Monday, August 25, 2008

Danvers Twilight League, An ITL Rival

The Danvers Twilight League existed on the North Shore from 1922-1950 and was similar to the ITL. Below are two articles from the old Danvers league, there are actually some familiar last names that can be found in today's ITL. Perhaps they are relatives.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Shipbuilders' Legacy Lives On

Shipbuilders' Legacy Lives On in ITL Mariners
By Dom Nicastro


Cal Grimes spends many nights umpiring baseball games around the North Shore. But for the retired Essex police sergeant, there’s no better night than when he breathes the air coming off the marsh behind the outfield grass at Essex’s Memorial Field.

Any night at Memorial Field is grand for Grimes, the Intertown Twilight Baseball League Hall-of-Famer and all-time home run champion (18) who once dominated the league on that very field for the Shipbuilders.

Today, Grimes’ playing days are over — and so are Essex’s. A rite of passage in town as sacred to many as the fried clam in the 20th century, baseball in Essex has been a rare commodity the last seven years.

The Shipbuilders folded after a 70-year-plus history after the 2000 season because of what ITL officials saw as a lack of leadership and interest of Essex natives to play summer adult baseball.

Baseball is back today — Manchester and Essex merged to form the Mariners — and the team hosted Game 3 of the league finals against Hamilton Wednesday night at Memorial Field.

“It was devastating to me at the time,” Grimes said of the team’s collapse eight years ago. “Especially when we were among the strongest organizations in the league. It just didn’t work. They just didn’t have the roots in town any more.”

Neither Grimes nor top league officials have any romanticized notions of seeing the Shipbuilders return any time soon. The days when hundreds of natives stood on the grassy hill down the right-field line in front of Town Hall may be gone forever, in fact.

Today, the team wears Manchester navy blue and white, though Grimes says “that’s gonna change,” and is leading the charge for a return to Shipbuilders’ red and gold.

A revival seems even less likely considering the roster consists of two Essex natives — player/manager Bryan Lafata and Ty Haskell. The rest are mostly Gloucester and Manchester residents.

Even though some longtime fans may yearn for it, the parades on fire trucks through town and Shipbuilders bumper stickers may not return.

“With the merger of the two towns in the school system, I don’t see us splitting them in the ITL,” said Terry Poste, the league’s president. “When guys are used to playing with certain people, they tend to want to stay on the same team, which would cause roster problems all over again.”

But this is August. And there are balls flying out to the marsh for home runs, foul balls skipping near the police station behind home plate, and nine local guys taking the field on, “the pit,” or what Grimes said they once called, “the place.”

That is quite enough for Lafata, who grew up on Pickering Street and as a kid rode his bike down to Memorial Field to watch the Shipbuilders. The 32-year-old joined the team when he was 14.

“It’s a great place to play, and the town has done a great job with the field,” Lafata said. “And in the past two weeks, it’s been the most people I’ve seen at games. I would say 200 people came to recent playoff games. You definitely see more of an interest in town.”

As much as Lafata would like to see Essex return as its own town team, he is not spearheading a charge to get it done. Right now, he has a solid championship team of young players mixed with key veterans, like himself and Nate Bertolino. And they had a 2-0 lead Wednesday night in the best-of-five series with Hamilton after they knocked off Rockport in the semi-finals and prevented the Townies from reaching their 11th straight championship series.

The league as a whole is strong and competitive as ever. Six teams battled for playoff spots, and last-place Topsfield did not exactly roll over for teams (it beat Hamilton in the final regular season game, knocking the Generals from second to fourth).

“It just makes sense with the two towns combining for Little League and schools,” Lafata said. “This coincides with that. But I know for the real baseball purists who know the league, they want to see a true town team. This hurts.”

But that will take recruiting more players, getting town support and finding a leader for the team that doesn’t have Lafata at the helm.

And that will not be easy to do, Grimes said.

“It all comes from leadership,” Grimes said, “and Bryan has done a great job bringing the team back together. It helps they’re in the championship fold. Everyone wants to be part of a winner.”

A revival? Or is the partnership with Manchester too strong for a return of the Essex Shipbuilders, whose fate may be frozen in time in black-and-white images in old newspaper clippings?

For Grimes, smelling the breeze off the marsh only gives him more strength to try. The first step is getting back the red and gold of old Essex.

Said Grimes, “We’re trying to make it a revival of sorts in Essex.”

ITL Dynasties A Cape Ann Thing

ITL Dynasties Are Still Exclusive to Cape Ann
By Dom Nicastro


The current best streak in the Intertown Baseball League for reaching the finals is two by Hamilton.

Just eight more to go, and they'll catch Rockport. And only 14 more, and they'll be in the same company as Manchester.

Rockport's streak of 10 straight finals appearances was snapped this season by Manchester/Essex, which won the championship by sweeping Hamilton, 3-0, in the best-of-five series last week.

Before Rockport began its string, it was Manchester, which saw its championship appearance streak snapped at 16 in 2002.

Three decades. At least one of the same two teams in the finals.

Rockport and Manchester playing in August in the '80s, '90s and the last seven years was as much a part of Cape Ann's summer scene as whale watches and cars with New York plates going down one-way streets.

The names changed through the years. In Manchester, it went from Atwater and Brown to Mitchell and McCarthy. In Rockport, from Emerson and Parisi to Spittle and Currier.

No matter the names, the championship was owned by the two town teams once separated by a scenic drive on Route 127.

Players and managers in the league say it takes a number of components to be as successful as Rockport and Manchester -- from a core group of natives to a solid recruiting process outside of town. It also takes good old-fashioned chemistry, a departure from the 15 guys, 15 cabs mentality.

"Playing against those two teams you would see the core of the team stay intact," said Bryan Lafata, who coaches and plays for the current ITL champions and is a 17-year ITL member. "A winning tradition was passed on through the various generations, and the young players learned the ropes and have carried on the tradition. They were always consistent, day in and day out. Guys also understood their roles on the team; it wasn’t as if there were only 10 guys showing up. They would have full rosters and guys would understand what their roles were for the team."

Another player/manager who tried for years to crack the Rockport-Manchester stranglehold is Hamilton's Tom Jones. The Generals have made the finals the past two years, losing to Rockport and Manchester/Essex (the latter team is a combination of the defunct Essex Shipbuilders and Manchester Mariners leftovers).

Jones mentioned "consistency" in both programs' rosters. He also cited some players' loyalty to their towns.

"The towns have a lot to do with the team's makeup," Jones said. "I think every player in the ITL takes pride in playing for their particular town. That kind of loyalty and bond makes them want to stay, and it makes it seem like there is more at stake every year. It is easier to make the commitment of the season when you are tied to the team. Such a bond doesn't exist in other similar leagues, making the player turnover high every year."

Darin Dagle knows all about loyalty. The retired Rockport Townie and former Division 2 collegiate All-American was part of the team's championship runs from 1998 through the early part of the 21st Century.

