Belmont High Baseball Unbeaten at Break Thanks to Another Late Game Win

Photo: Cal Christofori pitching in relief in the 7th inning during Belmont’s 6-3 victory over Arlington, April 17. 

Like students who waits until the last minute to complete their work, the Belmont High School Baseball team has been biding their time until the late innings to eek out a pair of victories.

After Belmont snuck by Stoneham, 8-6, on Tuesday, April 14, the team scored four runs in the penultimate at-bat to defeat Arlington, 6-3, on Friday, April 17, at Grant Field in Belmont.

The wins, along with a blow out of Watertown in the season opener, sends the Marauders into the spring break undefeated, sporting a 3-0 record overall and in the Middlesex League and providing the players some needed confidence.

“The thing we preached in the beginning of the year was mental toughness and they are buying into it,” said Belmont Head Coach Jim Brown.

“They were losing a couple of games and it’s not phasing them and they are getting the bats going as well,” Brown said.

Friday’s heroics came the arm and the bat of Robbie Montanaro who threw two shutout innings in relief of starter Cole Bartels and stroked a two-out, two-run single to score Bartels and catcher Cal Christofori to push Belmont ahead, 5-4, after trailing by a run entering the bottom of the fifth.

Centerfielder Nick Riley’s double sent Montanaro home for the final run in the four-run fifth. 

Riley scored the first run in the second inning, scoring on Bryan Goodwin double.

Monanaro’s run scoring hit was part of the first-baseman/pitcher’s three-RBI day, having scored Bartels in the third with a single.

Christofori moved from catching pitches to throwing them to earn the save hurling a one-hit final inning.

It will be a busy time after the spring recess when Belmont plays on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of next week.

“We have four games the week we get back so they have to be focused like they’ve been so far,” said Brown.

Butler Reaches 150 Goals as Belmont Boys LAX (4-3) Down SpyPonders

Photo: Trey Butler setting up to score his 149 goal in his high school career. 

Junior attack Trey Butler reached the 150 goal milestone as the Belmont High School Boys’ Lacrosse won its first Middlesex League match of the season, defeating Arlington High School, 17-11, in a chippy affair at Harris Field on Friday, April 18. 

“From freshman year, it’s been a team effort and it’s all part of the teammates passing me the ball and encouraging me every step of the way,” Butler told the Belmontonian after the game in which he scored four goals and two assists.

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“Last year there was a lot of pressure and it was hard not to get frustrated when things aren’t going your way,” said Butler, who is also a standout defender on the hockey team.

“But this year, we’ve been winning because everyone has been putting in a lot of work in the off season and it’s starting to pay off this year,” said Butler.

“Huge win of us,” said Belmont Head Coach Josh Streit after the win, lifting the program over .500 at 4-3. The SpyPonders drop to 2-4. 

“Arlington has been a rival for us in my tenure and they have played us very tough in the league so we knew this was a place for us to see to kind of see where we could stand and if we can make some noise,” said Streit. The win puts Belmont five victories from a return to the Eastern Mass. Div. 2 playoffs since 2011.

The match started off at a crawl, going more than half the first quarter before a pair of goals from junior Michael Cole (3 goals, 1 assist) and Butler’s first gave Belmont a 3-1 lead going to the second.

Goals by Cole, senior Samuel Bozkurtian (3 goals, 1 assist) and two from by Butler with outstanding defense from seniors Joseph Paolillo and Luke Paolcari along with junior Andrew Ballard allowed the Marauders to enter halftime with a 7-3 lead.

It was at 3:38 left in the third – in a half which saw a multitude of penalties calls – when Bozkurtian passed to Butler to the left of the goal, snapping the ball into the net to hit 150 goals as Belmont doubled its goals to take a 14-6 advantage into the final period.

After the game, Streit continued to speak highly of his team after a mid-week loss to Reading High, in which he discovered his team “could grind and have the grit to stay with everyone in the league.”  

Down 10-2 in the third quarter and unable to generate an offensive surge, the team “stood up for themselves”, grinding out four straight goals against the Rocket’s top squad, falling 12-8 but putting Reading on the back foot for the remainder of the game.

“We made people notice and they saw the heart of this team,” said Streit.

The squad’s next match will be against Dracut next Saturday. 

