”

In the bottom of the second, Tech was threatening men on second and third with two out. A wild pitch brought in the Tigers’ first run of the game, but they were unable to get any more runs in the second.

Mystic Valley added two more runs in the top of the third and then three in the top of the fourth to blow the game open at 7-1. Tech got an opportunity to chip away at the deficit in the bottom of the fifth, but the Tigers were only able to score on run on an errant throw from the pitcher. The Eagles added one more run in the top of the sixth on another RBI single from Aquino, then Andrew Hogan came on in the bottom of the seventh to close out the game by striking out the side.

“We’ve got to give credit to [Mystic Valley], that’s for sure,” said Kenney. “They’re the best team in our league, their pitcher pitched a great game and the hits didn’t come for us. It just wasn’t our day.”

The Tigers (2-6) will regroup over the weekend before taking on Minuteman on Tuesday night at Fraser.

Roundup: St. Mary’s baseball remains unbeaten

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Lynnfield’s Justin Juliano knocked in two runs in the Pioneers’ 6-3 win over Rockport

By KATIE MORRISON

Behind a complete-game shutout from Louis Vidal, the St. Mary’s baseball team improved to 5-0 at Fraser Field Saturday morning, topping Greater Lowell, 1-0.

The Spartans manufactured a run in the bottom of the fourth as Ryan Turenne hit a one-out single. EJ Leone pinch-ran for Turenne, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball during John Mulready’s at-bat. Mulready grounded out to second, but drove in Leone for the game’s only run.

Vidal looked strong on the mound for St. Mary’s, allowing three hits and four walks while striking out six. Meanwhile, the Spartans lineup managed just two hits.

St. John’s  4, Walpole 0

In the Catholic Conference vs. Bay State League Challenge to Cure ALS Tournament at BC High, Eagles pitcher Zach Begin was nearly unhittable, allowing just one hit over six innings while striking out nine and walking three.

Offensively, Andrew Selima scored the first run of the game in the second inning and finished the day with two doubles and three RBI. Chris Francoeur and Christian Kukas also drove in runs for the Prep.

The Eagles (7-1, 3-0 Cath. Conf.) take on Xaverian Monday.

Lynnfield 6, Rockport 3

At Lynnfield Saturday, the Pioneers extended their undefeated streak to seven games. Senior captain Nick Aslanian needed only 70 pitches to go the distance, retiring the first 10 batters before giving up a one-out base hit in the top of the fourth inning.  He struck out four, including the first and last batters of the game, allowed five hits, two earned runs and did not walk a batter.  

Centerfielder Kyle Hawes was 2-for-2 with an RBI triple, double, three stolen bases, two runs scored and also got on base with a walk.  He also flashed the glove in the late innings, robbing Rockport’s Charlie MacDowell of extra bases with a diving catch.

Leadoff hitter Jonathan Luders (2-for-2, 3 runs scored, 3 stolen bases) was on base in every bat.  He was hit in the first inning, stole second and third and scored on a sacrifice fly by shortstop and senior captain Justin Juliano (1-for-2, 2 RBI).  In the third, Luders led off with a double, stole third and scored on Hawes’s triple. Hawes, in turn, scored on a passed ball.

Luders led off the fifth with a single, advanced to third on Hawes’ ground rule double and scored on a single by Juliano.

The Pioneers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning when sophomore first baseman Matt Fiore led off with a double and scored on a single by junior left fielder Cooper Marengi.

Saugus 23, Madison Park 1

At East Boston in the Christie Serino Tournament, the game lasted 5½ innings due to the 10-run rule.

Jim Alcott started and went two innings, but by then, the Sachems, 2-4, had an 11-0 lead so coach Joe Luis, knowing his team has three games this week, including one today against at home against Gloucester, lifted him.

Alscott also was 3-for-3, as was Nick Dascoli. Also offensively, Pat McDonald hit two triples.

Saugus will play East Boston Sunday in the tournament final.

SOFTBALL

Swampscott 9, Arl. Cath. 2

In the opening game of the Krystle Campbell Tournament in Medford, the Big Blue dominated both sides of the ball. Ashley Marston went 1-for-4 with two RBI, Leanne Nisbet went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Sara Ryan went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

Hannah Leahy got the complete-game victory, fanning 13 batters and allowing two earned runs on three hits.

BOYS LACROSSE

Beverly 13, Lexington 4

In the other consolation game of the Creators Crosse tournament, Beverly sailed past the host team behind Sam Abate’s five-goal performance. Matt Rawding (goal, 4 assists) Foster Smallman (2 goals, 1 assist), Kevin Flaherty (goal, assist), Nick DiLuiso (goal, assist), Justin Reusch and Jake Fowler (goal each) also scored for Beverly.

Marblehead 8, Westford 6

In the consolation game of the Creators Crosse tournament at Lexington High, the Magicians bounced back from a pair of losses earlier in the week to St. John’s Prep and Masco. Sam Paquette, Sam Thompson and Manning Sears each scored a pair of goals, and Sam and Drew Cioffi each netted one.

The Magicians (4-3) have a big Northeastern Conference showdown with Beverly Tuesday.

B

Friday, St. Mary’s Spartans traveled to Martha’s Vineyard Friday, and came home with a 14-10 win. Alec Matho notched five goals and three assists, Andrew Kreamer added a goal and two assists, Nick Napolitano scored four goals, Anthony DelVecchio added three goals and an assist, and Christian Lebert scored a goal.

Brendon Donahue, usually in net for St. Mary’s, played defense and made big contributions, as did defender Chris Kirby. Joey Silvestri was effective on both offense and defense.

Eighth-grader Kaden Quirk made his first varsity start in net and made 13 saves to earn his first win.

Sixth-inning comeback fuels St. Mary’s

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
St. Mary’s catcher Ryan Turenne chases Fenwick’s Cam Eon back to third base, tagging him before he can get back safely.

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN — If you’re up against the St. Mary’s baseball team, it’s best not to let the Spartans hang around. Bishop Fenwick led 3-0 through 5 1/2 innings, but failed to deliver the knockout punch. The Spartans sparked a five-run rally in the bottom of the sixth to steal the victory, 5-3, on Wednesday at Fraser Field.

For Fenwick, Wednesday’s game was full of missed opportunities.

“We have to make sure we take care of our opportunities better,” Fenwick coach Kevin Canty Jr. said. “When we have chances to put teams away, we put teams away. We’re pretty young, so I know we’ll make some mistakes. I just wish they didn’t come at such critical times.”

The game went scoreless for the first four innings. Fenwick starting pitcher Dave Furtado allowed just two hits through the first four frames, while the Spartans were aided by critical baserunning mistakes committed by the Crusaders.

Fenwick ran itself into double-plays to end the second and third innings, and one of those occurred with runners on second and third.

“Those were huge,” Canty Jr. said. “We work on that everyday, we do our running with our hitting. We try to make sure we’re getting good reads, things like that. We have to make sure we get rid of those mistakes and we need to continue to work on it.”

St. Mary’s pitcher Kordell Henriquez managed to keep the Crusaders off the scoreboard until the top of the fifth, when Fenwick took a 2-0 lead. Dan Mastromatteo led off with a single and advanced to second after a failed pickoff attempt. Nick Fowler bunted him over to third, and Mastromatteo scored on a RBI single by Angelo McCullough. Three batters later, McCullough scored on an RBI single off the bat of Kasey O’Brien.

The Spartans went down in order in the bottom of the fifth, and it seemed as though it wasn’t going to be St. Mary’s game.

“We hit a few balls hard, right at some of Fenwick’s players,” St. Mary’s coach Derek Dana said. “Then we started giving some at-bats away. We started swinging way too aggressive.”

The Crusaders added another run in the top of the sixth, capitalizing on a St. Mary’s error committed in the outfield to cushion their lead at 3-0. Fenwick threatened to add to the damage with two outs and the bases loaded, but Spartans reliever Tommy Cash pitched his way out of the jam.

The game changed course in the bottom of the sixth. Lisandro Pacheco and Jack Ward started the inning with a pair of singles. Ryan Turenne followed with a laser to first base, bringing Pacheco home for the first Spartans run.

“We made an adjustment there in the sixth inning,” Dana said. “We started taking our pitches, getting our pitches and started doing something with them.”

John Mulready walked to load the bases and Tyler Donovan drew a walk of his of own, scoring Ward to make it a one-run game at 3-2. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Anthony Nickolakakis brought home Aedon Leydon, who pinch-ran for Turenne, to tie the game at 3-3.

Mulready scored the go-ahead run on a walk drawn by Colin Reddy with the bases loaded to grab the 4-3 lead. The Spartans added another run to make it 5-3 before Fenwick managed to stop the bleeding.

“What I liked is that the results may not have been very good for the first five innings but we played a full seven innings and that paid off for us,” Dana said.

Cash sent Fenwick down in order in the seventh to ice the win.

“For Tommy to come in 1-2-3 in the seventh, that’s outstanding,” Dana said.

St. Mary’s (4-0) hosts Greater Lowell on Friday. Fenwick (1-2) hosts Matignon on Monday.

Missed opportunities hurt English

ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
Wilbur Rosario gets airborne to try and catch a high throw from home as Gloucester’s Sal Costanza (2) slides safely into second.

By STEVE KRAUSE

LYNNDax Billingsley has thrown two gems this season for Lynn English, and all he has to show for it on his personal record is a loss.

Billingsley pitched impressively last week in English’s season-opening win over Malden, but did not factor into the decision. Wednesday, he pitched into the eighth inning against Gloucester at Fraser Field, giving up only six hits. But the Bulldogs, in their home opener, fell in extras to the Fishermen, 4-1.

Billingsley did have his issues. He hit four batters (two in a row twice, including to lead off the game). And he walked three. None of those runners ended up scoring, however.

“I feel bad for Dax,” said English coach Joe Caponigro. “He competes. He competes every time he goes out there. But we can’t seem to give him any offensive support.”

Billingsley kept the Fishermen batters off-balance with his assortment of slow, often tantalizing, breaking pitches — some of which look almost like knuckleballs as they’re coming to the plate.

He wiggled in and out of trouble all day (he only had one 1-2-3 inning), but always made pitches when he had to to get out of the jams.

His only hiccup until the eighth inning came in the fourth, when Daylon Lark led off with an infield single and then, with two out, Liam Lyons lined a base hit to center field.

Lyons ended up playing a huge part in this game. The starting center fielder ended up throwing three brilliant innings in relief of starter John Mondello to get the win; and he also knocked in the winning run in the eighth with a double, and scored an insurance run moments later.

The inning that epitomized the good and the bad for the 3-2 Bulldogs in this game was the fifth, when they had a golden opportunity to tie the game and perhaps do more damage, but only came away with a run.

J.C. Gonzalez led the inning off by dropping down a bunt for a single, and Geo Morales did his job, sacrificing him to second.

Caponigro had a play on with leadoff hitter Wilbur Rosario at bat, but Rosario couldn’t get the bunt down, leaving Gonzalez a dead duck between third and home. Fisherman catcher Sal Costanzo finally got him, but had to run him all the way back to third to do it.

However, Rosario made up for missing the bunt by lining one to left field that went all the way to the fence. He flew around the bases, and easily beat the relay throw home for an inside-the-park homer.

