Muskrats battling to protect playoff spot

Ten games remain in the New England Collegiate Baseball League regular season and the Muskrats are occupying the third playoff spot in the Northern Division. The top four teams advance to the postseason. The upcoming week could see the Muskrats secure a playoff spot early and give them time to rest and regroup for a deep playoff run. "This is a huge week for us in regard to the playoff seeding," GM Noah Crane said. "A good week can secure a playoff spot instead of fighting for a spot down to the last game."

Most of the team had Sunday off for the NECBL All-Star game but returned to action on Monday, handing the Valley Blue Sox a 2-0 loss. Shea Spitzbarth (Molloy College) gained the win, facing 26 batters over seven innings of work. The right hander struck out seven batters to add to his league leading strike out count totaling 44 on the season. Matt Byrne (Iona) drove in both runs on a fifth inning double.

Tuesday night Laconia continued the shutout streak, blanking the North Adams SteepleCats 4-0. The Muskrats jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the top of the second inning. The two runs proved to be enough for Jack English (Florida Gulf Coast) and the bullpen in the shutout. Laconia tacked on two more runs in sixth to cap the scoring. Shortstop Nick Massonia (Troy) led the offense with a two run home run.

The team was washed out on Wednesday and traveled to second place Sanford last night, hoping to gain ground on the Mainers. Tonight they will host the last place Valley Blue Sox. The weekend has major playoff implications when the Muskrats head to North Adams on Saturday. The SteepleCats are a game off Laconia's third place 16-16 mark. On Sunday the Muskrats will host Sanford for the second time in three days. "This is always the toughest part of the year as we have many games to fit into a few days," Continued Crane. "Also the players are fatigued and the desire to go home starts to set in. We need to finish strong as we have a chance to make a run in the playoffs."

Armand J. Laramie Babe Ruth All-Star Team advances to state tournament

The Armand J. Laramie Babe Ruth All-Star team, based in Laconia and including players from Gilmanton, Gilford and Loudon, recently won the Pool A tournament by going undefeated in pool play. The team is advancing to the State Babe Ruth Tournament in Salem next week. Shown here in the back row left to right: coach Steve Ostrowski, Alex Thornton, Connor Hayes, Brandon Sasserson, manager Sean Hayes, Braedon Lacroix, Branden Lemay, Josh LeClaire, and Coach Corey Bickford. Front row left to right: Ryan MCcrea, Jacob Nelson, Dom Troiano, Brett Lima, Joe Ostrowski, and Mark Young. Not pictured: Cole Winkelmann. (Courtesy photo)


Five Muskrats named to NECBL All-Star roster

LACONIA — Laconia will be well represented at the NECBL All-Star Game, to be played July 20 in Holyoke, Mass. The Muskrats will be sending five members of this season's squad. Three of the four position players will be in the starting lineup. Matt Byrne (Iona) will start at second along with Braxton Martinez (St. Louis) at third, and Vinny Zarillo (Rutgers) in leftfield. Outfielder Colton Bottomley (Florida Gulf Coast) and pitcher Jack English (Florida Gulf Coast) will also be on the roster. "All five guys were very deserving. I'm excited from them to get the opportunity to play on that stage and be seen by MLB scouts," said Muskrats GM Noah Crane about the selections.
Byrne is hitting .342 with ten stolen basses and 14 runs scored on the year. Martinez has three homeruns; seven runs scored, 13 RBI, and is hitting a team leading .368. Zarillo, the Muskrats leadoff man, has a .333 average with 22 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, and 16 RBI. Bottomley is second on the team in batting average, hitting .342, while driving in a team leading 18 RBI. Closer Jack English has an earned run average of 1.22 with five saves and 27 strikeouts in 29 innings of work.
The Muskrats are in a three way race for the final two playoff spots in the division. Laconia is three and a half games behind the second place Sanford Mainers. The closer race is the third and fourth slots which are currently occupied by Laconia and Keene. Both teams have a 13-14 record and are holding on to the spots by a half a game over North Adams (13-15). "Being healthy is the most important aspect to a successful playoff run. If our roster remains intact we are going to be difficult to beat in a short series," said Crane. "This is the point in the season when teams start to see role players head home and starters getting injured. A team's standing can change wildly in the last two weeks."
The Muskrats had won back to back games before the rain came in this week and cancelled a pair. The first win took a few extra frames against the Valley Blue Sox. Ultimately the Muskrats prevailed with a four run 14th inning and three solid innings of relief from Mariano Rivera, Jr. (Iona). Laconia scored the four runs on six hits and a lot of small ball, starting with a leadoff single by Joey Bielek (Arizona St.). Bielek was driven home on Zarrillo's single to center, which proved to be the game winner.
The next day the Muskrats beat the visiting New Bedford 3-1. All three runs were scored in the third inning, highlighted by the Byrne's single that drove in two men. Shea Spitzbarth (Molloy College) earned the victory for Laconia, pitching seven innings giving up the only run while striking out eight.
Laconia was home last night, hosting Keene. The team will host North Adams tonight before heading out to face off against the Valley Blue Sox. Tuesday will see Laconia in North Adams for the second game out of the last three against a division foe fighting for the last playoff spot. "We play 15 games in 16 days to close the season. If we are going to make a move in the standings now is the time. We still have eight home games left and fans should come out and see this team play. We have a great mix of speed and power and really play quality defense," said Crane.

Waukewan Ladies putt for dough

July 1, the fifth week on the course for the Waukewan Ladies Golf League, was hazy, hot and humid and the ladies were hot on the putting greens. The game on the front nine was "Count Your Two Best Puts With An Optional Bramble". The ladies focused on counting the two lowest putts for the team. The "Bramble" twist allowed all players to reach the green and show off their putting skills. The winning team of Linda Lee, Betsy Cox and Mary Cross showed their great accuracy and recorded a total of 25 putts.
The 3rd hole was designated as a contest hole for closest to the pin. Judy Taylor dropped her ball 43" from the pin for the win! Hole 5 was for the accurate players who had to sink the longest putt. Barb Barbuto put her ball in the hole from 7'4 ½". The ladies enjoyed their pick of prizes from the game table.
Estelle Smith was the only lady who showed her chipping expertise. On hole 6 she chipped in for the whole pot.
Several ladies had great games this week and turned in impressive scores. Scoring 50 was Roz Gay while Linda Lee scored 49. Three players scored 48: Betsy Cox, Denise Doyle and Linda Ridlon. Faith Bartlett turned in a score of 45 while Laurie Fox turned in an awesome 44.
For the second time Brenda Trudeau walked off with the cash prize winning the 50/50 raffle.