He credits most of the Townies' success to their inspirational leader, the late Jade Donaldson. The Rockport mainstay was a player and coach who remained on the sidelines and in the stands until his final days last year after a long battle with cancer.

"To me, the underlying reason for what the Townies are and were all goes back to Jade and everything he put into that team," Dagle said. "Jade cultivated the whole atmosphere about how baseball is serious and fun, and he took advantage of the out-of-town rule by 'recruiting' guys who could play -- like Mike Sutera, the Lindsays (Dave and Jay), Dom Nicastro, the Bouchies, Eddie Morais and the list goes on and on -- but more importantly would fit in with the type of guys the team already had. He made the Townies a brand, and got people to come out to the games. As good as the players have been, I think any conversation that about a potential dynasty that we had begins and ends with 'Jado.'"

Jeremy Spittle, this year's Rockport player/coach, said he thinks this year's setback is merely a "bump in the road."

"Learning from and playing with guys like John Parisi, Sutera, Dagle and Scott Bouchie certainly contributed a lot in terms of how you should carry yourself and how you play the game," Spittle said. "The biggest thing after those guys left was that we still had a good, tight-knit core group of guys who led us into a new era. Guys like Brent Currier, Adam Orlando, Chris Bouchie, Marc Bouchie, and Justin Paradis along with myself, were able to continue carrying the torch because of the experience we had gained from playing with guys like Parisi and Sutera."

Rockport always found a way. And so did Manchester. If there ever is to be another dynasty like theirs in the ITL, the league will not know for another decade or two.

"Bottom line is the team has had a great deal of talent through the years and -- just as importantly -- we always got along better than any team I've ever seen," Dagle said. "We were good, we knew it, we had a lot of fun playing and even more fun after the final out, but we always played hard and played right once game time rolled around. I know when I played (and also in knowing a lot of the guys that play now), we were all just ballplayers. Every summer we were completely consumed by playing for the Townies. It was the only thing that mattered those three months. We loved being at the field, and it was never taken for granted that we had another opportunity to play the game."

Mariners Celebrate

Mariners Celebrate Like It's the Good Old Days After Claiming ITL Title
By Jason Brisbois


Last week may have been like stepping back in a time machine for fans of the Manchester/Essex Mariners.

There was a time that Memorial Field in Essex was once the hottest of baseball hotbeds on the North Shore. The Essex Shipbuilders, one of the very first Intertown Twilight League baseball teams to even exist, were the biggest game in town. Locals would flock to the field down by Town Hall to watch the team every Wednesday night. The crowds were big, the atmosphere was festive and the team was good – the Shipbuilders won three titles in the 1930’s and one more in the 1950’s.

So it must have brought back quite a wave of nostalgia for many of the locals who were on hand to witness the Mariners defeat Hamilton in game three of the ITL’s 2008 championship series, giving the communities of Essex and Manchester bragging rights once again. That, however, wasn’t the only “blast from the past” the communities experienced last week.

“It was amazing to see the support, to see all the faces from around town,” explained Manchester/Essex player/coach Bryan Lafata, an Essex native who watched many a Shipbuilders game growing up. “When I was a kid, that’s what it was like. The families were up on the hill watching. Every Wednesday night was Essex Shipbuilders’ night, and the people go to watch because of the great rivalries. It’s getting to be like that now, where Tuesdays are Mariners nights, and Rockport has their night.”

The large crowds on hand to watch the local team achieve the ultimate victory weren’t the only throwback to a bygone era seen last week. It was always a tradition for the Shipbuilders to hop onto a town fire engine that would take them down the main road, celebrating major victories with sirens blazing and horns honking.

“It’s great to win down there, and it’s funny because I’m the only one on the team, other than Bobby Whynott, maybe, who knew about that,” said Lafata. “My grandmother lived in Essex when they won those titles, and they had the time ride fire engines through part of the town. It’s an old tradition, and people in town knew what it was going on back then. It was good for these guys to get up there – they all looked at me kind of funny, wondering, ‘Why are we getting on this fire engine?’”

While Essex’s ITL baseball history runs fairly deep, Manchester has also fielded teams in the ITL on over the years, most notably making their mark by winning 16 titles in a row from 1986 to 2006. While the two towns merged as a Manchester/Essex unit recently, many of the former Manchester players were just as excited as the former Shipbuilders.

“As far as Manchester, I’ve gotten a lot of emails and calls from former Mariners as well,” said Lafata. “They had some nice stretches in the nineties. Those guys were just as supportive as the Essex guys. The guys who passed it on to me had done a great job building this organization It’s good for both communities, as far as the league and the team, to only see it get better and gain more interest for the future.”

Mariners Claim ITL Championship

Mariners Sweep Generals to Claim ITL Championship
By Jason Brisbois


Expect the unexpected.

If anything, that had to be the motto of the Intertown Twilight Baseball League for 2008. There was no way to predict, from one game to the next, who would end up on top. Six of the seven teams in the league were in playoff contention up until the final week of regular season play, and even then it was difficult to figure out who was going to be in, be out and who was going to claim the top seed.

And with the 2008 ITL semifinals finishing up in just as unpredictable a manner – with number four seed Hamilton sweeping Ipswich to reach the title game and Manchester/Essex defeating the 2007 champion Rockport Townies to advance – it seemed predestined that the championship series would go a full five games, with each game being a nail-biter.

This, too, ended quite unexpectedly.

The Manchester/Essex Mariners swept the Hamilton Generals in the ITL finals, capping off the series with a 2-0 victory last Wednesday. While all three games in the series seemed to be one dogfight after another (which was expected), no one could have guessed Manchester would dispatch of the tough-as-nails Generals so quickly.

“Before the series, every visiting team had won a game, so I didn’t expect someone to go in and sweep either way,” said Manchester/Essex coach Bryan Lafata. “Both teams have such good pitching, you wouldn’t expect a sweep. It’s definitely a great statement reflecting the whole season. By far, in my 17 years of playing, I’ve never seen such balance from top to bottom.”

In the end, it was the balance the Mariners had on their roster that proved to be the difference. The M’s boasted a deep pitching staff, could hit in the clutch and could play defense better than almost anyone.

“Our defense, I’ve been saying it since week one, really amazed,” said Lafata. “I’ve known most of these guys for years, and I’ve coached most of them. Our pitching allowed our defense to make plays, and we were deep at all positions.”

The outfield of Rick Bettencourt, Ian Buckley, Rory Gentile and Joe Orlando was a solid one, with utility players Ty Haskell and Bobby Whynott providing support in a pinch. An infield that featured Nate Bertolino, Mike Cain, Whit Graham, Mike MacFarland and Dylan Maki, along with a deep battery made up of catchers Bryan Goodhue, Kyle Hildebrand and Lafata, was also a big boost to the team throughout the playoffs.

“Dylan Maki was unbelievable at third for the whole playoffs,” said Lafata, referring to Maki, who came on board later in the season. “His number one thing was defense, and he showed up and played like he was playing with us the whole time. We also had as deep a catching staff as our pitching staff.”