Caponigro lamented the missed opportunity.

“We had that and some other missed opportunities,” he said. “We played well, but we did not execute with runners on base. That happened a couple of times. You can’t win if you don’t do better than that.”

Lyons retired English in order in the sixth and seventh innings, and Billingsley kept the Fishermen off the board too. However, in the top of the eighth, Matt Heckman led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by E.J. Field. Lyons followed, lining one into the left field corner to score Heckman with the go-ahead run.

On a hit-and-run play, Marc Phinney slapped one through the vacated hole between first and second, sending Lyons to third. He scored on Eric Chalmers’ single, with Phinney taking third. Phinney scored the final run on Jack Sperry’s sacrifice fly.

Moore, Tech stun Minuteman in extras

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Richard Mateo (left) pumps up starting pitcher Jhoan Otrega prior to the first inning. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

The short version of the story is that the Lynn Tech baseball team earned its first win of the season with a 10-9 victory over Minuteman on Wednesday evening at Fraser Field. The more complicated version of the story is that Minuteman made the Tigers earn it.

Tech fought back from a 7-0 deficit to stun Minuteman in nine innings on a 2-run game-winning single off the bat of sophomore outfielder Kenny Moore. The Tigers never led in Wednesday’s game until Moore brought home the tying and game-winning runs.

Needless to say, it wasn’t how Tech coach Mike Kenney had drawn it up.

“Not at all,” Kenney joked. “It was pretty tough the whole game, right until the very end. That was good baseball in the end though, it was fun.”

The game was scoreless through the first two innings but Tech ran into trouble in the top of the third. Tech made a handful of mistakes, including an error in the outfield and a couple of wild pitches, and the Mustangs made the Tigers pay for them.

A scoreless game became a 7-0 contest in favor of Minuteman, and things weren’t looking good for the Tigers after three innings.

The Tigers struck back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. Richard Mateo scored the first when he raced home on a wild pitch. Dantai Robertson scored the second when Serey Eang brought him home on an infield groundout.

A Minuteman run in the top of the fifth made it a six-run advantage for the Mustangs at 8-2.

Tech clawed back in with another pair of scores in the bottom of the frame. Edward Cuevas and Michael Brown drew walks to start the inning and came around to score on a groundout from Jhoan Ortega. The Tigers were back in the game at the end of the fifth, down 8-4.

“We had been chipping away at them, putting runners on base the whole time,” Kenney said. “These guys knew it was just inevitable if they stuck to their gameplan and their baseball mechanics. They knew they were going to come through.”

Tech held the Minuteman bats honest in the sixth and seventh innings, and added a run to make it 8-5 going into the bottom of the seventh. The inning started with a pair of walks and single off the bat of Ortega that brought in a run to make it 8-6.

With runners on second and third, Mateo struck out, but a wild pitch allowed a run to come home. Minuteman then committed an error in an attempt to throw out Ortega, who crossed home plate with the tying run.

Tech had the bases loaded with two outs, but Moore popped out to force extra innings.

Neither team scored in the eighth, but Minuteman took the lead back, 9-8, in the top of the ninth.

With runners on second and third and two outs, Moore came up to bat with another chance to become Tech’s hero, and this time he came through. The sophomore hit a rocket to straight-away center, deep enough for Eang and Evans Diaz to come home with the tying and winning runs for Tech.

“He (Moore) was incredibly nervous the entire time,” Kenney said. “I kept trying to calm him down. He played a couple games on varsity last year. He got his first big taste of what a varsity game is like. He did a heck of a job fighting off some pitches in that at-bat.”

For Tech, Brown earned the win on the mound after coming into relieve Ortega in the fourth. Brown tossed 5 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts.

“I debated with him (Brown),” Kenney said. “Mike’s such a competitor. He was our rock last year. I wasn’t supposed to pitch him tonight, but we got down in the fourth inning and he said he was good to pitch. I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

Tech (1-1) battles against Nashoba today.

Four-run sixth propels Rams past Somerville

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Classical’s David Barnard threw six innings in a winning effort. 

By HAROLD RIVERA

Lynn Classical baseball coach Mike Zukowski couldn’t have drawn up a better opening day.

On a picture perfect 70-degree day at Fraser Field, the Rams earned their first win of the season, 7-3, over Northeastern Conference newcomer Somerville on Monday afternoon.

Classical starting pitcher David Barnard tossed six strong innings on the mound, totaling eight strikeouts. Tyler Way drove in three runs from the leadoff spot, including Classical’s first two scores of the season on a 2-run single in the bottom of the third inning. The Rams were powered by a three-run third inning and a four-run sixth that put the game out of reach.

For Zukowski, Monday’s game was an opportunity to get an early look at his team outdoors. Due to tough weather conditions throughout the preseason, Classical was only able to get one scrimmage in prior to Monday’s opener.

“It’s good to be outside,” Zukowski said. “It’s just flat out good to be outside. We’ve been on a field in a game situation once this preseason in Lynnfield, and that was out in the rain. The kids were anxiously awaiting today. It’s good to get out.”

After the two scoreless frames, Somerville struck first in the third when Gus Hawkins singled Tommy Marshall home. Marshall reached on a triple and Hawkins’ RBI single was just over the leap of Classical second baseman Christian Burt.

The Rams answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Way’s 2-run double gave Classical a 2-1 lead, scoring Brett Bucklin and Danny Lilja. After a pair of groundouts, Barnard helped his own cause with an RBI single to bring Way home and give the Rams a 3-1 cushion.

Most impressively for Classical was that its eighth and ninth batters started the third-inning rally.

“The bottom two guys in our order, Bucklin and Lilja, this is their first year on varsity,” Zukowski said. “They held their own. I’m pleased with that.”

The Highlanders crawled back in with an RBI single off the bat of Craig Resmini in the top of the fourth. Resmini drove in Kevin Camara who led-off the inning with a double.

Barnard ended the inning with a strikeout and an infield pop-up to keep the score at 3-2 in Classical’s favor.

“We need more looks, at-bats, ground balls but today I was pleased with the way they performed,” Zukowski said. “David threw strikes for us, kept them off balance. We made the majority of the plays out there, I don’t think we looked bad at all.”

The score stayed at 3-2 until the Rams sent four insurance runs across home plate in the bottom of the sixth.

Matt Lauria roped a line-drive single to left field to start the frame. Two batters later, Lauria scored on a wild pitch to make it a 4-2 lead. Andrew Moccia followed with a triple that scored Herbie Newton. Sean Devin kept the rally alive, singling Moccia home to make it a four-run edge at 6-2. Way drove in his third run of the game on a fielder’s choice that scored Devin.

With four runs in the inning, Classical led comfortably at 7-2 after six.

“That gave us the breathing room, that was huge,” Zukowski said. “Matt started that out for us with a single. Big triple by Andrew, followed by a single. Bottom half of the order stepped up for us and produced.”

Somerville got one back in the top of the seventh thanks to an RBI single from James Finigan off Mike Tarasuik, on in relief of Barnard but that was all the Highlanders had in store in attempting a rally.

Classical (1-0) is off until Thursday when the Rams play Winthrop.

Roundup: Three St. Mary’s pitchers no-hit Matignon

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Nick Napolitano scored four goals and three assists in St. Mary’s 12-5 boys lacrosse win over Winthrop Saturday.

By KATIE MORRISON

While the rest of the world was watching the Masters Tournament Sunday, three St. Mary’s pitchers were at Fraser Field in Lynn combining on a no-hitter.

Cordell Henriquez (4 innings), Bobby Alcock (2) and Jack Ward (1) turned the trick and the Spartans’ offense was just as hot in a 12-0 season-opening win over Matignon.

“It was nice to get the first win, and nice that it’s in the league,” said coach Derek Dana.

Offensively, several Spartans stood out. Ryan Turenne had a two-run double, Ward was 3-for-3 with three RBI, Mike Luciano was 2-for-2 with an RBI; and Lou Vidal knocked in three runs.

The Spartans return to action Wednesday against Austin Prep, another league foe. The Cougars were in contention for the Super 8 last year, and made it to the Division 3 semifinal before Lynnfield came from way back in the last inning to eliminate them.

Manchester Essex 3, Winthrop 0

The Vikings were shut out at home in their season opener.

Melrose 6, Malden Cath. 4

The Lancers took a 3-0 lead after one, highlighted by Jared Martino stealing home, but couldn’t hold on as they fell in their home opener.

SOFTBALL

New Bedford 9, Revere 4

The Patriots managed just five hits against New Bedford freshman starter Cassie Bergantim as they fell in their season opener on the road Saturday.

BOYS LACROSSE

St. Mary’s 12, Winthrop 5

Behind four goals and three assists from Nick Napolitano, the Spartans notched their first win of the season over the visiting Vikings. Alec Matho had three goals and an assist, Anthony DelVecchio had one goal and two assists, Dante Maribito had a goal and an assist, Andrew Kreamer had a goal and an assist, and Jason Loeser and Jaiden Moriello each scored a goal.

Brendon Donahue made eight saves in net in the first half, and Kaden Quirk made 10 saves in the second half.

The Spartans (1-3) are on the road Monday against Austin Prep.

GIRLS LACROSSE

Peabody 16, Revere 4

The Tanners improved to 2-0 behind a balanced offensive attack as eight different Tanners logged points. The Peabody offense was led by Colleen Crotty, Olivia Kiricoples and Lauren Wolff.

Kristen Bradley was excellent in draw control, winning seven. Alyssa Shashaty, Catherine Manning, Abigail Ryder and Ali Demeo were strong on defense for Peabody.

Tanners goalie Gianna Denisco made 10 saves, including five on free positions.

Lynnfield 5, Wakefield 2

The Pioneers held onto a 3-1 lead at the half and Wakefield threatened early in the second, but Lynnfield scored the final two goals to seal the win.

Olivia Sarni scored twice and Liv Smyrnios, Lilli Patterson and Ashley Barrett each scored once. Lauren Vaccaro made four saves in the net and Hannah Filipe and Gracie Sperling each had a team-high five ground balls.

 

Lynn lights the way back in time

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Pictured is one of the new lights on the Lynn Common.

By THOMAS GRILLO

LYNN — The small Common near City Hall is getting a lot brighter.

This week, contractors from Siemens Corp. will put the finishing touches on nine, 20-foot light fixtures that will cast light in and outside the park.

“We installed one light last summer to see if these new decorative poles would fit on the old National Grid bases,” said John Moberger, the city’s community facilities manager who has worked in the Department of Community Development for nearly four decades. “It worked out well, so we came up with the additional money to complete the job.”

The lighting project represents the latest stage of a more than $2 million renovation of the Lynn Common that includes a restored grandstand, wrought iron benches, a raised walkway to combat flooding, new curbs, landscaping, trash receptacles and a renovated historical fence, according to James Marsh, community development director.

“The lights are very important because we want to make sure the Common is safe,” he said.

Prepping for a knockout punch to cancer

The project is the latest effort by the city to upgrade its parks. Fraser Field, Flax Pond Park, Neptune Boulevard Park and Keaney Park are among the open spaces already rehabilitated. The improvements complement the $1 million restoration of the Lynn Common Bandstand.

