Belmont Baseball Host Reading Wed. With Winner Taking League Pennant

Photo: Belmont Marauders

It’s all on the line as Belmont High Baseball hosts Reading Memorial High this afternoon, Wednesday, May 24, in what is a one-game, winner takes all contest that will determine the champions of the Middlesex League Liberty Division.

Today’s dramatic finale to the 2017 league season saw Belmont receive a huge break on Tuesday, May 23, from a squad scrambling for its playoff life. Needing to win its remaining games to earn a playoff berth, the below .500 Winchester High Sachems nipped Reading, 4-3, to drop the Rockets’ record to 15-3 and 12-3 in league play.

Belmont was standing at 12-3 in the league as they defeated non-league Arlington Catholic, 5-0, on Tuesday, behind senior reliever Zach Colleran’s first career start. The righty spun a masterful performance on the mound, mixing his fastball with a changeup to go six shutout innings, giving up a pair of hits and earning three Ks. 

“I knew I wasn’t going to blow anyone away so I threw pitches that they couldn’t make solid contact,” said Colleran, who earned the win. Junior starter Max Meier got an inning of work in pitching a 1, 2, 3 7th.  

Colleran was helped by outstanding plays in the field including from shortstop Steve Rizzuto who dove to snag a grounder heading up the middle, throwing out the runner by half-a-step at first to end the sixth. 

Belmont cobbled together 3 runs in the second with Colleran helping himself with a RBI single followed by a sacrifice from first base Dennis Crowley and a RBI knock by senior catcher and captain Cal Christofori. 

Crowley scored in the 4th after ripping a double into right, stole third and scored on a fielder’s choice from Colleran. 

Junior pinch hitter Andrew Mazzone took a first pitch fastball 322 feet over the right field fence to add the final run of the game in the fifth. 

Wednesday’s game (start time 3:45 p.m.) at “The Grant” in Belmont will see not just attempt to grab its first league pennant in more than a decade against the defending champion but also giving the Marauders the opportunity to avenge a 1-0 extra inning loss earlier this month to the Rockets.

Belmont will throw its ace, junior Nate Espelin (5-1), to start. Espelin is coming off a 15 strikeout effort against Lexington and will face the team that defeated him this season. 

Sports: 12-2 Belmont Baseball Face Tough Final Six Games

Photo: Noah Riley at the plate.

After hitting a temporary speed bump (two losses in three games last week) on its record-setting winning clip, Belmont High School’s Nine will face a tough final stretch of games as the Marauders attempt to take the Middlesex League pennant at the same time securing a high playoff seed.

This week Belmont (12-2) will encounter a strong Lexington High (11-4) squad which Friday stopped Middlesex League leaders Reading Memorial High (10-1) for the Rockets’ first loss of the season.

“We play Lexington two out of the next three so we have to dial in on a couple of things like baserunning because it’s gonna be tough,” said Belmont’s long-time Head Coach Joe Brown. Belmont hosts Lexington on Monday, May 15 at 4 p.m.-ish, weather permitting.

Belmont hosts Lexington on Monday, May 15 at 4 p.m.-ish, weather permitting. (Update: The game has been postponed to a later date)

This past Friday and Saturday, Belmont rediscovered its offense after dropping a 3-0 away loss to Arlington by defeating Woburn 10-3 and getting a bit of revenge against the SpyPonders on Saturday, May 13, with a 4-1 victory.

Friday’s game saw Belmont’s junior starter Andrew Mazzone get nicked up for a run in the first only for the Marauders to put up a eight-run bottom of the first on the scoreboard to end the game early. The highlight was back-to-back fence-clearing dingers to deep center right from junior right fielder Max Meier (batting ninth) and from junior leadoff Connor Dacey (2-3 against Woburn) while shortstop Steve Rizzuto went 3-4 with a run and a stolen base.

“Connor’s on fire at the plate,” said Brown as Dacey repeated his 2-3 performance vs. Arlington.

