Archive - Sports Article
August 22nd, 2011
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
PAWTUCKET â€“ Alex Wilson is the latest starting pitching prospect to join the Pawtucket Red Sox. Time will tell if the parent club decides to curb his starting duties and relocate him to the bullpen.
For the past several seasons the Red Sox have openly explored the practice of turning starting pitchers into relievers, the switch in mound assignments more often than not taking place at the Triple-A level. In most instances, the reclassification of guys like Michael Bowden reflects the situation in Boston and whether the hole in the bullpen can be fixed by promoting from within.
PAWTUCKET â€“ On a day in which Ryan Lavarnway was likely inundated with congratulatory messages, his college coach had no problem reaching his former pupil.
â€śHe sounded very matter-of-fact,â€ť Yale head coach baseball John Stuper said via cell phone Thursday, the same day Lavarnway made his major-league debut with the Boston Red Sox. â€śHeâ€™s a pro now and I donâ€™t think this was a surprise to him. If anybodyâ€™s earned it he certainly has â€“ not just through hard work but through actual production.â€ť
PAWTUCKET â€“ For a team that has been almost flawless this season, the Columbus Clippers were anything but on Wednesday night.
The Clippers, the top team record-wise in the International League, committed three costly errors that resulted in four unearned runs. Such gift-wrapping tendencies proved to be difference as the Pawtucket Red Sox remain in first place in the I.L. North for another day after posting a 5-2 win before 7,010 at McCoy Stadium.
Pawtucket stands a game up on second-place Lehigh Valley, which defeated Rochester, 3-1.
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. â€“ Dave Belisle has long been a standout hockey coach at Mount St. Charles.
But for the next few days, heâ€™s just a kid again.
The 14 members of the Cumberland American Little League team have carried Belisle on the ride of his life this summer. This week the ride has reached its final destination, the ultimate destination for every Little Leaguer â€“ the Little League World Series. The Series does not only exist on television to these players and coaches anymore. They are here, they are experiencing it and they are enjoying every moment.
Mike Hazenâ€™s role with the Boston Red Sox may have expanded, but make no mistake: heâ€™s still very much in touch with whatâ€™s moving and shaking down on the farm.
Promoted to vice president of player development prior to the season, a position that involves overseeing the minor-league operation and amateur scouting, Hazen spoke Wednesday about some of the storylines that have crept up over the past 4 Â˝ months as they relate to the Pawtucket Red Sox.
PAWTUCKET â€” McCoy Stadium is always a pretty upbeat place. Itâ€™s a standing rule that Pawtucket Red Sox employees greet customers with smiles on their faces. Club President Mike Tamburroâ€™s optimism and good nature extend all the way down to the most part-time of team employees.
When the PawSox are in first place, a position they have maintained for the past week, then baseball really becomes fun around the local ball park.
PAWTUCKET â€” The Columbus Clippers showed Pawtucket last night why they are heavy favorites to successfully defend their Governorsâ€™ Cup championship trophy next month.
In a meeting of the International Leagueâ€™s two best teams, Columbus got a grand slam home run from Luis Valbuena in the second inning off PawSox starter Felix Doubront and seemed headed for an easy win until Pawtucket broke through for two runs in the bottom of the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate. Reliever Josh Judy got Jose Iglesias to ground into a close force play at second base to preserve a 5-2 victory.
Lawrenceville, Ga.- If there has been any cause to put the Sharpie-strong stamp on the notion that the 2011 Pawtucket Red Sox are peaking at the right time, it was out in full prominence after Monday nightâ€™s 7-3 victory over the Gwinnett Braves at Coolray Field.
With the win, decided after the bat rack and bullpen both got the better of their Gwinnett counterparts in the eighth and ninth innings, the PawSox completed their best of seven eight-game road trips at 6-2. They are also 10-3 in August at the halfway mark of the month.
END OF THE CAMP -- During the Pawtucket Parks & Recreation Tennis Campâ€™s pizza party and awards ceremony at Slater Park in Pawtucket last Friday, award recipients and staff members posted for a group photo.