“Our mission is to restore or rehab the entire Common,” Moberger said. “The bandstand was completed a few years ago, and this is a second phase and the third phase will be done at the other end of the large Common.”

The work is being completed with an $800,000 grant from the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) through the Massachusetts Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Program. EEA also contributed $150,000 for the antique-style lighting. An additional $180,000 came from federal Community Development grant money.

In 2018, the city will seek more money for the large Common, which is three to four times the size of the small Common, Marsh said.

“If we had all the money in the world, we would do new lights all the way around, a new pathway with tree plantings, landscape and new benches,” he said. “But that would cost nearly $4 million. We have another million to spend which will go towards the pathway, benches and new trees.”


Thomas Grillo can be reached at tgrillo@itemlive.com.

Wrapping up an eventful 2016

FILE PHOTO
Christian Burt delivers a pitch during the Babe Ruth World Series in Williston, N.D. this summer.

By STEVE KRAUSE

In baseball’s hierarchy, they would be classified as “tweens.”

They’re not cute Little Leaguers who can be marketed by ESPN, and they’re not high school varsity players who end up getting all the coverage in the local newspapers.

But as consolation, perhaps, they play for an organization named for, unarguably, the most mythical athlete in the American ethos. And last August, the Lynn Babe Ruth Baseball 15-year-old all-stars were front and center as the region’s No. 1 sports story when the won the New England regionals in a tournament at Fraser Field, and went to the national World Series in Williston, N.D.

This particular group came together, for the most part, in 2013 when manager Leon Elwell managed them in the Gallant Tournament in Salem, which consists of the cream of the North Shore youth baseball crop. They stayed together, with some modifications, just missing the state championship both as 13s and 14s.

In its last attempt before aging out of Babe Ruth, Lynn, still directed by Elwell, knew it was hosting the regionals, and because of that, it automatically qualified. However, because it wanted badly to win a state championship, Lynn decided to go through the process of competing for one. First, it had to get past the local teams in the District 1 tournament, which it did without losing a game.

Lynn did lose one game in the states, to Medford, but rallied from that defeat to win the tournament. At Fraser, Lynn lost its first game to Pittsfield, and then ran the table thereafter, beating Medford, Apple Valley, Maine and Trumbull, Conn., before facing off against North Providence/Smithfield, R.I., and winning the final, thanks to the clutch pitching of David Barnard Jr.

That punched their ticket to Williston, a one-time oil boom town, which is nestled in the northwest corner of North Dakota, just a handful of miles from the Montana border.

The City of Lynn came together for the series. Though it wasn’t on ESPN, the way the Little League World Series was, it was streamed live and broadcast in several locations, including Gannon Golf Course and Tony’s Pub. It was not uncommon to see every seat in the house filled when Lynn played.

Lynn went 2-2 in the four preliminary games, good enough to advance to the quarterfinals against Eau Claire, Wisc. Along the way, Lynn had several outstanding performances, including Anthony Nikolakakis, who hit a grand slam in a win over West Fargo, N.D.; Dayshon Anderson, who also hit a home run in that game; Aedan Leydon, who pitched a crucial game against Columbia Basin, Wash. — a game Lynn had to have in order to advance.

Lynn started out well in the Eau Claire game, but ran into an unfortunate circumstance when one of Wisconsin’s players collided with pitcher Christian Burt, knocking him out of the game. Though reliever Matt Gisonno kept Lynn in the game, Eau Claire eventually came back and won the game in the bottom of the seventh inning to advance to the semifinals and send Lynn home.

When it was all over, Nikolakakis had made the all-tournament team, Lynn had won the hearts of the city, which turned out for a welcome-home reception upon the team’s return.

If Lynn’s trip to the World Series was the overall highlight of the year, then Lynn Classical’s last-second, improbable win over crosstown rival English on Thanksgiving provided an instant thrill that ended up being one of the most talked-about plays in the country (judging from the amount of airplay it received on ESPN).

It was, for 43 1/2 minutes, a rather ordinary game between two teams trying to salvage disappointing seasons. Each came into the game with 2-8 records. And although Classical led throughout, sophomore quarterback Matt Severance hit Jonathan Kosmas with a perfectly-thrown ball with eight seconds left in the game to put English ahead.

The English student body was so sure the game was over it stormed the field when Classical fumbled the ensuing kickoff.

But English was called for a penalty, and had to kick over. And when the Bulldogs did, Classical’s Melvin Nieves picked up the squib kick and began running, all the while looking for senior Marcus Rivera so he could give him the ball.

Rivera, too far away, doubled back to receive a lateral just as Nieves was being surrounded by Bulldogs.

Rivera dodged a tackle, barely, and then took off down the near sideline. He received several blocks, including one by Chase Buono that sprung him, and completed the 83-yard run (officially; unofficially it was almost 90) to score the touchdown that gave Classical the incredible 21-20 win. The play was the No. 2 play of the day on ESPN, and Rivera was interviewed for a Sportscenter segment.

Sadly for Classical coach Tim Phelps, the win did not save his job. It was announced earlier this month that the school was opening up the head coaching position.

The region had two state champions this year — both in basketball. The St. Mary’s boys defeated Maynard in the Division 4 state final, 61-52. In the game, the Spartans took a commanding halftime lead before Maynard began pecking away. However, eighth-grader Matt Cross asserted himself in the paint, and St. Mary’s was able to regain its edge to win going away. Cross, a promising star, broke his leg during the Spartan’s football Super Bowl game, however, and is out for the season.

Bishop Fenwick’s girls basketball team, behind the stellar play of a group of seniors led by Colleen Corcoran, defeated Hoosac Valley, 57-48, to win the Division 3 crown.

The Spartans went 1-for-2 on championship weekend, as the boys hockey team lost in the Division 1 state final at the Boston Garden, 3-2, to Franklin in double overtime. And immediately following, St. John’s Prep fell to Malden Catholic, 2-1, also in overtime.

Also this winter, St. John’s Prep’s Hunter Costa and (138 pounds) and Jay Carnevale (285) were state wrestling champions.

In the spring, both Danvers and St. John’s Prep baseball made state finals, but fell in Division 2 and the Super 8 respectively; and the Marblehead girls lacrosse and Lynnfield girls tennis captured sectional championships, but fell short in their respective state semifinals.

Justin Lewis of Lynn Tech won the state and New England outdoor track high jump titles, and competed at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C.

On the collegiate front, former Classical star Hulerie McGuffie, running for UMass Boston, won the NCAA Division III championship in the 400 this spring. And former English left-handed ace Ben Bowden, who already has a College World Series title to his credit, was taken in the second round of the Major League draft by the Colorado Rockies. Also taken in this year’s draft was Swampscott’s Ryan January (Arizona Diamondbacks), St. John’s Prep’s Brandon Bingel (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Peabody’s Pat Ruotolo (San Francisco Giants).

In Little League, the Swampscott boys and Wyoma girls won the District 16 title, but neither made it past the states. The Wyoma girls also won the junior softball district title, but could not make it past the state tournament either. Peabody did win the senior league state championship, but fell in the New England regionals finale.

This fall, two of the area’s football teams, St. Mary’s and Marblehead, reached the Super Bowl earlier this month.

The Spartans went 11-0 before encountering East Bridgewater at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. St. Mary’s turned the ball over six times and fell to East Bridgewater, 34-8, in the Division 3A Super Bowl. Later that day, Marblehead, which also went 11-0 during the regular season and playoffs, was on the wrong end of the Division 2A Super Bowl, 34-13. Tragically, two players from that Falmouth team — James Lavin and Owen Higgins — died in an auto accident Dec. 22.

In soccer, the St. Mary’s girls made the Division 4 North final, but lost to Amesbury.

Peabody’s Marcelo Rocha won the cross country championship.

In other news, the football season was played with eight divisions this fall instead of six, and due to that, the Divisions and 4A games were played elsewhere. The Division 1 game between Xaverian and Everett occurred at Manning Field in Lynn, with Everett winning easily.

Also on the subject of alignments, the Northeastern Conference voted in June to merge with the four remaining teams in the Greater Boston League, with Everett football playing an independent schedule for the foreseeable future.

In early June, area residents recalled their meetings and experiences with Muhammad Ali after the legendary boxing heavyweight champion died.

Navigators release 2016-2017 schedule

LYNN – The schedule for the 2017 North Shore Navigators is set. The hometown ball club will begin the 56-game quest for a Futures Collegiate Baseball League Championship on Thursday, June 1 on the road in Portsmouth, N.H. against league foe, the Seacoast Mavericks.

General Manager Bill Terlecky also announced that the traditional Saturday Night Home Opener will take place on June 3rd at 6:00 p.m. at Fraser Field.

“We are excited for the 2017 summer slate,” said Terlecky. “The past couple seasons we have set franchise records for attendance on Opening Day and we hope that this year brings the same level of support!”

The schedule is highlighted by seven Friday home games with each game punctuated by a firework display thanks to Wayne Alarm. The seven firework nights are the most that the Navigators have ever held in one season, and the team will be home for five consecutive Fridays beginning on July 7th.

“The Firework Fridays are simply the best nights to spend at the ballpark,” said Terlecky. “We are very grateful to our friends at Wayne Alarm for their continued support to make these family friendly nights possible.”

Entering it’s seventh season, the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL), is comprised of nine teams. The Torrington Titans, one of the league’s founding members will not play in 2017. The Navigators are in their sixth season with the league after moving from the NECBL in 2012.

Game times for the 2017 season remain unchanged as games being played Monday through Friday begin at 7:00 p.m., Saturdays will begin at 6:00 p.m. and Sundays at 5:00 p.m. There are also two 10:30 a.m. games are also on tap for the Navigators – June 7 for School Field Trip Day and August 1 for Parks and Rec Summer Fun Day.

The registration to rent one of the Navigators Party Decks or schedule a birthday party at any one of the team’s 28 home games is now open. These decks book quickly so for more information email Bill Terlecky at navigatorsgm@gmail.com or visit www.nsnavs.com. Our Family Season Passes are also on sale for $100 for a pass that admits fans to every regular season home game.

Traffic Plan for Saturday’s D1 Super Bowl

FILE PHOTO
Rich Avery, left, and Brian Billingsley prepare Manning Field for Saturday’s game.

By STEVE KRAUSE 

LYNN — The city has put in place several parking and traffic restrictions, along with designated off-street parking sites, for today’s Division 1 North Super Bowl game at Manning Field between Xaverian and Everett.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m., and Lynn police estimate that between 4,000 and 5,000 fans will attend.

Both Xaverian and Everett will offer fan buses to alleviate the expected heavy traffic situation.

For those driving, the designated off-street sites are the Manning Field lot, which one must enter from Ford Street; the Fraser Field lot accessible at the intersection of Stetson and Locust Streets; the Grace City Church lot on 31 Stetson St.; the FB Harris lot at 190 Locust St.; and the Lynn English High School lot at 50 Goodridge St., which is approximately two-thirds of a mile away from the field.

In addition, attendees will be able to park along adjacent side streets where available.

Police warn that attendees who park in the Lynngate Plaza lot, as well as other nearby private parking lots, will be in unauthorized lots and are subject to being towed at the property owner’s discretion.