Against the SpyPonders, Belmont got out to a strong start with Connor Dacey driving in his brother, Kevin, from second while senior captain/catcher Cal Christofori singled a 1-2 pitch to bring home Connor. Belmont nearly broke it wide open in the fourth after Dennis Crowley led off the inning with a double and Kevin Dacey and Meier walked to load the bases. But both Crowley and Meier were cut down at the plate before Rizzuto hit a 1 and 1 count by the shortstop to drive in Dacey for the only run.  Belmont’s final run came in  the bottom of the 6th when that man Connor Dacey rocketed a double that brought Crowley in for the score.

The games highlighted Belmont’s greatest strength, frontline starting pitching. Following Mazzone’s one-run, seven strikeouts over five innings on Friday afternoon Saturday, Belmont’s junior ace Nate Espelin pitch a workman-like seven-inning complete game collecting seven strikeouts to his burgeoning total of Ks.

“I thought the kids played very well after losing to [Arlington] on Tuesday. They bounced back, hit the ball hard and made some nice plays in the field,” said Brown.

With the pair of outstanding outings, Belmont’s earned-run average is hovering at a gaudy 1.0.

“[The starters] have been doing it all year. Even when someone like [Espelin] isn’t as sharp as he usually was [against Arlington], he still held a great hitting team to one run. He’s a big-time pitcher for us,” said Brown.

One aspect of the Marauders’ game that has improved by leaps and bounds from previous seasons has been fielding, not just making fewer miscues for errors but make the outstanding plays for outs. Prime example was the work at second base by Noah Riley, who made a trio of outstanding defensive plays including completing a double play while under pressure and making a Gold-Glove diving grab of a bloop in foul territory to end an inning.

“In our freshman year, he had 60 errors and now just six or seven,” said Riley. “The improvements is because we are doing fundimentals before every practice, and in the off season, throwing each other ground balls and working on the little things.”

Giving Brown some assurance this week is the hitting of senior centerfielder Bryan Goodwin, who has “been like a machine for the past two weeks,” said Brown, as the Roger Williams-commit battles Lexington High junior shortstop Sal Frelick in the batting race.

“We’ll have to be on our game to really challenge for the league title. But all the pieces seem to be there for it to happen,” said Brown.

Sports Update: Softball Earns Big Win, Baseball Rolls Along

Photo: Senior Bryan Goodwin driving in a run vs. Winchester.

After a rough start, Belmont High Softball got off the snide and earned a 9-4 home victory over Winchester High at the Concord Avenue Field on Friday, April 28. The girls are now sporting a 1-4 record but with progress coming on a daily basis under first-year coach Kristin Ciappina.

• How wet has it been? So dank that despite a day of drying, Branden Grant Field, the home of the undefeated Belmont High Baseball Marauders remained soaked requiring the game played Thursday, April 27 against Winchester to be switched to the JV/Freshman field adjacent Harris Field. The nearness to the ball field of the school’s all-purpose turf field caused a few nervous moments as about four foul balls landed into the midst of the Girls’ Lacrosse contest vs. Woburn. Yikes.

But the return to the old field did not faze the Belmont Nine as they came away with a comfortable 7-1 victory to extend the team’s opening season win streak to six games (6-0). Southpaw whiz kid Nate Espelin (2-0) pitched five strong innings, striking out nine while surrendering a double in the fourth.

Junior reliever Jake Pollock gave up an earned run in the sixth, escaping further damage by an outstanding 6-3-2 relay out as senior centerfielder Bryan Goodwin fielded a single up the middle and fired a bullet to junior first base Ryan Noone who turned and delivered a strike to senior catcher Cal Christofori to nail the runner who took off from second at the plate.

Offensively, Belmont continues to put runs on the imaginary scoreboard, seeing four runs score on four solid hits in the fourth, finishing with eight knocks led by Connor Dacey’s two leadoff doubles and a pair of runs scored. 

While liking to see the bats come alive this year, Head Coach Joe Brown is more impressed with the team’s excellent pitching.

