Friday, August 7, 2009

Ipswich Chiefs baseball squad battles Rockport in semifinals

Chiefs Baseball Squad battle Rockport in Semifinals
By Matt Chambers / Ipswich Chronicle

Ipswich -

The Ipswich Chiefs continued their run of brilliance this past week winning two more games and finishing on an impressive 13-3 run for a 14-10 final record.

The Chiefs never gave up despite a slow start, and they rebounded nicely putting them in a position to seriously contend for the championship.

With their last two wins, the Chiefs locked up the No. 3 seed in the playoffs and were facing Rockport in a best-of-three series as of Aug. 5.

Rockport had the chance to seal the deal on Aug. 5, after winning Game 1, 4-0, on Aug. 4. Should Ipswich have triumphed (check for results), there will be a deciding Game 3 on Friday in Rockport at Evans Field, starting at 5:45 p.m. If not, Rockport moves on to the finals.

With three games to go in the regular season, a playoff bid was very much in doubt for the Chiefs, who just managed to climb above .500 for the first time this season last week.

On Aug. 1, the Chiefs trotted out to take the field against the first place Manchester-Essex Mariners.

The Mariners were no match for the rolling Chiefs, as the Ipswich crew took the 4-2 win behind a strong pitching performance by Dave Doucette.

Doucette went five innings and gave up one run. As player-coach Ryan Montecalvo said, it was the team’s pitching stable that led the way for the turnaround.

“Our pitching has been incredible over this last stretch. They are the main reason we are in this position [i.e., the playoffs],” said Montecalvo.

However, Ricky Sotiropoulos has also contributed greatly to the Chiefs’ success, Sotiropoulos went 2-2 with a double and two RBIs against the Mariners. Tom Radzim also came through with a solo homerun to give the Chiefs some breathing room.

The Chiefs finished strong as Kevin Michael and Dave Shoreman came in and shut the door, keeping the win intact for Doucette.

The Chiefs put the streak on the line again on Aug. 2, facing off against the Rowley Rams for the third time in four games and they continued their recent dominance of the Rams.

The Chiefs won 7-6 in a hotly contested ballgame, as the offense caught fire once again and powered the Chiefs to victory. Starter Dave Shoreman began the game with three scoreless innings, but left the game in the forth inning after sustaining an injury.

Relievers Andy Workman, and Gregg Doucette were able to survive the Rowley rally and although they made it interesting they managed to shut the door. With the win, the Chiefs were able to clinch a playoff berth that at one time seemed to be a mere fantasy.

On Aug. 3, the Chiefs faced off against the Rowley Rams once again, but the last game of the regular season was somewhat of a disappointment.

The Chiefs lost 9-2 in the season finale, but the loss did not hurt the team in the overall standings. They used the game as an opportunity to rest their key players. They escaped without any injuries and that was the biggest bonus of the game. The Chiefs will enter the playoffs rested and healthy, two big components to post-season success.

Kevin Smolla started the last game of the season for the Chiefs and he was knocked around a bit in his four innings of work. Gregg Doucette relieved Smolla and finished off the game.

With the win, Rowley was able to grab the final playoff spot and the Chiefs may face off against the Rams again for the championship.

Regardless of what happened on Aug. 5, Montecalvo was thrilled with the outcome of the season, considering the Chiefs were 1-7 at one point early on.

“These last 16 games have been incredible,” said Montecalvo “Our pitchers really stepped up, especially with so many games in such a short time period.”

The Chiefs are looking to go from worst to first in the span of just one season. They could only hope that the playoffs go as well as those last 16 games.

Playoffs: Game 1

The Rockport Townies defeated the Ipswich Chiefs in Game 1 of the Intertown Twilight League semifinals on Aug. 4 by a score of 4-0. Brent Currier went the distance, striking out two, while scattering four hits and allowing two walks. Currier also was the recipient of two double plays. Rockport scored one run in the third and three in the fourth on some timely hitting. Kevin Michael pitched well in defeat for the Chiefs.