Also, to ensure sufficient access and traffic flow, parking restrictions will be implemented at some nearby streets and intersection from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m . On Locust Street, from Ford to Boston Streets, there will be no parking along the stadium side. Parking will be allowed along the residence (odd numbered) side.

There will be no parking on Maple Street, from Nos. 328 to 334, both sides; and from No. 371 to Western Avenue, both sides.

Parking is restricted on the entire even-numbered (stadium) side and on the odd-numbered side from 9 Maple St. (to keep the intersection clear).

There will also be a number of road closures and restrictions at various times during the day for traffic control. Drivers should expect delays.

The restrictions/closures are: Maple Street at Western Avenue and at Cleveland Street; Ford Street at Locust Street and at Boston Street; Locust Street at Stetson Street (by the Stadium Condo entrance); Stetson Street at the Lynngate Plaza driveway entrance. There will be local access only at Boston/Stetson streets for Stadium Condo residents.

Finally, attendees will not be allowed bring bags or backpacks into the stadium.  Both high schools have been advised of the policy.  This will be strictly enforced.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com. 

Manning Field preps to host D1 Super Bowl

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Brian Billingsley puts pads on the goal posts at Manning Field in preperation for Saturday’s game.

By HAROLD RIVERA

LYNN — Marcus Rivera’s improbable 83-yard kickoff return to lead Classical to stunning 21-20 victory over English on Thanksgiving Day would have been a great way to cap off the fall season at Manning Field.

His highlight went viral within hours and garnered attention from ESPN’S SportsCenter.

However, Manning Field’s season did not end with Classical’s stunner. With eight football state championship games scheduled for Saturday, six of those Super Bowls will be played at Gillette Stadium. That includes the battles for the crowns in Division 1A, 2, 2A, 3, 3A and 4. A pair of local teams will take the field at Gillette as Marblehead competes for the Division 2A state championship against Falmouth (3:30 p.m.), and St. Mary’s will play East Bridgewater (9 a.m.) for the Division 3A crown.

However, the marquee matchup in Saturday’s slate of games is the clash between Everett and Xaverian for the Division 1 state championship.

That’s the game that will take place at Manning.

Rich Avery, field facilities manager at Manning and Fraser fields, said that although Rivera’s kick return would have been a nice way to finish the season, he hopes Everett and Xaverian can bring another great game to Lynn.

“Hopefully there’s a little more magic to come this weekend,” said Avery. “It’s two of the best teams in the state, on one of the best fields in the state, so hopefully the game brings magic.”

Avery said Manning’s accommodations attracted the state athletic association to the field.

“We have the seating, for one,” Avery said. “We can seat about 4,500, not counting standing room areas. Parking is a premium but we do have some parking lots. The press box is an amenity for the press we’ll have that day. The flow at the front of the stadium allows people to be dropped off and picked up easily.”

Thus far, Avery said that the preparations for Saturday’s game are going well. He has worked with a number of local organizations, including the Department of Public Works and Lynn’s fire and police departments, all in hopes of ensuring a safe event.

“Preparations are going great,” Avery said. “I’m working with the DPW. Lisa Nerich and Jeff Stowell are helping me with everything I need.”

Avery said he is working with the police department to organize a traffic plan for the day. He’s also in close contact with the fire department, and both will be highly visible Saturday.

“I’m working with both schools (Everett and Xaverian) and the MIAA to make sure we’re ready for a great game on Saturday.”

Avery said 5,000 fans are expected to attend the game, so safety is a top priority.

“We’ve talked to Lynn Police many times,” Avery said. “A host of them will be here that day. I myself have a security staff that’ll be here that day. We have a policy of no backpacks to enforce that it’s a safe game.”

Avery has also worked with the police department to address traffic concerns. The two sides came together to map out a plan to ease traffic in the area. One of the measures include turning Locust Street into a one-way for the duration of the game.

Avery said the objective is to keep the local residents from being unduly inconvenienced.

He also spoke highly of the contributions from the organizations he’s worked with. Over time, he said, he’s built a close relationship with the MIAA in preparing for the Super Bowl.

“I’m new to this job and the MIAA has been great,” Avery said. “When I have questions they answer me right away. They invited me to meetings with both schools. Both teams have been great. We’re all trying to make this a great event.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. “I would advise people to get here early for parking purposes,” Avery said.

He also advised fans to consider purchasing tickets online to avoid waiting in line outside the stadium. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for seniors and students.

Tickets can be purchased at www.gofan.co/app/schools/Miaa.

As for the game itself, Avery said “I know (Everett, and Xaverian are) two of the premier programs in the state. Both teams have a huge following of fans. It’s going to make for a great day, we’ll have great weather. I expect to see a great amount of people here that day.”


Harold Rivera can be reached at hrivera@itemlive.com. 

Busy days ahead at Manning Field

FILE PHOTO 
Manning Field has been tabbed to host a number of state tournament games this fall. 

By KATIE MORRISON

The weather is getting colder and fall sports are wrapping up, but the staff at Manning Field is still plenty busy.

It was recently announced that Manning Field would be the site of what is perhaps the premier event in high school sports in Eastern Mass.: the MIAA Division 1 Super Bowl between Xaverian and Everett.

Before that, Manning will host four of eight soccer state championships Saturday in a full day of soccer that begins at 11 a.m.

After that will be the annual Classical-English powderpuff game. For Thanksgiving festivities, Tech will host Austin Prep Wednesday night at 6:30, and the Rams and Bulldogs will face off Thanksgiving morning at 10.

That’s all in the leadup to the biggest event of the year, which Manning and Fraser fields facilities manager Rich Avery says will be a sort of showcase for all Lynn has to offer.

“I kind of like the action of it … the big games and the crowd and showing off what Lynn has to offer with these two fields,” Avery said. “Lynn has a little bit of everything: the ocean, woods and all these things in between.”

Avery says he was pleasantly surprised when he found out Manning would be the site of the Super Bowl, and former facilities manager John Kasian and St. Mary’s athletic director Jeff Newhall were instrumental in pitching Manning as one of the “premier places to host such a game.”

So what is it about the stadium that makes it the hot spot for tournament games?

Avery says it’s a lot of things: the amount of seats (4,500), the ample parking and even just having Fraser Field next door.

Manning has hosted two state semifinal soccer games, all eight North final soccer games, and 10 other tournament soccer games. That’s on top of three football tournament games (St. Mary’s in the D3A North quarters, semis and final).

So now, there’s an end in sight, and it seems fitting that the biggest event would come last.

“Definitely it’s a culmination of the whole season,” Avery said. “I have a great staff that works with me to make the event hospitable without any drama or anything like that. I have no doubt it will be a game that everyone enjoys.”


Katie Morrison can be reached at kmorrison@itemlive.com. 

Manning Field will host Division 1 Super Bowl

By STEVE KRAUSE

LYNN — The state athletic association made its decisions on where to hold the two high school football Super Bowls that won’t be at Gillette Stadium next month, and one of them — quite possibly the marquee game of the eight — will be played at Manning Field.

The 4000-capacity stadium, which has been host to Super Bowls in the past, will be the site of the Division 1 game between Xaverian and Everett, at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3.

The Division 4A game, the only other one not slated for Gillette, will take place at Worcester State University.

St. Mary’s and Marblehead have already clinched spots in the Super Bowl in Division 3A and 2A respectively. Both games will be at Gillette.

“We are very happy to be hosting the game,” said Rich Avery, who is the site manager at both Manning Field and Fraser Field, “and we are looking forward to working with the rest of the city to make sure these games go off well,”

Avery said he and James Marsh of the Department of Community Development will work with other departments around the city to make plans in an advance of the game to ensure their success.

Prior to the beginning of the current season, the MIAA expanded the post-season football playoff format from six divisions to eight. Since the Patriots can only accommodate six games over the course of a Saturday, that left two others to be played elsewhere.

The last time this happened was 2012, and games involving St. Mary’s and St. John’s Prep were played at Curry College and Bentley University respectively. This will be the second time, under these circumstances, that the Division 1 game will not be played at Gillette. St. John’s defeated Brockton in 2012.

In the preseason, Xaverian and Everett were ranked 1-2 in the state, and the Hawks defeated the Crimson Tide, 17-14, in Week 1. However, both teams lost subsequently, Xaverian to Bridgewater-Raynham and Everett to Billerica. By the time the Division 1 North playoffs began, Everett had slid down to No. 5, but the Crimson Tide clawed their way through the bracket, defeating Haverhill, Central Catholic and Andover. Xaverian, No. 1 in the south, defeated Franklin, Catholic Memorial and BC High. Since there is no Division 1-level team in either Central or Western Mass., the  North and South winners go directly to the Super Bowl.

Manning Field will also be the site of four state championship soccer games this weekend.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com. 

Krause: Manning Field in a class of its own

By STEVE KRAUSE 

Let’s go back to 2004, when the old Manning Bowl was razed once it was condemned. The decision to tear it down was not universally supported. In fact, some people were very upset that the venue that was the site of such local history would be destroyed and would have preferred a renovation.

Then came all the different zigs and zags that went with getting the building of a new facility funded. That didn’t always go smoothly. But those who were involved saw the project through and we ended up with the beautiful multi-use facility we have today.

Lynn was prescient in building the new Manning Field (I wish they’d go back to calling it Manning Bowl, but I understand it’s not shaped like one, the way it was before. But still …).

Over the last decade, similar multi-use surfaces have sprung up in Revere, Marblehead, Salem, Peabody, Danvers, Lynnfield, Gloucester and Austin Prep, just to name a few. There will soon be the same types of facilities in Swampscott, Winthrop and St. John’s Prep.

What makes Manning a cut above some of the other facilities is its seating capacity. It may not have the number of seats that allowed it, in its heyday, to host concerts by the Rolling Stones, Motley Crue and Aerosmith. And if the next Harry Agganis ever comes along, there may be an issue getting all of the fans who used to crowd that place to watch him into the new stadium (though I didn’t hear anybody complaining when Dick Jauron, closest we’ve come to a Harry-caliber athlete in the last 50 years, was playing at tiny (by comparison) Blocksidge Field. And Dr. Deering Stadium in Danvers had no problem accommodating all the fans who flocked to see Mark Bavaro in the 1970s either).

Today’s capacity is considerably less than the 21,000 back in The Day (somewhere near 4,000 is more like it) but it’s still more than most of the other facilities. And that’s why it continues to be a magnet for post-season tournaments the way neighboring Fraser Field has become a go-to venue for tournament baseball.

From Thursday to Monday, Manning was the site of 16 north sectional boys and girls soccer games, including all eight North finals. In addition, the field will host Division 1 Eastern Mass. finals tonight, and four state finals Saturday.

And believe it or not, the facility is still very much in play for the Division 1 football state championship game between Everett and Xaverian. There’s goods and bads to this scenario. The bads come with parking issues and the fact that Everett has to employ the use of every bus in Eastern Massachusetts so all its fans can travel with the team (a good thing, but the buses create huge traffic issues when they’re all lined up at the end of the game).

But the goods … understand that Gillette Stadium is cavernous. You could have 10,000 people sitting in that place and it would have the sound, and feel, or an empty stadium.

Perhaps you won’t be able to fit 10,000 people into Manning Field, but the ones fortunate enough to go will be much closer to the action, and it’ll have the sound, feel and excitement of a true high school athletic event.