“Our pitchers have given up five runs in six games,” observed Brown. “You’re going to win a lot of games if you do that.” 

Next up for the team will be a match of undefeateds Monday; the first of two games this season with last year’s Middlesex League champion Reading Memorial which comes into the game unbeaten at 5-0. The game is scheduled for May Day at 3:45 p.m.

From the Herald

From the Boston Herald’s MIAA Top 25 Baseball Rankings – Week Four (4/26/17)

Let’s take a look at our most recent high school baseball poll as we approach the beginning of May.

#4 Belmont High School – (5-0) – Led by Cal Christofori the Marauders are off to a hot start and look to prove to be one of the best teams in the state.

King Of Ks: Belmont High Southpaw Sets Strikeout Record [VIDEO]

Photo: The Belmont High battery of junior Nate Espelin (right) and senior Cal Christofori that set a school strikeout record. 

“Nothing special.” 

That’s how Belmont High junior southpaw pitcher Nate Espelin described his day on the mound last week, Wednesday, April 19, against an undefeated Wilmington High Wildcats. 

Coming off a no-decision in his first start of the season – a two-run, six strikeout performance in the home opener against Melrose – Espelin was seeking his first win of the junior campaign pitching away from home against a league rival.

Espelin did get his first victory last week, and more. Much more.

In a game of a lifetime, Espelin registered a school record 19 strikeouts in a 1-0 complete game (7 innings) shutout of host Wilmington. What was amazing – besides getting all but two batters out (19 of 21) via the K – is that Espelin struck out the final 18 batters he faced. 

While the state’s interscholastic athletic association does not keep individual game pitching records, it appears that Espelin’s showing was a rare one, with just a few example of a pitcher striking out 21 batters in a game, without knowing the competitiveness of the opposition. 

In explaining his extraordinary effort, the soft-spoken, unflustered junior shrugged and said he had not done anything differently.
His battery partner, senior captain catcher Cal Christofori, didn’t even know the number of Ks until he was told after the final out.
“I was trying to mix up (the pitch selection),” said Christofori, saying Espelin was hitting his glove on nearly every pitch. Because he was hitting the corners of the plate, many of Espelin’s victims were sent back to the bench without a swing at the third strike. 
While he did admit the day was a special one, Espelin hopes he has the confidence to return to the mound “to challenge the batters the same way I did [in Wilmington].”

Crowley’s Opening Day Walk Off Double Sparks Belmont Baseball’s 3-0 Start

Photo: Dennis Crowley (right) celebrating his walk-off double which won the season opener for Belmont.

After spending the entire baseball season opener on the bench, Belmont High School Junior Dennis Crowley was just looking for any chance to help the team in the first game. And with a little preseason training, he felt he was ready.

“I worked out with [former Reading High baseball] Coach [Peter] Moscariello, and he tells us to stay locked in, being green light all the time and you’ll get your opportunity. That’s all I wanted,” said Crowley.

When his time came in the bottom of the 7th inning to grab a bat and pitch hit for junior Ryan Noone, Crowley rose to the challenge blasting a one-out double to give the Marauders an exciting 3-2 walk-off win over a strong Melrose High squad on Tuesday, April 11.

“It was a fastball up, and I was hoping to give it a ride,” said Crowley, who clocked the pitch over the right fielder scoring pinch runner junior Max Meier running for junior DH Andrew Mazzone who singled and was sacrificed to second by senior second base Noah Riley.

“Let’s not [win like] this 18 times this year. I’m too old for this,” said long-time head coach Joe Brown. After the dramatics of the first game, Belmont nailed down a pair of confident wins, 10-1 over Concord Carlie on Wednesday and 14-0 against league opponent Stoneham, 14-0, on Thursday.

The team enters the Spring recess undefeated at 3-0 and ranked 17th in the Boston Herald’s Eastern Mass Top 25 poll. 

“We certainly are showing some early season promise. Our pitchers have been keeping the ball off the center of the plate, and our defense has been solid so far,” said Brown speaking of the three earn runs given up this season. 