Belmont Boys’, Girls’ Hoops Sunk in SpyPonder’s Court

Both the Belmont High Boys’ and Girls’ basketball teams returned home from their short trip to neighboring Arlington on Wednesday, Feb. 4, a little worse for wear as both Marauder squads were defeated by their SpyPond hosts.

The boys’ – with their entire varsity squad healthy and playing for the first time all year – nearly pulled off the upset against an undefeated Arlington team, but could not hold onto a second-half advantage as Arlington’s top player, who will be playing for Division 1 Syracuse next year – on the soccer pitch – lead the SpyPonders to the 65-56 victory.

Girls’ Head Coach Melissa Hart said recently the team’s most glaring flaw – this from a squad that thrives on defensive intensity – is giving up too many three-point buckets. That deficiency was highlighted Wednesday when Arlington stroke nine threes, including three consecutive treys by SpyPonder junior guard Margaret Ammondson (15 points) in the second quarter, to avenge a loss to the Marauders in January, winning in Arlington, 56-41.

Boys’ Hoops

The loss to 15-0 Arlington was there for the taking for the Marauders. Using its speedy backcourt of senior Ben Lazenby (7 points) and Matt Kerans (16 points), the outside shooting of the guards and junior sixth-man Cole Bartels (6 points) and senior forward Seth Altman (9 points) and keying off All-Star senior center Adam Kleckner (16 points), the Marauders lead after the first 17-16 and at the half, 34-32, as the game came was a give and take affair, much of it from beyond the three-point line.

In the third quarter, SpyPond senior forward Miles Robinson (21 points) – the soccer sensation who “likes” basketball – took center stage, running off eight consecutive points (3 hoops and 2 from the line) on Arlington possessions to lift his team to a 46-43 lead at the end of three.

But Altman came through early for Belmont in the final stanza, hitting inside and outside (a three pointer) to put the Marauders on top by two. But that man Robinson scored quickly and his compatriot, senior guard Josh Lee (22 points) made a steal and a bucket and then hit a big three pointer to give the hosts a 55-50 lead midway in the quarter.

Belmont cut the lead to three at 55-52 and in control of the ball when Robinson stole the ball once again for a layup to extend the lead to five. The next time downcourt, the Marauders coughed up the rock leading to another uncontested hoop and the ball game.

The Boys will host Woburn, who stunned the Marauders in January by going on a 9-0 run in the final 90 seconds to win at Woburn High School.

Girls’ Hoops

In Hart’s eyes, Arlington stepped up their game since the last time they encountered the Marauders – in which Belmont came back from 9 down in the third to win – who unfortunately decided to have its poorest all-round game of the season.

“Not our best game,” said Hart. “But Arlington played very well.”

Arlington came to play, taking off to a 19-4 first quarter lead with that included 3 threes – two from Grace Carter (11 points) – with the Marauders scoring through forwards junior Sarah Stewart (2 points) and Elena Bragg who finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds on another productive night for the senior.

Belmont made its run in the second quarter as Belmont held Arlington to eight points – although they gave up the first six points of the half – and squeezed in 16 of their own. Junior forward Samari Winklaar (5 points) and senior point guard Sophia Eschenbach-Smith (6 points and 5 assists) each hit two buckets to trim the lead to 27-20.

Belmont got the lead down to three points at 27-24 early in the third but there would be no comeback for the Marauders this time around as Ammondson hit her three straight threes, as the SpyPonders put up two more threes in the quarter to run off to an insurmountable 46-26 lead at the end of three.

Next up for the Girls’ will be a rematch with one loss Woburn on Friday, Feb. 6, at home, where the team is undefeated.

Belmont Boys’ Basketball Unable to Overtake SpyPonders in Second Loss

Despite 22 minutes characterized by numerous errant passes, missed shots and general sloppy defense, Belmont High School Boys’ Basketball team clawed its way to back into its game with undefeated Arlington in its Middlesex League matchup on Tuesday, Jan 6, at Belmont’s Wenner Field House.

Adam Kleckner‘s driving shot with little over two minutes remaining in the third quarter squared up the contest at 45 with the hope the Marauders could somehow sneak a victory from the visiting SpyPonders.

But a fast-break basket and a pair of foul shots upped Arlington’s lead to four (49-45) at the end of the third quarter. And those late points proved to be a springboard for the SpyPonders as they ran off 21 points to win running away by 15, 70-55.