It hasn’t been determined yet. But I hope it ends up happening, and that the St. Mary’s and Marblehead Super Bowl games are early enough in the day so I that can get back to Lynn in time to see Everett-Xaverian. Fat chance of that happening, but I can hope.

It’s not really appropriate to get political in this space — or, at least, to shill for one point of view or another shamelessly.

However, something caught my eye Tuesday. It was a Facebook post of someone who is in the coaching and officiating fraternity making a ha-ha out of building a wall. The post I saw was a reaction to it, in which the poster thought that anyone who is in a position to work with, or influence, kids should probably not be so cavalier about something that’s such a sensitive sore spot with some people.

I’d have to say I agree, even though most of us, yours truly included, probably post things that we’d be better off keeping to ourselves.

Agree, disagree … it doesn’t matter. Just remember, please, who’s watching.

Question: Do you believe in Karma? Do you think Bill Belichick violated the unspoken rules of Karma when he wrote his love letter last week to Donald Trump? And that just like John Lennon once wrote, Instant Karma got him with that loss — and horrible play-calling — Sunday?

I definitely believe it.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com. 

Navigators re-sign 10 players

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Joey Pena, a power-hitting lefty, was one of 10 players the Navigators re-signed.

LYNN — It may be the offseason, but the front office of the North Shore Navigators has been extremely busy the past couple weeks. Just a month after announcing that Field Manager John Zizzo will return in 2017, General Manager Bill Terlecky has announced that the Navigators have re-signed players Conor Bawiec, Al Wallach, Bobby Tramondozzi, Cam Lanzilli, Evan Glew, Joey Pena, Christian Cabrera, Nate Rossi, Keith Linnane and RJ Warnock to the roster for the 2017 season.

“We firmly believe that we have a strong core returning to Fraser Field in 2017,” said Terlecky. “The never-quit attitude that these players displayed after the tough start in 2016 is truly admirable. That’s the attitude we want here at Fraser Field and that’s the attitude that is going to win us a championship”

Bawiec, a Lebanon, Penn. native and senior at Elmira College, pitched and was a utility player for the Navigators in 2016. Bawiec came up big down the stretch as in his last two starts he went at least six innings in each outing, giving up a combined three runs. His 1.50 postseason ERA ranked in the top percentage of Futures Collegiate Baseball League pitchers.

Wallach, a Nahant native and senior at Framingham State, pitched in six games for the Navigators in 2016. His biggest start of the season came in the regular season finale for the Navigators. In a must-win game, Wallach went 5 2/3 innings, surrendering only three runs in a 14-3 win over the first-place Seacoast Mavericks.

Tramondozzi, a Peabody native and junior at UMass Boston, was one of the most reliable starters in the Navigators rotation. Tramondozzi went 3-1 in seven starts while posting a 2.51 ERA. Despite his great numbers on the mound, Tramondozzi’s most memorable moment came with the bat as he knocked in the game-winning run in a 21-inning, 5-4 Navigators win over the Bristol Blues on July 27th.

Lanzilli, a Stoneham native, appeared in 16 games last season for the Navigators. The hard-throwing lefty accumulated the second-most strikeouts on the Navigators staff and in his sixteen appearances, including six starts, Lanzilli only gave up more than three earned runs three times.

Glew, a North Andover native and junior at Northern Essex CC, was dominant on the rubber for the Navigators until an injury cut his season short. In five starts, Glew kept his ERA to a minuscule 1.56 while holding opposing hitters to a .169 average. Glew also recorded one save in his only relief appearance of the season.

Pena, a Brooklyn, N.Y. native and senior at St. Thomas Aquinas, was an All-Star shortstop for the Navigators in 2016. Pena hit .262 for the Navs while he led the team in runs scored (47) and walks (47) and finished second in doubles (10).

Cabrera, a Miami, Fla. native and senior at Broward CC, is a power lefty that fit nicely into the middle of the Navigators’ lineup. Cabrera hit .300 for the Navigators while logging 16 RBIs and 13 runs scored.

Rossi, a Hampstead, N.H. native and junior at Keene State, joined the Navigators late in 2016 but immediately contributed. Rossi hit .286 while providing excellent defense behind the plate for the Navigators.

Warnock, a North Reading native and senior at Ave Maria University, was a utility infielder for the Navigators in 2016. In 14 games for the Navs, Warnock posted a .286 average while scoring 10 runs and driving in three runs.

Linnane, a North Reading native and senior at UMass Lowell, is back for his third season with the Navigators. His three years of service to the hometown ball club makes him the team’s longest-tenured player. Last season, Linnane appeared in 29 games for the Navigators. Known for his superior ability to control the game from the catcher position, Linnane will look to continue his success as the Navigators’ backstop.

The Navigators are coming off a season in which they rebounded from the worst start in franchise history to become a playoff team that won 28 of their last 43 games on their way to a first-round playoff series victory. This core group of returners will look to continue the end-of-the-season momentum as the Navigators look for their first league championship since 2010.

Michael G. Avadanian

LYNN — Michael George Avadanian “Abba” of Lynn and Salisbury Beach, was peacefully laid to rest on Oct. 21, 2016. Private services were held for the family.

Michael, the devoted son of George (Abba) and Frances Avadanian of Lynn and Salisbury Beach, was born, raised and lived in Lynn until his relocation to Salisbury in 2001 to take care of his parents. He is survived by his two sisters Francie Sudak of Beverly, Claire and Mark Cavanagh of Lynn; nephews: Michael McSharry, Matthew McSharry (his favorite See-Food Partner and All-Weather Assistant) and his special Godson, John McSharry of Lynn, Casey, Lorigan, Lily and O’Neal Sudak of Beverly and niece Megan Sudak of Beverly. To his nephews, he wasn’t just Uncle Mike, he was “King Mike.” He was the nephew of the late Ed and Eleanor Geratowski, the late Roger and Ruth Heaslip, the late William and Marilyn Buckley, the late Charles and Joan Fox, Claire and the late James O’Shea and Ellen and the late Robert Avadanian, as well as many cousins, sharing special friendships and memories, in particular, with the late Steve Geratowski, Neil Buckley, Jimmy Dee, Bruce, Dave A., Smitty, Freddie, Kenny, Arthur and Joe C.

Michael, (nicknamed Abba after his father) was all about family, friends, sports, travel and entertainment and the beach.

He attended Ingalls, Eastern Jr. High and LEHS in 1967 playing on the JV and Varsity Football, Baseball and Track teams. Following graduation, he attended NSCC (Beverly) and Northeastern University. He always joked that one goal at home, growing up, was to see whose report card would spell out the letters A-B-B-A and four times a year, predictably, Francie and Claire always came through, while his grades spelled other letters of the alphabet!

Michael worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at the Salisbury State Beach Reservation for six years during high school and college, where he enjoyed another family of special friendships. His crew had lots of fun taking care of the beach they loved. They especially liked the Sunday shifts when they would stop by our house for a quick lunch, which was more like an Armenian feast! Shish kabob and pilaf were his favorites.

As a member of Lynn Laborer’s Local 290, he also served on the Executive Board and was Sargent of Arms before his early retirement, brought about from a work injury. Like his dad, Michael had a strong work ethic and was proud to be a part, working side by side his dad, on the construction of Union Hospital, the Lynn Water and Sewer Treatment Plant, the Vamp Building and local police and fire stations. He also served as a Consultant for the Gallant (DG5) and Keaney Corporation.

Growing up, Michael spent summers in Salisbury, developing his early love for the beach. He had the good fortune of Lynn and Nahant beaches being close by as well and Salisbury and Hampton beaches, where he spent his childhood summers and adult life, enjoying the ocean, like his mom as she, too, loved the beach.

He played baseball for the Cardinals in the East Lynn Little League, and often talked about those days at Fraser Field and his team-mates, especially when they won the Little League Championship against the Central Cubs. One of those Cubs became a great, lifetime friend.

Another happy time was when his P.A.L. Team, the “Lakers” won the season championship. He always recalled one particular player who boasted, just before the Awards Banquet, that “One way or another, I am taking home that MVP trophy” and he did. Michael never forgot that prediction or the player! Another lifetime friend!

When we moved to the Highlands, Michael was happy. He met a lot of new families. Beacon Hill, Bay View and Allen Avenues were always filled with kids his own age. We were surrounded, front and back, side to side, with neighbors and families bursting with kids and it always seemed like they all had brothers — and they all played ball! Some of those new kids became his closest friends forever. Ironically, our closest, next door neighbor became one of his best friends then — 40 years ago, and has remained to be one of his best friends today, in spite of Michael’s moving out of Lynn to Salisbury. That same friend now lives only three miles away.

Playing for the Lynn Park Department’s basketball and softball leagues for over 20 years, he made ever-lasting friendships. He always felt he had stand-out sponsors over the years including Army’s 50 Club, Rocky’s, Cronin’s, Honcho’s and Luongo’s Grill. He enjoyed Tony’s, knowing there was always a nice group of guys down there and they all loved talking sports.

A member of the Franco-American Post, he enjoyed sharing good times, fun and laughs with the Anvets membership.

Back in the 70’s, when girls were first allowed to play softball in the Park League, Michael was recruited by his sisters as the manager/head coach to the Sunday Post Swingers. “I knew it was gonna be a long season, when the opposing team was putting on their spikes, and applying pine tar to their bats. All my girls’ were interested in applying was makeup and hairspray!” … Surprisingly, we did make the playoffs!”

Mike enjoyed his many trips to New York City with family and friends and he loved Yankee Stadium (the old and the new). He had wonderful memories of World Series games, playoffs, Old Timers Day and Retirement Ceremonies — he would always be there — no matter what day of the week, or what hour of the day. He was a true Yank. He also enjoyed the annual guy bus trips to Montreal, year after year, with the Lynn guys, having a lot of fun.

Yet, nothing ever compared to his love for Las Vegas where he traveled for 41-plus years, from his first trip in 1971 to his last in 2014. During our first trip, heading into the Las Vegas Hilton, he told me “Claire, always play black”, but I thought he said “always wear black”. We recaptured that Vegas thrill together and separately for the following 40 years. On his trips, he could always be found at Caesar’s Palace, whether it was at the sports book, the pool, the casino or the Colosseum. One of his best friends traveled with him during those early Vegas days as well as accompanying him on his final trip in 2014. He loved attending the headliner shows and concerts, and especially the championship boxing fights where he met and captured many celebrities on film. His Bo Derek candid photo is still ranked as a 10-1/2! Michael promoted many trips, brought many friends to Vegas for their first time and got them hooked. He established great friendships in the entertainment industry and had close associations with Las Vegas employees, working for some of the most popular Vegas hotels, on and off the strip.

Michael treasured his relationships with his Nahant circle of friends, and his extended family, the Tides’ family. The 40-plus year relationship developed early on with the Bongiono’s straight through to the present owner, Mike O’Callaghan, for whom he held a great respect and for the loyal Tides’ staff and customers. He enjoyed life both inside and outside of the Tides and loved sitting on that beach. He looked forward to those Saturday visits to Lynn. He had many memories and photos of the many cookouts, barbecues, and special 4th of July celebrations. A special thanks to Peter Dawson of Nahant, Rocky DiFillippo of Lynn and the late Tom (Buzzy) Diamond of Lynn for being so good to him and his friends for so many years.