Crowley heroics rescued a solid pitching effort by Belmont’s junior righty Nate Espelin who gave up a pair of earned runs on three hits over six innings with three strikeouts on 79 pitches.

“I felt fine out there. I left a lot of pitches up [in the strike zone] where they could hit them. That has been something that has to be approved on. You only get better from here, right?” asked Espelin.

After going up a run in the bottom of the fourth when junior first base Noone (2-3, two runs) scored on a single by senior right fielder Paul Ramsey, Melrose scratched back a run on a bloop single, a throwing error by Espelin and a sacrifice to drive in Melrose’s first base Mike DiRaffaele.

Melrose took the lead in the top of the fifth on a walk and a pair of singles including a sharp liner that hit off Espelin’s foot that brought home Melrose catcher Shane Correale. The damage could have been worse but for a diving grab by Riley to beat the Melrose runner at first by half a step.

It didn’t take long for Belmont to tie up the contest as Noone second single started the rally in the bottom of the fifth. Sophomore shortstop Francisco “Cisco” Rodriguez sacrificed Noone to second then advanced to third after Noone big lead off second caused Melrose pitcher John Casparriello to commit a balk. Senior centerfield Bryan Goodwin put the bat on the ball and drove Noone home on an infield hit.

Brown said he’ll go with a “small ball” philosophy to “put pressure on their defense. We’ve practiced that so it’s great to see it work out.”

On Wednesday, Meier gave up a single run as the Belmont offense took it to the host Patriots in Concord. Noone, who went 4 for 6 in the first two games, unloaded a triple in the top of the first to drive in two runs followed by rbi singles from Riley and Meier to effective seal the win very early. 

Thursday saw Brown put out lanky junior Jake Pollord to face Stoneham going five innings without allowing a run while striking out six in the blowout. Senior Captain Cal Christofori and Mazzone each put in an inning of relief work preserving the shutout.

The offense was led by Rodriguez who broke out going 3-4 with three RBIs while playing a solid short having developed a cannon of an arm since his freshman year.

Belmont will be back in action on Wednesday, April 19 away at Wilmington and then a Friday, April 21 home match against Arlington, both games starting at 10 a.m.

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Sports: Belmont Baseball Ran Off By Danvers in Playoffs

Photo: “Crossing the line” Cole Bartels.

Belmont High’s Senior Cole Bartels’ final pitch of his high school career was a fastball that overpowered the batter, forcing a lazy infield pop-up for the third out of the fifth inning.

It was appropriate that one of the most dominating pitchers in school history – and that includes the likes of major leaguer Wilbur Woods – would end his playing days on gutsy performance (coming just three days after throwing 100 pitches against Beverly) in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Division 2 North Sectionals against host and number-one seed Danvers High on Monday afternoon, June 6.

But while Bartels – who earlier in the day was named a Boston Globe Spring All-Scholastic for the second year – and reliever junior Cal Christofori would give up only four hits with Bartels striking out eight Falcons with his fastball, curve/slider combo, it was Danvers’ aggressive and opportunistic running on the base paths and the Marauders inability to put together hits in a timely manner that saw  Belmont fall, 4-1, to Danvers.

“Same old, same old, it’s deja vu,” said Head Coach Jim Brown, having lost to Danvers for the third time in five years in the quarterfinals.

“We outhit them, but they make the plays on the field, a couple of miscues on our part. They take the extra bases, and they love to bunt,” he said.

“It’s a tough way to lose, but that’s why they’re 18-2 every year and going to the semi-finals every year,” said Brown. 

For Bartels, the last game of this stellar high school career – two-time Middlesex League MVP and Boston Globe All-Scholastic – should have ended on a better note. 

“That was real tough. Nothing seemed to go our way here. We fought really hard and got a bunch of hits but they didn’t come in the right time,” said Bartels. “They’re a great team. I hate them, but they are a great team.”

“But I’m super proud of all my teammates. They fought really hard so I want to thank everyone and I’m very happy of what I’ve accomplished,” he said.