It was the pitching staff of Jack Brancaleone, Mike Gibbon, Ryan Marques and Steve Stout that may have been the biggest difference-maker. Few teams in the ITL had as deep a staff as the Mariners.

“When they were asked to get the job done, they did the job,” Lafata said of his pitching staff. “These guys pitched phenomenal as a group altogether. Once in a while, they didn’t have their best stuff, but then someone else comes in to pick them up.”

Of note was the pitching of Brancaleone, who started sparingly at times during the regular season, but looked like a staff ace when called upon to pitch the team to victory in the clinching games against Rockport and Hamilton.

“Jack was unbelievable in those game threes,” said Lafata. “It’s tough with this league, some weeks you have two games a week, so sometimes its two weeks before you can pitch again.”

While the team had plenty of reason to celebrate after clinching game three against Hamilton last week, it did not go unnoticed that a key member of the Mariners was not able to be on hand for the festivities. Jared Knowlton, who served as the third-base coach and pitcher for the Mariners and other ITL teams for 14 years, passed away unexpectedly earlier this summer. That the Mariners reached the pinnacle of their sport during a season that was dedicated to his memory made the 2008 campaign even more special.

“He played 13, 14 years in the league and never won a title,” explained Lafata. “The one year we did win it, he wasn’t with the team. The league did a great job, with all the teams wearing ‘Number 5’ wristbands to remember him. He was a huge member of this league for a long time, and that’s what is special about this title.”

The Mariners played the first inning of every game this season with out a coach at third base, Knowlton’s usual spot during game time, as a way of honoring his memory. Now, his memory will forever be tied to that of his team achieving its ultimate goal. “It was a terrible thing to happen, and it definitely hit all of these guys,” said Lafata. “To win that with Jared in mind was huge.”

If Hamilton could craft its perfect scenario for the Intertown League baseball finals, it’s doubtful they’d ask for three straight losses and a sweep at the hands of Manchester/Essex.

That was the reality last week for the Generals, who fell in Game 3 in Essex, 2-0. The Mariners won the best-of-five series, 3-0. But to view only the final three games of its 29-game season would be an injustice, Hamilton’s player/manager, Tom Jones, said. The Generals flirted with first place all season, made their second straight trip to the finals after a more than 10-year absence and had a special field dedication ceremony that drew more than 100 fans to honor Richie Vitale.

“All in all, we had a great 2008 season,” Jones said. “We improved our roster, increased our win total, increased our fan base and have a great starting point for next year.” They were also competitive in finals that saw only five runs separate each team. It was a microcosm of the entire ITL season that saw six teams battle for four playoff spots, with last-place Topsfield being competitive despite being out of the hunt for most of the season.

“The finals as well as the entire regular season was close from beginning to end,” Jones said. “This year marked one of the most competitive seasons of all time and certainly in recent memory. It really made going to the ballpark fun and exciting for the whole year. Good competition brings out the best in everyone. The league really made some great strides this year, as teams seemed to have record numbers on their rosters.”

Hamilton had 20 guys show up every day for the whole season ‑ no small feat for a summer league team where job commitments and vacations often get in the way. “That certainly made my job tough to find playing time for everyone,” Jones said. “We even had to order a bunch of new uniforms just to make sure everyone had one, which never happens. You could see that the numbers of participants was up league-wide this year.”

Jim Maloney led the team with a .448 average, followed by Mark Provost at .373. Jones (.333), Mark Potter (.318) and Jered Stewart (.318) rounded out the top five. The pitching staff was well rounded ‑ Judd Funchion (four wins), Mike Drinkwater (three), Jeff Jensen (three), Jon Jackson (three), Luke Painchaud (three) accounted for most of the team’s wins.
Funchion and Jackson had playoff wins over first-place Ipswich. The Generals were seeded fourth. Jackson led the team in earned-run average (3.29) followed by Painchaud (3.92).

“We were fortunate to bolster up our pitching staff this year, which was paramount to returning to the finals again this year,” Jones said. “Being able to spread out the innings really gave us a lot of options as a team this year. We weren’t dependent on two guys to pitch all the innings.”

In the end, the Generals ran out of answers at the plate. “In the finals we just got outplayed by the smallest of margins, but that made all the difference,” Jones said. “The two teams were evenly matched, but we just couldn’t seem to get the big hits to put us over the top. The team is already looking forward to next year, and everyone wants to return. We’ll all have one more year of experience that we hope to use to push us that one extra step to win it all.”

Leading Men

Leading Men: Mariners take 2-0 Lead in ITL Championship Series
By Jason Brisbois


Familiarity may not have bred contempt so far in the Intertown Twilight Baseball League’s championship series, but is sure has made for some pretty intense baseball games.

Games one and two of the best-of-five series between the Manchester Essex Mariners and the Hamilton Generals were both won by the Mariners, but by no means was either game in the bag before the final out was called. In fact, Manchester Essex had to rally to come back and win in both games, the first being a 4-2 win at home and the second being a 4-3 victory on the road.

The fact that both games have been dogfights should be no surprise, however. The Mariners and Generals have seen an awful lot of each other lately — both teams closed out their regular seasons with a three-game series against each other after playing each other the week before that. A few games later, and the two are at it again, albeit with bigger stakes involved.

“Guys have them fresh in their minds,” said Manchester Essex player/coach Bryan Lafata of seeing the Generals so much lately. “You can pick up on the other guy’s strengths and weaknesses, their tendencies, as opposed to playing someone the first week of the second half and not seeing them again until the finals. For both teams, it helps, and the scores reflect that. These games are not going to be shootouts unless the pitching or defense falls apart.”

And it’s once again the pitching and defense that have helped to bring the Mariners within one game of the ITL championship. Game three was scheduled for Wednesday night at Essex’s Memorial Field, with the series swinging back to Hamilton on Saturday should the Mariners lose.

“It’s definitely the same story as most of the season,” said Lafata. “Pitching and defense have kept us in it. In both games, we got behind early and came back to win, just like in game three against Rockport. We didn’t let the lead get to us, which is nice to see.”

Steve Stout started game one for the Mariners in Essex on Saturday, and Mike Gibbons was the winner a day later in Hamilton. Both pitchers were able to keep a strong Hamilton lineup in check and keep their team in the game until the end, when Mike Cain came in to pick up the save in both contests.

“Steve Stout was tremendous in game one, and Mike Gibbon was great in Hamilton,” said Lafata. “Both of them were out there in the seventh with the lead, because they kept their pitch counts down. Unfortunately, they couldn’t finish it, and Mike Cain came in during both games and got the save.”

Cain gives the Mariners an advantage few teams have in this league, a bona fide stopper who can throw a multitude of pitches for strikes.

“Mike gives us a luxury not many teams in the past have had,” Lafata said. “Mike pitched in college and he’s had some shoulder and arm problems, so we try to limit his innings. He’s got three or four quality pitches to throw, and it’s fine to have him come out for one inning and throw strikes for us. In this league, you depend too much on the starter, and if he doesn’t have it in the seventh, you win or lose with him.”