He especially enjoyed Karaoke nights, always-encouraging his friends to get up and sing and to do their impersonations …and they did! The “Fearless Five” and their rendition of “Suspicious Minds,” “Delilah,” “Cracklin’ Rose,” “Green, Green Grass of Home” and what else, but “New York, New York,” was a favorite only to be matched by the impersonation of Cary Grant’s “Judy, Judy, Judy.”

His typical Saturday would play out by an early morning visit with friends to catch up on the week’s events before heading over to the Tides. Depending on the time of year, the crew would congregate inside, attempting to grab their favorite seat or stools, and ultimately taking over a certain section, making it more comfortable, like a “den”. That atmosphere fit like a “T”. One by one, they would always make room for whoever wanted to join in and have some fun. He would always sit next to a good “buddy”, two ex-Marines, who provided security when necessary, followed always by someone’s brother or “sis,” his good friend from Methuen and his two good friends from Melrose. Other summertime visitors dropped in direct from Florida, Las Vegas and Pennsylvania, not forgetting his Super Bowl partner, who he shared a lot of laughs and winners!

On Saturdays, he could always count on the girls having their nails polished up and their jewelry sparkling, and one friend would always eat his Frito’s; another friend from Ohio and her heavy metal friends would stop by, yet, when one very special girl would always have that “special smile” as she first came in the Tides’ door, he knew it was going to be a “great day.” All in all, Saturday was his best day of the week — Then, some of the crew would enjoy a Bailey’s or two (with some basil) and then everyone would be “rosey.”

Mike had lots of friends from A to Z. From Mrs. Gladys A. and her family from the Highlands to John Z. (#728).

One of his favorite sayings was “I’m here for a good time — not for a long time”.

For we know he was not with us long enough.

For all of his true friends who have called, sent cards, and who simply respected his request for privacy, please know that he appreciated your loyalty and support, he knew he could count on you. You were all there for him when he needed you. And despite his wide circle of friends, Michael chose to be very private. Michael silently handled his illness, he silently handled his treatments, and he silently handled his farewell. We love him, as you all did, and say “thank you” for making him so happy. Special thanks to Dr. Claire Fung and Staff from the Newburyport Cancer Center and to the Care Dimensions Hospice Team for the incredible, A-plus care they provided to him this past year, in particular Leslie T. and Deb T. for their love and devotion and support for our Michael. Per Michael, he has requested that in lieu of any expressions of sympathy, he would simply like you to remember him when the hot sun is shining and you are sitting on a chaise lounge at the beach trying to get that golden tan… just smile up at him and wave, for Michael was surely our Golden Boy!

Service information: THE TWOMEY, LEBLANC, & CONTE Funeral Home, 193 High St. Newburyport, MA 01950, assisted Michael’s family with his funeral arrangements.

Year 2000 fuels Babe Ruth

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Leon Elwell, the manager of the Lynn 15-year-old Babe Ruth team, doubles as a Lynn firefighter.

By Steve Krause

LYNN — Winning enough games to make the Babe Ruth World Series is great, according to Lynn’s manager Leon Elwell. What’s better, though, are the bonds created by the experience.

Elwell, whose team of 15-year-old All-Stars left early Thursday for Williston, N.D., and will play its first game of the World Series Saturday at noon EDT, came close to having this experience 16 years ago. His team, this one the Lynn Babe 14s, lost late in the 2000 New England Regionals to New Hampshire and was denied the chance to go to the series.

A lot has happened since then. But to him, the most important of those things is that two of his players, Tim Magner and Chris Oram, work alongside him for the Lynn Fire Department.

“Outside of the fact that I guess I’m getting pretty old, that’s kind of cool,” Elwell, 49, said Wednesday. “You see these guys and it makes you feel good. You can’t say it was all your influence, but if you’ve played any role in helping a kid decide how to do something positive with his life, that’s certainly a good thing.”

As close as he felt to those 2000 players, he feels even a closer bond to the ones who will accompany him to Williston. Where he didn’t know many of the players on the 2000 team prior to being named coach of that All-Star team, he was introduced to some of this year’s players as early as their Tee Ball days.

“Since my son (Zach) is on this team, I’ve known many of these kids for a long time, as some of them have hung around with Zach.”

He’s aware of how much these players have given up to make it this far.

“I mean, they all love baseball, so they’re having fun,” Elwell said. “But school wasn’t even out when we started practicing for the post-season, and by the time we’re done, especially if we go deep in the tournament, it’ll be time to go back to school by the time they get home.

“You have to give them a lot of credit,” he said. “This is all about them anyway. Not about me.”

Although the team could have simply waited until Lynn hosted the New England Regionals at Fraser Field last month, Elwell’s team chose to play the entire postseason in hopes of winning a state tournament that had eluded it as 13s and 14s. That meant playing in, and winning, the District 1 tournament in Saugus that began the last week of June; the Eastern Mass. north series in Chelmsford and the EMass final at BC High in Boston; and the New England Regionals at Fraser Field.

In three tournaments, Lynn has lost only twice, once against Medford in the EMass North, a loss it avenged in the EMass final; and against Pittsfield in the first game of the regionals.

Elwell says he’s learned a lot since 2000. After his first stint with Babe Ruth, Elwell became an assistant for the Gautreau American Legion Team under Chris Tgettis. He was also an assistant coach at Marblehead when Dick Newton coached baseball there.

“I really learned a lot from Chris,” Elwell said. “Sometimes I wonder whether if I’d known some of the things I learned from Chris, we could have gone all the way in 2000.”

Like most youth coaches, Elwell wears many hats. In addition to being the manager of the all-star team, Elwell also helps maintain the two baseball diamonds at the Ben Bowzer Complex at Breed Middle School, home of Lynn Babe Ruth.

“A lot of people pitch in,” he said. “There’s me, Sean Leydon (one of his assistants), Jim Beliveau, Dave Raymond, Gary Leavitt, Jeff Earp, Bill Trahant, and so many others. There’s always something that needs to be done. If we didn’t do it, who would?”


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com.

Navigators fall to Worcester to open FCBL semifinals

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Navigators shortstop Joey Pena gets the stop sign from manager John Zizzo as he sprints to third.

By Joshua Kummins

LYNN — It’s do-or-die time for the North Shore Navigators.

The two-time defending champion Worcester Bravehearts scored four times in the top of the eighth inning and received 7 1/3 strong frames from starter Frankie Moscatiello en route to a 5-1 win over the 30-28 Navs in Monday night’s FCBL semifinal opener at Fraser Field.

“Their guy was hot. He threw a four-hitter, and that’s not enough for us,” Zizzo said. “One run is not enough to win. They had nine hits and we had four, so they deserved the win.”

North Shore now faces elimination as the series shifts to Worcester’s Hanover Insurance Park for a 7:05 p.m. Tuesday contest.

The Bravehearts (37-18) started up the offense quickly against Navs starter Jake Dexter (Southern Maine) and took a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

Dexter worked around a two-out base hit in the first, but Worcester put runners on the corners with one out in the following frame after right fielder Joe Caico (New Haven) and designated hitter Greg Kocinski (Marist) singled. Catcher Nick Barry (UMass Lowell) drove in Caico with the game’s first run on a fielder’s choice.

Moscatiello (St. Thomas Aquinas) was dialed in early on, striking out five Navs batters while facing the minimum through three innings. In the end, he fanned 11 Navigators and allowed just one run on four hits and two walks.

North Shore did string together three consecutive hits and pushed across the game-tying run in the fourth. Shortstop Joey Pena began the frame by breaking up his college teammate Moscatiello’s no-hit bid with a line single to right.

“At first, we both told each other, ‘Oh, don’t make me look bad,’ but it’s fun playing against your friend,” Pena said of facing his college teammate. “He threw me a curveball and I just stayed back and put a good swing on it.”

Left fielder MacDaniel Singleton (Salem State) moved Pena over with a single of his own. Then, first baseman Mike D’Acunti (Southeastern) stung a double inside the right field line, bringing Pena around for his franchise-record 48th run scored of the season.

Navigators infielder Mike D'Acunti fires to first. (Photo by Katie Morrison)

Navigators infielder Mike D’Acunti fires to first. (Photo by Katie Morrison)

North Shore had an opportunity to further the damage after D’Acunti’s hit, but Moscatiello struck out two of the next three to end the inning.

“I was a little disappointed because we had second and third after that, but that’s the way it goes,” Zizzo said. “The kid was tough on the mound for them.”

Dexter settled down after his offense tied the game, working 1-2-3 frames in the third and sixth. Worcester put two runners on base in the fourth as third baseman Dylan Harris (St. Leo) and Kocinski hit two-out singles, but Dexter induced an inning-ending grounder.

“I just wanted to throw strikes, let our guys play and get them in the dugout to hit,” Dexter said. “They’ve got a good squad, so unfortunately we didn’t get the big hit and they did.”

Dexter, an All-Little East Conference Second Team selection as a relief pitcher this spring, allowed six hits and did not walk a batter over seven innings of work.

He did his job, giving his Navs a chance to jump ahead.

“I thought he was great and kept them off-balance,” Zizzo said of Dexter, who just completed his freshman year at USM. “He’s been working on a changeup that he threw well a couple times. … Any time a kid can do that for seven innings, you’ve got to give him credit.”

Worcester wasted no time jumping on Navs relievers Sean O’Neill (Brandeis) and Brian Burke (Curry) as it scored three runs on a pair of eighth-inning hits that broke the game open.

O’Neill hit a batter and a allowed a one-out single to open the inning before Burke was called from the bullpen for the second straight night.

After first baseman John Friday (Franklin Pierce) drew a walk to load the bases for the Bravehearts, Caico lined a bases-clearing triple into the bullpen in right field before Harris’ sac fly to center field drove him home.

Navs catcher Keith Linnane (Northern Essex C.C.) drew a one-out walk in the eighth inning, but that was all they could muster before Worcester’s Tyler Lonestar (St. Mary’s) retired the final five batters of the game.

With Peabody native Bobby Tramondozzi (UMass Boston) scheduled to get the start for the Navs in tonight’s contest, the message is clear.

“Just win,” Zizzo said. “It’s a one-game season right now. Win, or lose and go home.”


Joshua Kummins can be reached at joshuakummins95@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.

Navs advance to FCBL semifinals behind Varinos’ arm

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Navigators pitcher Speros Varinos delivers a pitch during Sunday’s play-in game against the Brockton Rox at Fraser Field.

By Joshua Kummins

LYNN — The North Shore Navigators and Brockton Rox were about as close as two teams can be through a whole summer baseball season.

They finished just two games apart in the middle of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) standings and split their head-to-head season series with four wins apiece.

Thanks to rising Tufts University senior Speros Varinos’ masterful work on the mound and five second-inning runs, Sunday’s postseason opener at Fraser Field was not much of a contest.

The fourth-seeded Navs (30-27) earned a 5-0 win, with Varinos dealing eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball en route to his third victory of the summer.

“Just time after time with him,” said Navs manager John Zizzo of Varinos. “We were lucky today to put five runs up early, put it on his back and let him go with it, but he’s something else. Just a strike-thrower. When you’ve got a five-run lead, that’s how you’re supposed to pitch.”