And Bartels will be missed.

“He’s the best I’ve ever had as a pitcher and player. He’s a hell of a competitor. Once in a generation,” said Brown. 


Danvers senior pitcher Andrew Olszak did not have the same outstanding control that he demonstrated in last year’s 3-1, one-hit victory over Belmont in the same quarterfinal round. But the two-time league MVP (7 hits, 3 strikeouts) did throw strikes which allowed Falcon’s to make some clutch fielding, including turning two double plays (in the first and fourth) to stuff out innings while not making an error behind Olszak.

It was when Danvers reach base that Belmont found itself flat-footed. In the second inning, Danvers runners twice moved from first to third on routine sacrifices which allowed two runs to score on the only solid hit against Bartels – a single up the middle – and a fielder’s choice.

In the third, Danvers’ right fielder Dan Lynch reached first on a walk, stole second when a Belmont infielder arrived late to take Christofori’s bullet that beat the runner, took third on a passed ball and walked home on catcher Matt Andreas’ routine grounder to first. Three runs on a single, a bunt, a steal, an error and a few fielder’s choices.

Belmont was making good contact at the plate – left fielder Connor Dacey solved Olszak going 3-3 (three singles) for the day, while second base Noah Riley sharp shot in the fourth went for naught – but could not put them together.

The Marauders got things rolling in the top of the sixth. After Christofori missed going yard by 10 feet in deepest dead center for the first out, Dacey collected his third single followed by a gap double from Bartels between left and center. Riley loaded the bases with a 3-2 walk and Paul Ramsey’s deep fly ball to left brought home pinch runner Matt Kerans.

But Danvers came back for its fourth in the sixth with a double and a two-out single from first base Zach Dillon for his second RBI.

Many Belmont players didn’t want to leave the field after a successful season (15-7), taking photos, reaching out to coaches and other players and remembering how good they were. 

Sports: Belmont Baseball Wins In Extras Over Beverly, #1 Danvers Monday

Photo: Cal Christofori.

Resiliency – the ability to bounce back after getting punched in the gut – is a quality discovered only when tested by adversity. In sports, after an opponent’s blow has turned the tables on the game, some teams will fall apart. But others show that ability to return to the fight with determination and a will to win.

When Belmont High School sophomore pitcher Nate Espelin threw what he called later “a fat one” which Beverly High School catcher Luke Samperi sent over the short left field fence for a two-out, two run, game tying home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, the blast could have done in the visiting Marauders in their first-round matchup of the MIAA Division 2 North sectionals.

But as Samperi crossed the plate and joined the wild celebration on the field, Belmont’s senior captain Cole Bartels – who just saw his seven innings, two-hit, 11 strikeout dominate performance go for naught – began yelling, “We’re still in this. We’re going to win this. Stay in the game!”

And his teammates responded, soon speaking confidently that they would come away with a victory in this unexpected away game.

It just took a while. Like five extra, extra innings. But the combination of outstanding relief pitching from junior Cal Christofori, solid defense, and clutch hitting by the middle of Belmont’s lineup resulted in a 13-inning 4-2 victory from the Marauders over the Panthers.

“Our guys plugged away, scratched and clawed and finally got a little bit of a timely hit in the 13th inning,” said Jim Brown, Belmont’s head coach. 

“This was awesome, playing in games like this, extra innings when everthing is on the line. This is why you play sports, these are most fun games,” said Christofori, the team’s starting catcher who has yet to give up an earned run in relief this season.

The game – which began at 1 p.m. on a school day to accommodate the Beverly High senior prom scheduled for that night – between a pair of 14-6 teams was expected to be a close one. Facing Belmont’s southpaw was Beverly’s sophomore phenom Spenser Brown (1-6, single and three strikeouts) who was named the league’s co-MVP earlier in the week batting over .450 as well as being a starting pitcher.