Another pitcher who has come through in clutch situations was slated to start on Wednesday: Jack Brancaleone. Brancaleone was on the mound last week when the Mariners clinched the deciding game three of their playoff series against Rockport. It’s just one more advantage the team has after building up momentum in the first two games.

“It’s a lot better being up 2-0 than down 0-2,” said Lafata. “Still, we know in this league it’s still far from over, and if we lose we’re going to have to go to their place, which is never easy.”

Monday, August 18, 2008

ITL In the Late 40's

Below are some news clippings from the Salem Evening News during the late 1940's. Click on the images to enlarge them. If anyone has some ITL pictures or articles they would like to display on this website during the offseason please contact the league at

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sweep Success

Sweep Success

By Nick Curcuru

ESSEX — All season long, the strength of the Manchester Mariners Inter-Town League baseball team was pitching and defense.

As it turned out, pitching and defense not only won them games, it won them a league championship.

Manchester players duck for cover as a bottle of champagne is opened after the Mariners defeated Hamilton, 2-0, in the Inter-Town League finals at Memorial Field. Desi Smith/Gloucester Daily Times

The Mariners completed their three-game sweep with a 2-0 victory over Hamilton yesterday at Memorial Field. Manchester got four complete games in six playoff contests and allowed just three and a half runs a game. Their defense was equally as good, committing just one error in the playoffs.

"This is the way we have won all year, with our pitching and defense," Mariners manager and catcher Bryan Lafata said. "Today was a perfect display of our strengths, we got a great pitching performance, and any balls that were hit hard, our defense made the plays."

Jack Brancaleone picked up the win for the Mariners going the distance and allowing just four hits. The win was Brancaleone's second series-clinching win, he beat Rockport 6-2 to give the Mariners a berth in the finals.

Manchester-Esssex second Basemen Mike MacFarland puts the tag on Mark Potter during last night’s Inter-Town League Finals. Desi Smith/Gloucester Daily Times

Although they were swept, Hamilton made the series a lot closer than it looked. The Generals lost the three games by a total of five runs, and were a hit or two away from winning each game.

"That's the way baseball is," Generals manager and right fielder Tom Jones said. "Some times you catch breaks some times you don't. The fact of the matter is they were a little bit better than we were in every facet of the game, that's why they beat us by a little bit each game. But I'm happy for Manchester, they were the best team all season."

The Mariners looked to be on their way to a big offensive game scoring two runs on six hits in the first two innings. Rory Gentile made it 1-0 Mariners when he came in to score on a fielder's choice. The Mariners looked to add another run on a Nate Bertolino single, but base-runner Joe Orlando was thrown out at home plate on a perfect throw from center fielder Jim Maloney (two hits).

That was all of the scoring the Mariners would get, as Hamilton pitcher John Jackson stymied the offense from there on in. The hard-throwing right-hander retired 10 straight Mariners at one point. Unfortunately for Jackson, Brancleone was equally up to the task.

"The pitching in this series was great," Jones said. "Both teams brought their best and it was fun to watch two good pitching staffs go at it."

The Mariners dedicated their season to assistant coach Jared Knowlton, who passed away earlier this summer. Knowlton, who was a veteran of the league, inspired the team to win.

"We didn't even need to say anything, we all knew Jared motivated each one of us," Lafata said. "We won this for him."

All in all Lafata was glad to win a championship with such a close team. The long time manager said the team's chemistry and love for the game gave them an advantage over any team they played.

"This is a great group of guys," Lafata said. "Everyone came down every night and had fun playing the game. They came together as a team both on and off the field, and now we have a championship to show for it."

Manchester/Essex maintains edge

Manchester/Essex maintains edge

By Dom Nicastro / Correspondent

Hamilton-Wenham -

Both teams are playing good defense. Both are getting solid pitching. And there are some clutch hits on both sides.

The difference in the Intertown League baseball finals so far? Manchester/Essex is slightly better in each of those departments. And that’s why the Mariners lead the best-of-five series, 2-0, with the chance to wrap things up Wednesday night in Essex.

Manchester/Essex owns 4-2 and 4-3 victories. Both games, it shut down last-inning rallies thanks to closing efforts by Mike Cain.

By Staff photographer Mark Teiwes. Hamilton second baseman Justin Tilley and his team have been pushed to the brink of elimination in the ITL finals.

“We're getting most runs via the home run right now, which is great,” said Tom Jones, Hamilton’s player/manager. “But we are going to have to be able to start manufacturing some runs in order to pull out some wins. We can't be dependent on the long ball.”

Jered Stewart and Jim Maloney have been playing well for Hamilton. Maloney had a solo homer and Stewart a two-run homer to pace the Generals’ offense in Game 2.

Bryan Lafata, Manchester/Essex’s player/manager, said his team’s defense has been the difference.

“It’s been tremendous, one of the best I’ve seen,” said the 17-year player. “We’re not hitting a ton.”

Jones agreed.

“They have executed the little plays better than we have,” he said. “If we tighten those things up, we'll have a good chance going forward.”

Down 0-2, Jones said the pressure moves to the Mariners, who have at least three chances to close it out.

“Basically I think at this point all the pressure is on them to close it out,” Jones said. “We are at our most dangerous right now, backs against the wall with nothing to lose. I feel our guys will have the right attitude going into Wednesday’s game. We will be loose and ready to play. Our team has not changed its mindset all season. We have fun and enjoy playing ball with one another. I don't expect that to change. Anything is possible when you take it one game at a time.”

General Concern

General concern: Manchester/Essex push Hamilton to the brink

By Cornelia Wolcott / Correspondent

Hamilton-Wenham -And then there was one. It came down to one game for the Hamilton Inter-town League baseball team Wednesday night as it traveled to Essex to try to avoid elimination in the ITL finals.

The Generals trailed the best-of-five series with Manchester/Essex, 2-0, after they dropped Game 1 (4-2) in Essex and Game 2 (4-3) in Hamilton.

The following is a recap of each game:
Game 1: Mariners draw first blood

Steve Stout got the win and Mike Cain earned the save. Jeff Jensen pitched well for the Generals, going five-plus innings in a losing effort.

The Generals got on the board first in the top of the third inning. Jered Stewart broke the ice with a one-out solo home run to left. The Generals then worked the bases loaded and got a sacrifice fly from Judd Funchion making the score 2-0.

The Generals made Stout work on the mound all day, but he seemed to always find the answers and get out of some tough jams.

The Mariners got one back in the bottom of the third to cut the lead in half. Bryan Lafata tied the score with an RBI single.

The score stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth inning. After the first two batters reached, Jensen gave way to Mike Drinkwater on the mound.

With the bases loaded and no outs the Generals found themselves in a tight spot. Drinkwater got a pop fly out, and then served up a slow roller to short.