Varinos struck out five Rox and did not walk one as he worked 1-2-3 frames in six of his eight innings, helping to lift the Navigators into the best-of-three semifinal round for just the second time in their FCBL history. A whopping 73 of Varinos’ 104 pitches were strikes.

The second-year Navigator from Middleton threw eight complete innings in the Navs’ no-hitter July 8, but nearly matched his effort in what could be his final home start as a Navigator.

“I just wanted to go out there and pitch my best today, knowing it could be my last time pitching here,” Varinos said. “I just felt like I was spotting my fastball really well today. They’re an aggressive team, so they liked to jump at it sometimes.”

MacDaniel Singleton, left, waits at home for Colby Maiola, who scored on a wild pitch. (Photo by Katie Morrison)

MacDaniel Singleton, left, is waiting at home for Colby Maiola, who scored on a wild pitch. (Photo by Katie Morrison)

Both sides went down 1-2-3 in the first inning, but the Navs took a commanding lead after pounding out four hits against Brockton starter Eric Keating (FAU) in the second.

North Shore sent 10 men to the plate as Keating threw 43 of his 76 total pitches in the blowout frame. Each of the first five Navs who came to bat in the inning scored.

“(Keating) had a low ERA and likes to throw his breaking ball a lot. We knew that, so our approach at the plate was geared towards that,” Zizzo said. “We have the best pitching staff in the league. And so when we can get a lead early, we’re pretty dangerous.”

Swampscott’s Brian Burke (Curry) proved just that, slamming the door shut with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, using just 14 pitches.

Shortstop Joey Pena (St. Thomas Aquinas) provided the crushing blow in the big frame, slicing a two-run double inside the right field line to score both catcher Mike D’Acunti (Southeastern) and first baseman Nick DiBenedetto (Trinity) with one out.

Center fielder Colby Maiola (UMass Lowell) paced the Navs offense, going 3-for-4 with a run scored and a RBI. After DiBenedetto’s single through the right side brought home the first run of the game, Maiola ripped a hard-hit ball past Brockton third baseman Chase Smartt (Troy) to drive in another.

“I was definitely just more trying to get on base any way I could,” Maiola said. “I was in the No. 8 hole today, so my role kind of changed from trying to be that big power guy to getting on base for the top of the lineup again.”

The North Shore defense was stellar as well, ensuring Varinos’ efforts in the Navs’ eventual sixth shutout of the year would not be spoiled.

Varinos’ Tufts teammate Nick Falkson made an over-the-shoulder catch at third base to deny Rox right fielder Rob Andreoli (LIU Post) a base hit in the first at-bat of the game, while MacDaniel Singleton (Salem State) made a diving catch on second baseman Chris Berry’s (North Florida) drive to left field in the fourth.

“It was a good effort from everybody today,” Varinos said. “That’s how you know everything is going to turn out alright because we were playing really well. Everything was kind of clicking.”

Maiola managed the Navs’ only hits outside of the five-run frame, leading off the fourth inning with an infield single and the sixth with a double. Brockton’s Bryce Tucker (UCF) struck out nine Navs batters over the final five innings.

The Navs will now face the two-time defending champion and top-seeded Worcester Bravehearts, a team they won three of four regular-season games against, in the semifinal round.

Game 1 of the best-of-three series is set for 7 p.m. Monday at Fraser Field. Southern Maine’s Jake Dexter is slated to get the start for the Navs.

“We played well against them, but we’ve got confidence against anyone we play,” Zizzo said. “If you’re not ready for that, you’re not a competitor. And we don’t have anybody here that’s not a competitor.”


Joshua Kummins can be reached at joshuakummins95@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.

Navs set for Futures League playoffs

ITEM FILE PHOTO
North Shore Navigators pitcher Nick Malatesta has been a part of the pitching resurgence for the Navs this season.

By JOSHUA KUMMINS

LYNN North Shore Navigators manager John Zizzo’s word of the season is “resilient.”

After starting this Futures Collegiate Baseball League campaign with eight consecutive losses and a 1-12 record through 13 games, the Navs are bound for the postseason.

At this point, however, it’s not all about the standings.

“Our group’s resilient, as I’ve said all year,” Zizzo said. “We fought back from a lot of adversity in the standings and everything, but I don’t really look at the standings. I just want to play every game, each day.”

North Shore (28-26) has clinched at least the No. 5 seed in the FCBL’s overall standings and would secure a home playoff game with another victory and a loss by the Brockton Rox.

The Navs will likely face the Rox in Sunday’s postseason opener, although whether the game will be played at Fraser Field or Brockton’s Campanelli Stadium is still to be determined.

North Shore’s offense is balanced, but has sat closer to the bottom of the league statistically for the majority of the season. However, it is the pitching that allowed the Navs to even remain competitive, let alone chance a playoff position, as July came around.

On June 16, the Navs had the worst ERA in the FCBL at 5.75. Since then, the team’s collective mark has dropped by more than two runs, to a league-best 3.36.

It is a statistic that St. Joseph’s College of Maine pitcher Nick Malatesta credits to the entire team and its development over the course of the season.

“It’s great knowing that the team behind you is going to make the plays and they’re going to get the job done,” said Malatesta, a Wrentham native. “That speaks volumes about our team, about how far we’ve come along since the beginning of the season. Everybody is just clicking.”

While Cole O’Connor (Dartmouth) and Swampscott native Brian Burke respectively led the starting rotation and bullpen with five wins apiece, some unsung heroes have emerged on the staff.

Malatesta has been a strong swingman for the Navs as he has made seven starts and five appearances out of the bullpen, compiling an ERA just over 3.00 entering his Friday night start against the East Division champion Seacoast Mavericks.

Conor Bawiec was an All-Empire 8 utility player during his sophomore spring at Elmira College and has been a key contributor in that role this summer. Bawiec earned the win, his first of the summer, with 6 ⅓ innings of two-run ball in Thursday’s 5-4 win over Bristol.

An innings cap has shut O’Connor down for the remainder of the season, leaving the Navs with 11 available pitchers.

Fellow second-year Navigator Speros Varinos (Tufts) is slated to make Sunday’s start. His 1.84 ERA ranked second in the FCBL as of Thursday.

“Speros is still our No. 1 guy for our playoff game on Sunday, wherever that is,” Zizzo said. “But, Bawiec threw a great game for us, so that makes you feel great after a guy had an injury earlier in the year and came back. He’s another guy we can add into the mix now, so it’s a whole-staff situation right now for us.”

The Navs’ resiliency was tested in a big way Thursday as just four players remained on the bench for the completion of a suspended game with Bristol that ultimately spanned 21 innings.

Peabody’s Bobby Tramondozzi (UMass Boston) pitched the final four innings to earn the win and also hit the game-winning sacrifice fly, ending the longest game in FCBL history.
Tramondozzi had not taken an at-bat all year, but relished the opportunity to help the team in any way he could. It was yet another example of the team’s resiliency.

“That was awesome. We were all joking around in the clubhouse, ‘Oh, Bobby’s going to come in and getting the winning hit’ or whatever,” Bawiec said. “But, Coach wouldn’t have him in the lineup if he knew he couldn’t hit the ball.”

The club has benefitted from the additions of Lynnfield’s Jordan Roper (Marist) in early July and catcher Nate Rossi (Keene State) and Nick Falkson (Tufts) more recently, keeping the team well rested entering the “second season.”

“I think the new guys have done a great job picking up everybody up,” Malatesta said. “Maybe, a couple people have been a little tired, so these guys have come in and filled spots.”

Zizzo and the Navs have subscribed to the “one game at a time” mentality, and it’s paying off with the club playing some of of its best baseball of the season.

“We had two five-game winning streaks and a seven-game winning streak, so we’re a very streaky team, and our hitting is the same way,” Zizzo said. “You’re not going to win ‘em all here, and you have to understand that. It’s baseball, it’s a long haul.”


Joshua Kummins can be reached at joshuakummins95@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.

Lynn Babe Ruth getting set for a World Series run

ITEM FILE PHOTO
Lynn Babe Ruth’s Brett Bucklin lashes the ball down the right field line during a tournament game earlier this season.

By STEVE KRAUSE

LYNN — One week from today, at 12 noon EDT, Lynn Babe Ruth will begin its quest to bring home another World Series championship to the city.

The Lynn team of 15-year-olds, who earned the right to compete in the World Series, which will be held in Williston, N.D., will kick off the eight-day tournament at that time, against the winners of Atlantic Shore, N.J., winners of the Mid-Atlantic Regional.

Next week’s game will be streamed live on the internet, but for those who cannot make it, and wish to watch it on a march larger screen, Gannon Golf Course will air it on its 42-inch TV screen, in its sun room.

Gannon has lent its support to the Babe Ruth effort in other ways as well, including holding a “Night at the Race” Thursday with the proceeds put toward making a dent in the $35,000 cost of sending the team to North Dakota. Babe Ruth defrays the cost of transportation for the players and coaches. But where it used to seek housing for the players, this year’s participants will have to stay at local hotels.

“We just want to show our support for the team,” said Jason Newhall, an assistant at the 19th Hole at Gannon. “We had the fundraiser Thursday and it did very well.”

Newhall said that Gannon intends to stream all of Lynn’s games on its big-screen.

“I don’t know if anyone else is going to do it, but we have internet here, and we thought it would be nice to show our support.”

There are 10 teams in the tournament, which begins next Saturday and runs through Aug. 20. They will be grouped in two divisions, American and National, with Lynn in the National Division along with Atlantic Shore, Tallahassee, Fla. (Southeast), Columbia Basin, Wash. (Pacific Northwest) and West Fargo, N.D. (the North Dakota state champion).

The other division includes Bismarck, N.D. (Midwest Plains), Eau Claire, Wisc., (Ohio Valley), South Brazoria City, Texas (Southwest), Torrance, Calif., (Pacific Northwest) and the host team of Williston.

The format is pool play, with each team playing the other four in its respective group. After a day off on Sunday, Aug. 14, Lynn will play Monday against West Fargo (6:30 EDT), Tuesday vs. Tallahassee (noon) and Wednesday against Columbia Basin (2:30).

The top three teams in each division advance, with the first-place finishers getting byes. Quarterfinals are on Thursday, Aug. 18, with the second-place team in the Nationals playing the third-place team in the Americans at 6 p.m., with the other crossover game at 8:30.

Semifinals are Friday with the first-place teams in both divisions playing quarterfinal winners at 6 and 8:30. The championship game is Saturday, Aug. 20, at 2 p.m.

Lynn, which is managed by Leon Elwell with Sean Leydon and Ryan Boisselle as coaches, was guaranteed a spot in the New England regionals by virtue of hosting the tournament at Fraser Field. However, the players, who had come up short in state tournaments as 13s and 14s, chose to go through the entire process this season. They won the District 1 tournament in Saugus, and then defeated Medford at BC High’s new field to win the states. And, Lynn defeated North Providence/Smithfield, R.I., in the New England Regionals at Fraser Field on July 26.