Both pitchers got out of early jams with Bartel facing Panthers reaching third in the second and third innings. In the bottom of the third, Christofori smelled out an attempted squeeze bunt and threw to third base David Bailey to get the runner attempting to return to the base. The junior All-Star than ended the inning by easily throwing out Panther’s Sean Hanlon attempting to steal second.

But for most of his time on the mound, Bartels’ fastball – reaching 90 mph – and a nasty slider that looped in to hit the outside corner on right handers put the team’s ace in position to sit down batters. In his seven innings, Bartels struck out two Panthers in five.

On the other side, Brown kept Beverly in the game as Marauder batters could not figure out the youngster, sending lazy flyballs in the outfield or grounders to the Panthers’ air-tight defense.

In the first extra frame, Belmont got started with one out when Christofori’s high infield pop fly was dropped for an error. Left fielder Connor Dacey (2-7, two singles) singled followed by Bartels who was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Second base Noah Reilly then took a full count offering for a ball that allowed Matt Kearns, who ran for Christofori, to walk home with the game’s first run. Shortstop Steve Ruzzuto followed with a slow roller to third that allowed Dacey to race home with what appeared to be the all-important insurance run.

In the bottom of the eighth, Espelin hit shortstop Garrett Desmond with a pitch before getting the next two Panthers out on long fly balls. But his one mistake to Samperi – who would go 1 for 6 in the game with a home run and five strikeouts (!) – set into motion what would be consecutive extra-inning playoff marathons between the teams as they played a 16 inning game in 2014.

Coming into the game in the ninth, Christofori relied on his fastball and changeup to keep the hosts off the bases, finishing his five innings with three strikeouts while giving up only one single with only one runner reaching second.

“He’s tough as nails. He’s one of those throw back players, he always wants the ball. He may not have the best stuff but he has the best determination out there,” said Brown of Christofori, a three-sport starter (football, hockey, baseball).

In extras, Belmont began hitting their stride at the plate against Beverly’s reliever senior captain Dylan Stevens. The Marauders collected 10 of their 13 hits – all singles – from the ninth inning on.

“We just wanted to continue to string hits together and look for someone to make a big play,” said Brown. 

It would be a lucky 13th inning for Belmont which started with a sharp single up the middle by center fielder Bryan Goodwin (2-6, two singles) who advanced to second on a passed ball. Pinch-hitter Trevor Kelly beat the throw to first on a sacrifice bunt to give Belmont players at the corner with no outs. After Christofori popped out, Dacey’s infield hit that pinballed around the mound brought Goodwin home for the go ahead third run. Bartels followed with a long sacrifice fly to right that had Kelly waltzing home for the final run.

Christofori allowed the Panther to finally head off to their prom with a 1-2-3 final half inning.

Belmont will again be on the North Shore on Monday, June 6, to meet the number 1 seed Danvers in a repeat of last year’s quarterfinal that Belmont lost in extra innings, 3-1. In last year’s game, Bartels and Danvers’ ace Andrew Olszak pitch dual one-hit masterpieces over eight innings.

“If [Bartels] can go [Monday], he’ll go,” said Brown.

The game starts at 4 p.m. at the town’s middle school playing field.

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Snubbed By MIAA, Belmont On Road Against Familiar Foe Thursday in Playoff Opener

Photo: Cole Bartels is on the mound today.

The bunting and flags are still on the fences and poles of Brendan Grant Field in Belmont.

“Leave them up,” Belmont High School Baseball Head Coach Jim Brown told the facilities department a day after the end of the regular season this past weekend. 

With a 14-6 record and a .700 percentage winning record, the long-time Marauders manager was certain this Belmont team had earned a first-round home game for the 2016 Division 2 North Sectional playoffs.

“Last year, that record was a five seed,” said Brown as he oversaw practice on Wednesday afternoon. (The first eight ranked teams are rewarded with a home game.) “It would be great to our fans who come out in big numbers to support us.”

Well, no one told Brown or Belmont that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing board for all high school sports, could find a way to place the Marauders on the outside looking in.