Mahi was able to beat the throw at first after the Generals got the force-out at second. The play scored a run on the back end, and extended the inning for the Mariners. Whit Graham followed with a double that plated one more making the score 4-2 Mariners.

In the seventh Jim Maloney led off with a single. Stout then left the game for Cain, who got the next two batters out.

Back-to-back walks loaded the bases with two outs. On a full count Cain got Tom Jones to strike out earning the save and sealing the win for the Mariners.

The Generals had their chances but couldn't capitalize against the clutch pitching of the Mariners.

Game 2: Manchester holds on again

Mike Gibbon beat the Generals this time, 4-3. He topped Hamilton’s Judd Funchion.

Another Lafata RBI (sacrifice fly, scoring Cain) for the Mariners going.

Ty Haskell’s double scored Nate Bertolino (single). Haskell scored on a wild pitch to cap off the Mariners scoring.

Stewart’s two-run homer made things interesting in the sixth, but again Cain came in and slammed the door shut in the seventh.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On Fire

On fire: Volunteer firefighters Tilley, Painchaud burn up the basepaths in the ITL

By Dom Nicastro / Correspondent

Hamilton - One minute, Justin Tilley and Andre Painchaud are on Vitale Field at Patton Park, helping Hamilton’s Intertown Baseball League team beat Topsfield.

The next, they’re in Painchaud’s black Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, bombing out of Patton Park and over to the town’s fire station across the street. They finished that night battling flames at the Indigo Bar & Grill in South Hamilton.

Such is life for Hamilton’s firefighters/adult-league baseball players. Their eyes glued to the baseball, their ears close to their radios on the bench.

Tilley, 24, and Painchaud, 23, both Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School graduates, spent this summer ready to hit curveballs and anything else thrown at them as young firefighters for Hamilton’s volunteer department.

“It’s just like baseball,” Painchaud said about being prepared as a firefighter. “You have to be on top of your game. You can’t have an 0-for-4 day fighting a fire or you’re going to get yourself or your guys killed.”

Hamilton helpers

The ITL baseball season certainly isn’t life or death. Nevertheless, Tilley and Painchaud certainly did their parts to help Hamilton to a fourth-place finish and a spot in the playoffs. The Generals beat first-place Ipswich, 6-2, Monday night in the opening round of the four-team playoff. (Game 2, played in Hamilton Tuesday night, finished after press time).

Tom Jones, Hamilton’s player/manager, said each of the firefighters plays just about every position. He called them “two of the team's most versatile players.”

Painchaud worked his way into the every-day lineup at first base, “becoming one of the best in the league in my opinion,” Jones said.

He had two hits and two RBI against Ipswich Monday.

“Not only does he help out all our infielders at first, he can bat anywhere in the lineup,” Jones added. “When people are away on vacation or just missing games I can insert Andre anywhere in the lineup without complaint. It is not easy to switch around as often as he does, but he takes every opportunity to perform his best and help the team in anyway he can.”

Tilley is a defensive standout who perhaps excels in the middle infield, Jones said.

“Justin is a great teammate and has a great attitude about baseball that rubs off on everyone,” Jones said. “Justin shows up most days probably not knowing exactly where he will be in the lineup, but he has the ability to go with the flow and contribute to the team in many different ways. A player like Justin is invaluable to our team, and I think all his teammates realize all that he brings to the table. A player like him is rare in the league. I bet all the other teams wish they had someone like him.”

The call to duty

Painchaud pretty much has been with the Hamilton fire department since graduating from high school in 2003. He is one of 34 on-call paid firefighters. He also works full-time in the town’s water department. The department has four full-time firefighters.

Painchaud said he wants to be a full-time firefighter but is waiting for the right time and right place.

For now, he is exactly where we wants to be – fighting fires and helping people get through some of the worst times of their lives. He fought fires at the 2006 Thanksgiving Eve chemical plant explosion that rocked Danvers.

“You almost have to take yourself a step back sometimes,” Painchaud said. “You’re running into a house, and people’s whole lives are going up in flames. At the chemical plant, people are running around like crazy. Their house just blew up, and you do what you have to do. If they want to talk to you, you talk to them.”

Tilley came on later than his firefighting partner did. He started early last year after going to college and finding nothing “I was passionate about.”

“I wanted to find something I wanted to do, and that’s being a firefighter,” Tilley said.

Tilley actually has a spot as a full-time firefighter this summer. Otherwise, he paints and is on-call. He took the state civil service exam and is anxious to find a permanent full-time position.

“The satisfaction in this job is when everybody from the firefighters to the people returns home safe,” Tilley said. “When you see the looks on peoples’ faces when you’ve done something for them, that’s priceless.”

Dan Parsons, Hamilton’s deputy chief firefighter, said the pair is a welcome addition to the staff. A 23-year firefighter, Parsons said the first few years are crucial for a firefighter; Painchaud and Tilley adapted just fine, he said.

“They’re great firefighters,” Parsons said. “They’re always willing to learn and are not afraid of anything.”

Such as leaving Vitale Field and getting into Painchaud’s Silverado for a date with flames.

“Your heart is just racing at a time like that,” Tilley said. “You’re thinking about what you have to do when you get there. It’s crazy. There’s nothing like it.”

Mariners Take Game 2

Manchester takes commanding series lead over Hamilton

By Nick Curcuru

HAMILTON ­— Nothing comes easy in the Inter-Town League finals.

That's what Manchester Mariners manager and designated hitter Bryan Lafata said after Game 2 of the league championship against Hamilton last night.

Manchester has played Hamilton four times this season and every game but one was decided by two runs or less. There was no bucking the trend yesterday as the Mariners squeaked out a 4-3 win over the Generals at Patton Park. With the win, the Mariners take a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-three series, and can clinch the championship with a win in game three on Wednesday (5:30 p.m., Memorial Field, Essex). Manchester took game one from the Generals 4-2 on Saturday.

"Every time we play (Hamilton) it goes right down to the wire," Lafata said. "It was no different (yesterday) and I expect it to be no different for the rest of the series. Fortunately we were able to get one more runner home."

Hamilton manager and right fielder Tom Jones echoed Lafata's sentiment.

"It was anyone's game, just like it is every time we play," Jones said. "We are in a hole now, but the pressure in on them to finish us off. We will be pretty loose come Wednesday."

Mariners pitcher Mike Gibbon picked up the win, out-dueling Generals hurler Judd Funchion. Both pitchers contained the opposing offense while dealing with constant rain, which resulted in two weather delays.

"Gibbon and Funchion both pitched great," Lafata said. "Mike got up in the count again and wasn't afraid to use his defense."

Knotted at one heading in to the fifth, the Mariners took the lead when Lafata drove in Mike Cain (walk) with a sacrifice fly. The Mariners took a 4-1 lead in the sixth when Ty Haskell doubled in Nate Bertolino, who reached on a single. Haskell would come in to score later in the inning on a wild pitch.

Gripping the wet baseball appeared to be a problem for Funchion in the later innings, a problem that the Mariners took advantage of. Even though the slippery ball appeared to lead to the eventual winning run for the Mariners, Jones down played the situation.