Lynn Babe Ruth finds a generous Partner

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Kevin Ronningen of North Shore Medical Center presents Lynn Babe Ruth with a check for $5,000 for its trip to the Babe Ruth World Series at Fraser Field Thursday afternoon. From left, front row: Luke Boisselle, Zach Elwell, coach Sean Leydon, Tony Luciano, Jeff Earp, Kevin Ronningen, manager Leon Elwell, coach Ryan Boisselle, Aedan Leydon, Christian Burt, AJ Luciano, Kevin Durant. Back row, from left: Mike Leavitt, Dayshon Anderson, James Wilkins, Danny Lilja, Brett Bucklin, Matt Gisonno, Anthony Nikolakakis, David Barnard and Erick Ubri.

BY STEVE KRAUSE

LYNN — North Shore Medical Center has contributed $5,000 to Lynn Babe Ruth baseball to fund its 15-year-old all-star team’s trip to the World Series.

Partners answered Babe Ruth’s fundraising plea Thursday, presenting coaches and league officials with the check to put toward the team’s $35,000 trip to North Dakota. The team will play its first game on Saturday, Aug. 13.

“North Shore Medical Center supports any initiative where people are doing good things in the community,” said spokesman Kevin Ronningen, who presented the check to Lynn Babe Ruth board member Jeff Earp, manager Leon Elwell and Tony Luciano, the father of one of the players, and the one who contacted NSMC.

“This donation really gives us a boost in our goal to raise money for the trip,” said Luciano, president of Wyoma Little League and a Babe Ruth coach.

Luciano said the league is raising money to defray the cost of lodging for the team’s 15 players and to help families make the trip as well. Babe Ruth picks up the tab for transportation for all managers, coaches and players.

Ronningen said NSMC supports youth sports endeavors whenever it can. Two years ago, he said, the hospital donated money to Lynn Shore Little League so it could put a press box at its field at Kiley Park.

“This goes perfectly with our mission of promoting a healthy community,” he said.

While Luciano made the initial overture to NSMC, Ryan Boisselle, one of the coaches on the team, made the arrangements.

“When (Ronningen) talked about a $5,000 check, it just blew me away,” Boisselle said. “We thought maybe we could get them jackets for winning the regionals, or perhaps they could help us with food because you know they’re going to eat like horses out there. But $5,000? We never expected that.”

The team earned the right to go to the World Series when they won the New England Regional Tournament at Fraser Field, defeating North Providence/Smithfield, R.I., last Tuesday in the final. Since then, the league’s executives have reached out in several different directions in efforts to raise money. The players themselves have raised $4,000 through canning, and a GoFundMe page created Boston College women’s hockey goalie Katie Burt, whose cousin, Christian, is on the team, was up to $9,005 by Thursday morning.

“Even if I didn’t have a cousin on the team, I felt as if this was something I should do,” said Burt, an all-star for Lynn Babe Ruth baseball for three years. “I know that if it had been me going to the World Series, and I knew someone was working like this on my behalf, I would have thought it was very special.”

The fundraising is still going on. Thursday, Gannon Golf Course sponsored a “Night at the Races,” with proceeds going to the team; The North Shore Navigators hosted the players at their game against the Bristol Blues and had a 50-50 drawing for them; and there was a paint night at Old Tyme Italian Cuisine in Lynn.


Steve Krause can be reached at skrause@itemlive.com.

Navs give some words of wisdom to Babe Ruth All-Stars

ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Navigators intern Georgy Shukaylo, right, shows Lynn 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Star Zach Elwell the ropes as they sell 50/50 raffle tickets at the Navs game Thursday.

By HAROLD RIVERA

The World Series-bound Lynn 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars are less than a week away from a boarding a flight to Williston, North Dakota, where they’ll match up against some of the best teams from around the country with a chance to bring home a championship. The last time a Lynn Babe Ruth team made it this far was in 1983, way before any of the current players on the team were even born. With everything this group has achieved, it’s fair to say that when it comes to sports, the All-Stars are now the talk of the town.

The team made an appearance prior to the start of yesterday night’s Navigators game at Fraser Field. They were introduced to the crowd individually and collected a round of applause at the public address announcer spoke of their trip to the World Series.

Aside from leaving a positive impression on the fans, the All-Stars also caught attention from some of the Navigators as well.

Catcher Keith Linnane, who went to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 3 World Series this past season as a member of the Northern Essex Community College baseball team, related to the journey the All-Stars have taken this summer to get this far.

“It was a great experience overall,” Linnane said. “It was an awesome time. It was great competition and it was a lot of fun winning. Unfortunately we came up short in the championship game but it was a great experience.”

Linnane also offered advice to the young sluggers and said that self-belief can go a long way on the diamond.

“You just have to play hard every game,” Linnane said. “They’re going to be facing some great competition. Playing hard, staying humble and believing in themselves and that they can do it. Why not them? That’s what our mentality was, why not us?”

Centerfielder Colby Maiola, one of Linnane’s teammates on the Northern Essex team, shared similar thoughts about his experiences playing in a World Series. Maiola said team chemistry played a big role in the success Northern Essex had this past season.

“The team chemistry we had going out there was one of the things I’ll remember the most,” Maiola said. “We didn’t have a big team. We had 18, 19 guys so everyone was really close. Just that team chemistry is what really helped us go as far as we did those years.”

Maiola added that he was also appreciative of having the opportunity to match up against some of the top talent from across the country, like the All-Stars will next week.

“It was something that none of us had gotten the chance to do yet,” Maiola said. “It was a really cool experience getting a chance to play against guys from across the country with different backgrounds.”

The centerfielder also offered advice to the Babe Ruth team. He said sticking to habits and routines will prevent things from going wrong.

“Don’t change a thing,” Maiola shared. “Stick with what got them here. Make sure not to press too hard because as soon as they make it about anything other than baseball and stop having fun, that’s when things can go wrong.”

Shortstop Jordan Roper was also on the Northern Essex team this past season. Roper echoed Linnane’s feelings about the importance of team confidence and self-belief.

“There was a huge jump in competition,” Roper said, “but we believed in ourselves the entire time. We knew who we were and that was the most important thing.”

Roper, a Lynnfield native, added, “I can honestly say that I’ve never been a part of something that special in my entire baseball career. The guys that I was with, that’s something that I’m going to hold close to me for the rest of my life.”

Navigators manager John Zizzo also offered advice to the All-Stars as they count down the days until they set off for North Dakota.

“I think the key thing for young kids like that going to something there is to stay focused,” Zizzo said. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience but it’s also an opportunity to win and do something special for your community.”

The Navigators also organized a 50-50 raffle to support the All-Stars in their efforts to fundraise for the upcoming trip. Fans were able buy raffle tickets for the drawing, with half of the total going to the All-Stars, as players from the Babe Ruth team collected donations and handed out raffle tickets.

Nahant’s Wallach making the most of chance with Navs

PHOTO COURTESY OF FRANK POULIN PHOTOGRAPHY
Nahant native Al Wallach has taken an interesting path to get to the North Shore Navigators this summer.

By JOSHUA KUMMINS

LYNNNahant native Al Wallach’s path to the North Shore Navigators was an atypical one.
When he saw the local Futures Collegiate Baseball League squad was down a few pitchers late during the month of June, he took it upon himself to inquire about a roster spot.

“That’s how I got on the team,” Wallach said. “I reached out to (general manager Bill Terlecky) and then threw a bullpen.”

That was that, and now the Swampscott High alum is excited to get some innings under his belt, facing some top collegiate talent before he returns to Framingham State University for his junior season.

As one of a few locals remaining on the Navs’ roster, Wallach has enjoyed the opportunity to represent the North Shore and experience a role reversal from his days as a young fan in the stands at Fraser Field.

“It’s been a dream come true, kind of, because I always came to the (North Shore) Spirit games as a kid,” Wallach said. “I was always a big fan, so when I had the opportunity to come to the Navigators and come play, it was awesome.”

Wallach made his first appearance with the Navs on June 24, just a few days after he was signed. Then, he did not come out of the bullpen for nearly another month.

Through that time, Navs manager John Zizzo ensured Wallach that he would see his number called. He has made the most of his chance, tossing 5.2 scoreless, two-hit innings over four appearances.

All along, Wallach’s top priority was making the team. Then, he was able to show Zizzo and pitching coach Pete Gonski what he could do.

“I wasn’t pitching for a little bit in the year, and he just told me to stick it out and I was going to get time,” Wallach said of his conversations with Zizzo earlier in the season. “My expectation was that I wanted to make the team, and prove to him, as the days went on, that I should be pitching.”

Wallach transferred to Framingham after making just two appearances as a freshman at the University of Southern Maine.

Wallach’s specific role with the Rams was in question as the spring season started, but things changed as he quickly worked into the starting rotation and then getting the nod in three weekend conference games.

“I just kind of earned my way into a starting spot and then into a weekend spot,” Wallach said. “I thought I had a good season for my first real season pitching consistently.”

Wallach wound up as one of FSU’s top pitchers by spring’s end, despite earning just one of the team’s ten wins ― a seven-inning, five-hit shutout of Worcester State in April. He posted 20 strikeouts to just nine walks over his 43.2 innings of work on the season.

With the summer quickly drawing to a close, Wallach has noticed progress on his major goal heading into next season: increasing his velocity.

“My big thing that I really need to work on going into next season is just picking up my velo,” Wallach said. “So far, I’ve picked up a little bit since my spring season and I’m trying to pick up more by the time the season starts up next year.”

Summer collegiate baseball is a special experience, especially those fortunate enough to play a stone’s throw from their hometowns.

Wallach is doing just that, and can’t help but think back to his days as a young baseball fan from the other side of the fence.

“My first outing here against Martha’s Vineyard, I heard people yelling like ‘Nahant, Nahant,’ so it’s a very cool experience being here around the locals,” Wallach said. “It was really cool because I felt flip-flopped from when I was a little kid out there watching.”


Joshua Kummins can be reached at joshuakummins95@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaKummins.

Navs hit .500 mark

The North Shore Navigators reached .500 for the first time this season after a 4-2 win over the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks. After starting the season 1-12, the Navigators have since gone 23-12 en route to their 24-24 record. They are currently in fourth place overall in the FCBL and are right in the thick of the playoff race.
Cole O’Connor (Dartmouth) was solid during the game for the Navigators. Despite allowing two runs, O’Connor struck out five batters and was credited with the win.
The Navs got some help out of their bullpen as well. The three pitchers they used combined to throw three innings and did not allow a run or a hit. Brian Burke (Curry College) struck out two batters, while Cam Lanzilli (UMass Lowell) pitched the longest at 1 1/3 innings. Quinn DiPasquale (Stevens Institute) was credited with the save.
On offense, the Navigators got all of their runs in the sixth inning and the offensive explosion helped to propel them to a win. Joey Pena (St. Thomas Aquinas) managed to start the inning off with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He would later come around to score on an RBI groundout by Colby Maiola (UMass Lowell). Later in the inning Christian Cabrera (Broward CC) reached on an error that scored Jordan Roper (Marist College).
MacDaniel Singleton (Salem State) would later bring in two more runs after hitting a fly ball that was dropped in the outfield. They crashed into each other and the runs came in, allowing the Navigators to take a 4-2 lead.
Pena went 2-4 with the double, a triple and a run scored.
The Navigators will return to Fraser Field on Sunday when they play host to the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.