Archive - Sports Article
August 25th, 2011
FOXBORO, Mass. â€” Even Bill Belichick knows that training camp is a grind.
On Wednesday night, the Patriots coach treated his players to a viewing of â€śThe Fighter,â€ť the critically acclaimed 2010 film that tells the inspiring real-life story of boxer Micky Ward, a native of Lowell, Mass.
The Patriots were joined by Ward himself for the show, which was held at the theater inside Gillette Stadium typically utilized for film sessions.
PAWTUCKET --- The last memory Shea High soccer fans have of last yearâ€™s magnificent season was a cruel, unpleasant one.
It was on a cold November night at Rhode Island College, and Shea had just suffered a 2-1 loss to Barrington High in the Division I championship game. It was a duel that saw Shea allow a couple of easy goals in the opening half and come very close to tying the score on a few occasions during the second half.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Former Pawtucket resident Mason Williams is finishing up an excellent first season in the New York Yankeesâ€™ farm system.
Mason, son of ex-Patriots wide receiver Derwin Williams, is batting a league-leading .353 for the Staten Island Yankees team that plays in the Class A New York/Penn League. A fourth-round draft pick in 2010, Williams just turned 20 years old on Sunday. He has been ranked the No. 6 prospect in New Yorkâ€™s farm system by the River Avenue Blues website.
The Williams family lived in Pawtucket for around 10 years until moving to Florida in 2004.
PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler got me thinking the other day when he was asked about the â€śhypeâ€ť surrounding new third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who at the time had gone 0-for-11 in his first three games for Pawtucket after hitting .302 for Class AA Portland with 18 home runs.
Cumberland High coach Tom Kenwood consistently has had top-level squads over his nearly two-decade career heading the boysâ€™ cross-country program.
With several key runners back this fall, including outstanding junior Trevor Crawley, this fallâ€™s team may be among his best.
Kenwood lists Chariho Regional, Bishop Hendricken and La Salle Academy as the schools that will more than likely be battling it out for team supremacy, but he ranks his Clippers right there in the upper-echelon of finishers at the state championships in early November.
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. â€” They might not have won the Little League World Series championship, but the Cumberland American Little League all-stars proved one last time on Tuesday afternoon why they are champions.
Connor Mastin, Max Hanuschak and Conor Lavallee delivered clutch sixth-inning hits and Colin Cannata scored the winning run on an error as Cumberland roared back from a four-run, sixth-inning deficit to edge Rotterdam, Netherlands, 8-7, in a consolation game at Lamade Stadium.
Chris Costantino made sure not leave any traces of doubt.
Thanks to a strong showing this with the Laconia (N.H.) Muskrats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, any and all speculation the St. Louis Cardinals had in the 19-year-old Lincoln native fell by the waste side. The fact-finding mission might have encompassed much of the summer, but the Cardinals realized that Costantinoâ€™s talents exceeded those of a typical 43rd round selection, which is where he emerged during this past Juneâ€™s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
PAWTUCKET â€” Will Middlebrooks was sitting at his locker stall in the PawSox clubhouse Monday afternoon when Chili Davis dropped by. Naturally the discussion between the prized newcomer and the first-year hitting coach focused on the rough Triple-A start Middlebrooks had gotten off to, one that included six strikeouts and 11 hitless at-bats.
Whatever words of reassurance Davis bestowed upon Middlebrooks seemed to click as the young third baseman went out and collected his first two hits in a PawSox uniform.
What exactly did Davis say to Middlebrooks?
PAWTUCKET â€“ Pawtucket Red Sox manager Arnie Beyeler had only request of his starting pitcher Monday night â€“ pitch deep into the game.
Tony Pena Jr. heeded the wishes of his skipper, the right-hander tossing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball Monday night as Pawtucket held on for a 3-2 win against Syracuse. The victory enables the PawSox to move into sole possession of first place in the I.L. North after Lehigh Valley was shut out by Indianapolis, 2-0.
For the 11 high school teams in the Blackstone Valley, as well as the others from across the state, the road to postseason glory in December started last week during workouts on hot mid-August mornings and afternoons that were better suited for spending on a beach.
And while the ultimate goal of every team is to reach the Super Bowl in their respective divisions, two teams from the area, Woonsocket and Tolman, are hoping to get back to the championship game.
PAWTUCKET â€“ Luis Exposito finally heard the words heâ€™s longed to hear â€“ the catching responsibilities for the Pawtucket Red Sox are his and his alone.