With Marblehead, Melrose and Beverly also with 14-6 records and three spots left in the top eight, the MIAA used a combination of coin flips and numbers out of a hat that resulted in Belmont being relegated to the 9th seed, which is the third year in a row Belmont has found themselves in the inevitable position. 

The ninth position is the cruelest seed as it finds a winning program forced to go on the road against an equally proficient team. And if victorious, the next game will be an away game against the number one seed, which this season is Danvers. 

“Call it Belmont luck,” said Brown.

Unlike a growing majority of athletic conferences which are using data (such as using a team’s “power” ranking which gives greater weight to wins against stronger teams) and head-to-head competitions to determine rankings with teams of equal records, the MIAA continues to use coin-flips to pick team positions.

“They didn’t take in consideration that we beat Melrose (9-2) in the regular season,” said Brown. Melrose is the seven seed in the sectionals. 

Not only is Belmont back in the ninth seed, they will be playing against a very familiar post-season opponent. Thursday’s opening round match will be against Beverley High School, marking the fifth time in the past seven years the Marauders and Panthers have clashed in the first round of the playoffs.

The last time they met in 2014 resulted in a four hour, 16 inning ultra-marathon (a regular game is seven innings) that the Marauders won 4-2. Belmont then met first seed Gloucester 17 hours later and lost 3-2. 

And if there wasn’t enough adversity facing Belmont, the game will be played today, Thursday, June 2 at 1 p.m. at Beverly High School rather than Friday due to Beverly’s prom which is scheduled for tonight. 

Brown said he and Beverly’s head coach, Dave Wilburn, are similar in each likes to put pressure on opposing defenses by playing “small” ball in the post season. 

“There’s not a lot of runs coming from this game so every run will count big,” said Brown. 

Belmont will face a Beverly offense sparked by their league co-MVP, sophomore third-base Spencer Brown (.438). Brown will counter with starting senior ace Cole Bartels who has struck out 75 batters this season with a 1.00 ERA . 

“They’ll see a lot of Bartels,” said Brown.

Girls 400 Relay, Perkins Crowned Eastern Mass Div. 3 Track Champs

Photo: The Belmont High 4×400 meter relay: Danielle Kelly, Meggie MacAulay, Sara Naumann and Julia Cella.

When junior 200-meter specialist Julia Cella crossed the finish line just after 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 28, the automatic timer on the Burlington High School track read: 3 minutes 57.01 seconds.

It would be a record time for the Belmont High School Girls’ 4×400 meter relay squad, breaking an 17-year-old record by 4/10th of a second in the Eastern Mass Division 3 championships.

It was another fastest time ever for the four teammates. But it was not just the best time by a team in one division of one corner of the state. The quartet of junior Danielle Kelly, senior Meggie MacAulay, junior Sara Naumann and junior Julia Cella make up the best 4×400 relay in all of Massachusetts. 

The relay’s victory – by more than a second over the team from track-powerhouse Tewksbury – was just part of a great three days for the Girls’ Outdoor Track at the divisional championships, as the girls coached by Melissa Glotzbecker finished 8th with 38 points, only five points from a top four placement.

Yet all the noise wasn’t just coming from the girls’ side of the track. Belmont sophomore Calvin Perkins took home the 400 meter title with an outstanding 50.61 second over the one lap, outpacing Lamont Haynes of Boston Tech by more than 6/10th of a second, solidifying his position as a sprinter who could be a dominating factor in the event. 

Joining Perkins on a podium was senior Luke Peterson who soared 21 feet, 10 1/2 inches in the long jump to finish third. 

Scoring for the girls included

  • Katrina Rokosz, third in the javalin, 118 feet, 3 inches.
  • Naumann, fourth in the 800 meters, 2:16.48
  • Rachel Berets, 4th in the 100 meter hurdles, 16.39
  • Samantha Kelts, 4th in the pentathlon, 2475 points
  • MacAulay, 5th in the 400 meter hurdles, 1:06.83 
  • Kelly, 6th in the 400 meters 59.73.