"Both teams had to deal with the rain," Jones said. "They were throwing a wet ball too. They did benefit from wild pitches but that wasn't the difference in the game."

Just when it appeared that the Generals were out, they answered back plating two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a Jared Stewart two run home run. Hamilton put the lead runner on base in the seventh, but relief pitcher Cain was able to get a double play and a ground out to end the game.

Up 2-0 in the series, Manchester is hoping to bring home the championship on Wednesday.

"Hopefully we will be able to close it out at home," Lafata said. "We don't want to let these guys hang around because they are a dangerous team. Plus they have a deep pitching staff so we know we will have to work for our runs again on Wednesday."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mariners Draw First Blood, Take Game 1 4-2

Stout got the win and Cain earned the save as the Manchester/Essex Mariners took game 1 of the ITL Finals. Jeff Jensen pitched well for the Generals going 5+ innings in a losing effort. The teams meet again tomorrow afternoon at Patton Park in Hamilton, 4pm start.

The Generals got on the board first in the top of the third inning. Jered Stewart broke the ice with a one out solo HR to left. The Generals then worked the bases loaded and got a sacrifice fly from Judd Funchion making the score 2-0. The Generals made Stout work on the mound all day but he seemed to always find the answers and get out of some tough jams.

The Mariners got one back in the bottom of the third to cut the lead in half. Bryan Lafata tied the score with an RBI single. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the sixth inning. After the first two batters reached, Jensen gave way to Drinkwater on the mound. With the bases loaded and no outs the Generals found themselves in a tight spot. Drinkwater got a pop fly out, then served up a slow roller to short. Quick throw to second for one but Mahi was able to beat the throw at first. The play scored a run on the back end, and extended the inning for the Mariners. Graham followed with a double that plated one more making the score 4-2 Mariners.

In the seventh Maloney led off with a single. Stout then left the game for Cain. Cain got the next two batters out. Back to back walks loaded the bases with 2-out. On a full count Cain got Jones to strike out earning the save and sealing the win for the Mariners. The Generals had their chances but couldn't capitalize against the clutch pitching of the Mariners.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Series Preview

The Mariners and Generals split the season series 2-2 that included a three game final week. Catch the recaps below, and if they are any indication this match up should make for an exciting series. Game 1 is scheduled for a 4pm start in Essex on Saturday.

Mariners Nip Generals in Squeaker, 2-1

Generals Over Mariners 10-7 in Extra Innings

Generals 7, Mariners 2

Mariners All Over Generals 15-3

Recent Finals History

1998 Manchester vs. Rockport
1999 Rockport vs. Manchester
2000 Manchester vs. Rockport
2001 Rockport vs. Manchester
2002 Rockport vs. Ipswich
2003 Ipswich vs. Rockport
2004 Manchester-Essex vs. Rockport
2005 Rockport vs. Ipswich
2006 Rockport vs. Ipswich
2007 Rockport vs. Hamilton
2008 Manchester/Essex vs. Hamilton

Mariners Move On...

Manchester moves on Manchester knocks off defending champ Rockport, headed to finals

By Nick Curcuru

ESSEX — For the first time in four seasons, the Inter-Town Baseball League will have a new champion. The three-time defending champion Rockport Townies saw their bid for a fourth straight championship come to an end at the hands of the Manchester Mariners. Manchester knocked off Rockport, 6-2, at Memorial Field In Essex to take the best-of-three playoff series 2-1. With the win, Manchester will face Hamilton in the finals starting tomorrow (4 p.m. Memorial Field).

"This was a great win," Mariners catcher Bryan Lafata said. "It wasn't pretty but it worked. We showed a lot of heart and we put it all together when we needed to most."

With the loss, the Townies failed to make the finals for the first time in 10 years, Rockport would go on to win six championships in that span. Although the team didn't reach their goal, Rockport catcher Jeremy Spittle said the team put together a great run.

"It was one heck of a run we went on," Spittle said. "And I have no reason to believe that this team won't be back. This is just a bump in the road, we will be back and re-tooled next season."

Trailing 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, Manchester took the lead for good, plating four runs. Rockport pitcher Brent Currier was in control when everything came apart, as three of the four runs were unearned.

Manchester made it 2-1 when Nate Bertolino (3 RBI) drove in Rory Gentile (single), with a sacrifice fly. The Mariners tied up the score two batters later when Joe Orlando (two hits) came in to score on a fielding error. The Mariners would add two more runs in the inning when Lafata came in to score on an infield single, and Ty Haskell scored when Dylan Maki was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The Mariners added two more runs in the sixth to put the game away.

"We let this one get away," Spittle said. "Brent (Currier) was in control and made some great pitches in the fifth. They just hit the ball where we weren't and we didn't make the plays in front of us. It's tough to swallow but it's a part of the game, they beat us."

Jack Brancaleone picked up the win for the Mariners going the distance and allowing two runs on seven hits. Lafata was hoping to get a couple of innings out of Brancaleone, but he kept getting stronger as the game went along picking up the third straight complete game for a Mariners pitcher in the series.

"Jack pitched great," Lafata said. "He made a couple of mistakes early but he got stronger as the game went on. He did a great job getting ahead in the count and keeping (Rockport) on the defensive."

Manchester will now turn their focus to Hamilton, which fell to Rockport in the finals last season and took two of its three meetings with the Mariners this season.

Lafata stressed that his team needs to bring the same focus that helped them get by Rockport.

"Hamilton will be a tough series," Lafata said. "They are a smart, solid team. We have to stay focused like we have been. (Tomorrow) starts a whole new series and we are going to take it one game at a time."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Top-seeded Chiefs ousted by Hamilton in first round

Top-seeded Chiefs ousted by Hamilton in first round
By Joshua Boyd

Ipswich - When it all comes down to it, first place in the Intertown Twilight League guarantees you one home game in the playoffs.

That is all that is guaranteed, as you have to win at least two games to stay alive in the tournament to see any more benefits from the regular season championship. The Chiefs could not do that, as they lost to the Hamilton Generals in two straight games to get bounced from the Intertown Twilight League playoffs.

Following the team’s 7-2 loss to Hamilton to open up the Intertown Twilight League playoffs on Aug. 4, the Chiefs’ player-manager David Shoreman wasn’t too enthusiastic about first place anymore. That was especially true when they lost the next night, 3-0, to get bounced from the playoffs.

“Right now, it’s irrelevant,” he said. “We fought hard all year, but the same thing is happening this year that happened last year — finish first, then come into the playoffs a little flat.”

Indeed, the Chiefs did finish up with a 15-7-1 record. To show how strong a finish they had, consider that after their June 22 game, they were just 3-5-1 at the time.

“We’ve been coming on so hard for the past month, losing just once in a month. We need to be grounded, we need to come in with a chip on our shoulder and be ready to play,” said Shoreman.