For Belmont (5-2), the loss to neighboring Arlington (7-0) was a step back for a team that is struggling since two important pieces to a team that ran off four victories – starting shooting guard Matt Kerans and sixth man Cole Barets – are shelved for some undetermined period.

“Arlington’s a great team and you can’t beat that sort of team when you’re not playing good basketball,” Belmont Head Coach Adam Pritchard told the Belmontonian.

“We didn’t play physical, didn’t box out and made too many mistakes,” said Pritchard.

Belmont started out smartly as the Marauders took a 7-2 lead after three and a half minutes via a great assist from starting senior point guard Ben Lazenby (11 points) to Kleckner (15 points), along with a three point basket and a jumper from an offensive rebound by senior Seth Altman. 

Despite Kleckner picked up his second foul at four-and-a-half minutes, a pair of free throws from Altman (who scored a career-high 15 points) and two hoops from Kleckner’s replacement, junior forward Luke Peterson (6 points), had Belmont holding a 13-10 lead with two minutes to play in the first.

But Belmont next two times with the ball were stolen by Arlington who was led by senior guard Josh Lee (a game high 23  points) ran off 7 points in the final minute to lead 19-15 at the end of the quarter.

While a Lazenby drive to the basket brought Belmont within two (23-21), Lee (a pair of threes and a driving jumper) and his teammate, the outstanding soccer phenom Miles Robinson (6 of his 15 points) upped the SpyPonder’s lead to 8 (37-29) at the half.

Belmont got back into the game via Altman who hit a pair of threes and a nice floater to tie the game at 43 before it tied the game again at 45.

But the sloppiness of their play and the quickness of the SpyPonders doomed the Marauders to its second loss in the past three games.

Belmont Girls’ Hoops Torrid Second Half Key to Comeback Win over SpyPonders

A combination of their hallmark hard-nose defense and a season’s best scoring effort highlighted a come-from-behind victory as Belmont High School Girls’ Basketball upped its record to 4-1 as the Marauders defeated neighboring Arlington High School, 62-54, in a clash of one-loss teams at the Wenner Field House on Tuesday, Jan. 6.

“They are a very good team with five who can score so this is a good win,” said Melissa Hart, Belmont’s head coach after her charges came back from a nine-point deficit (34-25) early in the third quarter to take a four-point lead (44-40) at the end of the quarter by going on a titanic 21-6 run by mixing their stiffling brand of ball-dogging pressure defense, winning rebounds all the while going on a scoring spree led by Irini Nikolaidis scoring 11 of her team high 16 points in the third.

“[Nikolaidis] was enormous on both ends of the court,” said Hart, as the defensive specialist was able to drive the lane countless times to receive the ball from senior point guard Sophia Eschenbach-Smith who dished out 10 assists and created three steals to go along with two points.

Unlike their three consecutive wins against league opponents, the SpyPonders entered the game with a winning record (5-1), a capable backcourt, a large center and players who could hit from the perimeter. After going ahead early, Belmont found it difficult corralling the SpyPonders’ shooting guard, junior Grace Carter (8 of her 13 points in the first quarter) and in the second quarter Arlington’s center, Mallory DeFeo (8 points of her game high 18 in the quarter).

With the rest of the team’s scorers falling silent, the Marauders were kept in the game by excellent shooting from freshman Jenny Call who went 4 for 5 shooting from the outside, scoring 8 of her 11 points in the quarter.

“I have to be ready when I get into the game to contribute,” said Call after the game.

Trailing at the half (28-21) for the first time since the opener at Watertown, Belmont began the comeback behind its active defense – the team finished causing an astonishing 19 turnovers by Arlington – and the ball handling of freshman Carly Christofori (who kept exploiting the SpyPonders’ defense to find teammates under the basket including senior forward Elena Bragg (4 points) and senior center Linda Herlihy (3 of her 7 points in the third).

The comeback was secured by Belmont’s edge under the boards as Bragg, Herlihy and Sarah Stewart (8 points) each who took down four rebounds.

Belmont upped the lead to 10 twice only to see the SpyPonders reduce it to four in the final two minutes but Christofori sealed the win with a three point shot and going 6 for 8 from the free throw line.

“We needed a game like this, where we have to fight back into the game, before going to Woburn,” said Hart, referring to Friday’s match with the undefeated leaders of the Middlesex League in Woburn.