No longer is Exposito subjected to a strict platoon partnership, one that can test even the most patient of souls. Thanks to Ryan Lavarnwayâ€™s promotion to Boston and the Red Sox shipping off prospect Tim Federowicz at the July 31 trade deadline, the 24-year-old Exposito holds the title as the primary backstop.
Naturally, PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler wasted little time in delivering the message to Exposito.
PAWTUCKET â€” Odds are good that the Pawtucket Red Sox will secure a berth in the International League playoffs before the regular season ends on Sept. 5. The PawSox and Lehigh Valley are locked in a virtual dead heat for first place in the I.L. North standings.
Pawtucket also owns a 3-game bulge on Gwinnett, which is the closest wild-card contender to the two North leaders.
Making the tough call goes with the territory of being a baseball general manager, knowing full well that rosters arenâ€™t built on favoritism. The never-ending quest to explore every imaginable avenue in search of talent is one that canâ€™t be entered into lightly for fear of making a decision that comes back to haunt the ballclub.
With that as the backdrop, Theo Epsteinâ€™s evaluating glasses figure to get plenty of usage as the Boston G.M. spends the 2012 season drawing conclusions regarding the decisions to be made relating to the teamâ€™s long-term answer at third base.
LINCOLN â€“ Just up the road from Lincoln High School is Kirkbrae Country Club, a private golf course measuring 6,549 yards from the back tees that plays to a par of 71 (and 74 for the women).
Kirkbrae has been home to many great players since its inception back in 1960. Several of its members have captured the R.I. Amateur championship, including Marc St. Martin (1976, 1984, 1988), Mark Zyons (1985) and Tom McCormick (2005).
Ed Kirby, a Cumberland High grad who turned professional in the mid-1980s, owns the course record of 63.
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Following Fridayâ€™s opening Little League World Series loss, Cumberland American manager Dave Belisle promised his team would play better Saturday against home-town favorite Clinton County, Pa.
He was right. But it was not enough to save Cumberlandâ€™s historic season.
Christopher Wright pitched 4 2/3 brilliant innings of six-hit baseball and repeatedly threw well under pressure Saturday night at Lamade Stadium, but Pennsylvania pitcher Alex Garbrick and Tyler McCloskey stymied Cumberland, combining on a three-hit as Cumberland lost, 2-0.
When the wave of transactions swept through Gillette Stadium at the start of training camp, two names expectedly stood out among the rest.
Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco.
The former, no stranger to controversy on and off the field, has not practiced since Aug. 4 because of an undisclosed injury. The latter, his first-quarter touchdown in the Patriotsâ€™ 31-14 preseason win over the Buccaneers on Thursday notwithstanding, continues to build a rapport with Tom Brady.
I foresee another New England newcomer having a more immediate impact than both Haynesworth and Ochocinco.
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. â€” The Cumberland American Little League all-stars have made comebacks a summer-long staple.
Now they hope to stage their best comeback yet.
Braydon Salzman, Nick Pratto and Ryo Takada combined on a three-hit shutout and the offense produced up and down the lineup as California blanked Cumberland, 11-0 Friday at Lamade Stadium in Cumberlandâ€™s Little League World Series debut. The West champions, unbeaten this summer, move into Sundayâ€™s winner bracket to meet either Clinton County, Pa. or La Grange, Ken.
PAWTUCKET â€” The PawSox locker room has looked like a bus station this week, with players coming down I-95 from Portland or heading to Boston.
Fridayâ€™s transit report led with the news of third baseman Will Middlebrooksâ€™s promotion to Pawtucket from Portland. Middlebrooks effectively replaces Ryan Lavarnway, who joined Bostonâ€™s lineup on Thursday.
PAWTUCKET â€“ The Pawtucket Red Sox keep finding ways to win games, even as their 24-man playing roster is adjusted seemingly every day according to organizational needs.
On Friday night, Pawtucket gained a split of its four-game series with Columbus as new addition Greg Smith hurled one-run baseball over seven innings during a 7-1 victory. Smith had been released by Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last week after compiling a 3-3 mark in 13 games for the Yankees.
As the players and coaches in the Cumberland American camp discovered this week, thereâ€™s nothing little about the Little League World Series.
On the surface, competing in this grand spectacle â€“ how else would you describe an event that includes participants hailing from around the country and the world? â€“ can seem overwhelming. ESPN cameras are practically everywhere, which CALL manager Dave Belisle hinted at earlier this week upon stating, â€śAll of the eyes of the world are on Williamsport.â€ť