“This is the second year in a row being knocked out in the first round after finishing first in the regular season,” said teammate Chris Lane.

Lane pitched the second game on Aug. 5 against Hamilton, giving up four hits and three runs (just one earned, a solo homerun in the fifth inning).

Matt Lane and Travis Doty had the only Ipswich hits until the seventh inning, when the Chiefs loaded the bases, but stranded all runners.

Two misplayed balls in the third inning led to the other two runs that Hamilton put up, outscoring Ipswich 10-2 in the two games.

“Overall, it’s a tough loss to swallow. But when you look at what we accomplished over the last month or so, it’s pretty remarkable,” said Lane. “We lost one game to finish the regular season. We had one loss to Rockport and won every other game we played, and eventually went from sixth place to first. We came up short this year, but we are already talking about next year and what we need to do to get better.”

To start off the Aug. 4 match-up, Jim Maloney (2-5, RBI, stolen base) led off the game with a double down the right field line. With two on and two out, Andre Painchaud (2-4, two RBIs) delivered a two-run single, putting the Generals ahead with the Chiefs coming to bat.

Ipswich battled right back, as Anthony Hernandez nailed a double to right field, bringing in Ipswich’s lead-off man Rick Sotiropoulos, who had been hit by a pitch by Jon Jackson.

In the top of the second, Shoreman stranded three runners on base, but Hamilton would rise again. Not before Shoreman would knock a home run against the back of the Little League scoreboard in the top of the third, though.

“The homerun was nice. I was hoping it would bring a little life back to us, put us on a roll a little bit” said Shoreman, whose solo homer tied the game going into the top of the fourth inning. “We put two quick ones on them, but we couldn’t close them out from there.”

And, of course, Mark Provost tagged the Chiefs with a two-run homer of his own in the top of the fourth, to put Hamilton up 4-2.

Hamilton kept rolling from there, adding two more runs in the fifth inning. Mark Potter and Maloney picked up RBI singles in that inning. It would’ve been 7-2 right there, but Sotiropoulos tagged out Reggie Maidment at home plate.

However, in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, the Chiefs only sent three batters to the plate. Potter’s seventh-inning double to score Andre Painchaud for the final, decisive run.

“They can hit the ball,” said Shoreman, the pitcher of record, helped out by closer David Doucette. “I tip my hat, they did a good job. I put them on base a couple too many times and they took advantage of it. I didn’t do good enough job holding runners on, and they took advantage of it. Other than that, they put the ball where we weren’t. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.”

This year, Lane said, the Chiefs had quite a few additions that helped mold the Chiefs.

“Kevin Michael really stepped up and proved himself. Zach Graves was a solid role player, and Mike Blaise, who caught for us as well, brought his veteran status and experience to the club,” Lane added.

Every player, though, has to bring his game face in order to earn wins.

“You’ve got to come ready to play,” he added. “Otherwise, it’s a long eight months [until the next season].”

Game 3 Tonight (8/7/08)

The decisive game 3 between the Manchester/Essex Mariners and the Rockport Townies will be tonight at Memorial Field in Essex. The game starts at 5:30pm and the winner will move on to face the Hamilton Generals in the ITL Finals. Please come support the teams and the league as this should be an exciting game, adding to an already terrific ITL season.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Funchion, Generals Sweep Chiefs

Judd Funchion pitched a complete game shutout, clinching the series for the Generals and sending them to the league finals for the second straight year. Funchion gave up only 4 hits and one BB on the day. The Chiefs couldn't really get anything started off the Hamilton pitcher as Funchion was able to retire the first batter of every inning except one. He really kept the pressure on the visiting Chiefs all night long.

Chris Lane was equally stingy for the Chiefs. He allowed only five hits on the day. The Generals were able to manufacture a two run rally and got a solo HR late in the game to earn the victory. Lane was great but ultimately was charged with the loss.

With no score heading into the bottom of the third Reggie Maidment was able to reach base on an HBP with one out. After a stolen base, Jim Maloney delivered a double just out of reach of the Ipswich right fielder. Maidment advanced to third on the play. With 2nd and 3rd and 1-out, Mark Provost was able to bring home Maidment and advance Maloney with an RBI sac-fly. Jered Stewart got a big 2-out RBI single to make the score 2-0. In the fifth inning, Maloney hit a 2-out solo HR pushing the score to 3-0.

With a 3 run lead and Funchion cruising on the mound things looked good for the Generals. However, in the seventh the Chiefs made a comeback bid. Dylan Durning led off the the 7th with a single, the first leadoff man to reach for the Chiefs. Following the single came an out, error and another single from Montecalvo.

With the bases loaded, go ahead run coming to the plate, and only one out, Funchion found himself in a bit of a jam. Funchion settled down and got the next batter on a strikeout and then Potter and Tilley combined for a nice play up the middle to get the force at second to end the game.

The Generals will now face the winner of Thursday night's game 3 between the Mariners and Townies in the ITL Finals (5:30pm start @ Essex). The Generals made their first trip to the finals since 1991 last season, but advance for the second year in a row in 2008.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mariners hold off Townies, 7-5

Mariners hold off Townies, 7-5 (From Gloucester Times)

By Nick Curcuru

ROCKPORT — It's a one game season now.

That's what Manchester Mariners third baseman and manager Bryan Lafata said after his team's 7-5 victory over Rockport in game two of their Inter-Town League playoff series. The Mariners win tied the best-of-three series at one, forcing a do or die situation for both teams in tomorrow's decisive game three in Essex (5:30 p.m., Memorial Field).

"It all comes down to Thursday," Lafata said. "Our bats came out today and we got great pitching and defense. We need more of that (tomorrow)."

Manchester appeared to be cruising to an easy victory with a 7-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh when the Townies mounted a furious comeback. Rockport plated four runs on six hits, and even had the potential tying run in scoring position. Mariners pitcher Mike Gibbon was able to force a fly out to end the game.

Despite the loss, the Townies built up a little confidence from their near rally.

"It was almost a great comeback," Rockport left fielder Tom Robertson said. "That last inning gives us some confidence heading into game three. We are great playing from behind but we fell just short tonight. But that's why we play three games."

The Mariners got on the board first with a run in the first inning when Joe Orlando singled in Rory Gentile who reached on a single. Rockport, however, would come right back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning when Mike Anderson came in to score on a fielding error.

Rockport loaded the bases with nobody out in the inning, but Gibbon was able to pitch out of the jam allowing just one unearned run. The tall lefty kept the momentum going the rest of the game allowing only one more hit in the next five innings and retiring 11 straight Townies at one point.

Manchester would take control of the game with a run in the third and fourth inning. They gave themselves an even bigger cushion with three more runs in the sixth. Whit Graham gave Manchester a 4-1 lead when he drove in Ty Haskell (who singled) with a sacrifice fly.

Nate Bertolino increased the lead to 6-1 later in the inning when he singled in Ian Buckley who reached on an error and Mike Cain who singled. The Mariners would add one more important run in the seventh on a Kyle Hildebrand homer.