But it was the relay that had the track buzzing on a hot Saturday afternoon. Belmont entered the meet as the top seed, holding the fastest time in the state of 3:59.97. And the other teams facing the Marauders in the penultimate race in the meet were gunning for the leaders.

“Through the first leg, Kelly was in the hunt with runners from several other teams, including Plymouth North and Tewksbury,” recalled Glotzbecker.

“Meggie MacAulay who came off the final turn of the stagger even with the runner from Tewksbury. The handoff to Sara Naumann was close to even with the Tewksbury squad, but Sara managed to pass their third runner on the back stretch. The final hand-off to Cella was made a few meters ahead of Tewksbury and she maintained that lead” through the finish, Glotzbecker said.

“Danielle, Meggie, Sara, and Julia all ran sub-60 seconds for their splits. This team is remarkable in that they each have an equal impact on the success of the team,” said Glotzbecker.

“Another significant factor for this team is their trust in one another, and their dynamic as a team. They are able to focus on the event at hand, knowing that they are accountable for one another at that moment no matter what may have transpired for them individually earlier in the meet. Their focus and determination paired with teamwork and talent has helped dictate the success of this group this season,” their coach said. 

Competing along with the relay at All-States will be Rokosz, Naumann, MacAulay, Perkins and Peterson.


Sports: Belmont Baseball Heads to Sectionals On A Roll Winning Grant Tourney

Photo: Belmont, winners of the Brendan Grant Memorial Baseball Tournament.

It’s been seven frustrating years since the last time the Belmont High School Baseball took the title of its own end-of-the-regular-season annual Brendan Grant Memorial Baseball Tournament.

That long wait came to an end on Saturday, May 28, when senior captain Joe Shaughnessy lifted the winners’ trophy as Belmont rode to the title on the arms of its two strong starting pitchers, Belmont’s senior ace Cole Bartels and sophomore phenom Nate Espelin.

For Belmont’s long-time Head Coach Jim Brown, the late season victories are just the sort of preparation he was looking for as the squad enters the Division 2 North Sectional playoffs this week.

“These games, and especially the win over Reading, are great confidence boosters for the team,” said Brown, who said it’s likely Belmont will host a first round game this coming Friday.

“With 14 wins this season, it got the money off our backs of 11 wins in the past three years which meant we were going on the road for the playoffs. We should be a seven or eight seed this year which should be nice.”

In the first game on Friday, May 27, Belmont avenged last week’s heartbreaking 1-0 defeat by beating Reading, 5-2, behind Bartels’ seven innings, 12 strikeout performance – and for the second straight start striking out six consecutive Rockets in the fifth and sixth innings. Bartels helped his cause with a home run and three runs batted in to survive five infield errors to take the victory.

“[Bartels] carries us. He puts us on his back; he says I’m going to do it and bare down,” said Brown of Bartels, who is looking to repeat as the MVP of the Middlesex League.

In Saturday’s championship final, Espelin (four strikeouts) kept Lynnfield High off balance with an array of pitches as his teammates feasted on Div. 3 pitching, scoring five in the first to run away from the Pioneers, 16-2.

Belmont lead off the top of the first – the Marauders were the “visitors” during the game due to a pregame coinflip – with a barrage of singles from catcher Cal Christofori, Noah Riley (rbi), Steve Rizzuto (rbi), Trevor Kelly and the big shot from senior first-base Evan Biette, a two-run single to finish the scoring in the first.

After Espelin got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first with a strikeout, Bartels drove in Christofori in to up the score to 6-0 before a five-run third – highlighted by a two-run single from Matt Kearans – essentially put the game out of reach.

It didn’t surprise anyone that Bartels was named the tournament MVP.  Bartels, who has committed to play at Penn State next year, ended the regular season near the top in batting and pitching: hitting .475 and registering 73 strikeouts in Massachusetts.

Belmont will now have six days to prepare for its opening round game in the playoffs.

“One of our goals was a home playoff game because the town comes out and does a great job supporting us,” said Brown.

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