The Mariners had four players with two hits and three players (Orlando, Bertolino and Graham) with two runs batted in.

Lafata was very pleased with the team's 12 hit performance.

"The bats really came out tonight," Lafata said. "Our team is built around pitching and defense, which was good as usual, but any time we score a lot of runs we are in good shape."

Robertson on the other hand is hoping the Townies will get their offense going a little earlier in game three.

"We didn't show up until the end tonight," Robertson said. "If we want to win we need to score more runs early in the game. We have a great offense and if anybody can get it done we can."

Rockport 7 Manchester 4

Rockport took game one by a score of 7-4. The Townies were paced by Adam Orlando who went the distance on the hill and contributed two homes runs and 3 runs scored. Steve Stout took the loss for the Mariners.

Game 2 is tonight in Rockport.

Rockport takes Game 1 over Manchester (From Gloucester Times)

By Nick Curcuru

ESSEX — When playoff time comes around in the Inter-Town Baseball League, there is always one constant - The Rockport Townies are going to make a splash.

Having won three straight league championships, the Townies began their quest for a fourth in their first round match up with Manchester yesterday at Memorial Field in Essex. Rockport could not have asked for a better start to their playoff series ripping 15 hits in a 7-4 win over the Mariners in Game 1 of a best-of-three series.

Adam Orlando picked up the win for Rockport going the distance allowing four runs on seven hits. The hard throwing righty was also a force at the plate going 3 for 4 with two solo home runs and three runs scored. Orlando admitted that the Townies pick up the intensity come playoff time.

"It's the playoffs now so everybody comes to play ball," Orlando said. "We always seem to get into a groove this time of year."

Manchester second baseman Nate Bertolino could only tip his cap to the victors.

"It's tough to win when Adam (Orlando) is pitching the way he did tonight," Bertolino said. "We only had seven hits and he really kept us off balance. We need to hit better if we want to make this a series."

The Mariners opened up the scoring in the bottom of the second inning on a solo home run by Bertolino down the left field line. Manchester pitcher Steve Stout would keep the Townies bats at bay until the fourth inning, when Rockport was finally able to get on the board when Marc Bouchie (3 for 4) doubled in Orlando, who reached on a single.

Stout held the powerful Rockport lineup to just one run through five innings, drawing praise from Orlando.

"Stout pitched a great game," Orlando said. "He really gave us trouble early on. It was a pitcher's duel for a while."

The Townies offense, however, would wake up in the sixth inning, plating four runs on four hits. Orlando made it 2-1 Rockport when he homered to left-center field. Chris Bouchie (two hits) gave the Townies an insurance run when he beat a throw to home plate on a ground ball in the infield. Matt Ayer (two hits) and Marc Bouchie add two more runs on bases loaded walks to give Rockport a 5-1 lead.

Rockport added two more runs in the seventh to take a 7-2 lead going into the bottom half of the inning. Mariners right fielder Joe Orlando (two hits) cut the Townies lead to three when he homered to right-center, but it was too late as Adam Orlando would get the next batter to fly out to end the game.

With the win the Townies take a 1-0 lead in the series, they will move on to the finals with a win in game two tonight in Rockport (6 p.m, Evans Field). Orlando says his team needs to keep up the focus and momentum to advance.

"We need another performance like tonight's," Orlando said. "We have to keep hitting and playing defense, if we do that we will be alright."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Generals Take Game 1 Over Chiefs, 7-2

The Generals got a great pitching performance from Jon Jackson and a consistent attack on offense to take game 1 of the best of 3 series against the Ipswich Chiefs. Jackson pitched a complete game, surrendering only 4 hits and allowing 2 runs. Dave Shoreman got the ball for the Chiefs, went 5 innings, but was charged with the loss. Game 2 will be tomorrow night in Hamilton at Patton Park, 5:30pm start time.

Jim Maloney (2-5, RBI, SB) led off the game with a double down the right field line. With two on and 2-out, Andre Painchaud (2-4, 2RBI) delivered a 2-RBI single putting the Generals ahead with the Chiefs coming to bat. In the bottom of the 1st Ipswich struck back with 1 run on a Hernandez RBI double.

The score stayed 2-1 until the bottom of the third inning when Shoreman was able to deliver a lead-off HR that ricocheted off the little league scoreboard in deep left. The blast tied the game at 2. The Generals were able to put together two mini rallies over the next two innings to take the lead.

Provost hit a monster 2-run HR in the fourth while Potter (3-4, 2B, 2RBI, SB, 2R) and Maloney added RBI hits in the fifth to push the score to 6-2. Potter got another RBI single in the seventh to end the scoring. Jackson took care of the rest as he seemed to get stronger as the game went on. He was able to retire the last 15 batters in a row. Shoreman's HR in the third was the last player to reach base for the Chiefs. The two teams battle again Tuesday night @ Patton with the Chiefs looking to force a game 3 back in Ipswich. We hope to see you there!

Playoff Game Changes

With yesterday's cancellation and Wednesday's terrible weather forecast there are a few changes to the playoff schedule. Please take note of the most updated schedule below.

(1) Ipswich Chiefs Vs. (4) Hamilton Generals

Game 1: Monday, August 4th 5:30pm @ Ipswich
Game 2: Tuesday, August 5th 5:30pm @ Patton Park
Game 3: Thursday, August 7th 5:30pm @ Ipswich

(2) Manchester/Essex Mariners Vs. (3) Rockport Townies

Game 1: Monday, August 4th 5:30pm @ Essex
Game 2: Tuesday, August 5th 6pm @ Rockport
Game 3: Thursday, August 7th 5:30pm @ Essex

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Game 1 Canceled

Tonight's game 1 playoff game between Hamilton and Ipswich has been canceled. It will be pushed back until tomorrow (Monday 8/4), still to be played in Ipswich. Game 2 will be @ Patton Park on Tues. night, Game 3 will be on Thursday back in Ipswich.

Brent Currier Wins 3rd ITL HR Derby

Brent Currier of the Rockport Townies was able to defeat M/E Mariners' Nate Bertolino in the derby finals 4-3. Currier hit a 3-round total of 15 HR's, two short of the Derby record. Overall, 32 players made up the field with Currier able to take home the crown.

All ITL teams were represented in the 3rd annual ITL Home Run Derby. 32 current players rounded out the field vying for the Leo J. Marino Trophy. After a slow start in round 1 the field quickly was reduced to 5 players to start round 2. Brent Currier, Nate Bertolino, Rory Gentile, Jered Stewart, & Rick Sotoropolous all made it to round 2.

Round 2 saw many willow tree and pond shots with Bertolino, Currier, & Stewart doing most of the damage. When the dust settled, Bertolino's 7 and Currier's 6 round two HR's put them in the finals.

Bertolino up first, was able to hit 3 more in the finals. Currier matched that plus one more to take the title. Bryan Lafata earned MVP honors for the day as he pitched to what seemed to be half the field, including both finalists.